It is good to be alive, this last day of 2015. Most years come and go with an optimistic indifference (and a weight loss plan), but it is with warm regard that I say goodbye to 2015 and welcome 2016. This year, to be plain, was rough. But it was also special and simultaneously easy, freeing, sobering, excruciating, sad, dismal, gray, bright, full, loud, humbling, heavy, scary, and most importantly, full of love and recovery.
At the end of 2014 I was a girl in transition from robot to actual, genuine human. My birth mom’s death was still fresh, I was trudging through my past in therapy (which I felt guilty about because “my problems aren’t as important as racism and sexism and starving children”, or so my head told me), and was fully disillusioned by my job. I wasn’t depressed, or even unhappy at the time. My decrepit issues from the past had a creative hold on me that had me living the life of a co-dependant Adult Child of an Alcoholic, without any emotional insight as to its happening. All I could see were symptoms; obsession with losing weight, constant neurosis, and a relentless drive towards being perceived as perfect. I lived in my mind, with no idea of the current moment, my needs, or my feelings. The first thing you need to be able to do to heal is give yourself permission to accept what has happened. I learned through therapy that due to my family’s tendency to happily accept the victim role, I often went to the other extreme, always citing someone who had it worse than me, therefore “canceling out my issue”. This may sound fine, but I was really just being a martyr; saying I didn’t need anything when I really did, and then resenting people for not giving me what I need. What I learned is if I say I’m tired, and you say you’re more tired, that doesn’t make me any less tired. We can both have those feelings, it’s totally fine. I can grieve for my younger self that lived with an abusive alcoholic father, and although it isn’t as bad as genocide, or hate crimes, or literacy rates, there’s real pain there, and I’m allowed to feel it. And since I took the time to do that, I don’t feel like the victim I tried to pretend not to play. I do not suffer from my past or my fears of the future. My ego does not run wild with a constant, defensive, judgemental, attention-thirst disposition. It still tries 🙂 but this year I learned what it sounds like, and to not trust it if I want to feel loving towards the world and at peace with myself.
I took time and found what I love this year. I read 23 books, lost 35 pounds (without dieting), changed jobs, and taught myself to sew. I feel I’ve finally found my place in the art world as a crafter with a design career, and have given up (for now) on my fantasies of cooking gourmet Ina Garten recipes every night (I realized that I would be much happier in life if it were accepted in our household that some nights I just want cereal for dinner; Brooks kindly and happily accepted). I stopped living by the illusion of my life that my mind played for me, and the promises of “what my life could be like if only I ___insert any number of things to buy/do/acheive___.” I stepped into my life now, right now, with my unwashed hair and bad posture, and things are good here. Things are great here. This life is exceptional, and I am strong, and I am soft, and I have been so full of this lingering love that feels great to spread and hold onto while I’m out in the world. I can not be in this place, and living in my mind at the same time. It is a constant choice that I must consciously make.
In less wishy-washy terms I found a really great/cool therapist who believed that connecting with your true self was the key. I had an incredible support system, and I learned (in my heart, not my mind) what it is that makes a support system, and how special it is to have it. I’m astounded by Brooks’ patience and relentless belief that it is always better to talk about it out loud. Even if I know what I’m saying/feeling is cliche, even if it’s awful, even if my mind has already logically denounced it in my head, I need to say it. I came back to now. I got rid of a bunch of my shit. I took a lot of walks.
This is a long and personal post. It’s hard for me to write because my head is trying so hard to form sentences that don’t make my issues sounds so horrible, and don’t make me sound like some saint for overcoming them, and and and. But that’s the point. I cannot control how you will interpret this post, and so all I can do is write the words that feel true, even if they’re clumsy or misrepresentational.
2015 was the year of going through fire; to date, it was the best year of my life.
Until next time
(P.S. I welcome (nice, kind, sweet, gentle, funny) punctuation advice)
P.P.S. The photo above is so dear to my heart. This Christmas my aunt asked my dad if he would mind playing piano so we could sing a few Christmas songs. I didn’t think he would, and if he did, I didn’t think it would last long. But he did, and we sang, and it was the most wonderful Christmas present I could have received at the end of a year like 2015.