Let’s talk about New Year’s reflections, since this is New Year’s Eve. Last New Year’s Eve, as I recall, the weather sucked and I was in a massive depressive phase, too. I don’t feel sexy, friends. I don’t feel pretty, I have no libido (not that I should even have one of those, as I’m legally still married), and I’m still struggling with how to compartmentalize (I keep thinking if I can just learn to do this, I’ll carry less guilt and stuff won’t matter). Last year, I was just sad and bummed out about my marriage and my job. This year, I added like ten more complications to the list. I mean, I moved out and started doing, literally, everything by myself. Then THIS happened:
And that was probably the most fucked up thing to ever happen to me, like, in the last 20 years. (And a lot of fucked up things have happened to me in the last 20 years.)
But it wasn’t all totally bad. Because things like THIS also happened:
That was last year’s New Year’s blessing by Neil Gaiman – he writes these occasionally, and last year’s made me cry so much but it was a good, helpful cry. So I got on Twitter and thanked him for writing it. And his response read so gentle, came across so kind, that I ended up in another fit of tears. This is why I heart Neil Gaiman so much – he is a master storyteller, but also very gentle and kind. So is his wife Amanda Palmer, but she swears more. (I like people who swear a lot, I think they’re honest.) Good people, both of them. I’m welling up again right now, as a matter of fact. (The written word, in a certain tone of voice, can have a massive positive or negative effect on the reader; I don’t know if anyone other than avid readers and writers really understand how big this is – physical wounds eventually heal, but psychic wounds from words leave scars forever. Always choose your words very, very carefully – they can make or break someone, and you can’t take them back.)
Oh, and THIS happened:
If only he’d actually been serious and not just ridiculously nice. Dammit, I could totally be writing a TV show or something right now, Jason Isaacs! Or at the very least making coffee for stupendously talented people as they wrote the shows. (Jason also wrote a really sweet note to the students in my class this year that I’m too lazy to go find the picture of right now. I’d ask him to do this again for my new class in 2016, but I don’t want to be a pain in the ass.) (I do really, really worry about being a pain in the ass for other people.)
At any rate. The power of social media – big lesson for me in 2015. You can make or break people’s day on it. Sometimes it’s nice to speak up – the other day on Facebook, a friend responded to my sad, woe-is-me fairy tale with this:
The girl still has her magic. She just doesn’t always recognize her magic. Much of her magic is in her words that she beautifully uses. In time, the girl’s confidence will build and she will become more aware and recognize hidden evils even though part of her magic is seeing the good in people. The girl will always be one of the kindest people in the land. Her towers will always be lovely because she surrounds herself with things and people she loves. It may take building several towers before she finds the perfect one. And she will live happily ever after even if she hits some bumps in the road.
It made me cry, but it also gave me a lot of hope. Nice well-known people like Neil Gaiman and Jason Isaacs being kind, and good friends I also get to go out to dinner with or have over to my home because we’re friends offline too, and seeing – no matter what our jobs are – we’re all just people flying around this rocky planet together, trying to figure it out. Those are good 2015 social media interactions. But 2015 social media also taught me that sometimes silence and not reacting is just better. In 2015, I learned to be careful about what gets put out there, and that sometimes silence and not reacting is just healthier and safer. You can apply this to your offline life, too.
I originally had a bullet list here of very simplified 2016 goals I’ve kind of/sort of developed. I think they were more running, less internet, more writing/reading, less procrastinating, more real friendships, less carbs consumption. Something like that. But really, you know what I want? I just want to stop spinning my wheels. I want to love myself better so I can be open to love when it shows up. Because I do want to be in another relationship, I think, but I don’t feel ready quite yet. I do kind of know what kind of man I want to hang out with, and what kind I don’t, and I also know I believe in the power of asking the Universe to send me exactly that person and that, if I ask, It will conspire to help me. Meanwhile, I’ll be over here in Georgia…trying to figure out how I work, how to make my backbone stronger, and ways to develop stick-to-it-ness. Preparing to accept whatever shows up with grace and love.
In 2015 I learned I need to modify my belief in the inherent goodness of all humanity. I still believe, I still believe. But now I know: good people can do bad things, and I’m not really that good and discerning who’s a user/who’s sincere. That’s a power issue, a backbone thing. If I can do these three things: figure me out, develop strong backbone, and cultivate more stick-to-it-ness, I will be okay. And once I’m okay, it won’t matter if I’m alone or not. I find when I’ve stopped caring so much about something or someone, that’s when the doors open up. And I think it has something to do with power. The more you care, the less power you have. In 2015, I took back my power a few times, but I gave it away more. Stop doing that in 2016, Amy.
So I think, for this coming year, that’s pretty much going to be it for me: grow a backbone. Be a good friend to others but a better friend to me. In 2015, I kept writing about how important kindness is to me, which it still is because kindness matters. But I also learned, in 2015, that you don’t have to be kind to people who are going to use it against you. It’s actually more important to be kind to yourself. Put your oxygen mask on first.
Some picture-quotes (I’m quite very fond of these – they are inspirational catharsis, I think) I’m going to focus on in 2016:
And this girl:
Where the hell did SHE go? I’d like to find her again; she’s still in here, somewhere. She wasn’t all that happy when this picture was taken, but she didn’t feel lost, endlessly falling down a rabbit hole, longing for things she can’t even name. I’d like to find her again, take her out for drinks, give her a really long hug, and tell her she’s stronger than she thinks, even when she makes dumb choices. (And also remind her that thing next to her is the most important thing in the world, and she’s going to have to show her how to walk the tightrope.)