I always find it a little funny when I write these posts now because pretty much anyone and everyone can read what I have to say. I know tons of people who don’t like to publicize certain aspects of their life on their blog (which I completely respect) because their blog is a space for talking about recipes, their latest outfits or their travels. However, to me, I connect the most with my readers and followers when I share my emotions, who I am behind the Instagram or “behind the Chickpea” and I discuss something that others might (and probably will) relate to. For example, when I posted about my experience with grief earlier this year – I never expected the responses I received or how that post gained more views than any other one on my blog. But because of it, I met new people, experienced new opportunities and even got to talk out loud IN REAL LIFE at an event about what I went through in the past 14 months.
When I look back on that post, I see the optimism that I was searching for and creating within my life. For most of the second half of 2016, I was filled with pessimism. I felt like so many things in my life were going wrong – from my mom being diagnosed with cancer and watching her slowly deteriorate before my eyes to doing horrendous in school while also trying to get over someone I used to get my mind off of my grieving.
But then when my mom’s death happened, I suddenly transformed into a person who realized how precious every single moment of life is. I wanted to make every day more special than the next and search for the optimism in each moment – whether good or bad.
It’s an interesting thing I believe, to know of someone so close to you dying, feeling that pain and then all of a sudden the way you react to the world shifts. I learned that the most trivial situations, such as hitting my head on my kitchen cabinet or not being able to push through a workout were truly the least of my problems. Because in the back of my head, I thought how everything my mom went through was so much worse than any small problem that might have seemed big to me. To me, this was my journey of seeking optimism.
I no longer felt like any day of mine had to be negative and if something went wrong, I looked at it as a sign that only better things would come out of it. I even started saying to my roommates, “It’s a good day to have a good day.” Because isn’t it, after all?
While I started the first few months of my grieving process (after my mom passed in January) showing the world how optimistic I was and telling people I would rather stay positive than sulk in my room all day, I wanted to share the other side of it. The side most people don’t talk about, what I often stayed in my room on weekends googling while dreading talking to anyone else and how with the help of more yoga, connections with friends, meetings with strangers and looking deeper into myself, I realized that I needed to accept the discomfort and allow myself to feel emotions. To dive into the meat of this post, I want to bring up some of the things I feel that no one besides my friends at the time knew, no one ever talked about or dealt with but I did experience and how I was able to eventually move beyond them these past 7 months.
When my mom first passed, the following day I remember doing yoga in my living room feeling on top of the world. It was one of the strongest days for me in terms of holding inversions and feeling both strong mentally and physically. The next day, however, is when I started to feel constantly sick. The weekend right before my mom’s funeral, I remember getting so physically sick all I could eat the entire day was 1 piece of bread. For a food lover like myself, this was sign number one something felt off. That night, I flew home to Kansas (where my mom lived) and on the plane, threw up (the first time in 7+ years… I was that sick) and again when I got home.
In the weeks following my mom’s funeral, I had horrible dizzy spells to the point at times I thought I was going to pass out at any given moment. I would wake up every morning and immediately have to fall back into bed, close my eyes and wait for the dizzy motion to go away. The thing is – when I closed my eyes, it only magnified. It was absolutely horrifying and felt as though I was in a snow globe, being tossed from side to side.
What was even worse was that these dizzy spells carried over into yoga and if I did a few specific poses in classes or turned my head the wrong way (ex: triangle pose), I would immediately feel myself leaning over.
At this point in the year, February-April, I thought it would never end. When I thought consulting a doctor, I knew that at some point it would go away (which it did) and that it was primarily just due to grief (which it was). But it was scary. And no one knew it was going on besides those around me. No one on Instagram, my blog, readers, etc.
I remember one yoga class in particular, I kept having to sit down, close my eyes and just breathe – hoping that my anxiety would lessen and the dizzy spell would stop. My instructor came up to me after class and asked me what was wrong because she could sense my energy I was radiating was completely off. Something was off. Of course I knew what that something was but didn’t let anyone know.
Along with the dizzy spells and sickness from time to time, I dreamt more than ever. The days leading up to my mom’s passing, I had 3 dreams in a row that I lost her. It’s something I’ve never shared until now but it’s real, it’s raw and it happens when one deals with grief/emotion/loss of someone close to them. In the amount of times I’ve lost ones close to me in the past 18 months, I’d say I’ve had a dream about every person – they mostly involve places I’ve been to before or things I’ve already experienced. So in some form or another, reliving an old experience. Dreams are the closest you can get to someone you’ve lost without actually ever being with them and it’s truly a fascinating thing to me.
Now I often have 5-10 dreams about my mom per month and I’ve learned to just accept it. It’s no longer something I fear or worry about but rather know she is always on my mind, which is how she ends up in my dreams.
What I found most helpful in accepting these discomforts was music, journaling and talking to my best friend, roommates and brother. After starting SoulCycle in February, I fell more in love with music than I ever have in my entire life. I started making playlists that reflected the emotions, feelings and people in my life and in my past. I have songs in these playlists associated with feelings at a given time on a given day or places I’ve been with specific people. The power of music has helped me calm down, allow myself to be alone and grieve in a what feels peaceful to me way and accept my experiences. I think if someone is going through hardships – music can shift you in all of the right ways.
Through writing down my dreams, talking them out with my friends and brother and letting them talk to me about their own worries, problems and fears, I felt more at ease knowing I wasn’t the only one who felt discomfort, anxiety or grief. It was – and still is – extremely comforting.
While I learned to accept these discomforts, I also learned to experience change. I realized that sometimes, moments in your life don’t go as planned but you have to let them unfold and roll along with them. Rather than thinking 6 hours from now, you have to focus on what’s right in front of you. Truly, friends, what is going to happen if we stress about something tomorrow when we have so much to care about and experience in the moment?
While I was experiencing my sickness, dreams and dizzy spells, I didn’t think about where I’d be in a few months or how my grieving process would be at the end of this year. I focused on what I could do in the moment to make myself calm down and just breathe. I can thank yoga for that.
In the past 7 months, things definitely changed.
I started doing SoulCycle up to 4x a week. I left my old yoga studio, joined a new one, and then a new one. I dated to fill a void in my life I couldn’t seem to fill. I realized I loved being alone and learned to accept it. I went to California and realized I couldn’t move there despite dreaming of it one day. I went to Cleveland and realized I missed my home in Chicago. I started making playlists and sharing them with my followers/readers and allowed the music that changed my life to affect others around me. I began a part-time job. Oh and then… I moved to a new neighborhood in Chicago and had an epiphany I want to stay here for a while.
Moving into my new apartment was kind of that sign that I needed this year. Every single day since living here (it’s been about 3 weeks), not a day goes by where I don’t think to myself “I am truly the luckiest person alive.”
I am lucky I get to do what I do and love my job(s), have a small group of friends and get the opportunities I do. When I get recognized on the street in Chicago, when someone asks me “Are you chickpea?” in a coffee shop, when I leave a yoga class on a high or when someone tells me that my playlist touched them. Those are the little things I’ve found that make life too good to let pessimism or sadness seep in.
I like to think that my mom and aunt are watching over me giving me all of the goodness in my life that I have now and telling me to accept my feelings, let myself experience the good, the bad and everything in between and still try to find the positivity and optimism in everyday situations.
What you manifest, you’ll receive – I’m a strong believer in that.
Someone once told me that there are emotions you’re going to feel and they may not always be the ones you want – but you still need to accept them and just FEEL.
That’s how I’ve been living these past few 7 months and whether good or bad at times, it’s all happening and it’s not something to be avoided.
I hope if anything, sharing my experience, struggles, highs and lows with you all impacts you in some way or another and if not, it at leasts lets you into who I am beyond the chickpea.
At the end of the day, I’m Addie. I’ve gone through grief, I’ve learned to accept and experience change and to sum it up, I want to live a life filled with optimism – and show that if I can do it through these last 7 months, so can you.