I’ll Never Sink When You Are With Me

I’ve been begging myself to write about grief, hoping it would somehow bring closure. Yet I can’t wrap my thoughts around the pain well enough to understand or explain. It’s empty, it’s vibrant, it’s breathtaking.

The emotion of grief is so consuming, it completely takes you over. And that’s not necessarily in the form of sorrow or sadness, not always. It will fill you in ways you didn’t expect.

Recognizing the love for a life lost is inexplicable. Your memories wrap their memory in an embrace, and you can almost feel them. Here. It’s calming and chilling. It will make you weak and give you unbelievable strength. It will drive you and stop you in your tracks. It completely absorbs you in every possible way. You grieve for what you’ve lost and yet you celebrate what you had.

I’m not one for letting go. Especially when it’s not on my terms. And as time wages on, the more I’m left longing for what I’ve lost.

You’re My Best Friend

Maize was a very good boy. Dogs are inherently good, and if we treat them with love they will love us back—unconditionally. If you teach your dog how to be a very good boy, he’ll be the best boy. Our dogs are exactly what we need them to be, and that’s why Maize meant so much to me, because I needed him to.

When I moved to Chicago, I was uncertain and alone. I was worried about living by myself and didn’t know anyone in the city. I didn’t even have a fulltime job when I made the move. But I knew that I’d be safe if I had Maize by my side. He was someone to come home to, someone who counted on me and he was such a happy boy. He was my security alarm and my safety net.

And when I needed him most, he was up to the task. When I was released from the hospital following my biking accident, I was scared to see Maize. I thought he’d be too wild, too aggressive. I thought he’d jump on me out of excitement, that I’d be too weak to handle it. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Maize was gentle and kind. He was so sweet and sensitive. He wagged his tail in excitement, and gave me the space and tenderness I needed. Throughout my recovery, he stayed by my side, loyal and protective. He made me feel just as he always had; he made me feel safe. And he hasn’t left my side since.

Today, I said goodbye to Maize. I tried my best to help my good boy feel safe and secure, just as he’s always done for me. We had 12 wonderful years together, and I’m so thankful for all he gave me and all he taught me.

Thank you, Maize, for teaching me how to be responsible and independent. Thank you for teaching me kindness and patience. Thank you for your fierce loyalty and complete trust. You helped me grow up, you helped me become who I am today. I am so thankful I had the joy of loving you and being a part of your family.

Rest well, sweet boy. I’ll always remember you.

Time May Change Me, But You Can’t Trace Time

Sometimes we make mistakes. If we learn from them, that’s supposed to make it OK. But sometimes there’s no coming back from a mistake.

This weekend, my once best friend got married. I wasn’t there. She didn’t even tell me she was engaged. We’ve not spoken in two-and-a-half years. People who are close to me who don’t understand why I can’t make things right have kept me in the loop, and now I’m here realizing it’s a good thing I wasn’t a part of her big day.

Toward the end of our friendship, I became selfish. I took on a mean girls mentality, and somewhere along the way stopped being kind. I started putting myself first and asking why she was never attentive to my needs. I took years of feeling like I was her support without any reciprication and let that fester and explode. Our friendship imploded.

In the days, weeks, months after, maybe I could have mended things. But I was far too proud to admit any wrong doing and I became angry. The longer I sat with my anger, the more I convinced myself I was better off.

And now, I’m mostly just sad. And it hurts.

It feels like it’s been too long to still grieve our friendship, but I think that comes from having regrets.

Today I Missed My Workout

Christmas morning seems like as good a time as any to reflect. Especially when it’s 6 a.m., you’ve been up for two hours and you’re at your in-laws trying not to wake anyone.

Whole 30

2018 has been a full year. I kicked it off with the Whole 30 program, a diet meant to help you learn more about the foods you eat and how they affect your body. I was proud, and surprised, when I hit the 30-day mark cheat-free and feeling good. As an avid cook, meal prep was something I looked forward to, even if it meant no booze, sugar, carbs and a whole lot of other stuff.

Running

From there, I jumped into training for my second full marathon. Looking back on my training program, I don’t quite remember where I fell off. I know I hit my 18-mile run and missed the 20 miler. But I did a lot on the treadmill, big mistake.

Race day, Memorial weekend, was hot and humid AF. The Top of Michigan Marathon starts in Charlevoix and ends in Harbor Springs, hitting Petoskey along the way. And, unlike the Chicago Marathon, the course is slim. There were maybe 100 marathoners and even fewer supporters along the course.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish the race. At the halfway mark, I called it quits. The night before, my CamelBak broke and I wasn’t able to carry enough water to stay hydrated in the heat (water stations were limited and some even ran out of cold water). The humidity made it difficult to breathe and the lack of crowd support killed my motivation. Don’t worry though, I signed up for the 2019 race and plan to kick its ass.

Home

The summer was consumed with our new house. We moved in in April and I literally never wanted to leave. From unpacking to decorating to yardwork, it kept us busy. While we still haven’t finished hanging our decor, we did just furnish the third bedroom.

I’m in love with our home, and I think the rest of the family is, too.

Friends and family

We spent time celebrating some of our closest friends throughout the year. Weddings, babies, engagements, big moves and new homes. Even our niece’s first birthday.

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on what I’ve lost on here. It’s part of the purpose for my blog—coping, healing and remembering. But 2018 has shown me how lucky I am for what and who I have in my life.

SuperSprint

Training for my first triathlon also kept me busy this summer. Part of the Chicago Triathlon series, the SuperSprint is awesome for first-timers. Event weekend takes place at the end of August and the course is manageable.

Swim, bike, run. That’s the basics of a tri. The atmosphere was electric and the participants were incredible. So much support and inspiration. While not as physically difficult as a marathon, a triathlon is more mentally taxing.

This is another race I’ve already signed up for in 2019. This year, my goal was to finish. Next year, I’m keeping time. My hope is to one day complete a full triathlon. Until then, I’ll be working on my open-water swimming.

Work, work, work

The end of the year has kind of been swept up with work. Professionally, I’ve been given a number of opportunities to grow and advance, all of which I’ve embraced with open arms. For the first time in a few years, I’m not only satisfied at work but excited for the future.

Personally, I’ve been focusing on my beer blog. The focus the past two months has been on social media, but I’m planning for a 2019 relaunch of the blog. Until then, check us out on Instagram: @chibeerclub.

To help expand my reach, network and knowledge, I joined PorchDrinking as a copy editor and social media coordinator. I’ve only been working with the team for a couple of weeks, but it’s been a positive experience so far.

2019 and beyond

I think 2019 will look a lot like this year, only refined. I’ve learned so much and have so many things I want to accomplish next year. More travel. More learning. More growing.

Someone Who I Used to Know

Holy fuck, I think I had a breakthrough.

I saw a ghost today at the climbing gym—no, it wasn’t an actual ghost, of a climber who had fallen to their death. I thought I saw someone I used to know. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t her.

While I haven’t seen or spoken to this person in almost five years, I do think about her from time to time. But immediately upon seeing her look-a-like, I flashed back to our last actual conversation. And it reminded me of the importance of letting go and moving on. It reminded me that you have to listen to what other people are saying and just accept it.

I do hope this is a milestone for me when it comes to the “grieving” process, but I’m not convinced it’s over. I still have a long way to go toward coming to terms with my lost relationship and moving on, but I’d like to think I made some progress today.

It’s always easier to give advice than it is to take it. But today, today I had the opportunity to take my own advice. And while I can understand and respect the point of view, it’s still hard as hell to accept.

Let’s Talk About Sex

The other weekend, I was pressured by multiple women in my family to share the age I lost my virginity. They were playing a game of 20 questions and I’d sat down unknowingly. This was not a group I’d choose to tell all to.

When they first asked, as an “initiation” question, I said I’d rather not say. To encourage me, they all eagerly went around announcing their answers. It was back to me. “I’d rather not say,” I told them again.

It’s a safe place, I was assured. It didn’t feel very safe.

We won’t judge you, they explained. I didn’t care if they did.

We told you ours. I didn’t ask.

It wasn’t my age. It was the story. And what they didn’t know was that I’d lost a lot more than my virginity at that age.

But this isn’t about that story, it’s about five women in my family making me feel pressured into sharing.

Today, women are able to enjoy sex and acknowledge it publicly. We’re no longer forced to feel ashamed of our sexuality. And while we’re still fighting sexism and inequality, we’ve made broad strides.

I’d like to think that’s where this pressure was coming from, the false promise of a supportive group of women. But when my discomfort was dismissed for their entertainment, they lost all credibility.

We need to do better

I recently watched Mindy Kaling’s commencement address to the Dartmouth class of 2018 and was both inspired and ashamed. Toward the end of her speech, Kaling speaks directly to the women in the graduating class and encourages them to lift each other up.

We need to do a better job of supporting each other.

And she is so spot on.

I know I need to do a better job of supporting all the women in my lifeprofessionally and personally. My inability to do so has distanced me from family, my best friend and colleagues. It’s inhibited me emotionally and paused me professionally.

While acknowledging this shortcoming is easy, it will take a lot of effort to do. It will take forgiving myself for past mistakes, saying goodbye to a friendship I long for, letting go of the past and looking toward the future, and allowing myself to feel inspired and vulnerable. It means starting over, feeling better and moving on.

I’m not sure how I got here from when I started this draft last week, but I’m glad I did. And I’m ready to start trying.

The Way Things Change

Moving on is hard, and sometimes damn near impossible. For the better part of the past year, I’ve spent more time than I care to admit obsessing over a lost friendship. Funny isn’t it, we always think romantic relationships are the hardest to end. Now, this isn’t the first friendship I’ve had come to a close, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. However, it’s the only one that ended in an explosive argument. And — at the time — I didn’t realize it was actually the end. I thought she’d admit wrongdoing, apologize, or at least forgive and forget. But none of that happened.

The more time that passed without one of those things happening, the angrier I got and the further I distanced myself from the relationship. Looking back, I realize how that probably just made it easier for her to pull further and further away. In the end, by the time I was ready to acknowledge my wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness, it was too late. By that time, she’d moved past our friendship and was ready to not turn back. Oh my god how that hurts.

Perhaps the hardest part of accepting the fact that “your person” is no longer there for you to turn to is not even having the chance to say goodbye. Not even getting a big “Fuck you, I’m done,” and instead receiving radio silence after a phone call, text message and email. For some reason, as much as that response sounds painful, it seems better than this. Better than a lack of closure. Especially knowing I could have prevented things from going this far.

So, I try to look for the good in things. Lessons learned, frustrations ceased. But in the end, none of that matters. Nothing can replace the person you could laugh with, cry with, bicker with. So it seems the only thing to do is become better. Recognize how to better deal with situations and react to emotions, even if it’s too late to fix what’s been broken.