The gift of the breakdown
One year later
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One year ago today I lost my mind. The anniversary of this event, this time, makes me question the being here of it all. A sort of apathy that sometimes feels dangerous but today just feels like safely floating in a sea of nothingness.
Everything feels like shouting into the void. No snow on the ground - void shouting. The dopamine feed - void shouting. All the texts I want to catch up on - void shouting. Writing about losing it when I could write about my dance practice, how quilt class is changing me, the way the branches catch each other : void shouting.
I thought I would have something brighter to say about what it means a year later to survive an episode where you think you might drink or die and instead you live.
I am both really glad I am alive today, and looking at the calendar from January 2022 my whole body wants to explode and float away. The Lakers vs The Nuggets game where I felt my whole soul finally knowing a truth, sobbing into my mask while LeBron danced through the players. Not his best game but a game I won’t forget.
The next day, sitting with Maceo on the couch, through gritted teeth thinking yah I got this I can get through this. By nightfall I had called Leah to babysit me and booked a plane ticket to Seattle for more crisis care. I get on a plane, a few days later my partnership ends, and then slowly, I sweep it all up, I leave, and I come to Michigan, where I am now.
^ This week of my life is still so blurry yet so sharp in my mind. Something I want to write about but also can hardly figure out how to. In some ways I have and in some ways I have not. The details almost seem so shocking to have to share just how dark it had gotten. I consider what else I retire from, retired from having to turn a crisis into service. Retired from finding the nuggets of truth and inspiration in the meltdown.
In Finding Water by Julia Cameron, written when she’s some 20 odd + years sober, she talks about surviving her own mental health crisis in sobriety. I was so glad to have just read that book when my own came for me after a decade sober. The amount of time I had spent thinking - with this much therapy and recovery there is no way I could lose my mind. And yet, there I was, having to access every single tool that I had ever learned. God on the other line of every call, spoken through my friends, who saved my life. The timeline of recovery is irrelevant and I work to turn towards measuring my aliveness in hourly increments.
My mind is not lost today and yet, as every day marks the one year date of it being lost, I feel it deeply in my body. The discomfort, the sadness, the intense loneliness of leaving. The moment I got in the car and Katie drove us away and I just wailed and wailed like a dying animal.
Perhaps to die on Earth isn’t so bad though. To give up everything I thought I wanted has led me to the beginning of a life I do want. And this anniversary is reminding me I haven’t arrived at a finished goal. As I build Ikea furniture alone and look at June on the couch I think, this is just the start. Only one part of the kitchen painted and not enough shelves for the scraps.
My teeth are breaking and my quilt studio is a mess but the other day I came home from being gone and unpacked my suitcase within an hour of arriving. Dentist appointments made, IRS calls done, socks washed and put away. I am finding the monotony of adulthood so much better than the shiny fantasy world I had wrapped myself in before the breakdown.
Giving up showed me I can give up and stay alive simultaneously. And while there are gifts there are also no gifts. There is a painful memory of the most horrible month of my life, and how staying alive was a miracle. No good way to wrap the story up other than to say, to continue to stay is a choice, it is a miracle, and sometimes the effort to do so is beyond comprehension
Even in apathy, glad to be here
Tickets go on sale this Friday 1/20 for : Sanctuary with Marlee Grace
I have been lucky enough to get to spend time with Alia in this one true life and am so grateful for their presence and gifts to this world. Consider supporting them through this Go Fund Me - here are some great memes to share and boost this as well!
FLEXIBLE OFFICE RETURNS IN FEBRUARY - details coming soon - A very fun place to co-work and dream!
Poet and soulmate friend Jacqueline Suskin really puddled me with this one
Organizing a Day is still pay what you want :)
Death of an Artist was such a beautiful and inspiring listen. The legacy of Ana Mendieta is one to be honored and remembered, and Helen Molesworth is an amazing host. Not only is the series powerful but there is an epilogue episode of a live interview Helen and the other producers of the podcast and I find that the way Helen talks about power and gatekeeping, specifically as a white queer person, is very important. She really lays out the intersection of living without and with privilege and power - something I hope as a host, facilitator, and curator to always be questioning and considering. HIGHLY recommend listening
The most recommended podcast I got when I asked the other day on social media was Heavyweight - I listened to three episodes this morning and love it - this one reminds me of how our art and our organizing buoys people when we don’t even know, when our own demons are drowning us
May we give our minds a break from the loops just long enough to remember god
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I want to say : I have access to a lot of professional help, medication, recovery groups, 12 step sponsors, family, and friends that I have used to stay alive. Thank you for reading and caring for yourself when you consume this newsletter, or anything where people write about and think about staying on Earth in a public way - may it inspire you to stay too xo
Photos in the snow February 2022 by Chloe Sells