My first thought for an opening sentence: Life has sure changed a lot. Then I step back, read that, and think to myself, "Well, duh." This is not news, nor is it particularly stirring as an opening sentence. Change is a given.
My life's path is littered with the detritus of discarded hobbies: knitting/crocheting/embroidery, painting, drawing, crafts, gardening, making jewelry. At least once a week some new idea will spring to life. (One fortunate side effect of aging is that thec tendency to empty my wallet buying all the accoutrements of my new favorite thing has lessened. I am more likely to dip my toe into something to see if it will stick. If nothing else being physically limited has taught me quite a lot about the limits of my energy and my attention.) Over the years, three interests have endured: Books, horses, music. Oh, and YOU. The people.
For many months through the winter and early part of this year, the minute elements of just making it to work and home and getting in and out of bed became monumental tasks, eliminating my ability and freedom to pursue much of anything. At one time it would have created the opening for a lot of writing, but I was in such pain and crippling depression that I could not think of anything to write about that didn't carry a great likelihood of my family and friends having the suicide hotline number tattooed on my forehead. Then in the beginning of the year, after many agonizing conversations with doctors and therapists, we took the scary and difficult step of having my youngest placed into a residential treatment setting. (He's since come back home, and as huge and scary as it seemed at the time, it ended up being very good for him and for all of us. )
Even though I couldn't write much about it, during that time of long dark days, the interactions I had with my friends and acquaintances on social media were small beacons of light.
While there's no substitute for being face to face with the people you know and love, the internet has opened up the world in new ways for all of us. During those months when my ability to get out and about was so limited, Facebook was just a screen away, and it was filled with very real people. When I was struggling, even if I couldn't find the words to reach out, I could still be in touch with people, and with a few notable exceptions, I found that it helped to see everyone's thoughts and lives filling up my screen. When I did manage to reach out, people reached back and they offered care and comfort.
At the same time, seeing others go through struggles of their own helped me to put my own into perspective, and gave me reasons to get out of my own way. Boil down most anyone's life to the bare bones and you will find that we all struggle. We all have pain, physical or emotional. We all have shit that goes wrong and upside down and we all have days where the bottom of the barrel is a lot closer than the top.
I think we're on the uphill climb now, though at times it didn't often seem like things would ever get better. In the meantime - thanks for allowing me to share my struggles with you and for letting me share in yours.