I don’t know how to write this where it won’t inevitably sound like the long thread of whining I put out into the world on Twitter or the cry for help entries I put in my notes app.
“2020 has been a tough year for everyone,” -my therapist, anyone and everyone that’s gone through 2020 idk
For me personally, the timeline went: lose my mom in November 2019, have her memorial in January 2020, start a new job in February 2020, COVID shutdowns and changes take place in March 2020 and at that point, it’s a blur. I lost my grandpa in June (not COVID related). Got a dog in May (he’s about the one and only good thing to come out of this year). Got a raise at my job for the CPACC (Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies) certification.
One funny thing is I wrote in the midst of grief, nevertheless, natalie coded, and said, “There's a game of Tug of War inside of me - one where I'm both the happiest and saddest I've been in a long time.” Someone should’ve stopped me right there. Or maybe someone read it and said “well let’s change that”.
There are so many people today who mention things about what 2020 has taught them. Who have hope for 2021. Who still plan for the future. Many have stated that 2020 has changed them as a person (it’s changed so many things while we’re on this subject). Has 2020 changed me? Absolutely. But not for the better.
Since that post in March, the happiest part in that sentence left the building probably days after I wrote that, and now I’m just sad. And angry. This has hands down been the worst year of my life. If you read my last blog post, you’d think it would’ve been 2019 correct? Wrong. It’s definitely adjacent to 2020 for being the worst year but somehow, (note: I got ZERO joy out of watching my mom suffer, don’t get that twisted), taking care of my mom up to her last breath was easier than living through 2020.
Grief and healing cannot exist in an environment such as 2020, in my opinion. This should’ve been the year I grieved, the year I healed. Instead, I broke my personal record for the amount of times I contacted the suicide hotline (by phone and text). This is the year when I prayed most nights I would not wake up to see the next day, followed by opening my eyes at 7:50 everyone morning with the weight of rage in my chest. This is the year I cried, and cried, and cried, and cried. This is the year when I wonder if my Lexapro is still working or if the weight of 2020 is too much. (Or both) This is the year I thought, vocalized, wrote on post-it notes, about how much I don’t want to be here anymore.
I probably wrote this in the last post, and I know I’ve definitely said this out loud or texted this to a friend, but here goes: they say the first year after losing a loved one is the hardest, but nobody mentions how it’s 10000000000 times fucking harder to go through the first year in a global pandemic. And we’re still going through it.
This is the year I lost touch with God. I don’t see how I can pray day in and day out in a hospital chapel, pleading for Him to heal my mom, and He decides to take her. Take her away from a 25-year-old and 23-year-old. The phrase: God never gives you more than you can handle…? Bullshit. I don’t understand how God can do that and then watch the world crumble under a global pandemic, or blatant systemic racism that’s caused suffering for years. I get it - there’s “sin” and Adam and Eve and blah blah blah. Not only that, but I also just don’t understand the argument of free will backed by “He’s in control!” Seems to me, He checked out a long time ago.
How are two 20 somethings supposed to navigate this world without their mom? I think all the time about how much my mom felt like I’d be “free” from her, and she couldn’t have been any more wrong.
This is the year I was diagnosed with PTSD. The year of struggling with my sleep, the year of struggling with my focus (not only due to the shift in work dynamic from COVID) because of the ongoing flashbacks of a month and a few days in the hospital. The year of constant nightmares of getting phone calls that my mom was hospitalized again, and I’d have to watch what must have felt like torture to her. This is the year I was put on Hydroxyzine and boy am I grateful. I honestly don’t know how I would’ve made it this year without it.
This is the year when a medical school went from inviting myself and my brother to a banquet thanking us for donating our mother’s body, to having to reschedule due to COVID. This is the year when I thought more times than I cared to about where my mom’s body was. Universities had shut down and sent students home, where was my mom? Was she lying in (what I can only assume) a morgue-like room, alone? Was she cremated yet? Or still in her physical form? This was the year when mail was prioritized over each other in order to aid healthcare workers and their PPE supplies, and all I could think was my mom’s ashes could be in a box and someone is going to deem another package to be more important than her. (Note: I’m forever thankful for healthcare workers and this shit ass year they had to go through. I know that cremation and getting my mom back won’t happen for another couple years and this was just a thought that came from me spiraling)
This is the year of no alumni weekend. No family reunion weekend. By the time we reached “the holidays” (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and today: New Year’s Eve), my spirit is gone.
I think what scares me is the fact that I went from being someone beaming with optimism and joy, believing the world had so much good. I was someone who was hopeful for my mom even when she asked me to drive her around to low-income buildings, so she could find her next place to live. I was hopeful for my mom with her first stroke and the last one - all the way to her last breath. I even told her the night we went to the hospital for the last stroke that she’d just go in for a test and leave - and I hate myself for that. I used to be so optimistic that I can remember constantly arguing with my mom over it. I’d tell her she was pessimistic, and she said she was being realistic, and I’m finding out with each day what she meant.
This is the year of isolation - not only to prevent myself from catching COVID and spreading it but because it’s what I do when things get bad, and it’s what I wanted to do after losing my mom. I’ve become so bad at answering messages from people - that’s how bad it has gotten. I can’t help but think about my mom and how this was her life leading up to before she died. I don’t know how she did it. It makes me think of how much more time I should’ve spent with her and the time I should’ve taken to reach out to her and I didn’t.
This is the year when coping skills vanished. I can’t go see friends, or volunteer at the hospital like I used to. Just seeing my brother, and only my brother, gives me so much guilt. I can’t go see my dad. I can’t take a road trip, or travel. I can’t go to my aunt and uncle’s farm - especially with their age. I can’t go sit in a library or go to a restaurant by myself anymore.
So it’s safe to say - this has been the worst year of my life. It’s changed me for the worse and that scares me. I have never felt this bad, mentally and emotionally, and what I hate is that I’m confident it won’t be better tomorrow and could very much get worse. (For those wondering, I’m on medication and seeing a psychologist) I’m not eager for a New Year but I admire the people who are. I admire the ones who still have their shreds of hope and I hope to someday return to being the girl who saw the bright side of things instead of making generalizations. I don’t think that just because the year changes that things will become better. In fact, it worries me that some people say 2021 could be worse. I truly hope this isn’t the case.
Because I managed to drag down the room with my blog post (as I generally do with just my existence), here are some things happening in 2021 for me to look forward to:
- Grad school starts in January. (aka in a few days) I will be working to obtain my Master of Science in Assistive Technology Engineering
- I’m set to give 2 talks in the next year about accessibility; possibly 3!
And here are some goals I have for 2021. Note, these are not resolutions. 2020 has taught me to respect my energy and my time and to take care of myself however I can.
- Get the vaccine! (I hope this is in 2021 😕)
- Learn data science
- Learn bioinformatics
- Buy a townhome/or a house