Happy New Years Eve!
Holy cannoli, it’s New Years again. It hardly seems possible that another year is upon us. This year was a lot of things. I read a quote this morning that fit the bill to a “t” for me, “2018 was a weird year because I was somehow living my best and worst life at the same time.” If that wasn’t true to the core, I’m not sure what is. So much growth, so much change, and yet, not much change at all. So much grief, so much joy, so much anger, so much love. Life, am I right? I’m hardly alone in my topsy turvy existence, which was one of the better lessons I learned these 365 days. There’s too many to list (and since I write all the time, would be redundant), but here’s a few things I learned this year (and a few resolutions for next year).
1). Roll with it.
Let’s be real, ya’ll; Murphy’s law is a real thing. Just when you think you’re getting the hang of things, your kids get a stomach bug, someone stops sleeping through the night, some new responsibility gets added to your plate. Obviously, there are far worse (or far better) things that happen, that still throw you for a loop; but even these smaller changes can make your life balance go haywire. This past week alone, I’ve cleaned puke out of beds three times. Hell, I had to shampoo my carpet at ten last night, because my son didn’t like the taste of mucinex and upchucked some nice wine red business all over the joint. You can’t linger too long on feeling bad for yourself; sometimes, you just gotta put some rubber gloves on, clean it up, and keep going (both literally and figuratively).
I’m not sure why, but staying hydrated seems to cure lots of things. Fatigue, under eye circles, hunger, colds, hangovers, a panic attack. Water, my friends….lots of water.
3). People talk. Let them.
I’ve enjoyed the beginnings of my new ventures, so far. I always let fear of what people were going to say about me hinder my pursuits. Here’s the thing though; people are going to talk. It doesn’t matter what you do or when you do it, people are going to have something to say about it. People can only imagine what it’s like to be you (and this doesn’t just pertain to me…I mean this about anyone-I can’t know what it’s like to be any one of you, any more than any of you can know what it’s like to be me). Some people are going to accept you as is, no judgement, some people are going to decide what you’re doing is crazy, mean, stupid, too late, too soon, etc. You can choose to do what you want anyway, or not, and get mad about it, which lends to the next lesson…
4). Anger is futile.
I’ve been angry about a lot of things in my life. Anger about relationships I didn’t get to have, experiences that other people got that I didn’t. Anger that my life was upended, that my life was robbed of being plain, and normal and mundane. Anger got me nowhere. I robbed MYSELF of relationships with my bitterness, friendships withering with every negative thought I let consume me. Anger is going to happen, it’s unavoidable, but I’ve learned how to let it pass without eating me up for days, weeks or months.
5). I’m not alone. Neither are you.
When this terrible shit happens, you begin to feel singled out. You feel unique in your pain, in your grief, in your storm. The truth is that you are, and you aren’t. It’s like snowflakes (for lack of a better metaphor). All different, and all the same. I’m unique in that I lost Kenny Courtney as my husband. He wasn’t anyone else’s husband, only mine. I lost our marriage, our history, the nuances that made us, “us”- our inside jokes, how he would always rest his hand on my knee under his parent’s kitchen table, how I would drive him nuts leaving the kitchen cabinets open. Yet when I finally decided to join a support group for widows, I realized there were not only many of us, there were many of us who’s spouses died from the same ailment. Our relationships totally different, our stories eerily similar. It helped me to look around and see that by now, many my age have had our shit. Maybe some not as bad, maybe some worse, but many of us have had our hearts broken, our faith tested, our lives detoured. I’m not sure there are all that many that can look back to who they were at seventeen and think that life turned out just as they thought or hoped. Even still, most are making the best. It’s a testament to you, to me, to life, that somehow we all keep going. Which leads me to..
6). Life is life.
It’s not inherently good, nor bad. It’s just life. Some people luck into fame, fortune and all the wonders of the world because they have big butts and sex tapes. Some do everything right and lose everything anyway. Most of us are somewhere in the middle of all of that, just riding the roller coaster of life’s highs and lows. No one is exempt from the bad, no one exempt from the good.
7).Momming is hard.
Strike that. PARENTING is hard.
Since I know there are a lot of great dads out there, too- in my position and otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, the solo parenting gig can be soul crushing. At all times, it’s never far from the back of my mind that the fate of these kids rests squarely on my shoulders. That no matter how hard I work or how fast I hustle, there is a gap I can’t fill for them. For now, it’s manageable, although it changes with every year as the kids grow and change. The thing is, even my very paired up counterparts have many of the same struggles. Their kids having the same issues, the parents having the same worries. I think, despite the million ways we all parent, we can all agree at this point that no matter what you do, how many of you there are, this stuff is tough. Lets all be a little easier on one another. That is all.
8). Fuck perfect.
No, seriously. I’ve tried the perfection thing, and it sucks. Turns out I’m just a deeply flawed person, like everyone else. As my mom says, c’ieste la bippy! Which is her silly way of saying “oh well.”
And my resolutions…
1). Fuck perfect
Yes, again. Because really..I just need to remember that.
2). More squats, less self loathing.
I have this tendency to blame myself for things that aren’t my fault (namely, the actions of others). When I was a kid, I used eating bad foods as a coping mechanism (a common approach) when I felt like I’d done something to provoke negativity aimed my way. It’s been a long while since I slipped into that, but I definitely caught myself a few times this year sliding back into those habits, instead of sticking with the healthier skills I’d developed the last few years. While I should definitely eat a few less cheese fries in 2019, the more important part of the sentence is “…less self loathing.” I need to learn that I am not responsible for other people’s behavior. I can’t control what people do, what they say to (or about) me, and need to call a spade a spade when someone is a jerk, and stop blaming myself.
After Kenny died, I peeled myself out of my own life. I pulled away from most things that were “us.” Everything from friends we spent time with together to television shows we watched together, all in the name of grief. It was hard for me, feeling so out of place in my own life; a bystander, an outsider. It stung to look around, and although of COURSE people were sad, they could go home and continue on their paths. I couldn’t. I was angry, I was sad, I was…lost. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but I did it, nonetheless. It dawned on me recently that its been nearly two years, already (a fact I can’t even dive into this minute), and so much river has grown between that life and I, that it feels about time to build a bridge.
4). Grow, baby grow!
I did a lot of that in 2018, I’m hoping to keep it going! I’d like to make some course corrections, keep pursuing what I love, and continue to grow into my solo momming.
5). Be open.
To good change. To help. To opportunity.
I’m well aware of all the many things that could go wrong, but I’m keeping an optimistic heart for a year of more good than bad, more steps forward than setbacks, and more success than failure. Cheers, friends! See you next year!