“it has been one of the greatest and most difficult years of my life. I learned everything is temporary. moments. feelings. people. flowers. I learned love is about giving- everything- and letting it hurt. I learned vulnerability is always the right choice because it is easy to be cold in a world that makes it so very difficult to remain soft. I learned all things come in twos: life and death, pain and joy, sugar and salt, me and you. it is the balance of the universe. it has been the year of hurting so bad but living so good, making friends out of strangers, making strangers out of friends, learning [sweet tea] will fix just about everything and for the pains it can’t, there will always be my mother’s arms. We must learn to focus on warm energy, always. soak our limbs in it and become better lovers to the world, for if we can’t learn to be kinder to each other how will we ever learn to be kinder to the most desperate parts of ourselves.”
— Rupi Kaur
I read this and notice sadness – the lump in my throat, the tightness in my chest. I wrote something very similar to this Thanksgiving 2015, but this year I think I would say just “It has been one of the most difficult years of my life.” It’s ironic because 2015 should have been the most difficult year for me, but it was also the greatest. I proved myself wrong. I was strong. I was not a victim. I could survive alone. I could survive my greatest fear – abandonment.
Now comes 2018. Three years later. I have the work situation I want, I have freedom in many ways, and love that isn’t abusive. And though I know that progress is not linear, I feel like I’ve regressed so much. I am no longer making friends out of strangers (or new friends at all period), soaking my limbs in warm energy, or remaining soft in the cold. I am holding on and clinging to moments and feelings and people, afraid of the temporary nature of everything. Still wanting to find solidness inside of me, but finding more and more instability instead.
I am sad because I’ve lost a lot. Some good, some bad. And in the losing, I’ve also lost myself, the love I felt from inside me so strongly, the passion and spark I used to have for saying “fuck it, I’m doing it all and loving no matter what.” I lost my drive towards “doing” – and thought I had gained the drive to just “be.” And yet, I’m somewhere in between. I’m not “doing” and I’m not “being.” I’m not loving, I’m hiding. I’m worrying, I’m fearful and anxious. I’m avoiding things I used to love that used to connect me to people and love and being inside my body.
I thought I would find myself more while giving myself a more stable life in a single place, a place I wanted to find community/make community in. I thought I was going to learn how to be with myself and see what it is my heart has been trying to tell me in the space I created – physical and in terms of time. And instead, I just feel more lost. More emptiness in all the spaces I used to fill with people and activities and love. The spaces I thought would be filled eventually with love for myself.
I’m not sure I believe the saying that you can’t love others before you love yourself. Maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe if you can find compassion for everyone else, you can eventually find compassion for yourself. Your external love for others shows you who you are when you look in the mirror in the morning. When you hear enough people express love to you, eventually you begin to see why.
What have I learned this year?
That I create what I live in. That fear is the killer of my soul. That courage is to do what scares you most, especially when you know it will hurt like fuck and will cause loss in a bigger way than you’ve ever felt. Courage is knowing you’ll walk stronger every day if you live entirely authentically. That when you expend that energy, you get it back three-fold.
“Sometimes I get so down
I feel like
This the end
Like there’s no way in hell
I can get over this mountain
The sun has come out
Beyond the shadow of my doubt
I am walking on this earth
Stronger than ever”
– Mamuse, “Chico Gospel”
That most every strong emotion is a projection of who we were, not who we are. That if you follow the emotion down the rabbit hole, you begin to find all the chords inside of you are sharps and flats and that they don’t make harmony after all. That every action creates a reaction – in the past and in the present. And one’s reactions *now* can only be altered if you go back to that original action that started the chain reaction.
That we all have shit to work on and if we don’t, we create the same patterns over and over again. And make our fears come true. We re-live the past until we create a different present. It takes more than thinking about it. It takes more than love. It takes patience. It takes breathing and learning how to breathe. It takes being conscious and staying still when we want to pull away and run. It takes experiencing what we must, no matter how scary. It takes looking inside and being entirely fully honest with ourselves. It takes a lot of hurt to stop hurting. It takes a lot of faith to go down the rabbit hole, knowing you will come out different and changed – and you don’t know what that change will look like or how much hurt it will take to get there.
That I’ve made a lot of excuses for where I’ve been and where I am, one of which is depression. Do I have it? Yeah. But it’s still my choice to feed it, to let it hold me back. It’s my choice to stay inside when I want to be outside. It’s my choice to avoid people to avoid pain. It’s my choice to sit and read in a tub instead of going out with friends. It’s my choice to worry instead of letting things that aren’t in my control be what they will be. It’s my choice to let suicidal thoughts be the cure-all to my pain. I know that when I make choices that are what I *really* want when I listen to my heart, my brain will come around to it too.
I don’t make New Years resolutions per se, but because it is almost the new year, I may as well say now that my hope for 2019 is that I can find the spark in my heart again and follow the desire to act with its guidance. I want to chisel away at the protection around my heart. I want to love again the way I used to. I want to choose more of the activities I love again and participate in them without hesitation, find friends in strangers, laugh and smile more, feel my heart full of joy, walk through the world bringing warmth and compassion as I go – for others and myself.
I also know that I can’t just hope for it. I have to create it. Manifest it. Paying attention. And doing it with love.