reflections on 2015

I’m not quite sure where time has gone. 2015 slipped away from me before I had time to acknowledge its arrival. It was a year of many changes, good and bad, and was possibly one of the most difficult years of my adult life. Reflecting back is difficult as I tend to bury bad memories since they are too painful to hold onto, but I’ve recently been reminded that we can’t truly experience joy or happiness unless we also also allow ourselves to experience pain, grief, and sadness (Brené Brown is such a breath of fresh air).

Until now, having allowed myself to more fully absorb the past 12 months, I hadn’t realized how difficult a year it was. I stumbled into 2015 stressed, oppressed, and mentally, physically, and emotionally fatigued. I think I survived the first few months by never stopping, never slowing down, never allowing myself to breath, to dream, to live. If I just go, go, go, go, then I don’t have to sort through and process my hurt, my wounds, my pain, or even admit how unhealthy I am. I’m thankful for family who often seems to know me better than I know myself, as they supported me, encouraged me, and spoke truth to me, even when I was unwilling to see it.

2015 brought so much doubt, insecurity, and anxiety. Over and over again, I questioned everything. Who am I? Where am I going? What am I doing? Did I really just say that?! Why am I so stupid? What if I made a mistake? What if I get hurt? I have nothing, I am nothing, I have so little to offer… if I never try, then I can never fail, and if I never fail, I’ll never get hurt. So many times I just wanted to sit in a shell and protect myself from shame, embarrassment, and humiliation. It felt so much easier than to have to confess my failures and shortcomings to the world. I was reminded that my concerns and fears are so small and so futile. Every time I acted (in spite of my anxiety), I was shown how limited a perspective I have and how little I actually know or control. The pieces always fell into place exactly when they needed to, and always different (and better) than I’d hoped or dreamed.

I also experienced and saw so much loss and hurt in 2015. It was a painful year from the very beginning, starting off with the violent loss of a client, a tragic death of a friend’s dear husband (a man born just days before Jesse), the unfathomable death of a baby, an agonizing loss to suicide, another life stolen by overdose… my heart and eyes are swelling as I write this, and though more lives were lost, I’m stopping there so I can cherish and remember these precious souls, because they’re more than just a list. Losing these people and watching their families and loved ones mourn and try to pick up the pieces of their broken hearts has taken my breath away. These families are so resilient and so inspirational, and I am grateful for their transparency and willingness to continue loving and living fully. I’m not sure that I would have the strength.

Additionally, 2015 brought about losses of relationships. For the first time in my life, I was allowed to see the raw pain of individuals going through breakups/divorces. Never before have I been able to see how excruciating it is to end a relationship and process through the rubble and debris that is left behind, like completely redefining one’s identity, friendships, goals, purpose, and future while also having to reconcile one’s past. The life that was so carefully stitched together has to be painstakingly ripped apart and a mourning process must follow each time a thread is torn. There’s no rushing the process; let’s be real, we’re talking about the aftermath of the loss and betrayal of one’s most trusted and valued friend and ally. We have to learn how to trust, breath, think, and behave all over again while being in one our darkest states. It’s going to be messy and painful, and we’re going to lash out and hurt the people who are trying to love and support us, or vice versa. I learned so much about being a friend this year and am grateful for trust and forgiveness despite my shortcomings and failures.

Those experiences also led to the realization that there are two different types of families: the one I’m born into/married into, and the one I choose/adopt. Sometimes those two are the same, but I realized for the first time this year that family goes beyond just blood, and that blood doesn’t mean someone is family. This year I really grew to be aware of who my family is and I had my first taste of a new kind of love and support during what could have been an incredibly dark ending to the year. My family, the one I chose (some blood, some not), was willing to listen to me cry, process, grieve, question, accuse, begin to accept, and confess to some realizations. Being affirmed by and given their support, love, listening ears, seeds of wisdom, and voices of truth (over and over again, because I have a thick skull) was one of the best parts of 2015, despite the circumstances that led to it. I am grateful for all they have invested into me, as well as their seemingly endless patience with me, as I’m not always the quickest learner. I’m grateful that 2015 gave me a chance to redefine and begin to understand what family truly is. Here’s another 12 months (11 now) of learning and growing, and hopefully not repeating the same mistakes.

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