Bracing for impact.


A few weeks ago, I almost hit a deer with my car. I came over the top of a hill coming home from Nightwolf’s apartment late one evening, and here was this doe in my lane. I braced up and braked, and the doe leapt out of the way. Despite the surprise, we saw each other with ample of time to react. Even with that, though, I braced. I braced for impact. Sometimes, even when you know things will be okay, you brace for impact anyways; you prepare for the worst, but work toward the best.

The impact may never come. The deer may never come in contact with my car, but it’s only natural to tense up.

bracing for impact

Because I like metaphors.

I’m trying this new thing: it’s called “having feelings.” I’m a bottler, and while I love to write about experiences, I very rarely dive into the underbelly of the emotions attached to it, unless they’re positive. I can write about how excited or thrilled or stoked or whatever other synonym I am when things are going well.

I do NOT like sharing things like vulnerability, discomfort, or brokenness. Even in my more candid posts about my struggles with bipolar disorder and bulimia, I don’t typically talk about feelings. I explain facts, but not how I react to them (aside from “put on your big girl panties and deal with it”).

Right now, I’m fried.

I’m emotionally exhausted. This time of year is always a little volatile. As much fun as my birthday was, it was my first birthday, ever, not spent in Illinois. The people who were here in Kansas City with me made it just about perfect. It was one of my best birthdays ever. Yet, it was bittersweet.

This upcoming Sunday is Father’s Day. Again, it’s bittersweet. I’m lucky enough to have had two amazing fathers in my life.

Kelly Rivard and Mark Raef

My step-dad came to visit me and see my life here in Kansas City in April. We know how to have fun together.

Yet, as blessed as I am to have an amazing stepfather (HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, BUBBA!), I still miss Daddy. The insult-to-injury of this is that while Father’s Day falls on June 16th, the eleventh anniversary of his passing falls on June 19th. I’m incredibly grateful that they don’t fall on the same day this year, but it’s still harder to deal with when you’re far from the places and faces that have always gotten you through those “milestones.”

Gerard Rivard and Kelly Rivard

This was just a few months before his heart attack.

Last year, on the tenth anniversary, my mom and siblings and I all got together and had a beer for him.

raising a beer to Gerard Rivard

I took this picture while we reminisced about Daddy.

This year, I’m probably going to be at my desk, working. On the bright side, I leave for a short vacation after work that night. I get to see my best friend (Kourtney) for the first time since December. I’m joining her and her fantastic family (read that as, my second family) at the Lake of Ozarks. So, there’s a silver lining.

We were 18 years old enjoy virgin daquiri's on vacation in Missouri. This is my all-time favorite picture of Kourtney and I.

The last trip Kourtney and I took to the Ozarks together with her family, before life got in the way. We were 18.

In the last few weeks, I’ve missed both of my brothers’ birthdays, as well as my best friend’s daughter’s. All of them were hard to miss.

So, what we have is a lot of things happening at once, leaving me feeling emotionally raw. I told Nightwolf on the phone last night that I felt like I needed a “break” from the emotional roller-coaster that June has been. (I like that he is good at giving me perspective. He point-blank said, “It never really stops, sweetheart.” He’s right.) Luckily, I do have that vacation to look forward to. And the next week, I have a road trip with Nightwolf to Ohio for my cousin’s wedding. I’m excited to go on this adventure with him.

And, life has hilarious timing sometimes. Right when I’m feeling the most exhausted, opportunities arise. Work has sped up in the last few days and the momentum does not look to be diminishing at all in the next few weeks. I’m ponying up and taking on more responsibility. While my inner-stress junkie is thrilled, the already-tired parts of my heart and my brain are trying to figure out how to tap into leftover energy reserves to make it all happen. Realistically, I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew. But, it sure feels that way when you’re already tired.

I’ve back-burnered some big personal projects. This blog was going to get rebranding. My philanthropic pursuits here in Kansas City are at a stand-still right now. I’m mad at myself for that.

So, please excuse me if I seem a little more stressed than usual. Pardon me if I show wear-and-tear a bit more than I’d like. Accept my apologies if I’m overly-apologetic, because when I show strain I tend to ask forgiveness for it way more often than I should. Please understand if it seems like I’m slamming on the brakes and bracing my whole being for what could be (but probably won’t be) impact.

And just because I might hit the deer, doesn’t mean the deer is less beautiful. Despite emotional static, life is still wonderful. Even with the stress, I’m about the happiest I can ever remember being. So, I do what I must, I say a few prayers, I take some deep breaths, and remember that when the stress is more manageable, I’m going to be even more grateful for the learning experiences.

Did you think I could write a meaningful blog post about emotions and stress without somehow inserting my typical coping-mechanism optimism in there? Naw, me neither.

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6 thoughts on “Bracing for impact.

  1. THANK GOD there isn’t a similar holiday called “BIG BROTHERS DAY” because you are sporting two AMAZINGLY AWESOME big brothers and I’m sure that it would put you in a serious state of dysfunction to not be within a 25 ft radius of them that entire day! Luv you foo!

  2. Will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers! You’ve found a good man Kelly and for that I am so happy for you! I am proud of your honesty to be able to share your feelings, your inner feelings. Even if it leaves you feeling raw, exposed, and vulnerable. But those are the times when I feel like we learn and grow the most. We can overcome those moments and things will start looking up again. You will look back on this time with pride for overcoming it and each time, let’s hope, it gets easier and easier. 🙂

  3. Kelly! Your life is super stressful right now and I really admire you for being able to handle it all so well. Whether you’re not great at showing emotions or not, I still think you’re doing a hell of a job grinning and bearing it while juggling all of this stuff you have going on, so kudos to you.
    I’m so sorry about your dad. I’m glad you have fond memories of him to hold on to. Reading that gave me chills!
    Thinking about ya girl and sending you lots of love and prayers!

    • Thanks, Katie. It’s amazing what sleep, prayer, support, and a good meeting with your pastor can do for someone’s outlook. Today, even with how busy and overwhelmed I am, I feel tons better.

      “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” I’ll survive whatever’s thrown my way — especially with the help of God and thoughtful friends like you.

      Thanks so much!

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