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It Feels Like I Can’t Breathe

It took me a full year to be able to cope with the loss of my dog. And now, while I’m able to put it aside to get through my day-to-day life, it seems even worse when it creeps up on me. Tonight is one of those nights. Sigh.

I’ve had a tough couple of years. It’s no secret. I had a mental breakdown. I left my husband, friends, and family. I walked away from a life that I thought was for me. I had done everything so perfectly. I made everyone around me so proud. But I wasn’t happy. So, I left.

No, I don’t regret leaving.

I’ve had to say goodbye to some of the most important people in my life. The only man who has ever accepted me for who I am. Some friendships that I cherished beyond words ended. My parents, who no longer speak to me at all. My whole world. I chose to walk away because I was unhappy. And people can judge me all they want. I’ve never cared what anyone thinks and I’m not about to start now.

And no, I don’t regret leaving.

As you probably know, my dog was very sick at this time and it completely broke me. I had to leave. I packed up my whole life (I’ve never lived away from home or on my own). And I left. Now, I didn’t move out of my home or just to another town. No, no. I moved to Florida. Why? Because it’s a place I’ve always wanted to live. It was something that I felt that I had to do.

I’ll spare you the tears. My dog died two months later. I blamed myself for months. Sometimes I still think that if I stayed in Massachusetts, he’d still be here. And I know what you’re going to say. But it’s not something I can help thinking or feeling. It’s been part of the process that I’ve been going through on my own time.

In that time, life hasn’t been very kind to me.

In May of last year, I lost my job. I was in Florida, alone, with no family to lean on. No husband to fall back on. And I was broke. I had just spent thousands of dollars on my dog, on a huge move, and on all new furniture for my very first apartment. I drained my savings account to make this happen for myself, because I needed to try to find what it was that would make me truly happy. The kind of happy that people can see in your eyes.

The truth is, I still am broke. I live week to week, paycheck to paycheck. Sometimes I worry that I’m actually going to be homeless. I’ve never actually had to think this way before, and it definitely has put things into perspective for me. Every month that I can pay my bills without issue is a good month.

So far, I’ve had nine good months.

Those “good” months have been filled with stress and anxiety. The latter has gotten worse over the past few months. I try to stay focused on the positive. I go to the gym almost daily (shout out to my gym fam), I engross myself in work, and I drink a lot of water. You know, I do the shit you’re supposed to do. Because Pinterest said so.

Still, my anxiety persists. I can’t even go out to eat without a problem. Half the time, I feel like I can’t swallow and I do some weird, embarassing twitch thing. If only this made me skinnier!

I’ve had a couple of intense panic attacks, too. You know, the kind where you feel like you’re just going to die. Sometimes I feel like I’m suffocating, even though there’s plenty of air around me to breathe.

I can’t even tell you how many times I thought about not being here anymore. Sometimes, the thought of just being gone is so peaceful.

But the thought of overcoming the bullshit that has come my way somehow gives me strength to keep pushing forward. I’m on a mission to find true happiness. I want to show myself that it exists. And if every person I’ve ever met in my life decides that they don’t want to talk to me anymore, so be it.

I’m doing this for me.

I have gone through some of the most challenging obstacles, but I didn’t break. I didn’t let myself break. I felt all of that pain deeply. I carry it with me every single day. But I didn’t let myself break.

And I’m still here. Even though it feels like I can’t breathe.