What I'm about to type will not surprise you. In fact, after you read it, many of you will be saying, "Well, duh, Catherine. You didn't see this coming?"
Nope. I didn't.
I'm going to use that dreaded word should - you know, the one my therapist keeps telling me I need to abandon. But I should have seen this coming. I should have known better. I should be more prepared for this kind of stuff.
But I'm not.
The last few weeks have been kind of hard. No, wait. They've been extremely hard. I don't think I've had a stretch this tough since Brad's been gone. And you guys have seen me through some rough moments. So that's saying something.
This should be a time I'm enjoying. I should have my shit together. This should be a celebratory moment in my life because I've worked so hard to get here.
Okay. Enough of that.
January 7, 2014. That's the day I've had circled on my calendar for over a year - the publication date of Confessions of a Mediocre Widow and the day I felt sure my life would change. This last Christmas passed by in a blur. New Year's was a non-event. It was all just a lead up to January 7th because it was a day I worked pretty damn hard for.
And it was great. The book launch was well attended and we sold out of books. The days passed as I heard from more and more readers who truly seemed to like the story.
"I know now I'm not the only one who goes through all of this stuff."
"I feel less alone."
"I cried on one page and laughed on the next."
Every review and response I received was exactly what I'd dreamed of. People got it! They understood what I was saying! They felt like reading the book was like talking to a new friend - one who really understood them. If I could have listed my goals with this book...those responses were it.
"Enjoy the moment!" I kept telling myself. "Soak it all in! This is your time!" More book signings and speaking engagements, emails and congratulations. Everything that I had been looking forward to for years was finally happening.
Never once did I allow myself to feel sad or overwhelmed, never acknowledging that while getting a book published is a wonderful thing...it doesn't have to make me happy all of the time and that this is somewhat of a heavy load to carry alone. Any time I felt those negative emotions creeping in, I'd tell myself, "A ton of people would give anything to be where you are now. What the hell do you have to feel bad about?"
And then my body basically just stopped and said, "I'm sorry. I can't take this anymore. Your lack of self-awareness is pissing me off."
And no one was more surprised than I was.
I know, I know. I should have seen it coming. But the thing is, I don't feel like I was moving at a break-neck pace. I didn't feel like I was constantly on the go or physically exhausting myself. The problem is...I don't think I took into account the mental burden I was carrying. That I had looked forward to this moment so much and it was finally here was one thing. That I felt like I needed to be "on" all of time, responsive and there for everyone was another. And, let's be honest, that I was telling my story again, over and over in such a public way, has probably had something to do with it - even though I thought I'd gotten past the point of that bothering me anymore.
I've started feeling uncontrollably dizzy - like I have vertigo. This has lead to nausea which has then lead to panicked breathing and more dizziness. The best way I can explain it is that my body goes into "fight or flight" mode, which then leaves me completely exhausted. I think my anxiety has been building, even though I've done my best to roll my eyes at it and tell it, "I don't have time for you right now" - and now it visits me in a way that can't be ignored.
For someone who has always been a people person and loves going out and having a good time - this has been a terrifying and somewhat life-stopping experience.
I am now, I hope, in what I consider recovery mode. Back in therapy (which I was foolish to give up). Making doctor's appointments with people who I'm hoping will help me work the physical part of this problem out. Actually saying no on occasion and not feeling guilty about it. Not checking my email at 10:00 at night.
This last week, I basically turned myself off. Because I really had no choice.
Here's the thing. There are so many people out there who talk about writing their story but, to be honest, very few people actually do it. There is a reason for that.
I've had many people ask me if writing Confessions was therapeutic. And you know what? It really wasn't. It was difficult in every sense of the word. What was therapeutic about it was that I created something that I wanted when Brad died. And that is what has helped me. It wasn't the writing, but the purpose behind it.
But sometimes I wonder if I focused so much on how this book could help others, I didn't take into account what it was doing to me. And as we all know, when your mind won't acknowledge something, your body will take over in a way that can't be ignored. And so all of that "I should be enjoying this" and "I don't have time to feel bad" has lead up to this point in my life.
And now I have no choice but to feel it all.