Of course with being just days into 2018, I’ve been contemplating the past year, as most do.
2017 brought trials and tribulations. The passing of my uncle and grandfather just months after my grandmother, to start. Uncounted mishaps with my wonderful vehicle. Illness and injury with my children. A breakup that took months for me to overcome.
But in the midst of all of the bad, there was a lot more good, a lot of learning and a lot of growing.
I started the year in a house as opposed to an apartment, as I have been for the last decade or so. I got a promotion of sorts at work, making me more financially sound than I ever have been in my life. Our family lost so many, but those of us left created some new memories together. I planted flowers and fruits and vegetables and herbs and watched them grow. I explored my physical, mental, and emotional boundaries and stretched them all just a little bit. I got to know more of who I am and what makes me who I am.
From all of the bad I found an even deeper well of strength, one that I thought I had run dry from overcoming my father’s passing. I didn’t know if I could handle even one more bad thing, let alone a multitude of them. The well replenishes, or so it seems. Nothing could compare to the loss of my father, and having to think on ones toes and overcome obstacle after obstacle has the potential to run a person down. Especially when they think there’s nothing left in them. I’m not run down. I can handle more than I knew. I am ready to make this next year even better than this past year. Because even though there was bad, the good over shadows it all.
The loss of so many loved ones in such a short time frame was shocking, to say the least. Heartbreaking. I’m trying to come up with words to convey it all, but I’m coming up short. In two years I attended more funeral services and mourned more for those who passed than some people do in a lifetime. Waking up to the shocking news of a former co-workers unexpected death, those early morning phone calls about my Uncle and Papaw. . . I got up and just stared at my reflection in the mirror as I tried to keep my composure, and wrap my head and heart around yet another loss. I could hardly believe it myself, and couldn’t help but wonder when my supervisors would start asking for obits as proof for my bereavement days. In four months I took 9 days, 3 each for my Mamaw, Papaw, and Uncle. During one of those bereavement periods I also attended services for my former co-worker. It was a lot to think about, and feel for that matter. Somehow though I’m not a complete emotional wreck, and I visit the cemetery more frequently now instead of avoiding it as I had done previously. The plots are near a field, on a country road. I take solace in the quiet place, knowing that some of this peace I feel there comes from those no longer physically here.
Beyond the sadness, my kids took me to new levels of parenting, as they always do. With crazy stunts and scary problems, with their odd little jokes and hugs and unconditional love. They are my purpose. They get me out of bed every day. Whether I want to get up or not. I have people who depend on my existence, and love me even on my bad days. Chase turned 5 and Matt turned 12 and we made it through another year of crazy. That in and of itself is a reason to celebrate. And we can’t forget brother. We also made it through another year, and he made some pretty lengthy strides that make me proud to be his sister. These three people are my world, and no one and nothing can take that away. They are my breath. They are my will. They are my determination and my love. Without them, I would truly be nothing.
To expand on the breakup, it was a learning experience for me. I had pretty well reserved myself to being single for the majority of my life, and was not troubled by the prospect. I enjoy my life, and my own company. I’m not bitter or a man hater, just content with what life has in my hand of cards. My kids. My brother. A few close friends. I understood that not many people want to take on my complicated package with all of its restrictions and the planning required to make things run smoothly. That, and I had very little time or even desire to incorporate another human being into the mix. And truthfully, I would never dream of imposing any of this on another individual. I’ve chosen my life – or it’s chosen me – and I am happy with it. I don’t expect anyone else to do and feel the same.
Someone did though, and seemed all in. I allowed him access to all of it – every aspect of my life was touched by this individual. And then he opted out. And it was hard for me to revert back to the way things were. I had been so reserved to going it alone that when someone showed an interest in helping to shoulder the burdens that I leaned heavily and grew dependent on the individual very quickly. This whole ordeal encompassed a large part of the year. I gained a person who I never dreamed would be an integral part of my life, and he was gone just as fast as he appeared. A whirlwind of this proportion tends to throw a person off balance a little. And off balance I definitely was. But oh, the learning that came of it. Because of feeling so out of sorts, I did things to try and distract myself from the mental and emotional distress. I gardened and took a yoga class and started this blog. I visited the cemetery more frequently. I leaned on friends, and normally I am a loner and lean inward when I’m bothered or upset. I was already out of my comfort zone, dealing with something I had never intended to have to deal with again – heartbreak. So I wandered further outside my comfort zone in socializing and doing things I’d never done before. And found comfort in the discomfort, if that makes any sense. Instead of traveling further inward because of being hurt, I spread my figurative wings, and reached outward. I found yoga centered me and also helped relieve the back pain I am periodically plagued with. I found my writing voice again, even though I didn’t write very much about the problem I was internally coping with, except briefly and vaguely. I knew I didn’t have an objective opinion on the subject, just hurt feelings and anger. So I kept my mouth shut about that and wrote about everything else. I formed tighter bonds with people and went to concerts and participated in social activities. I got my hands dirty in my gardens and even though they didn’t turn out how I planned, I still took a lot of joy in the activity. I got sunburned and sore from digging everything by hand and at the end of the day, the shower ran black more often than not, and I smiled, knowing that I was doing this. I was the one mowing and weeding and digging and planting and creating. And that was a metaphor for everything else in my life. I had to continually remind myself that I did this whole living thing for 32 years and several months without the individual, and I sure as hell could continue to do it after him. I just needed to find my stride again.
I would love to say that he had no impact on me, that everything did just revert back to the way it was. But it didn’t. I’m not the same. I discovered things about myself that I never would have found had he not come and shaken things up for me. So while the process was painful, I’m grateful. I’m grateful for the lesson, I’m grateful for the experiences I wouldn’t have had if he’d stuck it out and we’d stayed together. Or even if he’d not entered my life the way he did, for that matter. As with all loss, it brought things into perspective. I have a new appreciation for my solitude and my friends and family and everything about who I am. Yes, I was betrayed and hurt. But from that betrayal I learned so much about myself. So thanks for fucking me over, guy. You made me a better person.
I didn’t intend to devote such a large part of this post to someone and something that I truly am happy to put behind me. Someone and something that truth be told, doesn’t deserve a second thought from me. However, facts are that I allowed this to impact such a large part of my year that I couldn’t sum it up in fewer words. I’m glad the pain is gone, and I can take my lessons and move forward. What doesn’t break you makes you stronger. The experience didn’t turn me into a bitter, ugly person who distrusts everyone and everything, and for that I am also grateful. Maybe there’s someone out there who is strong enough to walk into my life and stay; maybe not. I’m happy regardless. That’s all that matters.
I also quit drinking energy drinks, am drinking more water, exercising regularly, have established credit, have read more than I have in years, cooked new things, and made some awesome memories with my kids. I overcame fears and jumped some internal boundaries that I never thought possible.
I’m not one to set specific resolutions. I’m a planner, so that may seem the opposite of who I am, but I would prefer not to set myself up for disappointment. I prefer a more general goal – improve my life. Whether that’s financial, health, job, whatever. As long as I’m a better person or in a better situation at the start if 2019 than I am at the start of 2018, I’m cool. I’d like to quit smoking, lose weight, start running again. . . I’d like to get a new car, a raise, never pay a bill late, get up on time, blahblahblah. All I can do is take it a day at a time, and wake up with the best intentions. And not beat myself up too bad if I have a bad day and fall short occasionally.
To recap, there were parts of the year that totally sucked. But looking at the big picture, it was as good as it could be, better than I anticipated, and I am a better person for all that I experienced and learned. I don’t wish for heartache and loss and my vehicle to continually break down, or for sick kids or the other number of trials and tribulations that helped make up the 365 days of 2017. But if I can continue to learn and grow, I’m all for it. Happy New Year, folks. May your year be all that you wish and need it to be.