I by no means had the terrible times of some of my friends, one had her home burn down, several were in hospital more times than out, one friend, so very beautiful, kind, loving and deliberate in grasping the good in life, died.
Still the depression and breakdown I suffered was real and debilitating. Fueled by the past five years unreconciled in my head, some unforeseen money, health and transport issues, a troubled relationship with someone close and some totally bogus, evil, self thinking, 2016 was a struggle.
I say ‘was’ because finally one day, very recently, I said I was done. I don’t want to see life as a struggle anymore, sure some of the issues are still there and hard times still knock on my door but I no longer wish to position myself as a victim.
I did some stupid things in 2016, ill-advised decisions, poor judgement, quitting, blaming others, missing and wasting opportunities. Worst of all I lost even the most prized parts of myself, being kind, being a good mum, smiling, being open, expressing gratitude and seeing the good and beautiful in people and the world. I became bitter and it didn’t suit me, it made me ugly.
My mantra became, ‘I am a failure’. This I said about myself on a constant basis and it clouded every judgement I made. I did try to get out of it, I read books, listened to creative and passionate talks from successful people, forced myself out of the house a couple of times to see art, write, and be in service to my children. Still I felt overwhelmingly stuck in a very bad place.
Then I found a book, or the book found me. I was at the library ready to hear an Adventurer share his around the world story. On the way to my seat I reached my hand out to a random shelf, looked away and selected a book. It was called ‘Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success’ by John C. Maxwell. I read the book and so much of it hit home. One of the chapters centred on putting a stop to personalising failure. Instead of saying, ‘I am a failure’ to say, ‘I failed at something’. That simple switch changed so much for me. I failed at something and that is ok. I failed at a lot of things and that is ok.
Suddenly I was a bit more willing to let myself off the hook and put back in place those simple attributes of myself I hid behind failure. I am now rekindling the parts of myself that have personal value to me, being kind, being open and being grateful. Most of all I want to take pride in being a good Mum. Now, my children may not say that my support waivered, I hope they felt nurtured and loved throughout the year, well actually they express it openly, so I do know, I did ok.
In fact the best thing that happened to me in 2016 came in the form of my youngest writing a letter to Santa. My little Penny, 12 years old, wrote: ‘I don’t want for anything, I have my family and that is all that I need…. But if you do want to give me something I would like a full sized watermelon.’
Simple, grateful, funny and beautiful.
Santa did bring that wonderful girl a full sized watermelon, as well as other gifts received graciously. She drew a face on it and called it Eric. Later in the day she cut a piece out of Eric and reported he was ‘very juicy and delicious’. The rest of Eric went away with her camping for the week with her Dad. Eric isn’t expected to return home.
Looking back now there is plenty to be grateful for despite the hard times; I met some great new friends that are spirited, intelligent and talented. I wrote more, I established my website and this blog. I have found most of the friends I had before are still there waiting to celebrate me even though I have neglected and hid myself away from them most of the year. I had the inexhaustible love of a friend that travelled with me through my woes and supported me, emotionally and more, through every single trial. And I have my brilliant kids.
I still have a way to go to repair the year that was…starting with my view of myself. But I will succeed.
I found it hard to write this piece, to summarise 2016 in a positive way. I started and trashed it several times, I avoided it and I am still not sure if I should go ahead and publish it. But just as Santa’s Elves had the arduous task of wondering how to wrap a watermelon, here tis my wrap up to the year, it’s awkward and difficult and requires lots of sticky tape to fix it but ultimately I hope to one day just say, ‘2016…oh… it was very juicy and delicious’.