What feels like a lifetime ago, someone gave me advice which I have carried with me as the world transitioned from one year to the next, although to be honest I did not always succeed at applying it. This wisdom encouraged ignoring a list of lofty goals and ambitions for the year to come, and take a true and authentic inventory, on this last day of the year, of where you’re at. Once your task is complete, the next step was to pull out the page(s) you compiled from the year before and then ideally, to bask in the warmth of your accomplishes, growth and progress.
It feels pretty backwards from what our society promotes, regarding New Year behavior, doesn’t it? (in all fairness, I’d like to point out that this is the same collective voice which encourages us to “start new” each January, yet to also carry our baggage and chores re: Christmas, into the new year. I for one do NOT leave my Christmas stuff up because I already operate on this feeling that I am behind and unable to catch up on all that needs to be done so starting a new year off by intentionally leaving tasks to be completed seems self destructive…)
My DNA and enneagram have left me powerless when it comes to the task of writing lists. Therefore, while I can write out my annual assessment of my journey, I am always going to write a list of goals for the new year. They aren’t resolutions, and the certainly won’t all be done, but they operate as a sort of guide to my navigational system. The one thing I DO always do, is a Word of the Year. Though my posting here, this year, has been irregular, anyone who reads here will likely be aware that my “word” of 2018 has been LET GO. After the way words of previous years have taught me, I buckled up for a bumpy, likely brutal ride, and it has been that.
My Let Go journey has been a year of growth. As recently has two months ago I would have said it was a year of loss, but today I can truthfully say that I haven’t actually lost anything. Before I immerse this post into the deep end though, lets tread water and adjust to the temp in the shallow end…
This year I have:
- drank more cups of coffee, by at least 1/3, than any year prior.
- worked more, as a writer.
- gone through more boxes of tissue than ever.
- read more books than I have in years.
- considered, beside my husband, relocating to nearly half the country, and realized I was pretty ok with anywhere, as long as his position/company changed. More than anything I just wanted my husband to be in a job where he was respected, encouraged, valued and considered.
- Moved to, quite possibly, the one place I had never thought of.
There have been a lot of really fun things that happened this year too…
- I met a TON of really cool people, in various ways.
- I saw some awesome concerts.
- I traveled, both with Chw and alone.
- I explored and fell in love with our new home.
- I spent quality time with my (adult) kids, though much less than I would have liked.
- I started a podcast journey, which has connected me with some of the strongest and most inspirational women I’ve ever met.
- I had a year of documenting moments with my Instax camera, instead of my phone. (I liked the intentionality of having to carry a bulky camera, invest in this film, only get one shot, etc.)
- I played games, went wine tasting, explored new cities, saw movies, laughed and did so many more things with my good friends.
And some really hard things…
- We moved into a tiny cottage (which we LOVE) and had to part with more possessions than I ever could have imagined. (in this way, Let Go took shape in ways I hadn’t expected.)
- Thanks to some hardships which resulted in heavy, unexpected debts, we are two years into a five year program that results in more financial struggle than anything. While it feels like it is lasting a lifetime, throwing a relocation into the mix of that has been a daily challenge.
- I lost a friendship that, had i imagined the loss would come, would have seemed devastating. For a minute it felt like it was going to be, but then the reach of her gossip and ugly behavior found it’s way to me and I realized it was more a growth pain than a loss one. Once I stepped further outside of that relationship I began to feel the weight of her negativity and constant criticism fall to the side. Good things do not always look like good things, but give them time and be willing to see the good.
So many years ago, someone who I believed was my very best friend got married. We had been friends since middle school, and were young adults at this point. Due to circumstances her wedding was quick. There were a few hours between where we each lived, and this was back in the day when handwritten letters or expensive long distance calls were the only way to maintain relationships over the miles. With a nearly non-existant support system, Chw and I were very young newlyweds making due with what we had, and barely doing so, at that. She and I had a few calls where she cried about spending a lot of time home alone, while her new husband went to school and work, and how she missed tv…
Her wedding reception was at her parents house, even farther from where I lived. Even so, this was my BEST friend… So, Chw, my sister and I loaded ourselves into the car and drove to this wedding reception. I came humbly with my pic’n’save gift, (although beautifully wrapped) in hand. It took us hours to drive to this event, and would take us hours to drive home. The trip, and even the cheap gift, beyond exceeded anything we could afford. My attitude to this truth was that it didn’t matter because this girl was my BEST FRIEND, and you love your people HARD and with action. (We also had out little, nothing speacial, yard sale tv in the back seat, because my friend needed a TV and I could go without.)
I barely saw her, for the 90 minutes we were at this reception where we knew pretty much no one. When I did see her, she asked about the tv I’d promised. When I lovingly assured her I had it, she told us to meet her at her apartment the next day. Of course I said yes, because this girl was my BEST FRIEND, and you love your people HARD and with action and all, even though there were hours between here and home and we were probably over drafted at the bank due to this little adventure… (which I realize isn’t anyone’s fault but mine. There’s a point to this story, sit tight!) We crashed with people we knew, closer to her apartment and it was all working out so well because I knew that I was a good friend, and I felt truly great about that… Fast forward to meeting my friend at her apartment…
Her apartment furnished with new furniture, her mountain of high end wedding gifts to the side. As my wonderful husband carried this heavy tv- (you know, back when tvs were not made of air) up to her third floor apartment, she giddily escorted us past all of the new and shiny (including their big screen tv in the living room) to her bedroom, where she’d cleared a spot for this tv.
There were no thank you’s, not for coming, not for anything really. The saddest thing about it all though, was when I chided myself for having hurt feelings because I am a good friend and that would be selfish. Don’t be a selfish friend, Misty! (No, we are not still friends. Our friendship died not long after that, when I realized the only one gaining anything in our friendship was her. She was also often asking for more…)
Pretty sad, isn’t it?
- The biggest lesson of my Let Go journey is that, for as long as I can remember, THAT PATTERN has been in play. Love “my” people, and love them hard. Roll over and give them anything, regardless of whether it was a season of hardship or a season of blessing. I’ve seen this play out with my parents, with numerous friendships and in my own motherhood. While there is truth that relationships take sacrifice and selflessness, the consequences of a lifetime of this pattern are that I have enabled many people to not have to take me into consideration.
- This was a painful thing to really see, and an overwhelming self-realization to face.
This journey has held so much more than what I have shared here, but this documents the just of it… Now, it’s time for me to go make a nurturing brunch and spend the day closing out this amazingly complex and yet beautiful year with this man I share a life with. I am so grateful for all of the good moments, and every single one of the bad. Also I am so grateful for each one of you reading this, supporting me and being along for the journey! Here’s to an amazing 2019, i am eager to see what it holds for each of us…