I don’t think it’s a huge secret that the last few years of my personal life have been very challenging. 2012 marked the beginning of an era of often extremely painful growth. I got divorced, accepted a new job, moved across the country, and have been living alone and away from any of my family for the first time in my adult life. In that time I’ve finished my master’s degree and lost Jake, the stray Doberman who turned out to be the greatest blessing I could have ever asked for. I’ve also had to face some harsh realities born from my past, namely that one cannot simply push through every trauma, tragedy, and stressor for their entire lives without taking the time to process, grieve, and properly heal. That “pick yourself up and move on” mentality makes for great Facebook memes, but it’s not sustainable.
I’ve suffered a couple of crippling losses this year. Jake’s passing was extremely difficult. He needed so much care for the last 6 months that when I finally had to let him go I had no idea what to do with myself. This year also saw the final end of a really complicated on-again/off-again personal relationship we wished could last, but knew couldn’t. Sometimes lives just aren’t compatible no matter how much love exists. The heartbreak is debilitating.
This craptastic year has finally pushed me to start actively working to do something about the anxiety disorder that’s been choking me for at least a decade. Grief, it turns out, can’t be ignored. Closure has to happen. Otherwise the psyche finds ways to kick you in the ass. Growth really, really sucks. Therapy, doubly so.
At the beginning of 2015 I had a very short, reasonable list of New Year’s resolutions:
- Go to the gym 3 days a week and lose 50 lb
- Run/walk a 5k
- Blog once a month
- Read 1 non-fiction book a month
- Use my new passport at least 1 time
I did none of those things. This year has hit me in the face every time I’ve looked up. Sucker punches.
Amanda Palmer recently posted something on Facebook about how Henry Rollins takes a year to absorb and recharge and fill his batteries, and then spends a year creating and producing and putting art out into the world.
I’ve never recharged – my whole adult life has been education and family and career. 2012 was about breaking away from that which was broken (and threatening to break me), 2013 was about work, 2014 was about school, and 2015 was about personal loss and extreme expenditure of mental energy professionally – it was a drain in every conceivable sense. I’m tapped out.
So here’s my heads-up for 2016: I’m coming for you. You don’t get to be the douchecanoe 2015 was. I’m paying attention, being more intentional, and not letting the stuff I can’t control take a foothold in my head or heart. 2016 is the year I’m working to have a personal life that is as good or better than my professional life has been the last few years. Call it proactive self-care. I’m so tired of these personal/professional extremes. That 2015 list will be toast on principle, but I’m not making any other resolutions. No more pressure. No more putting everyone and everything ahead of myself. Not this year. I’m going to do puzzles and read books and rewatch quotable yet otherwise silly movies a few dozen times. I’m going to go to places and events that aren’t work-centric. I’m going to spend some time on the beach and some in the mountains. I’m going to look at the stars with no agenda about where I have to be next. I’m gonna see my Mamaw more. I’m going to spend more time with friends and less time focused on deadlines. I’m going to breathe, and that’s going to be ok.