This is my hundredth post to this blog. Six years after first launching it, and a year and a half after I actively started writing here, I’ve made it to a hundred posts. When I first realized I was coming up on a hundred posts, I immediately started thinking of it as this major milestone. I had planned on writing a post full of meaning and depth to really mark the occasion. Dear ones this is not that post.
For one thing, it’s late. I fully intended to close out 2020 with the hundredth post, but as you can see that didn’t happen. I wanted so badly to put a high note out into the world, to finish that hellish year stronger than I started it. But it didn’t work out like that.
It didn’t happen because I left 2020 weaker than I started it, or so I felt at the time. The end of the year, starting around the end of September, has been progressively rougher for me these last few years. Part of it is seasonal, part of it is grief and trauma, but regardless it’s hard. Surprisingly, or perhaps not to those familiar with doing the work, the thing that’s made it hardest the last year or two has been the fact I have made progress. I notice such an incredible difference between the person I was even two years ago and the person I am now.
But despite how proud I am of this growth, I cannot deny how hard it is to be where I am. Yes the good days are better, brighter and so much more frequent. But this makes the bad days so much harder to weather. The end of last year was a major struggle for me, not because I wasn’t trying, not because the meds stopped working. It was hard because, it was.
I’ve been working through so much these last couple of years and within the last few months especially. I’ve researched constantly, taken online assessments and listened to others with similar experiences, trying to get a better understanding of how my brain works and how I can help it work best. I didn’t know it was coming, but the end of last year and the beginning of this year turned out to be a period of intense self discovery and clarity, even more so than coming out or my initial realization of being neurodivergent. There was some struggling to adjust, but I can genuinely say I haven’t felt this level of comfort and peace with who I am before. I feel like I am the most me I’ve ever been.
Getting here has been so much intense work. A friend recently said she didn’t know how I was doing it and still able to function. That’s my secret, there is no function. In most other aspects, my life is a dumpster fire. My house is a wreck near constantly, my hygiene and self care are sporadic at best. As for my relationships (outside of my husband and a handful of other people), there is much work to still be done.
On the subject of relationships, I’ve been thinking recently about how many people know completely different versions of me. Whether they only knew me as a little kid, or as their student, friend etc, they all know these completely separate pieces of me. Even certain relatives, people who have known me my entire life, only see a certain version of who I am. But that also means they all hold different parts of my complete life story. While I can’t help but think that’s incredibly cool, it’s made me realize how much of myself I’ve left with other people.
Part of this process of figuring out things has been actively piecing together the elements of me that are just mine, the pieces of me that, while they may have been affected or created by outside influence, are for me and no one else. This has been intense. And it’s caused me to retreat further and further into my own space as I pieced more and more together. A small, very guilty, part of me is actually grateful for being able to have the space and time afforded by social distancing. There are so many people I miss fiercely. But I’m confident that the next time we meet I will be a stronger happier person than I’ve been in a long time.
I’ve joked often through this period of seclusion that I’m becoming a sentient mushroom. But honestly that’s a fairly accurate analogy. I’ve retreated so deeply and been so far inside myself it’s akin to a mushroom underground before it fruits.
What a lot of people don’t realize (warning cottagecore nerd has entered the chat) is what we consider as a mushroom sprouting is almost the end of its life cycle. Most of the growth, most of the work, to become what we recognize as a mushroom happens deep underground. Not only that, after they’ve spouted there still are underground systems of connective tissue that link a mushroom to other mushrooms. The bonds formed while in this process of growth are maintained and strengthen each individual mushroom later on when they burst from the soil strong, resilient and with the ability to give of themselves so others can take root and grow through the same process.
Basically what I’m saying is I’m a mushroom. I’ve been deep in the darkness, growing and making strong connections with others in similar situations. Now, I’m on the verge of becoming something new and showing the world what I have to give.
If this is where you are right now, or if you find yourself in this position down the road, just know it’s ok. It’s ok to go through periods of darkness and growth, just don’t forget those connections to others. I’ll be one of those connections if you need it. It’s going to be ok. Be a mushroom.