Bad Leads Directly to Good

Two years ago today I had the health event that would finally wake me up and change my life. That event put me on the trajectory I’m on now, and helped me to become who I always was. I didn’t want to write about this today, I wanted to just let it go. But my heart won’t let me.

On 10/18/18 I woke up around 4 AM trying to recognize who my then boyfriend was. He was standing above me with the light on, and I couldn’t make sentences or keep my eyes open. I was severely confused. I had had what presented as a seizure in my sleep. I have no memory of any of this before I saw him above me, but it scared the shit out of him. When I was finally alert enough, I realized that I had peed our bed and was simultaneously ready to vomit or have diarrhea or faint. I sat on the toilet and cried and had the shakes.

I was in a relationship that was toxic. Both of us had a lot of unresolved trauma, and we took it out on each other. For the sake of each of our hearts, that’s the simplest way to put it. I am able to recognize what that time in my life taught me, and have let it go.

But dammit with my elephant like ability to remember

For a solid two months after this nighttime scare I brain.tests. I had all of them. I had a very good neurosurgeon and he made me feel like I wasn’t nuts. After all the brain tests it turned out that what I had experienced was not really neurological at all, but a very big panic attack.

There was talk of lessening stress, and of managing stress. I had so much stress in that life I had NO idea how that would even be possible. Truly. I remember my Dr. telling me to try yoga and meditation and I honestly laughed at him. (Sorry, Doc). I was at a stage where even taking deep breaths seemed foreign. Oh, I was a mess.

It wasn’t possible to keep that up, obviously.

Three months later I was living in my travel trailer in a friend’s backyard. It snowed. It snowed a LOT. It rained. It rained A LOT. I sat in that trailer and cried and sat curled up in a blanket. I got a few tattoos. I dyed my hair vibrant red. My dog put her body on me, her kind self never too far away. I had no idea at all in any way what was the next step. I was honestly anchorless. I was 48. A teacher. A professional! And I was living-in a travel trailer. This was my rock bottom.

I started looking for jobs. I knew I needed to move away from the area. It was exciting and sad at the same time. I’d lived in the Eugene area longer than I lived anywhere in my lifetime, 17 years. It was a lot to give up. But I knew I had to. And I knew Corvallis wasn’t far enough away. I was looking at Bend, for the climate and the culture. When my friend and I started looking at Bend and I realized that I’d be paying $1400 rent for a studio or MAYBE 1 brm apartment for me and my dog, I knew that was just plain stupid. I had a moment of “if you are gonna live in snow…why aren’t you looking at Montana?”

Billings was the only place with posted jobs in late February 2018. They were all general elementary postings. BUT. I had determination.

I am not throwing away my shot!


I applied for the job. That same day, which was probably at around 2 am in my trailer, using my phone to hotspot the internet for my laptop, I applied for my Montana teaching license. Two months later I had a job in Billings, and then a few weeks later, a house in escrow. The sheer level of life administration, guts, courage and determination I had to muster just to get to Billings stunned me. I honestly still can’t believe I made all that happen.

And then I showed up and had to gut this house.

I had to, in effect, start again.

And so here we are now, October 2020. I am facing the same sort of challenge again, a challenge that will lift me up and turn me upside down. But it’s impossible NOT to recognize that that I’ve been hurled into the shitstorm I come out better. I come out stronger. I come out loving myself so much more than I did before it all started.

I’m down for the personal growth. But, um. It sure would be nice to have a year not filled with extraordinary challenge. My life has been a marathon since I got divorced 5 years ago. It’s been a whirlwind.

Jess reminds me that really, this is what life actually is. It is one big challenge with joy thrown in. Our one job as humans is to learn to live in those moments, acknowledging the pain and the joy at the same time.


That’s about the truest equation for the insanity of our lives, every day, but especially this year.

We really can do hard things.


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