Well, somehow, we all managed to make it through 2012, and it’s a New Year. Here in Atlanta, 2013 is starting off the way so many Atlanta days do: it is grey and rainy, and because it’s winter, it’s colder than I would like it to be. It’s the type of day where you plan not to leave the house and to do absolutely nothing, which is what I plan on doing.
2012 wasn’t the easiest year for me, but it was one of small improvements rather than major setbacks and that’s definitely a positive. It was a year where I needed to be consistently reminded, as a good friend likes to tell me, “Two steps forward and one step back still leaves you moving forward, one small step at a time.”
At the end of 2011, I had my tarot cards read. At that point in time, my major life concerns centered around health and money, yet the tarot card reader told me the focus of 2012 would not be on either of those. She indicated that 2012 would be a year of “pause”; one of self-reflection and healing and thinking about myself and my relationships, and what it is I really want out of life.
That, of course, was not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear, “You’re going to get better in no time, you’re going to have enough money to live a comfortable life, you’re going to find the type of relationships and friendships you want in your life.” And, indeed, much of 2012 seemed incredibly frustrating because, for me, it was defined by inertia. All around me, 2012 was the year of people falling in love, having babies, getting married, getting great new jobs, moving to new cities, winning honours and recognitions for what they do, stepping outside their comfort zone…and I felt so often stuck, and unhappy. It isn’t pleasant to feel as if you’re watching life move on without you.
Yet, in 2012, I *did* start to get better. If you asked me a year ago what today would be like, I’d tell you I didn’t think I would be here. The symptoms of my illness were that physically and emotionally disabling, I really didn’t see myself recovering: and if I did, I’d never again be the adventurous and passionate and high-spirited person I once was, a realisation that was just as painful. I felt like I suffered a loss that couldn’t ever be rectified.
Of course, like all losses, you slowly learn to adjust and live your life differently. The past year has been filled with loss, really. The passing of two very well-loved and special people in my own little Universe, the random tragedies that are all around us, friends being diagnosed with difficult illnesses—it’s hard not to see loss and contemplate mortality often. The past year has been highly difficult on my relationship. The Guy I Am Currently Dating tells me I’ve changed, that I don’t like him anymore, that the way I communicate with him doesn’t make him feel positively. Yet, from my perspective, I feel like I’m always walking on eggshells, where doing the wrong thing is cause for him to speak to me in a tone of voice that is mean, sarcastic, and condescending. It might be text messaging when he’s around, or paying a bill late and getting a late fee, or saying something twice in an attempt to be helpful, or losing something I should have not lost, or running late to an event, or not showing the right emotional reaction. It seems almost anything can trigger these arguments, which turn into arguments because I refuse to be spoken to in that way, and I don’t want to be in a relationship with someone who will sit and glare at me whenever I’ve done something that doesn’t meet expectations. I have to stand up for myself, even though there are usually horrible fights involving yelling and crying and just wanting to disappear. It reminds me too much of how I grew up to feel comfortable and positive to me. I will remember that 2012 is the year Christmas Eve was ruined by this communication impossibility, and so was New Year’s Eve.
I don’t believe I’ve changed. I think he is angry and resentful towards me and it comes out in the way he treats me, quite often. But I can’t change to make him happy, and I can’t spend all my time trying to be perfect or to mollify someone into liking me. I do feel like it shouldn’t be this hard, and I am so sad that it’s taken 4 years to figure out the person in my life is capable of—and will—treat me in the one way I absolutely can’t take: the dysfunctional way in which my family communicates. Obviously, I am equally to blame; he is angry and feels hurt and wants me to be someone different than who I am, someone closer to what he imagines is right for him. He tells me this is not the case, but a more logical, introverted person who is by nature more relationship-oriented might be what it takes for him to find someone who “gets” him, and vice versa. I don’t think we want the same things the long run; I want to leave Atlanta, and he does not. I believe he’s a naturally monogamous individual, and I am not. I need a large circle of friends and acquaintances to be happy, and he does not. He is a nice person, and I think he cares greatly about me: but for some reason, he’s stopped remembering why he likes me…or stopped expressing it.
I feel like I’ve been in this relationship before, and the problem isn’t ever really that I have changed. It’s that I haven’t, when someone else, deep down, expected that I would. I’ve started to pick up on signs that he is acting in an insecure manner about my wanting to have close relationships with other people in my life, something that never occurred in the past. My friendships are very valuable to me—I consider a few of them to be of equal importance to any relationship I’ve ever had—-and I have always been that sort of person. I asked The Guy I Am Currently Dating to give me examples of how I’ve changed in the past year, but everything he mentioned is something I’ve always done, and all the ways in which I make special time and effort in my life for those who matter to me, I do for him, as well. Somehow, he doesn’t feel that way, or doesn’t feel appreciated…and it makes me feel a little like me *not* changing is an issue for him. Or, perhaps it’s simply that he’s changed, and sees me and our relationship differently now.
Either way, I don’t want my life to be defined by conflict and fear of earning someone’s disapproval, because they will visibly withdraw any positive feeling from you, speak to you in a tone designed to make you feel like something on the bottom of someone’s shoe, and if you fight back, you’re starting an argument. I also don’t want to be the cause of someone always feeling bad and unloved and insecure, just because I am who am, and that isn’t naturally compatible with who that person is. It’s always been an issue in our relationship, but it used to be one that happened once every few months. Now it seems to happen every other week. The fact that it happened an hour before 2012 ended—well, I just don’t know that I can spend another year with that same source of anxiety and unhappiness in my life. I want to be loved, but more than that, I want to be understood. I know there are people who can tolerate my presence in the world, who understand my sense of humour and how I view relationships, who empathise with the tough road I’ve traveled, and accept me as a flawed human being. I know I am capable of offering that in return. Maybe neither of us is a bad person….we just don’t bring out the best qualities in one another, and as hard as it is to admit something isn’t working, it’s harder to imagine spending a lifetime in a relationship that makes both people feel badly on a regular basis.
I feel the same way about friendships in my life. As much as it’s hurt me, I’ve had to realise some people aren’t right for me anymore.We don’t hang out simply because they’d rather not hang out with me. In 2012, I was greatly hurt by some people I trusted and gave second chances, despite better wisdom, and paid a pretty hefty price. I’ve come to realise loyalty and knowing someone will always be there for you and be honest with you, no matter what, is the greatest attribute you can find in any friendship. Yet, while I’ve had to go through the sadness and anger of losing people who were once important to me, I’ve also come to expect more from my friendships. I’ve taken the time to really know different types of people, many of whom have been somewhere in my extended friend circle for years, yet not terribly important in my every day life. The fact that two or three of those people have become important in my everyday life has meant a lot to me, even if I had to take chances or face uncomfortable personal issues to allow those people in my world. I think that 2012 was the year that “friendship” was redefined in my world, and reminded me that what I look for in those meaningful friendships differ very little from what I look for in a meaningful relationship. It’s a lesson I wish I’d learned a decade ago, or I’d possibly have taken a very different life journey.
During 2012, it didn’t occur to me that my health was improving. I still couldn’t lose weight, largely due to the medication I still have to take, which affects my self-esteem on a daily basis. I still couldn’t go shopping, or sit in the booth next to the neon sign at Dagwood’s. Yet, all of the sudden, I’d be out at a party and notice that not only was I dancing in flashing lights, but hadn’t worn my sunglasses all night. I took multiple trips to new places by myself, and by the end of December, was sitting in Steak & Shake and neon diners with friends. I went into stores by myself, took the city bus alone for the first time since my illness, and am able to walk more than a mile. Other people have told me they can see a difference, and that makes me happy. The doctors told me I’d never be cured, but within 2-3 years, my symptoms would be manageable. It means a lot to me that about 14 months after getting a diagnosis, I am getting parts of my life back.
I crossed things off my bucket list. I published my first book of poetry, and while I don’t flatter myself that anyone cares, it makes me happy that I’ve done something I’ve always wanted to do. I got up in front of people at Write Club and not only entertained people without being overwhelmed by dizziness, but won my round via the applause of people I never met. Later, I came to meet some of those people, and wished I knew people like that existed in Atlanta 10 years ago.
I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions, but I know there are some things I need to focus on in 2013. I need to be a healthier, more independent person. I need to find a job I’m passionate about, or at least have some ability to stick to without getting fired. They always say “Do what you love, and the money will follow”, but what I truly love is having adventures and life experiences that require money. I like enjoying life, helping others enjoy life, and creating or doing things for which I might one day be remembered. I’m not terribly practical or work-motivated, I suppose, and never have been. I’ve never had any idea what my career path might me, and honestly, I still don’t. However, to be self-sufficient, I need money, which means I need a career path and self-discipline. I really feel like that’s something that should be of primary focus for me in 2013. All the goals I have that are centred around me, and not relevant to other people in my life, are goals that require me to have a lot more money than I have in order to be happy. I just don’t see the path right now.
I’d like to meet more people, and spend more time with those who are important to me. Of course, working a set schedule can really interfere with my freedom to do that, but without money, you can’t afford to do that…so there’s a Catch-22. Maybe I’m rather dumb for being the only person who doesn’t approach running a Meetup as a business venture. I’d like to publish another book. If I start now, just by writing a page a day, I’d have a novel in a year. Yet, we all know how tragically bad I am at that sort of long-term focus and self-discipline.
I am not going to the tarot reader this year, but the Guy I Am Currently Dating bought me a set of “faery Oracle” cards, and I am going to do a reading today, to see what the cards predict for the next year of my life.
I have a sudden desire to start cleaning things and throwing things away, just to get rid of all the junk and clutter and baggage in my space, and eliminate all the negative energy that’s still taking up space in this apartment. However, I’ll probably just eat lunch and watch a movie.
Happy 2013 to everyone out there, wherever you may be. I hope the next year brings you much love and happiness and prosperity!!