Its hard to believe that my 31st year is coming to a close 4 days from now. For the past 4 birthdays, I have hoped with every birthday that the next year would be the year I got better. Unfortunately the year of 31 has left me getting sicker beyond anything I could have imagined.
I’m so tired of breaking my own heart each year it happens.
I feel foolish for proclaiming to Sean and my parents on New Years that 2015 would be “our year”.
I’ve come to conclusion to not set my whole heart on getting better but dealing with whatever life hands me next as gracefully as possible. I want to get well more than anything but I want to find a balanced place that accepts my life in whatever form it takes.
32 years alive. 11,689 days of rotating around the sun. 1,009,843,200 seconds of breathing.
I was born on July 18 1983. My full name is Genevieve Elizabeth Rachel Munn (Hollingsworth) but everyone called me Genny as a kid. I was born on a Monday (fitting since my maiden name is Munn) I drove my mom crazy by being 2 weeks late during the hot & humid Virginia summer. I was my parent’s first child.
Apparently as a young Genny I was very shy in new situations yet extremely talkative if I knew you. I didn’t get in a lot of trouble, was pretty anxious, and had a lot of trouble sleeping. So basically how I am now, only a lot smaller. My little brother Chapman was born when I was 4.
All through elementary school into middle school, I loved to dance, sing, and act. I was also very thin and lanky, one of the tallest girls in the grade. So basically I was a gangly awkward drama nerd aka NOT a cool kid.
My teenage years were really really tough. I developed anorexia the summer I turned 13. I became manipulative, self-centered, filled with a deep hatred for my body, and unable to voice how much I was struggling.
My college years were topsy-turvy. Losing weight, gaining weight. Lots of different hair styles. Lots of piercings. Lots of tattoos. Lots and lots of makeup.
Lots of different ideas of how I wanted my life to go (a piercer, a photographer, an addiction specialist, a therapist that specializes in eating disorders, a writer, a makeup artist, an esthetician).
Lots and lots and lots of school: I graduated from college with a BA in psychology/gender studies and then hopped right into 1200 hours of esthetics training. Luckily I met some of my dearest friends during this period of my life.
My late 20’s were some of the best years of my life. I found a career I felt passionate about and found out that I REALLY liked running (Thanks to running I met my platonic soulmate Katie) At 27 I fell head over heels for Sean who I married 2 years later. I opened a successful business on my 29th birthday.
On a bummer note, I developed CRPS at age 28 and became sick with Chronic Lyme 5 months later. So the last 3 years in my 20’s were also about learning to live with chronic pain and illness.
So far my 30’s have been bittersweet. A lot of fulfillment and joy but also a lot of heartbreak and pain.
Last year Sean and I went on a tiny 2 mile hike to celebrate me turning 31. It was the most physical exercise I had gotten that year and completely worth the pain that came after. Out on the rocks looking at the world below, I wondered what the year would bring.
Would I get well and be able to have a baby finally? Would I be able to go back to working full-time and build my business more? Would I be able to run and take spin classes again? Would I get sicker in some horrible twist of fate? (Surely my higher power might take pity on me and not let me get sicker)
Alas. That’s not how this year would go.
Shit happens. Life happens. Things can not go your way and continue to not go your way. A bad month can become a bad year, a series of bad years. A bad decade (maybe).
Don’t lose sight of the small beauties.
There are small slivers of joy hidden behind the clutter of crap and chaos. The one perfect egg amongst an overturned nest. The beautiful rounded sea glass that was once just normal broken glass. That small shaft of light that peaks through grey dour clouds. They are yours for the keeping if you are able to keep your head up instead of continually looking down.
On March 5 2015 while dealing with my CRPS getting much worse, I foundry small sliver of joy when I achieved something I worked very very hard for. My bright light in a dark room. A group of people sharing their experiences, strengths, and hopes. Proof that hard work can change your life. It was for me a beautiful moment surrounded by a lot of awful ones which made it feel even more important and transformative.
31 has been the hardest year of my existence. Harder than all the years with my anorexia. Harder than any broken heart. Harder than the year where Sean’s mom died a fast awful death from colon cancer and then I got sick with Lyme 2 months after (that year is a close second let me tell you).
The hardest 365 days of my life.
A year with various doctors offering different diagnoses and different treatments. Feeling slightly better. Feeling a lot worse a few weeks later. Struggling to try to work. Struggling to make my clients think I felt ok when I didn’t. Crying. Long dr appointments. Long drives to long dr appointments. Dealing with other people’s interpretation of my pain. Different body parts feeling horrible all at once. A pain that seems impossible for a body to produce. Begging. Crawling to the bathroom. Screaming when the shower water hit my feet. Being unable to wear shoes for a month. Being unable to walk because of the pain. Isolation. The CRPS spreading up my left leg. The CRPS spreading into my right little toe. Feeling terrified. Feeling loved.
A year of letting go of some of the things I loved most. A year of trying not to drown in my illnesses. A year of almost giving up.
It’s also been the year with the most lessons. The year of several new beginnings. The year of falling even more in love with my husband. The year of being infinitely grateful for my family and good friends.
Thank you 31.