2018 – What I Learned

Man I was sad a year ago!

I’ve been keeping a regular journal for over two years and I have books and books and BOOKS of writing (eight from 2018 alone). This morning I decided to pull out my 2018 journals and read a little bit from early last year to get an idea of what my life was like a year ago – oh LAWD I was SO SAD… good lord how sad.  I wasn’t sleeping well and when I did sleep had very vivid and symbolic dreams about my ex and our relationship and being alone and overwhelmed.  I read through to March of 2018 before I realized that I was becoming overly absorbed in those old feelings and getting sucked in by the memories and bringing myself waaaay down. 

So I put them away and came to understand that my new found sense of power and fulfillment in my life is still too fresh and fragile to withstand too much reliving of my old space.  I wrote about it a little bit in my current journal and while it was an unpleasant experience to relive that it is a powerful reflection on how  far I have come.  My life now really is pregnant with possibility in a way it never has been before – there are, of course, worries and hurts still and always will be, but I am no longer frightened all the time. It is so easy to forget what it’s like to live that way – how overwhelming and stifling.

This year I learned how to feel my body and the physical space I inhabit and to appreciate its pains and reactions and primal knowledge. I learned to listen to the clenching of my gut as fear or anxiety and I learned mechanisms to respond to those reactions that acknowledge the value of them without overemphasizing my need to respond.

I learned that I can ferry children from state to state in ice storms and personality storms and weather both the danger of the highway and the sharp tongue of a teenager.

I learned that a family home is the home a family lives in, not the one I pictured I would grow old in, not the one in which my children formed their closest sibling bonds, not the one where I learned to draw or where I spent hours in partnership with my now ex-husband.

I learned that I could move and the house could be demolished and that the “family home” simply changed location and the “family” is simply one body lighter.

While on vacation I learned that I can survive the loss of a car window and a purse to thieves, the loss of our sense of safety when they went through our rental cabin … and that I can function so well in that space, help my children feel safe and integrate their fear and sadness, drive home with flapping plastic in a broken car window and salvage our vacation by a simple change in plans and a commitment to flexibility, curiosity and adventure.

Watching the testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee I learned that our culture of sexual abuse and assault is so prevalent that scores of women and men reacted with pain and outrage as they heard their own stories in Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony … I felt the weight of the communal trauma and the healing of the communal voice raised in protest.

I learned, as I looked into the eyes of a child who wanted to die, that rejection really is a kind of assault and that giving someone your unconditional love and support can be the difference between them being willing to go on trying and giving up entirely.

This has been one year and these have been just the lessons I could come up with while sitting here, sipping coffee and feeling the expanse of the twelve months newly past. These are the highlights, I also learned how to play Dungeons and Dragons and how to install laminate flooring … I learned that I do enjoy writing again after twelve years of a writing hiatus and I learned the words to Miss Mary Mack so I can play with my daughter.

May 2019 bring us all new adventures and new lessons and an increased understanding of our abilities and vulnerabilities. May we have the strength to treat each other with respect and gentleness.

Much love, Heather

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