I celebrated my 33rd birthday last week. Celebrated, in that the husband and I went to see Captain America and gorged on fancy pizza in one of my favorite cultural districts in town and then got to sleep in the next morning because the kids were at my mom’s. Celebrated, in that I made it through another year without needing to be confined to a padded room. Okay, let’s be real… there were moments when I probably needed to be, but somehow managed to avoid it by some unknown miracle.
Here are some of the things that I did last year: Got a job, started working out, took control of my mental health, got a guitar, took my whole family on vacation, sent my oldest off to middle school and attended my first political rally (with Delanie in tow). That’s accomplishment, yo.
It might sound as if I’m minimizing what I did over the past year, but in all reality, I’m pretty damn pleased with myself. Jumping into a full time job after being a stay at home mom for nine years was no easy feat. The thought of leaving my son each day, even with my mom and a close friend, was gut-wrenching.
But I knew that it would be beneficial for my family and I in so many ways. I needed this. My kids and husband needed this, even though they may not have realized it at the time.
I am not an athletic person, so working out was never something that I made a priority. Even when I would sit and bitch about my weight and lack of muscle, I just figured I’d do something less aerobic, like yoga. I wanted peace, I wanted zen. Huffing and puffing to Jillian Michaels never sounded appealing. But then I did it, or at least a variation of it, and I was sort of hooked. It hurt, but I wanted more. The words of a true masochist. I blame the endorphins.
So between my awesome, encouraging coworkers and my Fitbit, I dug deep and found the motivation to work toward a healthier me. Doing that without focusing on my weight has been difficult, but I also know that it’s a slope that I don’t want to slide down.
And more than anything else, seeking help for my various mental health issues was the scariest and most important thing I’ve done in a very long time. I’ve been on this winding road to “recovery” since I was 19, a path of trial and error as we attempted to get a handle on things. For a while, I thought I did have a handle on it. Or at least for the issues that I initially recognized… depression and mild anxiety.
But buried underneath all of that were the red flags that have been there since I was a very small child. Uncontrollable, irrational anger. Fits of rage. Unreasonable expectations of cleanliness/tidyness. Constant need for organization. Everything in its place.
I figured that this was just all a natural part of my personality. Ashlie’s the neat freak who occasionally flies off the handle. When it started to affect the stability of my home and family, however, I knew that it was something that needed to be addressed.
Talking about myself to a therapist is odd. I feel a combination of narcissism, vulnerability and relief. I was nervous before my first session, but now I’m rather comfortable there. In that room, with a woman who shares my last name. Who, despite her chipper and innocent demeanor, seems like she truly understands me. And has given me a lot of tools to conquer my day-to-day struggles.
And drugs. New drugs have helped a lot, too.
32 was hard on me. Exhausting and painful and unforgiving. But it was life-changing. It was a pivotal year in my life that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. It was necessary in the creation of a happier and healthier Ashlie. I laid all of the foundation at 32, so my hope is that 33 is the year where I start reaping some of the benefits of all of that hard work.
And I really think it will be.