These days, it seems like everyone is on the anti-2016 bandwagon. With the new year on the horizon, I start to wonder if you can arbitrarily move on from this year, and move into the next? Obviously, we can’t stop the passage of time, but I’m thinking about this on a deeper level. Will we truly say goodbye to 2016, or will we simply shift the blame? I recently read a quote that stopped me in my tracks. Normally, I see quotes that I can relate to in some way, but this one was quite deep for me. It said “a year changes you a lot”. Now, this wasn’t a quote from some transcendent philosopher, but to me, it could have been. This gave me pause to think back on where I was this time last year, and how much I’ve changed. For me 2016 started out in a horrendous way. I am not usually one to talk about my personal life (with anyone!), and I’m certainly not one to describe my life or situations as being “bad”. But, I can’t sugar coat this one.
The main reason I decided that this would be a good post is because I think its important to be able to truly let go of the past. I struggle with this concept of celebrating the new year. I think the idea is sound, but I don’t think we really take the time to accept the new year into our lives. Is it truly possible to “let go” of what was and move on to the next thing? I certainly hope so, but I’m not sure that most of us live that way. Its nice to be able to look back on the past year, and see how far you’ve come. But for those who haven’t done anything is this just a bitter reminder that they didn’t grow? Or does it give them hope that there is a chance to change?
Last year, at this time, I was staying with my parents after a horrible breakup. While I am in a completely different head space, at the time I couldn’t see my way out. My mother had a ton of questions, all of which I had no answers to. I couldn’t think about tomorrow, much less what I was planning for the following weekend. I was living day by day. In a normal case, that kind of “presence” is invaluable, however, this wasn’t that. This was my brain on overload and not being able to process anything.
In 2016, I lost a family member suddenly. There was a lot of drama to deal with after that, which continued well into the latter part of the year. From there, I seemed to have gone into some kind of auto-pilot mode. Unable to really process any thoughts, feelings, or emotions. I spent a lot of time trying not to feel anything. Whatever I could do to numb that pain. And usually that just meant not being alone with my thoughts. The summer came and I started to feel a bit refreshed. I started tackling some things in my life that I should have done months before. And then came the fall. I can’t really describe the last four months of my life other than a whirlwind. Suddenly, my life was changing for the better. I was moving forward emotionally, mentally, and physically. Doing all the things needed to be a healthier person. I cried a lot. And I mean a lot. I know of at least one person who can attest to the number of tears I shed. And why? Because I didn’t deal with the emotions when it was happening. I’ve written posts about emotions, and a lot about change, and I stand by what I say. Not because I’m a therapist, but because I’m a human who had a year that was less than perfect.
Why am I writing all of this, you are probably wondering? I’d like to think that this is my way of saying good-bye to 2016. My way of saying good-bye to the bad feelings, to the bad experiences, to the tears and emotions that were difficult. I wouldn’t be who I am without it, but I probably could have used a few less crummy situations all in a row. The saying goes that “all bad things happen in threes”, well I think I got a few “threes” this year and I’m done! I’m still not convinced that we can arbitrarily pick December 31 and wash our hands of the past year. I want to be able to do that, but I don’t think that’s realistic or even sustainable. You have to make a conscious effort to work through your garbage, and it takes time. There were many things in 2016 that weren’t preventable, but there were just as many that were. It took me a while to understand that I made some decisions that weren’t the best. It took me a while to understand that it was on me. I was responsible for my actions, and the only way out of the mess I was in, was to change those actions. Make better decisions. Don’t get me wrong, it took me almost an entire year to get here, and I’m by no means where I want to be. But as I sit here writing this post, I’m suddenly more aware of myself than I have been in a long time.
Letting of the past is never an easy thing to do. Our past selves shape who we are today. We have to grieve that person and grieve those memories in order to let the new ones emerge. I’m not trying to be philosophical tonight, but I have been reflecting on the year as it comes to a close. With all the craziness that has happened in the world this year, I think its safe to say that we are all happy its almost over. I encourage you to take stock this evening about your year, and leave behind all the things that you no longer need.