Happy New Year!!!
i can’t TELL you how good this feels to me right now. i just came out of a deep, dark hole, (which kinda started here, with a poop-nado and flying monkeys) and all i wanted to do was ring in the new year by staying in bed and eating potato chips and ice cream (yes, together) and anything else i could shove into my pie hole – including pie. i ate a lot of pie. In fact, i ate all the things while keeping my fist closed tightly around my heart to keep it from exploding over the fact that the Man had ended our relationship.
i said it out loud.
And nothing exploded.
i’m still sitting here, typing away with a heart that is apparently still beating and that’s…..pretty awesome, actually.
Because i don’t know if i’ve ever experienced grief like that before. It was so unexpected, i just wasn’t prepared for it. i got whopped upside the head with a big ol’ bag of sorrow like i had never felt and it laid me flat for days. Weeks.
Wait…what month is it again??
Thanks to many of you kind friends who read this blog and who reached out a hand to help me stand again, i am taking the first few steps toward a new life. Somehow, during all that darkness, i managed to keep the dog fed and the bills paid while i finagled a beautiful new home near my folks in the beautiful state of Oregon with a beautiful new job to pay for it. i have no idea how that all happened since i can’t remember big chunks of time in those couple of months (?) but somehow i pulled a Gloria Gaynor and i did, in fact, survive.
And i’m going home. With my dog.
And as i stumble forward, i am finding old and new friends who are there for hugs, laughs, tears, and cider, and i have received a lot of heart-felt advice and encouragement.
But one of the most encouraging words i heard did not come from a friend or family member but from a complete stranger who wasn’t even talking to me.
January 1, 2018 was the first day of a brand spankin’ sparkly new year and it was my first day working for my new employer. i’m not a healthcare worker, but i do work in a hospital sometimes, and that first day was one of those times.
While i was sitting and waiting (something i do a LOT on this job which is awesome, but sometimes causes spontaneous napping) a gentleman patient walked past me with the help of a nurse.
“Do ya know where the tradition of New Year’s Day comes from? Do ya know what it means?” The patient asked the nurse loudly, waking me up from a near-narcoleptic sleepy time that was threatening my eyelids.
“The start of a new year?” the friendly nurse offered. “New beginnings? A party?”
“Nope!” The colorful patient hooted and laughed loudly. “It’s when the mouse escapes the trap and makes off with the cheese!!!!” His voice bellowed through the hall, cutting through the whispered dialogs and beeping machinery.
“It’s when the MOUSE makes off with the CHEESE!!” He repeated and broke down into fit of loud laughter that bounced off the walls and made all of us giggle.
And as he made his way down the hall, his echoing laughter making me laugh more, i suddenly realized that he was RIGHT. This IS the year the mouse escapes and makes off with the cheese! i mean..why not? Why not 2018? Every year, i make the resolutions and buy the gym memberships and sign up for the classes at the local college and make the balloon payment on a credit card. And i start the new year with the optimism of an Olympic athlete going for the gold.
But i end up that chick who tripped on the hurdles and fell flat on her face while the rest of the pack ran over her and on to the finish line as she rolled around on the track, eyes dazed and knees skinned, wondering what just happened.
Year after year we fall short. Why?
We didn’t escape the trap! We didn’t get the cheese! We thought we were clear for a minute but then? SNAP!
We need that cheese. i need that cheese. That cheese is MINE and i’m gonna grab it!! And this time…i’m escaping the trap! because this time, i actually SEE the trap and it’s my own expectations and harsh criticisms of myself.
When i set high expectations (or any expectations) on myself, i not only put incredible pressure on myself to achieve what is basically a dream in my head, i also limit any other future possible outcomes because i just don’t see them. i’m not talking about avoiding setting goals. Just make them GOALS, and not EXPECTATIONS. i tend to confuse the two. i can strive toward doing or becoming or achieving something but when i expect something and it doesn’t happen, i experience defeat and disappointment. i want to keep myself open to something just as wonderful happening that may not quite look like what i am “expecting”. Often, that thing that happens but doesn’t look like what you expected, is just as good as what you expected.
Expectations are planned disappointments.
My relationship didn’t turn out the way i expected. It just didn’t. And it’s sad and the transition is difficult and there’s really nothing i can do but go through the pain. But the one thing that would make this more unbearable is to start criticizing him or even worse, me. Because, our greatest critics are ourselves. i didn’t even realize all the mean things i internally said to myself until someone (my therapist) heard me saying it out loud and told me i seemed to judge myself a lot.
i was surprised. i don’t recall saying anything mean or critical! But then she brought my attention to the fact that i was criticizing how i had been processing the grief and anxieties, calling myself “crazy” and “ridiculous”.
Oh. Wow. Yeah, that’s not nice.
And so i wonder, is that part of the trap too? Do we set “crazy” expectations on Jan 1, and when we don’t reach them by Jan 31, do we beat ourselves up, tell ourselves we are too dumb/fat/tired/old/stupid/ridiculous to be anything else than a failure and give up?
i’m not going to do that this year. And because this is new, and my goals really do still look a lot like expectations, i’m not going to set any goals this year. i’m just going to work on getting a little better each day.
And by that, i mean a little more peaceful. A little more open. A little more centered. A little more caring.
i want to move a little more each day. Eat a little more healthy. i want to listen to a little more music and watch a little less tv.
i want to read and dance and sleep and meditate a little more and sweat the small stuff a little less.
i want to have friends over a little more often and not worry so much about perfectly vacuumed floors.
i want to laugh. Lots. And i will. Because i will have ALL the cheese and none of the SNAP.
Not the real stuff. i need to eat a little less of that.
Happy Peaceful and Joyful 2018 to YOU.