Who were the coolest people you met this year? As an editor for Rewire, I get to be in touch with talented writers all over the country, and a lot of them have their own very interesting stories to tell.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that all of us are going through a lot, yet managing to come out stronger on the other side. And I think that’s pretty darn inspiring.
These are some of Rewire’s favorite first-person stories from 2019 — and the lessons they hold for all of us.
For years, relationship coach Marisa T. Cohen hid her short-lived marriage from nearly everyone in her new life. But she realized it wasn’t healthy to keep the secret:
“When I started to date my current husband, I opened up about my past early on. I felt that he needed to be aware of my insecurities and triggers. Plus, open and honest communication is very important in any relationship.
“But while he and his family knew about my divorce, I asked him not to mention it to any of his friends. We were still a new couple and I knew that, while divorce is no longer as stigmatized as it was before, lots of people still believe it’s something that happens to other people, or is the result of having married too young or too carelessly.
“I didn’t need that hanging over my head and potentially influencing my new boyfriend’s feelings about me (this was my own construction of reality, not his). So, we hid it. Well, we didn’t actually hide it, but we never shared it.
“I remember the queasy feeling I had one night when one of his friend’s wives told a story about someone in a failing marriage, one that all of her friends knew was bound to end.”
We’ve all wanted to delete our accounts. For Kelsey Yandura, creating a “finsta” provided a “sort of happy medium.” She wrote about how you can stay on social media without all the pressure:
“I was going through a particularly rough season at the time, and the thought of curating an upbeat version of myself on social media seemed fake at best (and masochistic at worst).
“For a while, this break provided some much-needed relief. But after a few months I missed connecting with my close friends on the platform. I wanted to send weird memes to my best friend and watch my sister’s goofy dogs romp around on her stories.
“I did not, however, miss the pressure to appear effortlessly ‘cool,’ nor the anxiety of seeing other people succeeding in this.
“As a sort of happy medium, I decided to create a new account: one without any baggage or judging eyes. I started fresh and followed about 10 of my closest friends.”
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Thoughts that have nothing to do with this photo: Change is an utterly terrifying and magnetic thing, and I’m learning it ripens when approached with curiosity/openness and sours with resistance/fear. For some reason, it’s the universe’s backlit, backwoods tool of choice for growth, and learning to trust it is some of the holiest work I’ve ever done. Happy Monday, mi dudes. 🌶🌶🌶
Brittany Chaffee’s friend lost two pregnancies in a row. Deciding that silence around failed pregnancies was contributing to harmful stigma, she asked her friend to tell her story:
“Miscarriages are incredibly common.
“You’d be forgiven for not knowing that, because our world has built a stigma of silence around pregnancy loss. Societal norms would have you believe that pregnant women are perfect and polite. That they should not speak of the natural workings of their bodies, and their wombs that grow human life.
“But it’s true. About 15 to 25 percent of recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage. As many as half of all pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Some of those are chemical pregnancies, where a miscarriage occurs before a woman even knows she is pregnant and symptoms can be mistaken for a period.
“I’ve never had a miscarriage. Many of my friends and family members have, but I’ve never asked them about what they went through.
“I’ve learned there’s no excuse for that. We have to talk about miscarriages. Because when someone goes through it, they feel so alone. And, given the statistics, they are anything but.”
Millennials make up a growing subset of America’s caregivers. Kyle Raymond Fitzpatrick experienced the challenges of this firsthand when his boyfriend’s mom moved into their apartment this year:
“When his grandmother passed away at age 94 this summer, his mother swapped her role as a relative who lived hours away from us for a new one as our live-in dependent. She’s saddled with debt and living without savings. Without her mom, there were only two people she could turn to: us.
“It’s been an interesting process, living with a sexagenarian looking for a job in a city new to her, an experience that is unfolding from her new life on our couch. My boyfriend and I are helping her write cover letters and make friends. We make dinner for our new family unit every night.
“To mixed results, we’re making this caregiving situation work, at the expense of personal freedoms, savings accounts and mental health. This situation is temporary, yes, but as I told my boyfriend days after she moved in: this is our life now. There will never not be a moment when we are not the caregivers for his mother.”
Chronic illness can seriously mess up your mental health. Kui Mwai’s confusing and consuming battle with diabetes left her with overwhelming body insecurities:
“I followed my insulin and food regimen religiously, and, because of that, my body experienced a ‘honeymoon phase.’ For seven years, I no longer required medication to manage my diabetes.
“A switch flipped when I was no longer insulin-dependent. I saw my body differently. I was strong. I could stand on my own two feet without needing medication to survive. That strength felt sexy.
“But the honeymoon was over before I knew it. Similar to my struggles when I was first diagnosed, my sophomore year of college I lost a lot of weight. I went from 150 pounds to 90 pounds in four months. This time, my weight loss was received with mixed reactions. Some thought I was anorexic, but most thought I looked hot.
“I was suffering from a diabetic complication called diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA, in which your body shuts down due to a lack of insulin. Throughout my battle with DKA, I found myself drowning in insecurities yet again. I was angry and lost trust in my body and myself.”