Friday, December 20, 2013

update: almost one year*

I cannot believe that in 4 weeks Landon will have been gone for an entire year. I don't feel like it has been that long, yet at the same time I feel like it has been so much longer. I miss him so much, and as weird as it sounds I love him more now than ever.

This past year has been the hardest of my life, as I'm sure will come as no surprise. When Landon passed away, I spent a month living with his parents and his little brother. That month was so hard. I spent little time at my house, only to take Tank out to go to the bathroom. Poor little Tankers, that was not a good month for the little guy. It was good for me to be around his family, but at the same time it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I hated having to be with them without him. His family is my family and have always accepted me as their daughter from practically day 1, but rarely was I with his family without him. His presence was missing, loud and clear.

I wasn't sure if I could live alone and was very nervous about it. As a coping skill, not a "healthy" one I might add, I picked up shopping to keep my mind off of everything. I bought a new bedroom set and decor because Landon and I had never gotten to decorating our room. Once I got my new bed I thought that maybe I would be comfortable enough to stay at my house, because at least my room was now mine and something that didn't necessarily bring back memories of Landon like the rest of the house. I knew that if I kept everything the same that it would be very hard emotionally for me to be home. I needed some place that was just mine so that I could just go there and escape I guess. So about a month after Landon passed away, I finally moved home. The adjustment was hard at first and I thought that I would be scared, but I surprised even myself when I was comfortable being home alone, and I was happy to be back with Tank. I'd be lying if I didn't say that it was still extremely difficult being surrounded by everything that was ours, and all of Landon's clothes and things all in place as if he would be home any second.

I went back to work one week after the funeral, which was also another very difficult thing for me to do. I didn't want to take too much time off because I knew how much work it can be without me there, but I also didn't think too much time to myself would be a good thing. I remember just trying to be as positive as I could be, because I really don't like people to feel sorry for me. I hate making people feel uncomfortable being around me, so I just tried to be "normal" I guess. I wanted my staff to feel at ease when I was there and just didn't want anyone to feel awkward at all, because I can only imagine how nervous they all were to have me come back and not knowing how to act around me. Hell, I didn't even know how to act around me.

I think one way that I was able to get through those first few days/weeks/months was to just talk about it. Landon was my main topic of conversation and I was more than willing and open to talking about him and answering questions that anyone had. I wasn't trying to hide anything and I feel like it helped me a lot to talk about him. Because I work at a residential treatment center for at-risk youth, I was blessed enough to be surrounded by people who wouldn't judge me and could sympathize with what I was going through to some extent. I didn't feel judged for the way that Landon died, I just felt loved and comforted. On July 14th, exactly 6 months after the day that Landon overdosed, I talked to the students at my work about Landon's story. Probably the most difficult thing I have done to date. I sobbed my entire way through it. The students responded better than I could have ever imagined and several of them wrote me letters after telling me their stories and giving me words of encouragement. It was after that experience that I knew that working at Heritage was anything but a coincidence, but the exact place that I needed to be.

Speaking of work, this year it has been...well...a lot of work. Not only has this past year been the most challenging personally, but also professionally. Being very short-handed staffing wise for much of the year was very difficult for all of us in my department and we definitely felt it, especially me. Working a lot of hours and not always feeling the best was a huge struggle, and something that I am faced with even now. I am so grateful for my job and feel very blessed to have such a great place to work that also takes care of me financially, but for sure it has been hard this past year and has been one of my main stresses.

I've learned a lot about friendship this year. Landon and I were best friends and didn't really make an effort to have friends outside of us. Well, that has come to kick me in the butt and I have realized just how few friends I have. When I can tell that I am getting depressed I try to make plans and to keep myself occupied, which is hard when you don't have many options. I always have people tell me that I can call them anytime and I know that they would hang out if I wanted them to, but most people have lives of their own, families of their own. I don't have many single people to hang out with. I made an effort with a few different friends, but I have come to realize that it's hard to maintain certain friends. It's almost easier to not have friends I discovered. I guess what I'm trying to say is I have learned who my real friends are, which aren't many, but the ones that I do have I know will be there for me no matter what and they love me for me.  They are invested in me and look out for my best interests. They don't require a lot out of me to be my friend, they are just there to listen to me cry, to listen to my struggles and times of happiness, and want the best for me. Truly want the best for me. It's those few friends that I want in my life. I'm done seeking friends just to have friends.

I have made an effort to try and be closer with family, both immediate and extended. I am the worst family member ever, and still am the worst family member ever, but I legitimately am trying to be better. Again, when I was married I was convinced I only needed Landon and didn't make much of an effort, but family is important. I had the opportunity to go to Mexico with my sister in October, and I am so happy that I had that time with her to get to know her better and to have such a fun and crazy adventure with her.

Dating. I'm sure it was a shock to many when I started dating so soon after Landon passed away. For me, I just loved being married and love being in love. It didn't mean that I loved Landon any less, in fact more than anything I put him on a pedestal. My marriage was so amazing and I loved it so much that I just wanted to have that again. I'd be lying if loneliness wasn't talking and I was and am still scared of being alone. For living in Utah, I feel old to be starting over. I realize I am still young, but I feel old for being "single" I guess. I still feel like I'm married sometimes, since I didn't choose to be single by any means. I didn't choose to be single and I didn't want to be single.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that the thought of dating was kind of exciting. I have never really dated before, and that includes before marrying Landon. I would hang out with guys and we might end up "dating", which my longest relationship before Landon was 2 weeks (wish I were lying), but really going on a "first date" was something I had only done maybe once or twice. At the time I was confident and I thought that I had a lot to offer someone, which I guess I still do to some extent, but my confidence has most definitely dwindled since months ago. So, I put myself out there and joined some dating websites since I don't know how you meet guys these days. I went out with a few guys and I have stories for days. I liked feeling wanted by someone and feeling like some guys find me attractive and that I really might be able to find someone again, but most left me feeling frustrated, anxious, disappointed, rejected, and hopeless. Not saying there weren't some good ones in there, and honestly most of the guys were awesome, they just weren't for me I guess. I just feel so old, much older than 27. But I think the most frustrating part of dating has been that I know that I had it right the first time. I try to be positive and make the best of my situation and just be so grateful for the time that I had to spend with Landon, but sometimes I am just angry and sad. I want to be with him. I only want him.

I decided awhile back to take a break from actively trying to date and just focus on myself. I thought that maybe that would be good for me, because they say that you can't be happy with someone if you are not happy with yourself. I'm trying to discover who exactly I am in this life without Landon. I thought I knew who I was when I started dating, which I did at the time, but the person I was turned out to be the person I was with Landon. Not necessarily who I am on my own. I don't know if this makes sense, but I didn't realize just how much two become one when they are married. You kind of compromise into becoming each other and making each other happy, but when you are faced with being just you, you kind of have to figure everything out again. I can be whoever I want to be. That is exhilarating and petrifying all at the same time. Of course I'm still the same Alyssa for the most part, but part of me has changed and is still changing.

I've never experienced true depression until this past year. I can honestly say that I am depressed. I think the depression set in about August. At the beginning I kept myself so busy that I just ran through life from one thing to the next and didn't take much time to alone. In August I realized that the holidays were coming up - my birthday, Thanksgiving soon after, Christmas, and before I knew it Landon will have been gone for a year. That realization hit me like a ton of bricks. I had some random times of happiness here and there, but for the most part I was and still am depressed. I feel alone. I have found it hard to be close to people since Landon passed away, even my closest friends and family, and the only thing I can think of is deep down I think I'm scared of losing them. I've noticed I tend to push people away because if they get too close then there is a possibility that they can hurt me. I don't want to hurt anymore. But I know in order to get past being depressed I need to start letting people in again and trusting people. I need people in my life to be happy. That's the fact of it. I'd like to think that I don't need a guy in my life to be happy, but I'll be honest, it helps a lot to have someone to love and to be loved to be happy. I also need to not be scared of what people think about me. I didn't used to be, but then for some reason now I'm paranoid. I guess that it all comes down to the fact that I need to be fine with me, regardless of what everyone else thinks. As long as I know that I am a good person and am being the best me I can be, I have nothing to worry about.

With Christmas just 5 days away, I honestly just want to get it over with. I am not excited in the slightest and feel no Christmas spirit. Christmas was the last holiday I got to spend with Landon and it just sucks that he's not here with me this year. I know once I go through all of the "firsts" that slowly things will get better, because I had a time when things weren't as rough as they are now. I need to get back to doing the things that I know make me happy, like working out, doing things for others, and hanging out with family and friends. I feel like I have regressed so much these last few months and it's so frustrating, but I think it's also been good for me to go through these emotions. Actually dealing with losing Landon and crying my way through it. I just enjoyed life a lot more when I stayed busy and was trying to be as optimistic as I could about it. I know I'll get back there, but for now I'm just trying to live day by day.

What my future holds, I have no idea. I wish I had a crystal ball that would tell me my fate, but for now everything in my life is a mystery. People often ask me if I am going to sell my house and move to a smaller house or apartment, and really who knows. I love my house. For sure it's too big for a single lady and her dog, but it's my house and something that both Landon and I were so proud of when we bought it. I looked at apartments and houses closer to work awhile back, but paying rent that is almost as much as my mortgage seems absurd. I don't want a roommate. I don't necessarily like living alone, but the thought of living with someone makes me crazy. I like my quiet house and quiet neighborhood. Money is definitely tight, but for now I'm going to do whatever it takes to make it work.

Thinking of the future makes me very anxious, excited, and impatient. I am definitely a lot less scared to take risks and to be more adventurous. I'm no longer afraid to die. Not that I am wanting to die, but for sure I'm not scared in the least. I'm very excited to see Landon again. This is not a cry for help, it's just the fact of the matter. I miss him a lot. I am excited for 2014. I have never been one to care about New Years, but I can't think of much else that I am more excited about than a new year. I am starting it out right and visiting one of my dearest and best friends that moved to Connecticut this last summer. I have missed her so much and need her in my life, especially now.

This past year has challenged me more than I could ever imagine, has made me stronger and more independent, and has taught me so much about myself. Through all of the bad, I can't help but think of the good and just be grateful for what I do have in my life. Thank you to all of my friends and family that have stuck by me through it all, cheering on words of encouragement and just letting me be crazy and loving me anyway. I hope that I can do the same for all of you one day. I have so much love in my heart for so many people that it is overwhelming. I am truly so blessed to have so many quality people in my life. Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I love you all :).