The Theme of Things To Come + A Lost Year In Review

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Happy Holidays. 2017 was an interesting year full of lessons and filled with love, heart break, and not nearly enough Yoga.

I end this year feeling stuck in my personal life and yet, pretty damn accomplished in my career. I keep thinking about LifeCamp. An annual tradition where my friends and I gather to set intentions (including our yearly #ThemeWord) and goals for the year ahead.

Somehow, this past year, I lost sight of the fact that this is my life. And that the good is to live it. My life. Not someone else’s.

Even right now, writing these words, I still have an overwhelming urge to put my needs and desires aside for the needs and desires of someone else. Someone I admittedly love too much. And because I love him – I will invest far too much time and energy trying to fix him, save him, make him feel okay. Make his life easier, while ignoring my own. I will do this knowing whatever I do, whatever I say – it will never be enough. Knowing I can’t save another person from themselves.

I think sometimes I forget people aren’t projects. They aren’t like the websites I design and build. Take for example, this past Friday. Just hours before television ads were scheduled to start airing, I redesigned and launched a new website for the future Governor of New Mexico. It was an eleventh hour save – and I couldn’t be prouder of what I accomplished on a nearly impossible deadline. The problem comes when I try to apply that same hard-headed passion and determination to people and relationships.

I was sick for a long time recently. I suffered daily chronic pain and spent far too many hours crying in my bathtub. I was sick for so long that I started to think feeling that bad all the time might become my new normal. I started thinking the pain might never end. I would never find relief. I was so sick one day I did the only thing I could think to do. I gave up. I surrendered. I decided I had two choices. I could either stay in that bathtub feeling sorry for myself or I could go out and live my life.

I started eating again for the first time in a while. I forced myself to eat. I forced myself to go outside and walk. I forced myself to sit on the couch and watch tv (even if it meant sitting on a heating pad). I started to accept the pain. That’s when a funny thing happened. The more I accepted the pain, the less I obsessed about the pain. The less I obsessed – the less pain I felt. And then I started to get better. And then one day, in the Christmas Miracle to trump all miracles, I felt normal again. The pain and discomfort were finally gone.

There are no words to describe what it feels like to go from being in a state of chronic never-ending pain – to being pain free. No words to describe how incredibly beautiful life becomes. How what used to pass for a bad day – doesn’t look so bad anymore.

Today I was talking to an acquaintance I’ve known since the early days of tech. We were talking about something profoundly personal and real. The two of us, share a common pattern, we are by our nature caretakers. We like to fix things. We especially like to fix people.

Somewhere in our conversation, the word RECOVERY came up. I told him about this one afternoon when I was at Zeal and Tommy Rosen walked in. Tommy and I got to talking, and out of the blue he asked me “What are you in recovery from?” I was so put-off by the question. By the connotation of the word recovery – I didn’t know how to answer. I had always believed recovery was for addicts – people who abused drugs or alcohol. As someone who has abused neither, I had never defined myself as an addict.

But the truth is – we are all in recovery from something. For some it’s food (emotional eating, anorexia/bulimia, etc), sex (using people to fill the emptiness we feel inside), adrenaline, DIY crafting, crossfit, God. Pick your poison. Pick your crutch. You are in this moment either actively addicted to something or someone – or you are in recovery.

Which brings me to my #ThemeWord for 2018. A #ThemeWord I’m still not entirely comfortable owning. RECOVERY.

  1. a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
    “signs of recovery in the housing market”
  2. the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.
    “a team of salvage experts to ensure the recovery of family possessions”

I’m struck by how this year at least – I feel like the word is choosing me. Instead of me choosing the word.

Here is to the hope of returning to some state of normalcy. Here is to choosing to put myself, my needs, and my life first. My name is Erica OGrady, and I am in RECOVERY.

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