Elisa A. Escalante/ LCSW/ 12/31/2021
“Take a sliver, catch what you can. Hold it, cherish it. Steal it, then own it. Lose it, then mourn it. Regret it, disown it. Repeat it, deny it. Swear this is different. Fake it, make it, control it, then lose it. Grieve it, admit it. Learn from it, end it. Be reborn. Live, once again.”
He proposed one year (2020), then asked for a ‘separation’ just one year later (Jan of 2021). And, there I was, mid-January of 2021, 31 years old, and under the delusion that I was finally about to ‘walk down the aisle’ and take the plunge with someone I thought I knew. I’m often seen as a ‘stable’ person, but also known to be quite ‘compulsive’ when ‘shit hits the fan’ so to speak. I give a lot of credit to my military background, it taught me how to pick up and move fast when there’s an emergency. Within 48 hours after the break up, I chose to resign from my job as a Therapist (3.5 years into my therapist career and I was already experiencing severe trauma triggers due to childhood trauma and combat trauma), and begged my father to rescue me from NYC and take me back to my hometown in CA. I also cancelled all of my plans and put my focus into my LCSW (Licensed Clinical social worker) exam, which I had only 2 more weeks to get ready for. (My Narcopath ex was brilliant with timing… but I did pass!)
Mid-January of 2021 to Mid-February 2021 was one of the most grueling and helpless months of my life. Every client I spoke with and said goodbye to felt like ripping off a torturous Band-Aid. Still forced to live with the ex; someone who was financially, verbally, and even sometimes physically abusive throughout our 3 years together. I had to dig deep to survive the situation, especially my own mental health symptoms. I barely told anyone about my choice to permanently move. I had lived in NYC for the past 7 years and made many friends, but I did not have the stomach to say goodbye to people. I mostly hid and only my closest of friends saw me before I left.
Mid-February 2021, I am back in California, I have no job to go to for the first time in 13 years. I knew the hardest part was still ahead; the year of healing. It sounds pleasant, but it’s the hardest challenge of all. How often do we actually allow ourselves to heal, grow, and learn after all? Do we not most often just find another thing to distract us from the project? Another relationship? Casual dating? Drugs? Rushing into the next career? Changing our hair and partying? And yes, I am a cliché and engaged in some of the above, but I also did something different this time. I forced myself to be alone, a lot. An unnerving amount that most people cannot tolerate. I also forced myself to not care about the future for a little while, it felt impossible. But, I also gave myself what I deserved: Self-care and self-learning.
I had two very long term failed relationships back to back (A 9 year one, then the three year one referenced above). And, when something in your life continues to be a huge source of stress, discomfort, trauma, and grief, it is then time to put a focus on the problem as well as the root causes. And eventually, the solutions. I also had a lot of painful news as well as old reminders to haunt me throughout 2021. Thank you Facebook, thank you for popping up monthly pictures of me and my ex to remind me that we were together no more. (Sarcasm) Thank you for reminding me that all the Holidays of 2020, I had someone I thought I could trust, and now the reminder that I am alone and all the humiliating reasons why. Thank you for showing me I was good ‘friends’ and a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coach to his ‘mistress’ and now it turns out, they were both backstabbers. Thank you to the algorithms of Instagram and Facebook for force feeding me engagement ring advertisements, although, I won’t be needing one now. And the dilemma/ guilt/ shame that comes with seeing your friends getting engaged and married and wanting to be happy for them, but suffering due to your loss instead. (Yes, these feelings are normal and it is okay to process them too, but… don’t get upset with your friends for finding happiness)
A part time telework job for the DoD fell into my lap. A former coworker referred me to be a research assistant, and this afforded me the opportunity to pay my bills all year long, help my Dad out a bit, and still have fun/ plenty of free time to keep healing. Not to mention, I published my first book in July of 2021, so there was at least some professional silver linings. Like anything else, the year was a roller coaster of ups and downs. But one thing I knew for sure was that I was home again. My military career, college career and first civilian career had taken me away from my hometown for so long, but when I moved back, it felt 100% natural.
What I’m Proud of?
This is simple, I took a very hard situation and handled it the best I could. Just like I always told my former clients, don’t be hard on yourself when your situation is already hard. That’s the time for other things to come out: Being calculated, practicing self-care, practicing boundaries, asking for help (this time I did let friends and family help me emotionally). When my situation became unbearable, I chose to change it all. I switched my geographic location, changed my relationship status and changed my career all around the same time. The surprising thing? People told me I ‘inspired’ them. Who knew?! I did not expect such a compliment, I felt like a huge mess the majority of the year, and yet others saw differently. I’m proud that I was able to inspire.
Now, apparently we are supposed to go into 2022 without expectation, the pandemic has plagued many with anxiety. People do not celebrate the way they used to, and/ or, we may not be able to depending on our circumstances. In hopes to help people heal or experience gratitude I’ll end the New Year with a series of questions that could be helpful to reflect on:
- What did you accomplish? (This could be professionally, or with family, or in a relationship, or with your own self growth etc etc)
- What did you learn? (Whether it was a nice lesson or a painful one)
- What did you find yourself wanting?
- What did you find yourself wanting to discard of? Or, what did you discard of?
- What do you regret?
- What is your focus area(s) for 2022?
One thought on “Reflection”
Beautiful reflection. Happy New Year
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