I mean it, guys.
That title is not meant to be some kind of cheap clickbait. If you’re looking for lighthearted, witty New Year’s resolutions and lessons I kindly advice you to look elsewhere. Here we’re going to be diving deep. I’m talking get your scuba gear and that extra tank of oxygen- deep.
Alright, you’ve been warned. In we go.
This really has been a crazy year for me too, and not because of covid.
Life is messy.
A year has at least as many facettes to it as it has days and a person even more so, each living tapestry carefully woven with it’s fair share of both joy and hardship.
This year truly has been one with both threads intricately intertwined.
I know you’ve heard it countless of times before, but please don’t judge a book by it’s cover, a person by their smile. You never know what’s going on on the inside.
I went for a walk tonight, my path lined with lanterns and lights.
Some were put out as an invitation for the new year to simply come as she is, others as a plea, asking her to please be kind.
Some people jumped the gun and set off their fireworks before their due time, and I don’t blame them.
It was almost as if they with those colorful sparkles in the sky were signaling to the new year to hurry up and get here already, to come rescue them from this one.
As I walked by the park, the one with the tire swings facing the forest, I found myself slowing down.
Places hold so many memories, especially the places you grew up.
This particular one made me reflect on old chapters, some sweet, some less so.
Pretty much exactly this time a year ago I hid in a public bathroom, having one of the worst anxiety attacks of my life. I’m talking the kind where you’re crying so hard you can’t breathe and your lunges burn so intensely you want to scream but no sound comes out so you’re stuck with a hoarse whisper, one that over and over again desperately asks someone and everyone when no one is around to answer the question drowning you from the inside: “who the hell am I?”
I remember looking in the mirror literally not recognizing myself, and it was terrifying.
I was at the same youth conference I’ve gone to every year growing up, with the same people, doing the same things, and yet I had never before felt so wrong and out of place.
Where was the girl that used to live for all this?
The one who nicely and naively accepted everything she was told within these four walls as truth and vowed to spend her whole life sharing it with the world?
Where was the young woman so many of them once looked up to as someone to follow, to look out for,
somone who’s burning heart would fuel their own fire?
How many of them would freak and desperately try to fix me if they found out even half of what I had turned into?
I went to bible college for three years, for heaven’s sake. (Pun intendended. I need to find the humor in this, okay.) This wasn’t supposed to happen. It wasn’t supposed to go this way.
And yet I did.
The me I once knew was deteriorating day by day (and with her, all I had ever known) and the girl now staring back at me through bloodshot, tearfilled eyes was one I longed to embrace but didn’t know how to
so I just stood there, staring,
trying desperately to understand.
To make sense of her. To figure out how she got there and what the hell she had done with the old me.
I didn’t see it then, but I do now.
What I back then thought was nothing but a confusing breakdown due to imaginary expectations and pressures was in fact a very real trauma response, and the first of many awakenings.
It was my body screaming for my attention. For me to trust her and just get the fuck out of all that had been breaking her down for so long, even if I didn’t yet understand why.
She had been telling me the same thing for years but no matter what she did to reach me I kept ignoring her, simply because that’s what I was told to do.
I was taught she was deceitful, dirty and wrong and that she couldn’t be trusted. That she should submit, be told what to do and fit into every box she was handed
-no questions asked-
(because appearantly the truth is fragile and breaks if you start investigating it)
and that if she didn’t, she was lost. She and my soul and spirit right down with her.
It pains me now, all that I put her through in the name of God.
Years and years tainted by a myriad of chronic health problems without medical explanation, other than “you’re just stressed” even though I had nothing logical to be stressed about.
So much anxiety and shame. So much fear. So much overstepping of her boundaries and letting others do the same.
So much shutting down and glazing over, all in the name of “having faith”.
She cried out over and over again, but I never listened.
Not until that time in that dark public bathroom
on New Year’s eve, 2019.
That’s when I first heard her voice, first stopped to look deep into her pain-filled eyes and decided that, even if I had no idea how, I would do my very best to understand what she was trying to tell me.
That, even if I didn’t know her yet, I would fight for her.
And I would get to know her, truly, deeply and intimately, until I couldn’t help but love all that she had become.
This has been a year of asking all the hard questions and then some, only to learn that I don’t know shit and that I still have a lot more unlearning to do before I can confidently say I’m as free as I possibly can be.
But I’m moving forward.
For the first time in what feels like forever I no longer feel stuck and that, my friends, is the best thing I’ve felt in a long, long time.
It has taken a lot of tugging and digging and getting my hands dirty to free these deep roots and it has more often than not felt like both brutal work and treatment, but the freedom gained to now emigrate and replant myself wherever I like is a reward worth all the pain and heartache, and then some. It’s both liberating and terrifying, fit into one beautifully imperfect package.
This turn of the year, at least for me, isn’t an end of a chapter but a mid-sentence turning of the page, equally annoying and captivating.
Annoying, because it takes what otherwise might have been a gracefully flowing assembly of words and turns it into one that studders and halts (no matter how smoothly you try to turn said page) but captivating nevertheless, because regardless of what is being said, you just need to know what comes next.
No book can be put down mid sentence so you’re just going to have to keep going.
So go I will.
I have no resolutions for this upcoming year but I do have one intention:
To listen to my body,
become the truest friend she’s ever known,
-truly trust her-
and to no longer just search for an outside voice to show me the way but to instead listen to my own and follow wherever she might lead.
When I look in the mirror now and see that girl -yes, the skin I’m in- but the one beneath, I can finally say that I do so with large, loud love in my eyes and that I’m so stinking proud of the powerful, beautiful, gentle woman she’s becoming. I can’t wait to be her greatest cheerleader and to champion her into 2021 and into all other years to come.
The relationship with the self really is the grandest of adventures.
Happy New Year, friends.
Thanks for sticking with me through this one and hopefully we’ll have many more together, whatever they may bring.