About four months ago, my roommate gave me a book that had been recommended to her by her trauma professor (she just got her masters in social work). That book is “Buy Yourself the Fucking Lilies” by Tara Schuster, and reading that book is how all of this started. And by all this, I mean the realization that I had a lot of pain from traumas that I hadn’t dealt with, and then all of the tearing down and rebuilding of my life that ensued as a result.
It took me a really long time to finish “Buy Yourself the Fucking Lilies,” because every few pages or so I’d have to put the book down. It brought up traumas I hadn’t let myself think about it years. It put into words pain I’d felt my whole life. It made me acknowledge that there was a lot going down under the surface that I’d tried to ignore, but had manifested in my day to day life all the same. I’ve basically been a wreck pretending that I had it all together for most of my life, and this book made me realize that I couldn’t keep going like that. But more importantly, it made me realize that I didn’t have to.
Since receiving that book, I’ve made a lot of changes to my life. I’ve almost entirely stopped drinking, I go to sleep and wake up early, I journal every morning, I drink herbal tea before bed, I cook every day, I write every day, I practice yoga and meditate each and every morning. I go for walks and do some type of exercise nearly every single day, I’m hydrated always. I read a lot, I take time for myself. I feel better about myself in every aspect. I still have gigantic, enormous, overwhelming piles of work to do on myself and on my life, but I’m off to a pretty damn good start.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I never envisioned myself being this type of person. I never thought I’d be the one to wake up early and walk for hours and drink tea and meditate and all that. I always admired people who did those sorts of things, but it absolutely wasn’t for me. I was a waitress, and I’d worked in restaurants from the time I was fifteen. I’d recently graduated from college, and I kept myself busy working crazy hours to fill the hours previously occupied by crazy studying. If anyone’s worked in a restaurant before, they know it’s not exactly conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Not just because I could be at work as late as two or three in the morning (later if had a shifty), but because part of restaurant culture is going out for drinks with the people you work with, especially after a busy shift. I ate at weird hours, drank a lot of Redbull, and picked up as many shifts as my GM would allow. I rarely slept, and I lived in the (garbage) mindset that being exhausted, sleep-deprived, and over-worked was a badge of honor. Real self-care was just not my thing. I liked being known as the person who could work endless open-to-close doubles and do it with an energetic smile on her face. That kind of suffering is a joke among servers, material for our sarcastic commentary as we get through our shifts. I kept so busy that I didn’t have time to think about anything going on at a deeper level.
And then, quarantine hit. And I had to do some major, ridiculous reconfiguring. There was nothing but time to sit and think about my life, and what the fuck I was doing. When I first found out restaurants were closing, I was in the middle of a shift. I smiled and joked through farewell drinks with a bunch of other servers after I got off, but as soon as I got in my Lyft home, I started sobbing. If that’s not a metaphor for my life at that time, I don’t know what is.
The first couple months of quarantine are a blur. I’ve never not worked before, so that alone was disorienting. My roommate and I were drinking several nights a week. At the time it felt fun, picking out cocktails to try and coming up with new drinks to make, but thinking about how much we were actually drinking is honestly upsetting. I was staying up until four am, waking up at eleven, spending days with slight hangovers and no energy for anything more than watching TV. I can’t remember ever feeling good about myself during that time. After a couple months of that behavior, around the same time I was really digging into “Buy Yourself the Fucking Lilies,” I started feeling really unsettled with the state of my life. I realized that I couldn’t keep going like I was, replacing one unhealthy behavior with the next to keep me from thinking too much about how I was actually feeling. I didn’t want to drink anymore, I wanted to fix my sleep schedule, I wanted to do better. I felt scared to admit that I wanted to be different, so for a while I pushed the feeling down. And then finally, one night, my roommate looked at me and said, “I don’t want to drink anymore.” And I realized two things: first, that we’d both been feeling this way for a while and been too embarrassed to say anything. And second, that if I didn’t start speaking up about how I felt, I’d keep getting stuck in the same negative cycles for the rest of my life. I knew in that moment that if I didn’t start saying what I thought, I’d never ever be able to fix the things I wanted to fix. That was the moment that everything changed.
That’s what this space is about. Here, I’m going to recount the changes I’ve made so far, how I made them, and what they’ve done for me. I’m also going to talk a lot about what my days look like, the work I still have left to do, and the things I’m still dealing with. I hope that I’ll be able to make healing seem a little more possible, both by walking you all through my process and by showing you that this isn’t something I ever thought possible for myself. But here I am. I’ve changed my life completely, but it doesn’t really feel like change. More so, it feels as though I’m finally accessing the person that I’ve always been, that I was always meant to be. I feel like I’m becoming the truest version of myself, and I guess the reason for writing it all down is because I want others to be able to understand it, and maybe even to understand it a little better myself. I’m doing the work, and sometimes it’s really fucking hard. But I like the work, because I know what life is like without doing it, and now I know what it’s like to feel like you’re healing. So welcome to my journey, I guess, and my hope is maybe, just maybe I can inspire someone else to do a little healing, too.