For me, looking back on 2015 is going to be a lot like looking at my favorite rollercoaster being destroyed by a tornado seconds after I get off the ride. It was a year full of great things and a year marked by difficulty and tragedy. In November I lamented about how I refused to look back on 2015 with sorrow or grief, because life is all about having the right perspective. And those things are still true, I just didn’t realize that a month later my life would come tumbling down around me in a way I would have never expected.
I’m not at liberty to discuss the details of what happened inside my house on December 21, it is my story to tell and not my story to tell, all woven together in an uncomfortable, ugly tapestry. I wish I could tell you my part without revealing the part that isn’t mine, but I can’t do that right now, and for the sake of 2016 being new, a fresh start, I’m keeping this one close.
But what I can tell you is that I learned even more about friendships, loss, love, and the human spirit in December 2015 than I could have ever dreamed to learn first hand.
These are the things I now know to be true.
Friendships, no matter how intuitive you may be, sometimes exist solely because one person wants something from you. Sometimes that thing is a physical thing they can touch, hold, and feel. Sometimes it is an emotional thing they are missing from their lives. Sometimes it is both. Every time, their needs – their selfish, narcissistic needs, – come before your own and they think not about what will happen when you realize they are sucking you dry physically, emotionally, and robbing from you things that do not belong to them. Does this mean friends are not to be trusted? No. It rather means that you should trust your friends with your whole heart and to love them deeply and serve them selflessly because you may never know their whole story or the depths of their pain. What you can do is love them unabashedly because when the relationship dies, you can walk away knowing you did everything you could to be a good friend.
On the subject of friendships, let go of toxic ones. If someone close to you makes you feel less than, let it go. This doesn’t apply only to friendships, but to all toxic relationships including family. Don’t burn bridges when you let these relationships go, just let them slip silently into the night and work on healing the wounds that the toxicity has caused you. Move forward only with people in your life who will build you up rather than tear you down. Don’t allow people who have hurt you tell you that they haven’t, they don’t get that power. Revel in the pain and allow it to heal you as you move forward with healthy relationships.
A $110 nightgown is the best medicinal therapy when you need to feel sexy and beautiful to no one but yourself.
I’ve learned that I love you doesn’t always mean I love you the way we think it does, and that
it can be felt at different levels, different depths of the soul, and can mean any multitude of things from “I love the way you make me feel” to “I need you” to “Thank you for being in my life” to “Don’t let this feeling go away”. The love that exists deep in the soul that leaves you longing and giddy and excited for life, it wanes. It becomes muddied by the day to day routine of life, by sticky hands clawing for your attention every waking minute. By making lunches, and coffee, and beds. By laundry and dusting and work schedules. But when that love is shaken, it floats right back up to the top, clear as tropical waters, and cements itself like a pyramid in your soul. There’s more to that love than what you can see, or even what you feel in the humdrum routine of daily life. It is the love that binds you to someone and makes life worth living, even when it’s not. It’s the kind of love that rises to tragedy and says, “I’m not leaving your side because I SEE YOU and I want you, no matter what.” It’s the kind of love that says, “I don’t know why I’m here right now, but this has to be love because I’m hurting and I’m still choosing you, us.” It’s deeper than knowing how someone likes their coffee or how they like to be touched. It’s more than knowing someone’s favorite sports team or that they like their beds hard and their pillows soft. It’s the kind of love that is a driving force when times get hard because you just know in your soul that when you’re on top of the mountain, there’s nobody else you’d rather exist there with.
I’ve learned that being alone has merit, and that a bath is rejuvenating for the soul. I’ve learned that if I want to face my demons, if I want to grow, if I want to stop holding myself back, I have to cry and that tears often carry with them beautiful words that wouldn’t otherwise flow. I have to break down the dams and let the emotions wash over me like warm water because nothing heals like salt water.
I’ve learned that I keep myself from making friends because I’m afraid of rejection but that those people, more often than not, want to be my friend too. I’ve learned that sometimes you have to make the first move, send the first text, or make the first call – or first fifty – for relationships to grow, and that doesn’t mean people don’t find value in your company, it simply means they might need time to see the flower once it blooms.
I’ve learned that just when you feel like you’ve made all the friends you need, someone you just met reaches out and says they feel connected and want to get to know you better. Sometimes that person reaches out just when you need them, like God was hanging onto them for you until the time was exactly right.
I’ve learned that life is too short to be unhappy and that nobody can control your happiness but you. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t let people bring you down or rent space in your own head because they’re not paying you to be there.
I’ve learned that you can’t have success without failure and that they are very close friends who exist to help you reach a greater potential.
I’ve learned that time alone is best spent working on yourself, for yourself.
I’ve learned that no matter how great a writer I think I am, I’ll never be good enough to just sit down and write a first draft novel and that if I don’t get the book started, these characters will die in my head. Their stories will never be told to the five or five hundred or five thousand or five million people who will one day read my book.
I’ve learned that your passions can be your livelihood but I’ve yet to harness the power of words and turn them to dollar signs. I’ve learned that I’m afraid of their transition and what it might mean for my life.
I’ve come to accept the fact that 2016 is going to be a year of renewal for me and for the people whose stories affect me. I’m starting 2016 on my knees with my head in my hands. I can feel the warmth of the promise of newness on my back and I’m ready to get back up, I just might need your hand every once in a while, or a push, or some encouragement.
Because of all the things I’ve learned in the last year, it’s that I can’t fill anyone else up if I’m not also being filled, and this year I’m starting empty, ready to be refilled with new life, new prospects, new opportunities, new relationships.
Maybe this will be the year I become who I’m going to be, or maybe not. Whatever happens, I’m ready.