This blog was always only intended to tell friends and family about my life as a cook in Antarctica so I apologize if this post feels a little off-topic but I’ve spent a lot of today in reflection and I think it’s worth sharing in general as a life experience but also as it partially factors in to how I got here.
One year ago today, my relationship of almost five years dissolved. It had been coming for awhile and I think both of us had been fighting it or at least trying to avoid dealing with it so that it dragged on far longer than it should have done. Even still, the actual end was like a blow to the stomach, knocking me completely off my feet. For four years and ten months, Darragh and I had been building a life together – however slow and hesitant we were to admit it. In the span of one VERY long conversation into the wee hours of the morning, any plans we had for the future were tossed, and there would be no more life together. And yes, while I knew deep down it was the right decision, it was definitely not the easy decision.
The aftermath was pretty much what you would expect – I lost my appetite for weeks, I would randomly burst into tears, I stopped listening to all music, I started drinking more – not to get drunk but just to take the edge off in the evenings. I actually found mornings were the hardest, as they had usually been the time of day we could steal a few seconds together since we both worked such crazy hours. What I didn’t expect was for the aftermath to be so short. This is most definitely hindsight, as it certainly felt interminable while I was going through it, but looking back at that time, it really didn’t last as long as I would have expected. Some might say that’s a testament to just how correct the decision had been. While I wouldn’t discount that entirely, I actually believe it’s because of the support my friends and family gave me.
JonPierre, Tirzah and Makena were an endless supply of family-style hugs and comfort.
KC, Tiffany and Jory never complained when I’d barge into their home unannounced – they’d simply lay another place at the table, put a drink in my hand, and take time to listen and talk…even if the in-laws were visiting.
Sadie said the most wonderful and heartening thing I could hear during that time which was that she looked forward to the day I would tell her it was the best thing that ever happened to me. She and Karen were so incredibly patient with my diatribes about men and boys as well as my constant recall of Darragh-related stories and memories.
Kelly made herself available by phone pretty much all the time, including in the middle of her workday and gave me the single most valuable piece of information/advice: when a relationship ends you will go through the same grieving stages you would go through after the death of a loved one: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. However, realize that the process is not linear; you can jump from the first to the fifth to the third and then back to the fifth, so be patient with yourself – there will be good days and bad days.
And everyone – my family near and far, friends new and old – helped and encouraged me in re-mapping my life, now being lived only for myself. They helped me reclaim parts of myself that had gotten lost in the last few years – everything from writing to running to whiskey drinking to my inclination for spontaneous travel and my dream of going to Antarctica. For all of this and so many other things, I want to broadcast a most heartfelt thank you. When I go outside at 2am, into blazing sunshine that is reflecting off Minna Bluff across the Ross Sea, I know that it’s because I have the most wonderful, amazing, brilliant, stubborn, empathetic people in my life who gave me the shoulder to cry on and the kick in the pants where and when I needed and who challenge me every day to be better than I was yesterday.
And now I’m a year on, living in Antarctica with a bottle of Bushmills in my cabinet and plans to do a triathlon in the next year. I can now recall memories of things Darragh and I did together or even occasionally quote him and it feels more sweet and less bitter. By the way, “Packing only ever takes as long as you give it.” and “God loves a trier. Girls don’t.” are two of my most-used. Of course sometimes it feels weird that there’s someone out there that knows me better than anyone else in the world and we’re not sharing a life together, but I also find it reassuring that I have the capacity to let someone know me so intimately. I hope everyone has the opportunity to take that chance on someone else at some point in their lives, as scary as it may seem.
So that’s what I’ve been reflecting on today – the importance of having people in your life that challenge you to be better than you think you can be and the value of intimacy. I know there are people out there who think that looking backward keeps you from moving forward. I disagree: when I reflect on where I’ve been, it reminds me just how far I’ve come and motivates me to keep moving forward in the right direction.
Love to you all from almost definitely south of where you are.
And Darragh, thanks for all the memories.