2019 started rough. Really rough. My Scottish partner had to move back home for visa reasons. We didn’t know when or even if he’d be back. I had to hold down the fort, our apartment, on my own, without any idea of how to even function all alone.
Surprisingly, after a couple weeks, I was completely fine. In fact, I thought I felt more like myself than I had in ages. That’s because I was doing what I had done best up until that point – run away from sad feelings, escaping through work and parties and drinking and smoking, and anything I could pack into my calendar to be out and about ignoring everything that was painful.
I stopped writing for myself, using my job as an excuse: “I write so much for work, I can’t be fucked to write anymore when I get home.” But I didn’t realize that neglecting my way of reflecting was causing all my negative feelings to swell up and accumulate into a tumbleweed of unresolved trauma that I chalked up to my depression. “My brain is broken.” Is all I could think. “Why can’t I be happy?”
My relationship eventually ended, and when it did, I went through the motions. I cried. I resented and eventually relented. But I never deeply evaluated why it happened. In the end, we were both shitty to each other. We couldn’t make long distance work because we were both too selfish to properly keep in touch. My addictions (there are a few, less substance, more emotional), got the better of me and he withdrew. I’ve thought about it now, and I know what we both did wrong.
That said, I pushed all those negative feelings away too, hopping on dating apps and immediately jumping into something I forced seriousness on far too quickly. It’s all a cycle of habit that I’ve finally started to work on, with the real tough self-reflection shit beginning on my solo travel adventure in Arizona.
At the beginning of every year, I write a list of all the great things that happened to me in the year previous. On January 1, 2020, I did it differently. First, I wrote down everything I went through in 2019, all the hardships. I faced a lot, more than I could’ve imagined. Relationship issues. Apartment issues. Family issues. Mental health issues (big one).
Really, we all faced intense hardships last year. And every year gets harder. But I’m finding, as I age, I’ve been getting stronger and better at dealing with the shit that’s thrown at me. I think that’s true for everyone too. The key is in being mindful of and grateful for the good things, no matter how big or small. That was what was beautiful about starting with the negatives of last year. In comparison, I noticed that the fun times, the healthy times, the times of self-discovery and self-improvement and times of pure joy, those far outnumbered the painful ones.
So, I implore you to do the same. Write down what’s been hard for you the last little while. Yeah, it fucking sucks, and some of these hardships will sting you for a damned long time, maybe even forever. But never forget, that list of the great shit you’ll write, the one with the beautiful moments and powerful learnings, no matter how big or small it is, should forever be your reason for pushing forward. Beauty lies in the endless opportunities for happiness ahead of us, and that’s a perfect reason to smile and work on getting yourself to a good place.