Two years ago, at this very moment, I was sitting in the same bed I’m currently sitting in, thinking about the New Year and what it held, just like I am right now. But that is pretty much the only thing that is the same.
As 2016 drew to a close and 2017 began, I sat in bed bawling uncontrollably. There were so many unknowns about my future. Here is a list of the things I knew:
- In 3 days, I would become a single parent
- In one month, I had to move back to a house I dreaded living in
- I had no clue what the hell I was going to do or how I was going to survive it. In truth, I didn’t think survival was possible.
- I had even less of a clue what life had in store for me.
2017 came and went and was pretty much as awful as I expected it to be in most ways. It. Was. So. Hard. I felt like I was constantly drowning and couldn’t keep track of anything. I spent so much time seeking answers to my questions. I prayed constantly and my Heavenly Father flooded me with His peace in a way I’d never felt before. While I had some answers, there were still so many things I didn’t know. But instead of feeling the normal feelings of anxiety I feel when I don’t know what’s coming or how to deal with what’s ahead, I knew I would be ok. So many awful things happened that year. It was like I kept getting kicked in the gut over and over again. But that peace would quickly flood back in and I knew things would work out. I felt like the decision to return to university was the right move for me. SEVERAL people didn’t agree with me and tried MULTIPLE times to talk me out of it, but I knew it was the best move for me and the kids. I knew it would be hard, but it was where I needed to be. I only took three classes that first semester to help ease myself back into things with school, but even with only three classes, work and kids meant my life was busier than it had ever been before.
That drowning feeling grew and grew the whole year long. By the time New Year’s Eve rolled around, I was more than ready to say goodby to 2017. Yes, I’d learned a lot and grew a lot, but there is no amount of money in the world you could pay me to relive that year. It was nothing short of hell. Like many others, I choose a word each year to guide my focus throughout that year. My word for 2018 was survival. I didn’t feel like I could do more than that. More importantly, I knew I needed to let myself be ok with that. I needed to learn what was necessary for my family’s survival and what could be left behind. That was a REALLY hard thing for me. To say I struggle with anything less than 110% is an understatement.
I took more classes in school and life was even busier. I didn’t really think that was possible, but I guess I was wrong. I had to learn to rely on others to help me because I wasn’t able to be there for my children and do all the things I used to do. I am SO BLESSED to have such an amazing support system who is willing to help me. There is literally no way the kids or I would have survived this past year without them. Seriously, no way. This last year was super challenging, for sure. But through it all, I had this assurance that this is what I’m supposed to be doing and I learned to be ok with not doing my best at everything all the time. Does that mean I love it and want to keep living this way forever? No. Definitely not. But it does mean I’m MUCH less hard on myself when things don’t go the way I would like or I run out of time and something doesn’t get done as well as I’d like. I can now recognize that its ok to just be doing the best you can in each moment, even if today’s best is maybe a little less than yesterday’s.
As I look back on the year, I can see and remember all of the challenges and struggles this year held. I can still feel so many of them so closely. But what I feel much more strongly is a feeling of confidence in the direction my life is headed and where my family is going. If you had told me two years ago I would be feeling this excited about life, I would have said some really unkind things to you. So as I sit here at the dawn of 2019, here is what I know:
- Those hard times that we are sure we can’t live through WILL end. Maybe they don’t end so much as we grow to meet the challenge they present. Either way, things WILL get better.
- ITS OK NOT TO BE OK! You’ve had a super crappy day/week/month and you just can’t bring yourself to get out of bed today. Totally fine. Your dishwasher just flooded the kitchen again even though no one has used the dishwasher in over a year and you thought all the water was turned off to it (which it actually was) so you throw towels all over your floor and sit in the giant puddle and scream and cry for 45 minutes before you feel like you can get up and clean the mess up? Perfect! Way to allow yourself to feel those emotions, deal with them and them move forward! Seriously, don’t be so upset with yourself for not feeling great every day! Just don’t let yourself get stuck in the dark places. Feel the feelings, process the feelings, move on to new, hopefully better feelings.
- It takes a freaking village. Be kind to your village.
- Sometimes, just getting by is good enough.
I know so many people who had such a hard year and I get it! I may not have experienced the same struggles, but I know exactly how it feels to feel like you literally cannot function for one more second. I know what it feels like to feel like your very soul has shattered into millions of irreparable pieces, like you will never be able to be yourself again. I know exactly the feelings of hopeless desperation that comes with loss and unimaginable sorrow. I know that blackness that consumes you when your world is pulverized and you have no desire to live another day. I’m so grateful that I can now say I also know that those days will pass and, slowly, very slowly, life will improve. I still don’t have all the answers and I have a long way to go to get to where I want my life to be, but for the first time I can remember, I’m starting a new year excited for what is to come. Now let’s hope I didn’t jinx it!