The beginning of a new year seems to societally signal a time of reflection for things that have happened. How inspiring and/or depressing, depending on your most recent twirl around the sun… Depending, on what you choose to remember…
How many of you have been through a bad break up, or a nasty life experience? A show of hands, please. And out of you, how many of you have found yourselves thinking… “I can’t wait for this time next year. Things will feel so much better by then!?!” Raise your hands, again. Higher! Why do we do that to ourselves!?
I’ll never forget how hungry I was to reach April 22nd 2018. In a way it felt as though I had been pushing the second hands on clocks everywhere, through quicksand; for 365 days. In other ways it seemingly passed too quickly… This date to me signified a tremendous accomplishment; survival of what had/has felt unimaginable. Additionally (and even sweeter), the passage of an entire year brought with it hope; that some tangible healing would have been accomplished.
Yes. Survival was had, and lots of healing happened, but it did not feel as significant as I had anticipated. I made it through a year of firsts. Sure it was an accomplishment in many ways, but I had hoped for more. I was even more depressed and dissatisfied a few months months later… It was then that I became excruciatingly aware that more firsts were on there way… Symptoms of my PTSD began to make me question, at times, if any emotional progress had really been made at all…
What has this taught or rather reminded me of? That life is nothing, if it is not a constant string/series of firsts. Our circumstances, (along with the conditions of our minds and hearts), are constantly changing. Therefore, we will never be done experiencing “the firsts.” I’m not sure how enlightening or dull this is… but for me, it helps take some of the pressure off… The goal isn’t to survive the firsts, because that would be impossible. We cannot do that, until our time here is up…
Tangled within the complexity of my PTSD I have found some lessons/gifts. The first is that in order to find comfort and enjoyment in my life, sometimes my horizon has to be shorter. Instead of setting resolutions that are contingent on a course around the sun, or hoping to be different a year from now… I need to check in with myself much more often. I need to take smaller steps.
So I’m resolving to continue to practice being comfortable within the discomfort. I’ve known it and said it before, but never felt it as deeply, as this year; marked as 2018. We don’t need to wait to begin again; and certainly not an entire year… As often as our hearts beat, as quickly as our lungs empty and fill, as fast as the seconds go; each carry within them the opportunity to start over. The ability to choose again. Pumped about the way you behaved yesterday? Do it again today! Disappointed in the way you’ve been “showing up!?” Make different choices. Nothing is permanent. Let go of the fear embedded in that notion, and instead let it shower you with satisfaction.
I’ve spent a lot of time this year feeling tired and lonely. It hasn’t been the kind of exhaustion that sleep helps. And likewise it hasn’t been the kind of loneliness that company can cure. It’s been the soul shattering recognition that a lot of the sleep, and some of the company, have been a hinderance to my healing… Unfortunately you can’t just sleep trauma off. Eventually, you gotta get up and get moving. And have you ever noticed that the only thing lonelier than being alone, is how lonely your heart feels, after investing it in (or spending time with) the wrong people? If you feel anxious and/or depleted after spending time with someone, then that is your sign. Those are not your “people!” Surround yourself with people who feel the way sunshine does, when it hits your face. With the people that make you laugh until you snort. The people that literally and figuratively hold you while your eyes and/or soul cries. You’ll know when you’ve found them, because you’ll be inspired to become a better version of yourself.
A third revelation I had as the year came to a close found me during a training for motivational interviewing. “Meet people where they dream,” the instructor said. This was a powerful statement because as a practitioner I have been educated and trained for years, to “meet people where they are at.” The idea behind doing so is that we hand the people we serve their power back; because they truly are the experts in their own lives. What happens though, if we constantly meet others (or equally as importantly ourselves), where we are at? We can become stagnant. We risk not changing. We must therefore learn to take the leap. Learn to dream and believe in our ability to reach and receive that dream.
Time sure becomes an interesting component of life when trauma and/or grief strikes… The seconds turn into the minutes, of the hours; of our days. Just as the days, melt into the weeks, of the months; of our years. Rooted within the literal end of the year and beginning of a new one is a figurative “turning of the page.” As we reflect we are reminded of how precious, delicate, and fleeting our time here is. My hope is to carry that sentiment with me throughout more of my days, this year.
Here’s to staying open, in a world that gives us so many reasons not to… Here’s meeting ourselves and others in the places where we dream. Here’s to noticing (and bidding adieu to) people and things; as we recognize that they are toxic or stunting our growth. Most importantly, here’s to finding enough strength, compassion, and love for ourselves, to keep us going in those moments when realize that we may have “chosen wrong.” Get up and get moving, warrior.