Last Year, part 2

June, 2017. I wasn’t in good shape after the memorial service for my friend. I wanted to flee, so flee we did up to the Cabin. I inherited this Cabin from my parents and it is very special to me. My father built a deck on this cabin in 1992. I couldn’t bear to rip it out prematurely so I left it until 2016. By then, my husband and I had no choice but to demolish it because it had become a hazard. We lived with the dirt patch where the deck used to be all that summer, but when we got back up here in 2017 we knew we had to get a new deck built. Construction contractors are notoriously difficult in this area. We spoke with a few guys about building it but their ideas were terrible and expensive. Thus begins a three month flurry of home renovation projects, led by my husband. I have never built something of this size, but together, over the course of two weeks, he and I built a beautiful deck that I know my father would be proud of. We worked our asses off. We are former lawyers (among other things) so I think our home improvement skills surprised the neighbors, and me too. My husband then proceeded to take up a million other projects over the summer as it became apparent that this was his emotional outlet. I am merely the beneficiary of this helpful coping mechanism.

With blistered hands and sore backs, we set out on another trip to California in mid-June. This time we were going to see a best friend get married. I was a bridesmaid and the event was fantastic, despite the 105 degree heat. But we were there for much longer than just the wedding part because it seems everyone now makes their weddings into a four day affairs, with multiple events where bridal party attendance is mandatory.

Early in the weekend, after one of these events, my husband and I sat outside to stargaze and talk while everyone partied on inside. We had been drinking, but I had been going slow because it was just so damn hot. I really don’t remember how this fight started between us because my recollection was that we were having a pleasant conversation. We have differing memories of what was said. All I remember is that my husband got very emotional and upset. I tried to calm him down and end whatever was happening, but he got more upset. He probably was drunker than I was, but that seems like a pointless thing to measure. He stormed out of the hotel room and disappeared for much of the night. We’ve talked about this a lot since then, but that night was terrible. I knew that alcohol fueled this meltdown. I regretted having anything to drink even though I was nowhere near drunk. I worried about him for the rest of the trip. This was very emotionally draining for me. I have a close relationship with the friend getting married and her family, so I worked at keeping my fears and feelings hidden from my friends while I tried to be empathetic and loving to my husband. I resented this situation. I felt like I was weeping on the inside.

July, August, September, 2017. I list another house, this time for my new friends and neighbors. Again, their cute house got multiple offers and sold quickly for cash. Again, I did a great job and everyone was “happy.” I resolve during this deal that I am finished with selling real estate. I finally acknowledge that I cannot stand being the middle woman in these deals. I don’t like putting my personal relationships at risk for the sake of making a commission. Sure, I can keep business and pleasure separate, but there is a lot of pettiness, greediness, and stupidity that gets revealed during real estate deals. I don’t like doing a job where I secretly hate everyone when the transaction is finished.

In August, I drive my sister’s older children (ages 7 and 10) to visit our aunt for a week which my sister and my aunt arranged. This ride-favor turns into a week long baby-sitting commitment for me because my aunt “can’t handle” both of the kids. It was her idea to offer this vacation to my sister and her kids, but it becomes my responsibility because I don’t know how to say no to my aunt at this point. I simmer with more resentment.

The perfect person to rent our commercial space calls me up and signs a lease with us immediately. She also immediately attracts another perfect tenant who signs a lease with us too. I feel like she is a gift from the universe.

The family of the friend that passed away are flitting about my life up here at the Cabin. They are holding candle light vigils on the beach (they own a cabin next to ours, unfortunately), they are dropping in at our Cabin at all hours of the day to cry, scheme, and gossip about each other. They worry only about themselves and feel no empathy for each other, or me for that matter. Boundaries feel nonexistent. I try my best not engage. This is not my family, this is not my life, and I don’t want to be involved.

My husband and I work on more projects and take more camping trips. We do our best to take care of ourselves during this time.

My mother-in-law visited at the end of August and it was a tense visit, just like the ones with the father-in-law. Again, I try to stay out of it, stay neutral, stay positive. I drink wine, wine, wine.

October, 2017. I decide to take the month off from drinking. I wanted to see if I could do it. Here’s what I wrote in my journal on October 3, 2017:

I reread my last journal entry twice just now. I forgot I had ever written it. It was a nice reminder of many goals. I still want to drink much less and it is harder than I thought it would be to implement a better approach. I am up at the Cabin, with only the kitty for company, for the next week and I really want to try to be dry all month. This honestly feels like a lofty goal. Socially, there is always an occasion to drink. Emotionally, it is the easiest of all activities. But, I also hate it. All my insecurities are everywhere – in the way I act, the things I say when I drink. I feel stupid, guilty and desperate for approval when drinking. And the next day, hang over or not, I feel worried and preemptively ashamed for some bullshit comment I made or didn’t make. I should remind myself when I go to have a glass of wine that I’m serving myself a dose of low self-esteem.

During this dry period I start riding my bicycle every day. I love to ride my bicycle. It feels so freeing.

I was able to stop drinking until I visited my cousin on October 26. I thought I’d try to stay sober, but once he started asking me about all of the events of the year and I started to spill out the details I gave in and drank wine. I had a hang over the next day and felt super fucking sad.

November, 2017. I discover a new yoga studio in my town where I finally begin to seriously practice yoga every week. For the first time in my life of doing yoga, I am able to tune out the other people in the room, focus on my breathing, my body and my thoughts. It feels good.

December, 2017. I am emotional toast at this point in the year. My husband and I agree that we don’t want to visit or host any family or friends for the holiday. We attend some neighborhood parties, send out homemade cookie gifts to everyone, and then hunker down and celebrate our survival of the year in peace, alone together.



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