The Bad Days Always Become Good Again

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Mes amies! I finally got a break from this breakneck pace of my life, and I wanted to keep my promise to blog/podcast more so I can keep you updated with what's going on in my little corner of the world. So much has happened, is happening, will happen, that I don't even know where to start? 

Maybe I should just pick up where I left off? 

 Chickens are literally on this earth to terrorize me. 

Chickens are literally on this earth to terrorize me. 

So the glamour-loaded life of make shitty movies...less is churning at breakneck pace. Yesterday was the last day of that particular project which brought us the treat of a random rooster roaming a strip mall like, 'sup? It was a particularly tough day for me, and I wound up drowning my sorrows in a patty melt at the Marietta Diner, looking so sad and dejected, the owner gave me a free cappuccino. That's a first. 

I don't want to sit here and wail about how zomghard my life is juggling everything. It's not. It's just a period of growth and change for me that has it's good days and bad, and I began the day crying in bed bargaining with myself whether I should keep doing what I'm doing. Would I earn more money and have more happiness tending bar on the weekends? Do I have to do this? 

Yes. Yes you do. Learn to love it. Get up, get dressed, and embrace the characters you will later write about on this adventure. 

Last week, I had a moment of clarity in therapy where I realized I paralyze myself with fear and anxiety to the point of needing rescue, so I don't have to actually do anything about my situation. I just spin in circles shrieking, "holy shit! holy shit!" internally and wait for someone to swoop in and tell me what to do with my life, and that's because I have lived my life up until a few years ago in a series of chaotic temporary arrangements that sustained itself on the adrenaline of managing one crisis after another. Now it's just like, "Fly baby bird. The skies are clear now," and I'm standing at the nest going HOLY SHIT WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK! NO ONE PREPARED ME FOR HAVING MY SHIT TOGETHER. 

 Time to hit the treadmill. The Soldier Field 10 Miler doesn't run itself. 

Time to hit the treadmill. The Soldier Field 10 Miler doesn't run itself. 

So we worked through that by putting a hard 'back to Chicago' date on things. I am going back this August. That's it. No waffling. So the farewell tour of my time in Atlanta began. The to do list was made, action items started,  and we're finishing out this chapter of my life. I made plans to run a race up in Chicago that is very important and sentimental to me, in order to start making concrete plans up there; I asked an old friend to coach me for this race to keep me accountable. I said goodbye to competitive skating (so I thought) because there just isn't time, and I listed out everything I needed to do career-wise to be in the most stable position I can financially, because let's not forget, I return heading into battle. I expect nothing less than a bloodbath from my ex legally, because that's just how this goes. I'm also going to need real deal home security, etc. I have to be successful enough in my career from now until then to get to the next level so I'm not schlepping through Griffin, GA rewriting parts of, "Spring Break 2: Babes in the Bayou." 

By the end of my hour long session, I was positive and stoked. The Man was heading to DC with a bunch of HS kids to save the world, and I was perfectly content to spend the weekend alone. There was a little hole in the wall Italian joint I wanted to take myself to Friday night, I had a new book to read, writing to get done, running, I was excited to go skate for fun on Saturday... I was doing well with the reframing of something that scared me to death, but I felt confident that I would cope well.

 When the cat's away, the mouse gets TWO cannolis on a Friday night!

When the cat's away, the mouse gets TWO cannolis on a Friday night!

I had a lovely dinner at Mezza Luna in Smyrna, GA by myself Friday night. It was so Chicago, right down to the sweet older gentleman singing Sinatra. It made me a little wistful that I'm discovering these gems three years too late, but maybe I'm seeing them because I'm ready to see them. 

I came home to a new shipment of CBD candy from the Lord Jones, had a deep conversation with my dogs, and settled under the blankets for some much needed recovery time. 

 The Lord giveth...

The Lord giveth...

Then my phone started going off...

Text alerts that someone was trying to reset my Facebook password. Weird, but not totally unusual... happens sometimes. I hardly use my personal account because it makes me hate everyone, but I run about 25 business accounts linked to it, so it happens sometimes. One of my clients is a discount airline and they get hacked endlessly. So I reset my password hoping I'd remember it later since I was 2 glasses of wine and a CBD candy into my relaxation hour...

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Then the phone went off again... now someone was in my business email account...

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The IP address popped up... LISLE, IL...

Three guesses who lives there...yes, my kids, but they wouldn't care about Facebook because NO ONE under the age of 18 cares about Facebook. They call it, "Old Peoplebook" because it is. Who's old, and would care about having access to my business email and Facebook accounts? 

Wild guess. 

On the surface it didn't bother me. Huge eye roll, a sigh, and I made fun of him on Instagram, because Google LITERALLY CLOCKS YOUR LOCATION AND IP, STUPID. 

Saturday morning, reality creeped in again. I will be alone like this in Chicago half of the time. Three years,  and a thousand miles away, hasn't calmed the obsession at all. I lived 10 miles away the last time I was close to being this independent... he drove by my condo incessantly when he didn't have the kids. He called my boss endlessly in the middle of the night. He went to the media when my boss told him to go scratch...

Panic entered my body like a cold wind on a raw spring day. I felt it all the way into the center of my bones. Here we go... just like in 2015, when I wrote a book, had a little tour scheduled, and was building my career... it was snatched from me because of him. Just like in 2008 before then. The thought of him snatching everything I built a third time, mindfucked me so hard... I didn't even know it was mindfucking me until Sunday night. 

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I went to the rink to skate the next morning... just to blast music and skate. Decompress from the week, relax, unwind my sore muscles, feel, release, and it was everything. I felt so free and happy out there, and I have never felt that way about skating. It felt like I had made it through another major milestone of healing. That week. through race training and finishing it up with skating, I found myself actually capable of doing these things simply for the joy they give me. No pressure, accountability yes, but no pressure. Nothing to prove, only to experience. 

But that fear was bubbling in the back of my throat. I went to yin yoga after skating, and though I felt content and relaxed, I couldn't be in the moment and get anything out of class. The chorus of, "what if I am doing exactly the wrong thing?" was chanting in my head probably louder than the kids in DC at that moment. 

I was still 'okay' that night. I repeated Friday night, and again, I felt secure and content. The anxiety was creeping in a bit, but it was manageable. I even posted a video publicly of my skating that day. Not because I was showing off or anything, but because it was the first time I've ever felt comfortable posting something like that, because no judgment or value was attached to it. i simply went, "hi this makes me happy and I want to share." 

Sunday arrived, and I had the BEST night of sleep. I woke up ready to go run six miles, run errands, and get ready for the last brutal week ahead. My long run went well, but something began to shift when I was in Target. For whatever reason, panic really set in at that point. I think it was because I knew I was going to wrap production on this project and I was another week through the new plan and making it all work, and the fear of it being sabotaged started screaming in my head. 

I'll fuck it up myself before that bastard has the chance. 

I went home, made myself dinner, played with the dogs, and was doing ok. I was talking myself through my panic, so I decided to do some housework. Sundays for me are all about prepping for the week because being on autopilot as much as possible makes life easier. 

While I was doing the dishes and enjoying some red wine, my phone went off. It was an alert from this website that someone had filled out the contact form. That someone was my very first skating coach, Agnes. (not her real name, internet sleuths) I haven't had a real conversation with her since I was nine years old, just about thirty years ago. 

It was a long note, she had 30 years worth of things to say. She's been following me since the beginning, listened to the first two Second Skate podcasts and saw my skating video on Facebook that morning. This time, it wasn't the warm fuzzies I got over Presidents Day from another former coach. After all, this was Agnes. She was always a rebel and rough around the edges. She basically gave me my marching orders and told me I have to skate the one event I will win. Have. To. Her reasons why were solid. 

I burst into tears washing dishes. Not because she upset me, but because that anxiety finally jumped out of the back of my throat and got ahold of me. Everything is falling into place. I'm healing, I'm getting it together, I'm about to have success on the level I want, I am believing I'm worthy of those things, finally

And a lonely alcoholic wants to tear it to shreds, and me with it... again

It's not rational, but sorry, my brain does what it wants sometimes. I finished off that bottle of wine, and crawled into bed to totally self destruct. Which brings us to Monday morning where I literally dragged myself out of bed when I wanted to quit and retreat. Yesterday was brutal. I white knuckled my way through the whole thing until I got to the diner, and again, so much kindness. My anguish must have been written all over my face. 

But unlike my past behavior, I didn't continue the self destruction tour. I knew I had a relatively easy day ahead for today with only day job housekeeping to manage, and I crawled in bed with my herbal tea and book, forgave myself for having a moment, but also congratulated myself for it being brief and contained. I didn't completely drown my sorrows, nor did I lash out at anyone, I kind of just went with it and rode it out. That's a first. 

Today was a new day. I woke up feeling better, acknowledged that I had a rough day yesterday, but it's over. I made plans for my oldest's birthday and some traditions my father started with me when I was her age I want to carry on, had a good couple of day job meetings, and got a surprise text around lunchtime during one of those meetings. 

Dallas is a go... you're going next week, clear your schedule. 

For those of you not in the know, I have a project that was optioned a production company showed interest in a month ago, we had a meeting, but they wanted to wait...so I picked up "Bros and Pickups," to work on. The day it wrapped, they want to have a meeting to discuss pre-production of my project. My flight was booked by 5pm (coach, on an airline I HATE, but hey, I'm a nobody...humble yaself, Jennifer.) and yes, a new day with a whole lot of possibilities. Boy, am I glad I dragged myself out of bed yesterday. 

I guess that's what this is going to be about for now. Letting the bad stuff creep in, feeling it, dealing with it, and keeping life moving. Wrapping up this life-changing time I've had in Atlanta, and returning to Chicago a totally different, independent, and stable grown up capable of getting through life without a rescuer. 

So here we go... traveling, race training, skating, kids, relationships, friendships, healing, and heading home. It absolutely won't be easy, but I'll get through it no matter what. 

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Jennifer Gulbrandsen