It’s a NEW YEAR! Oh man, you guys, I know I’m not the only one who is not sorry to see the backside of 2016, which is not something I normally feel. But, last year was a toughie. We lost several people we love, our family endured a traumatic event that shook our beliefs and courage to its core, which doesn’t take into account all the craziness in the world, and the fact that the 90s are back and no woman with hips looks good in oversized t-shirts.
There were times, this past year, when I thought I was going to fall apart. That what the world was asking of me was too much and I was actually held together with Scotch tape and not duct tape like I always hoped. That there was no way I could continue to be a good mom and wife and friend in the midst of all my pain and uncertainty. That the easiest thing would be to lay down and let the year wash away and pray I would find the strength to face the next one.
But, I discovered I’m made of tougher stuff that I thought. I didn’t crumble, but instead kept moving, albeit often clumsily and with less grace than I would have liked (and with more tears and yelling), but I kept getting up every day and taking care of my kids and life and family. I let myself feel overwhelmed and defeated and then dragged myself out of bed and got the kids to school and I’m proud of that.
I felt the terror that comes with discovering violence can happen to people you love but I didn’t cower in our house. I made myself stronger by joining a gym, bought myself some Mace, and forced myself back into the world because, as I learned, fear is a terrible guide. It acts like it wants to keep us safe, but in reality it keeps us small and I don’t plan on being small.
I found myself an amazing therapist who has helped me see the opportunities for growth and I’ve tried to use this past year as a catalyst for cleaning up my life. You know all those annoying undercurrents that bug you and you keep thinking you’ll take care of someday? This year I blew them up. I decided next year is not the year to get better at money, have better relationships, work on a stronger marriage, speak my mind, stop being co-depedent – IT’S RIGHT NOW. (Not annoying at all for the people in my life, ya know?)
As you can imagine, coming along for the ride this year has not been for the faint of heart. I’ve been annoying, dogmatic, dogged, emotional, and lost. But, and I hesitate saying this too loudly because I don’t want to jinx anything, it has also been remarkable.
For such a long time I’d been living a life of complacency where I acted as if I didn’t acknowledge things they couldn’t hurt me. The best example I can think of is I refused to put together an earthquake kit because I somehow believed that by doing so, and acknowledging the fact we live in a place where an earthquake is highly likely, we might bring one on. I realize how insane that sounds when it’s written down, but keeping your head in the sand is a very effective coping mechanism. 🙂 And, I did this with many relationships in my life, my finances, my health, my career. I acted like my kids when they close their eyes and think I can’t see them. Um, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there, it just means you’re not dealing with it.
The thing about life walking into your life and demanding to be dealt with is it’s hard to be complacent. Your hand is forced and you are faced with a decision – hide under the covers or woman up and deal with it. I’m not saying I didn’t build the occasional blanket fort but, for the most part, I’m doing the hard, dirty work of dealing with life. I’m facing relationships honestly and having hard conversations that have opened doors to easier times and deeper connections. I faced my money fears (how much do I love you, YNAB?!?!) and, while I still buy way too many shoes, I now know what I can afford and don’t feel guilty when I hit “Buy.” I’m recognizing patterns in my emotional life and with my depression and working to be pro-active rather than wishing I was somehow different. I’m seeing where I undermine myself and am working to put in place systems to prevent it.
In short, I’m a totally different, better person you all should strive to be.
KIDDING. I’m still a hot mess, and THAT’S TOTALLY OKAY. It’s weirdly stressful to act as if everything’s always rosy and pray that nothing bad will ever happen and worry whether or not you will be able to step up to life’s challenges. Instead it’s freeing to know that life is inherently messy and imperfect and I’m just going to do the best I can and sometimes that will look like I want and other times I’ll be hanging by my fingernails, screaming for help.
Because, here’s the other thing I learned last year – I am not alone. Oh sure, I like to think I’m self-sufficient cowgirl who can move dressers and mountains if she puts her mind to it (I grew up in Colorado, otherwise known as the “I will run 100 miles to prove my fortitude” state, okay?), but what I realized is burdens are best shared.
I tend to go internal when things happen but circumstances forced me to rely on others and that was a gift. From my friends who listened for hours when I wasn’t making sense and held me up, to the strangers who donated money that eased my sister’s family’s life, to the therapists and police and case workers and PR people and community members who worked overtime and off-time to accommodate our family and make sure we felt supported, not to mention, all the people who delivered food and checked on us and continue to think about us, we remembered the world is full of good people with kind hearts at a time when it would have been easy to think otherwise.
I’m still working on letting people in and asking for help, but I’m getting better. I know how much I appreciate when people are vulnerable and give space for support so I’m trying to remember it’s the same for others. Which is one of the reasons I’m writing this post. I want to be more open with you guys about what’s going on, to not be so frightened of online criticism that I make myself small, to be so worried about offending a few that I don’t speak for others. I want to cool it with the self-editing and open the door to mistakes.
And I want to have more fun! I saw in stark detail last year that you have to practice joy so it’s a part of who you are to your core. Even in the dark times, my sisters and I managed to laugh, which felt like a huge accomplishment. I want to keep choosing joy and practicing fun so it courses through our veins and lets in the light no matter what comes our way.
So, my resolutions this year are pretty simple: read every day (my ultimate fun), have a family day once a week where we go on an adventure (woo hoo!), figure out a way to easily record things the kids do and say (any suggestions?), and take bigger risks with Fabulistas (much more on this next week). Basically, focus on the joy. I have a feeling the other stuff is going to take care of itself.
My emotions toward 2016 are kind of like a bad boyfriend. You’re happy you made it through intact and glad you learned so much, but, omg, you never need to see that sucker again.
Here’s to a 2017 full of laughs, joy, and hearty mistakes.
Lovely print by Wishful Printing