.So - I did it. I successfully completely changed my life. Completely. It was ugly and hard and life-threateningly scary and heartbreaking, but I did it. You are now reading the words of Leah Cwikel - Sales, Marketing & Social Media Administrator for Peribo Book Distributors, based in Mt. Kuring-gai and operating since 1987.
For the last seven and a half years I have been up before six, driven the one minute drive to the cafe, started my day at the cafe, stood on my feet for ten hours and collapsed at home at 4pm. And then, for the last week I have been in this weird, unemployed/fired/head-hunted/almost employed phase where I have just been reading in bed and drinking coffee of a morning and then exercising far too much for the rest of the time.
And now? Well now, I don't really know yet. I have been working at Peribo for two days so I have absolutely no routine yet. YET. I have a forty-minute drive to work, and about a forty-five minute drive home. That in itself is something new to me. Most of the day I will spend sitting at a desk creating pretty newsletters and order forms for our publishers, and my body - that is normally used to constant movement - is already feeling the effects of that.
What I want to talk about though, is how proud of myself and my partner that I am. It may not seem like much, but what I have learned out of this entire period of time in my life is that you take your wins where you can get them and then you must celebrate the shit out of them.
I have never been a huge drinker. Of course I have had those nights where I end up falling in a friend’s fish pond, but who hasn't had those nights. Of course I have had those nights where you finish a kebab from Shahin in your bed before falling asleep at 2.30 in the morning, but I feel that that is also commonplace. But on the whole, I am a very reserved drinker of alcohol. The past two months for me, and for Man, have been about survival. My therapist said the same thing. She said to me, “Leah, right now, in the thick of this, all I need you to do, is survive.” It sounds morose and over-dramatic but that is how it has been. And right when everything went fucking awol, Man and I would crack open a bottle of whiskey, put Jackass on and drink the night away in each other’s arms, in laughter and in a beautiful haze where the details of our reality became just blurry enough to be able to live through.
We continued like this for a few weeks; we drank more than either of us normally would, and we enjoyed it. We were having fun. We were enjoying our new relationship and each other how you’re meant to, before everything fell apart in front of us. We fucking survived. Both of us knew that it was never going to stay like this, so we enjoyed it for what it was.
Today, we both woke up feeling the same thing. Our survival phase was over. We had officially gotten through. What replaced it was a feeling of complete and utter exhaustion, the kind of exhaustion that inspires change. Instead of just making it through each day, we had a conversation this afternoon about everything we are going to put in place together and separately to make our lives nothing short of fucking incredible.
So, after my second shift at my new job I got into my car and started towards home. Where I would normally be stressed driving at night, among the traffic, I turned Fleetwood Mac up as loud as I could and surrendered. I sang completely out of tune and incredibly loud. Instead of going home, which is all I wanted to do, I drove to the shops and bought enough groceries for the entire week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And also some ice cream for Man, not me. Gross. How do people even like ice-cream that isn't gelato? It leaves that feral slimy film all over your mouth and tongue and throat and soul. I got home after six, put the groceries away, gave the cat enough attention so she doesn't develop an anxiety disorder and put some brown rice on to boil. I showered while that simmered away and then made a sauce for the fish I had bought to have for dinner. I cooked some greens - kale, peas and broccoli - that I eventually mixed in with the brown rice and prepared the fish. What I ended up with was one of the best goddamn meals I have ever eaten, lunch for tomorrow and enough rice and greens to use for the rest of the week.
All that I could think of, all that I kept reminding myself was is that I am doing all of this to look after myself. To nourish and care and love myself. I was a dead woman walking by the time I had hopped in my car after work, but it was those thoughts that kept me going. And even as I was unpacking the groceries, I was thinking of the meals I was going to prepare for Man and I, and it warmed my fucking heart, people.
Its 8pm and I am in bed. My legs hurt, my eyes are all but closed and my brain has no idea what the hell is going on, but I feel good. I got my keep-cup all ready for tomorrow morning, I laid out my exercise clothes as I am going to wake up early and go for a jog, and my lunch is ready to grab out of the fridge for lunch, and Fleetwood Mac is awaiting for the drive in. More than that though, Man has done similar things for himself tonight. He is already asleep. Weakling. But nevertheless, I am proud of him and I am proud of us. I am proud that we haven't broken and that we have come out of this completely lost, but lost together. He and I are both creating entirely new lives that we have not planned, nor were we prepared for. He and I both felt lost today, as if everything was foggy and just that little bit not quite right.
Normally, this kind of shit and these feelings would send me funny. Normally, I would sabotage this simply for the fact that I am face with the unknown and am still scared. There is not one single part of me that wants to run away from this; run away from my life, run away from these feelings or the fear that I feel. Instead, I want to - and plan to - run into Man’s arms tomorrow armed with the knowledge that we are creating something really fucking incredible.
So yeah, maybe I am still am a little bit lost, but at least I know what I can handle. What I can handle is my life falling apart with no lifelines whatsoever. I can handle the fear of the unknown. I can handle at least three quarters of a bottle of whiskey by myself. I know, impressive, eh?