Thursday, I had lunch plans with one of my oldest friends who I haven't seen in person in eight years. I was looking forward to it because he is one of the best friends I've ever had and I felt after the year i've had, I need to see and spend time with as many good friends as I can. We had a great time catching up and reminiscing. And we talked about the marathon. His concern was that I wouldn't be able to talk about it but I explained it really depends on the day and how i'm feeling. I felt able to talk about it at the time. Later in the evening, he was giving me advice and reminding me of how great my life is outside of what i've been going through. It made me emotional for a few reasons. One is that all of the things he was saying were things I knew but wasn't feeling. I lost my confidence last year and have been trying to get it back. I have faith it will come and sometimes, it is there. I also realized that while I have friends and family who are supporting me, I don't have all of the people who know me best around. This friend is one of them. He doesn't live close and so, I realized how much I miss the friendship with a person who knows me very well, having been friends for 17 years. Life gets crazy and when people aren't close by and lives are busy, it's certainly hard to stay in touch. Lastly, I was reminded of the ways that I am different now. This "new normal" of anxiety and emotion, of feeling inadequate, and trying to find how to enjoy the things I used to. As he and others have reminded me, it will come back. I think I just have very low patience, especially after so long.
Friday, I had a photo shoot with a 3 month old boy who was adorable and had wonderful parents. Every time I get new clients, I am reminded how blessed I am to do what I do and that I always get the most beautiful people, inside and out to photograph. I left there and shortly after, went to meet my new client that I wrote about earlier. Without giving a name, I will tell you that she is amazing. From the first moment she met me in her lobby, she gave off the most positive and beautiful energy and she even hugged me right away, telling me how excited she was. We spent the next hour or so chatting and having fun with her photo shoot.
After we were done, we talked about some of the struggles. I pointed out that I can't imagine what she has dealt with because I was not physically injured and when her reply, was "but the emotional and mental stuff is so bad, i'm sure it's been really hard for you", I almost wanted to cry. She got it and she didn't have a problem with me because I was physically okay. We talked about the Malaysian flight and how we (and anyone who has experienced something like we did) have a different reality now. She mentioned how that different reality includes looking at things differently, how our minds automatically go to the worst case scenario in situations like the airline disappearing. She also pointed out that she has learned that it's okay. That the whole "what are the chances of something bad happening" saying doesn't cut it anymore. What were the chances that we would experience what we did last year on April 15? Before, either of us would have said there would barely be a chance. And then we were there and experienced that day. The reality now is that there is a much bigger chance that something bad can happen. We agreed that it's not how we want to think and that we do everything we can to not think like that, but it's not always that easy. We also discussed the anger we experience, both new to us, little things like someone looking at us the wrong way or saying something that wouldn't have upset us before but now, we lose it. I hate feeling angry and I hate that it comes out the way it does.
I thoroughly enjoyed the entire time I spent with her. Her energy, her understanding so we could relate to each other, her beauty. We brought all of my equipment downstairs and hugged goodbye, planning to touch base for our next shoot and looking forward to it. The whole thing helped. Here was this woman who was hurt and who is positive and happy but also still having the same difficulties as I am. I guess it was confirmation that what's happening is normal and okay and another reminder that i'm not alone. I'm part of this community where I am finding more and more people to connect with. I worked on her pictures that night and she and the firm we're working with all loved the photos, which was awesome.
Saturday I woke up knowing what day it was and feeling a little bit of weight in my chest, but I was determined to not let it take over. I talked to a friend on the phone who is also going through some thing and we decided to each do something "fun" every single day and that we'd check in and hold each other accountable. It was funny because I had already decided that I needed to really focus on my "happy moments". After that, I went out for one of my walks. I decided to do a Charlestown walk. My therapist had asked if I was doing the same route every time. I told her I purposely wasn't. I know I had made that a pattern last year, going the same route and listening to the same music after the marathon. I refuse to let that happen again.
I walked 5 miles around the perimeter of Charlestown, along the water as I always try to do. I felt good and visited my little cousins before going home. All was okay. And then I was in my house and I suddenly couldn't breathe well. I was hit with an anxiety attack. It was worse than it's been and it ended with me being an emotional mess. It was discouraging and frustrating after I had gotten through the first part of the day. The strangest part is that I realized earlier today that this anxiety which seemed to hit out of nowhere actually hit right around 3:00, around the time of the bombings. I don't know the exact time but from texts I sent to friends, it seems it had hit me before or about 3, right around the time of the bombs going off. It's happened every day since as well. It's amazing what your body knows, what is imprinted on it.
Anyway, I decided I needed to rally and not let this setback take over. I was going to a fundraiser that night that I was anxious about going to so I made plans to go out with my friend and her husband for dinner before we headed there. I figured it would help me ease in to it. I stayed in the back the whole time and felt a little unease but stayed all night. I then met up with my friend who was in town before he would head back home. All in all, it was a very up and down day, but I got through it.
The next couple of days were good. I had birthday parties and good times and laughs with family and friends. I had moments of anxiety but was surrounded by great people and so, it didn't stick around. Today, I've felt a lot of flutter in my chest. I'm not sure why. But, I went to the gym, ran errands, and have kept myself occupied and not paying it too much attention.
Best of all, I booked my flight to Italy. I am definitely still anxious about traveling and especially only two weeks after the marathon, but I am determined to go and love every second of it. My sister is also coming as a college graduation gift, so it helps to not be going alone.
Going back a second to the doing something fun every day. It made me think of something else. I have been DREADING April in general. The whole month. From beginning to end last year, there were difficult things going on in my life, bad memories that have been with me this last year. And so, I have wished that I could just skip the whole month. But now, instead, I have decided that I need to make really great memories to take their place. My birthday falls on the 3rd. I always loved my birthday. I have now been dreading it. I've decided that I will make my birthday and birthday weekend fun. I will make plans and replace those sad memories from last year at that time, to happy memories with great people. I still don't have any idea what I will do for the 15th and the marathon. It makes me really angry and sad to think I may not feel ready to attend, but I'm trying my best to come to terms with it and not make these difficult decisions now.
So there it is, ups and downs, but not letting it take over. Again, I have no idea what's in store for the next month, but I'll keep taking it day to day and be thankful for those who support me along the way.