Hello wonderful friends.
If you have still been keeping up with this blog in spite of my absence or emailing me to tell me that I've inspired you in spite of me not lifting a finger here in two months, I have nothing but gratitude for you. It's made me furthermore realize that quality really does exceed quantity. I hope you are all doing well!
If you've been following this blog for a pretty good while, you probably know that I always get into a really reflective mood around this time of year. It's a time of looking back on the months that have passed and setting goals for the ones to come.
I've mentioned more than once that this has been a difficult year for me, but I've really struggled to articulate how and why. Every year has its highs and lows, but I've been hit with so many lows that I can barely keep up with the highs. I've always been able to turn my pain into poetry and make healing sense of my misfortune, but every time I've tried to sit down and truly portray where I've been and where I'm at this year, I've come up empty. It's almost like my writer self went on vacation without telling me and is refusing to come back home. It's frustrating, painful and bewildering. Because writing is one of the only ways I know how to communicate, I feel lost and useless when the words refuse to come to me. But as I sit here and try to figure out how to give you guys a new post worth reading --- a post that will make up for all the ones I've failed to write in recent months --- I realize that it doesn't have to be so complicated. You guys are my friends. You guys don't care about how well I say something or if I even say it at all. All you want from me is the open honesty and raw humanity I've been dishing out from day one. So this is me trying to give it to you...
My mom has been sick for a majority of this year, and I've watched her suffer in ways I never thought I would. I've been told not to reveal anything specific, but I will say that it's difficult to describe what it's like to barely remember a reality when she was well. All I've known, day in and day out, is her being sick. And it's so easy to feel invincible. It's so easy to feel like nothing bad will ever happen to you. Anything can happen at any moment. I fell down the steps this morning and was on the floor before I even realized what had happened. Being hit with bad news or a moment of extreme misfortune tends to work the exact same way. No one is immune to injury, sickness or pain. And my mom isn't the only person in my life who got awful news this year. I just can't even elaborate.
Anyone can get sick. I can get sick. You can get sick. The person sitting next to you can get sick. Your best friend can get sick. Your pets can get sick (more on that later). Your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife can get sick. (In fact, I just finished answering an email from a client who's wife is gravely ill.) One of my beloved dogs even got sick this year. We were told that she could live anywhere from five days to five years, but she didn't even make it five weeks. My bottom line is this: We don't live in a bubble. And I'm not suggesting we live in fear of something bad happening (HELLS no). I'm simply saying that the moment you learn how to care about people and acknowledge everyone's mortality is the moment you grow up and see the world outside of your little box of problems that don't matter. Very little can be a problem for you when you have greater and more dire things to worry about.
On top of the aforementioned misadventures, I also experienced the loss of love at a level of intensity I never have before. The kind of loss that is the emotional equivalent of being violently ill and unable to function at a normal level. The kind of loss that feels like a train hurtling towards you, and all you can do is brace yourself for impact. The kind of loss that feels like losing a small, but important part of yourself. The kind of loss that feels like watching a strong and sturdy rock shrink into a flimsy pebble. It's such a universal feeling. Once you experience love, there's no going back. It changes you. And unfortunately, it can devastate you. I've healed tremendously, but I still cry about it. I'm crying about it right now (because duh). Pain often has a tendency to sit in your pocket and remind you of what you no longer have, but after awhile, it becomes a piece of your story. And every piece matters. EVERY PIECE MATTERS.
So there's a little taste of what I've had to deal with this year without reliving every last gory detail. But trust me when I say it hasn't been all bad. I watched my older brother get married, and his wedding day was one of the best days of my life. I watched my younger brother graduate from high school. I got published in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book, a longtime dream of mine. I tried new things. I made new friends. I went on an epic trip and paid for it myself. I got a job at Waffle House, even though getting a "real job" has always terrified me. And better yet, I've been doing surprisingly well. It's harder than it looks (PLEASE be nice to/appreciative of waiters and waitresses, my friends), but I'm doing it. I lived through the interview. I lived through training. I lived through adjusting to a whole new work environment. I lived through my first morning rush hour without being supervised. And I'm sure I'll live through the 17-hour shift I have coming up on Christmas Day. (Time will tell on that one.)
In a nutshell, I made it. My slightly battered heart is still beating, and my slightly heavy soul is still glowing. I'm alive. I'm well. And in this very moment at least, I'm happy.
Here are my hopes for you as we bring another year to a close and prepare for the next one:
I hope you take your life goals as seriously as you take brushing your teeth.
I hope you anticipate love instead of loss.
I hope you mend the relationships that matter and let go of the ones you no longer have room for.
I hope you realize that crying can be just as necessary as laughing.
I hope you tell the people you love that you love them even more than you already do.
I hope you take it easy and regularly check in to make sure your every need is being met.
I hope you choose understanding over judgment.
I hope you are receptive to wisdom while also allowing yourself to make your own mistakes and learn your own lessons.
I hope you make staying in touch with your friends a priority.
I hope you count your blessings, even when they're a little harder to find.
I hope you experience great courage and immeasurable joy.
I hope you give yourself a chance. Always, always give yourself a chance.
Talk to you soon?