My cynical old self usually does an eye roll and scoffs a bit when I see the ‘New Year New Me’ posts flooding social media as the year comes to an end. Yet being a
hypocrite walking contradiction and unable to resist a good bandwagon, I decided to create one myself – kind of.
When it comes to looking back at the previous decade, it’s been one that I don’t think I can ever really summarise and is far too complex to try and cram into 800 words or so, which why I’m not going to (basically, the events that unfolded made my actual real-life resemble one long, badly written and far-fetched episode of ‘Coronation Street’).
2019 has generally been a good year for me, bar the inevitable lows and death of my grandma back in the springtime. The grief afterwards led me down an overdue path of self-awareness, uncovering wounds I’d spent years simply papering over in the vain hope that they’d go away without ever being truly acknowledged or validated.
A short series of gentle counselling sessions opened those floodgates. When my therapist asked what I wanted from the sessions, my initial, rather melodramatic, answer was ‘permission to let go I think’ (I didn’t even really understand what that meant and was also hyper aware that it made me sound like Elsa from the first ‘Frozen’ movie).
After a few ‘Holy shit’ moments and me learning to be 100 per cent open and vulnerable, which is fucking terrifying for someone who is comfortable being emotionally self-sufficient, it cleared up the clutter enough to help me look at what was really going on.
The bad stuff that ultimately unfolded was really bad. The anger I’d been harbouring at being forced to say goodbye to loved ones, both alive and dead, because of illnesses, suicide and broken down communication was like gunpowder that had settled on my soul, waiting for a spark to come and release the rage and hurt and grief that was locked inside.
I’d burned old, complicated bridges in an act of self-preservation but never really allowed myself to feel the natural grief that came with it, despite those choices being my own. I felt overwhelmed and scared about raising my girls, wondering if we’d be able to muster up another heavy dose of resilience every time another tragedy smashed into our lives without warning.
It would have been so easy to box myself away, get stuck in that tired, bitter old blame game and embrace a victim mentality. But I decided to try and address all of the messy stuff and ultimately, it’s paying off in the very best way. I educated myself and got painfully honest about my own traumas, toxic traits and flaws, learning how to work with the past to create a better future and that to really let go, you can’t just bury things away.
Now, when I think of those people from my past that once caused me pain, I don’t feel hate or anger or love or even familiarity. They’re simply the ghosts left behind in a time that I no longer recognise nor feel anything but genuine neutrality towards. It doesn’t mean that I ever got closure or apologies or condone actions that I disagree with; it simply means that I no longer spend time ruminating over things that I can’t control.
It meant letting go of the labels I’d put on myself and those that others had imposed on me based on an outdated version of me that they once knew. Letting go of having to justify myself to people and explain my every move. This has allowed me to free up space in my life to be more appreciative of what I have right now, not to mention allowing myself to be excited about the possibilities that the future might bring, instead of being utterly petrified of what could go wrong.
The biggest – and undoubtedly hardest – lesson I learned was to stop being a ‘fixer’. I’m naturally quite solutions focused and would often reply to other people’s problems with a very methodical answer, which wasn’t always what they wanted to hear and would often come across as insensitive; sometimes, they just wanted to vent and that’s ok too.
But on subconscious level, being around those who needed more support than I could give was slowly chipping away at my own wellbeing as I tried to challenge their constant barriers, not really knowing how else to deal with things and finding myself frustrated when every offering was met with ‘no because…’ which in hindsight, wasn’t really helpful for any of us.
I’m letting go of that self-imposed responsibility and powerful inclination to swoop in and ‘fix things’, to parent those who have fallen into a trap of avoiding accountability, of being perpetually pessimistic and I’m now accepting that instead of leaving me feeling wracked with guilt, it’s actually the kindest way forward for all involved.
It’s been a draining yet empowering process, making an intentional choice not to allow the past to hurt me anymore by addressing and unpicking stale feelings in order for me to authentically let go and move the fuck on with my life properly.
If you find that any of my
massive brain dump words feel familiar then I sincerely hope 2020 brings you the tools to find your own sense of peace, happiness and freedom.