There are years in our lives that shape us. Be it full of joy or strife, the moments logged into our memories permeate our state of mind marking us in ways that may take time to process and explore. My emotional baggage grew so exponentially in 2011 that the year itself has become a trigger for bouts of depression and anxiety. Regardless of how much distance there is between then and now, I can’t still get over it. If I could use a time machine that would be the year I would risk going back to and changing life as we know it.
Let me explain:
Two thousand eleven was going to be epic because I was turning 30. The big 3-0! My career was picking up steam, my husband and I were ready to start fertility treatments and finally try for a test tube child. The bills were getting paid, the house was looking good, and we were finally going on an international trip that wasn’t work scheduled or driven. Closing out 2010 with a friend’s swanky wedding on Dec 30th made the next 12 months look promising. More weddings and babyshowers were soon to follow. Adulthood had finally arrived.
However on January 1st everything changed. We got a call late at night that two of our friends had been attacked by a family member and were fighting for their lives in the hospital. By the 4th and 6th we had lost them, a goodbye that lingers in my heart since we spent the swanky wedding talking about their upcoming July nuptials. The thought of our mortality crept into every discussion my family and friends had. It was hard not to mourn the loss of innocence, of the feeling of safety many of us had living outside of our mother island. How could someone do this to them? To us? To their own family? The shock didn’t wear off until after the memorial services, and playing a planning role on the event committee was my only way to make sense of it all. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. For months I felt guilty for being alive when they weren’t. We had lost two rising stars, people you’d take a bullet for. The angst was BRUTAL.
Later, in April, my husband messed up my 30th birthday celebration plans by refusing to acquiesce to my wishes of having my name up on the Chicago Bulls Jumbotron. He missed a deadline to pay for a space in the Birthdays section of the program and told me to suck it up. I was so mad, especially now that I knew life was not only precious but unpredictable, that I made sure he felt my pain. Shortly after I put the breaks on having kids since the artificial insemination didn’t take and in vitro was out of our budget. This decision didn’t go over so well, especially since Mr Enginerd was staring down the barrel of his own 30th birthday. I thought that it couldn’t get worse and a few unexpected deaths in our family took us over the proverbial edge.
My husband’s drinking got so bad he earned a DUI, a license suspension for three months, and a criminal record. He was charged with a lesser crime, reckless endangerment, but that conviction made our infertility issues more present because it made him ineligible to adopt. Well made us ineligible… Anyway, driving him around didn’t help add to the romance and passion of the early marriage days. This shift in dynamic had him reliving the days his mom would have to drive him to the moon and back so we ended up drifting apart. He gave up control to me and I didn’t and still don’t want it. To this day both the arrest and charges are something he doesn’t like to talk about and I still think his parents have no clue. His whole image of himself crumbled and he hasn’t managed to pick up the pieces. The new him isn’t what he intended nor wanted and the backlash of his self hatred only made it harder to love him.
I resented having to bail this grown man out, especially since every nasty fight and aggression that he has instigated afterwards added insult to the open injury. He wasn’t apologetic nor he made amends. He blamed the police officer, me, anyone but himself. The road to recovery has been hard and even landed him in the hospital a few times in 2015 for overworking his liver. Not that he would agree that the binge drinking was the culprit. Nothing can come between him and his precious mistress, beer. To be honest I would tell you that after 2011 my husband became a certified alcoholic, as the court appointed psychologist comcluded, but he doesn’t want to acknowledge it yet. The drinking never got better after his probation ended in 2014. It still hasn’t and I don’t think it ever will.
Even though we had been together for 10 years when the real shit hit the fan, the shared history wasn’t going to be enough to keep us together. The events of the year shook up the foundation of everything we had built and the cracks were showing. Many are still under repair six years later because I couldn’t get permission from my spouse to talk about our problems or seek help back then because he was ashamed of his actions. To this day he is still mad at the world for the decisions he made and I am furious it has taken this long to even land on common ground to discuss our next steps together.
My greatest failure in life was not being able to avoid the disappointment these events made me feel and the deep sadness that they invoke when I recall them. The year 2011 taught me the importance of making amends, of fighting hard for the people you hold dear, and of remembering that if it happened to me, I have a right to talk about the situation and seek guidance. If someone else risked their reputation in error that is on them, not on me, even if I am very married or committed to them. All of our plans deviated because of one bad year and its series of unfortunate events. I wonder if the rest of the parallel worlds and realities fared better because if this is the best outcome possible, the one I am living, then I have a lot of hard decisions to make to salvage the rest of the ride on this planet. This adulting stuff is hard. I’ll never take happiness for granted ever again.
Stay thirsty my friends…