I get asked about how I got through.
Those early days, weeks, months, and now years.
I usually chuckle and shake my head. Because, I have no idea.
Really. Honest truth.
I look back and I am amazed I got through those first two years. When I say I have changed, how could I not when I just crawled through the most traumatic moments of my life?!
Some days I can’t remember. The fog of grief was too thick.
Yet, some very clear details are ingrained and burned into my memories forever.
The first weeks.
I couldn’t eat. I forced myself to eat once a day. Just enough so my body wouldn’t collapse on me. The 10lbs I lost in two weeks. Weight I needed to keep going was gone. I was always cold. Usually I sleep with just a tank and undies even in winter. I would go to bed with thick winter socks, leggings or sweats, long sleeve shirts and a sweatshirt, all covered with multiple blankets. And I was still cold.
My stomach hurt. All the time. I walked slightly hunched over because of the invisible weight and pain on my shoulders. Tears on deck. Waiting to fall. Always falling. I felt dead. A walking corpse.
I drove around in the January sludge with my one year old in the back. Looking at apartments and houses. Searching for a new home. Wondering how can I make a home in an apartment with two young, rambunctious boys. The road blurred from the tears that clouded my vision.
Laying next to the same child at nap and bed. Crying. Sobbing. Holding his little body close to warm mine. I knew he wouldn’t tell anyone. Or ask hard questions.
The first months.
Decisions made. Steps complete. A sort of routine set. My mom spent the first weekend away from the boys with me. Filling the loud silence. Trying to act like this is normal. Then more weekends where I forced myself to stay put. No filling the time up with shopping, friends, booze, food, or activities. Sit in the pain. Walking in the crisp Spring air with tears staining my cheeks.
Step by step, I started to check things off my list.
Find a new home. Check.
Sell home and move. Check.
Tell family and friends. Check.
First holiday away. Check.
Meet with lawyer. File for divorce. Check.
Find a job. Check.
Find a daycare. Check.
Complete parenting class and mediation. Check.
Start job. Check.
Thanksgiving and Christmas no longer as family. Check.
Find out truth. Check.
Meet girlfriend. Check.
Finalize divorce. Check.
Find backbone. Check.
Believe in myself and decisions I make. Check.
The first year.
All I focused on was getting through. Every minute. Hour. Day. Week. Month. Doing whatever I had to do to make it to the end of the day. Waking up and doing the exact same thing. Over and over again. For my boys. For me. For the home and life I was creating for us. I had to listen to the voice inside my heart. No longer counting on the person who I thought I could.
I made it through.
By reaching out to a lot of people I didn’t know for help. Advice. Prayers. Friendship. By realizing that how I was living before wasn’t going to work to how I was living now. By doing things I never would have done before. By discovering new ways to help ease the pain. By leaning in to my faith and God.
Year one rolled into year two.
Which wasn’t any easier. Filled with complications, new grief, harsh revelations, and reluctance to accept this new life. I fumbled. I failed. I made mistakes. I fucked up. I used unhealthy coping mechanisms. Then slapped myself and kept moving that foot forward.
The constant pit in my stomach eased. Days occurred where I could actually breathe. Days occurred where I laughed for real. Days occurred where the smile actually reached my eyes.
Because I tried to live.
I had to make hard choices.
I had to say goodbye.
I had to feel the pain.
I had to cry a million tears.
I had to fight for me and the boys.
I had to smile and pretend I didn’t hate.
I had to work and wanted to stay home.
I had to talk but wanted to scream.
I had to show up when I wanted to hide.
I had to say yes when my answer was really no.
I had to sit in the loud silence. Alone.
I had to send my boys off to be loved by another.
Somehow, time passed. I made it though. Yet, I am still here. Still healing. Still grieving. Still learning. Still smiling and laughing.
Somehow, the really shitty, crap things I had to go through brought me to a place where I don’t mind. I love who I have become. I love I can extend grace and forgiveness to pre-divorce Katie. I love that I can admit my mistakes and faults and try to be better. I love the people who have come into my life.
I wanted to quit.
I said over again. I can’t do this anymore. My therapist can confirm. I wanted to get off the train wreck that was my life. I didn’t want to climb the mountain. I wanted someone else to take care of it for me.
Maybe I did quit.
For the rest of the day.
But I always got back up.