Here we are, the start of a new year. And the end of another. This is often the time we take a few moments to review our lives and examine our future as we ask ourselves these very basic questions: What the fuck am I doing? Where am I going? Why should I care? Who do I want to be? And for me the answer is, I don’t really know what I’m doing or where I’m going. And I don’t know how to care. Other people care about these things. Sometimes I wish I were more like other people. Maybe my life would be easier then. Maybe my life would make sense.
All I’ve ever wanted was a fresh start. When I was a child there were movies that I would watch with the idea that when I woke the next day, every wrong deed I had ever done would be lifted from my conscience; I would be born again. It was as though I was being baptized in holy water. Some of these movies were Grease, Dirty Dancing, and Just One of the Guys. I know it sounds ridiculous, but bear with me. In each of these films, the leading characters go through a transformation. It begins with an evolving romance yet there is a dissonance between them, something that keeps their love from being fully actualized. And in the end is when it all comes together. The transformation happens inside of him when he realizes who she really is and who he is; who they had the power to be all along. It was always at this time that the female love interest began dressing sexier as if to signify her metamorphosis. And since I’ve always been a sucker for fashion I would pick out my best outfit and plan to wear it the next day, hoping to entice whatever boy I wanted to draw attention from. (This never worked–boys just didn’t like me, at least not the popular ones. Maybe that was part of the allure of my high-school sweetheart who I met when I was 13 and ended up marrying …and later divorcing. He was a jock, which meant he was popular. Finally, I got the restitution I so badly wanted.) But what I told myself as I watched those movies was that I was going to be a better person, starting first thing in the morning, and then I would have everything I wanted (better clothes and a boyfriend, haha).
For whatever reason (for lots of reasons) I never felt like being me was good enough. I perceived every mistake, every rejection as something that needed to be nullified in order to move on, to find acceptance. And so I lived vicariously through characters like Sandy and Baby who at one time felt out of place and unsure of themselves, which I completely related to, but by the end had transformed themselves into someone more self-aware and comfortable in their own skin. (Though, it must have been very uncomfortable for Olivia Newton John getting sewn into her skin tight black pants. I wanted those pants so bad, but I also wanted to look like her in them. And that wasn’t happening.)
The dawn of another year also seems to promise the opportunity to begin again, to start anew, though it’s really just a mark in time that means… nothing really. Nevertheless, it does call for some self-reflection. So. Here I go.
2013 was a stressful year for me. My ex-husband lost his business and declared bankruptcy, which put a damper on my dreams of buying a home. Still, I knew my kids and I had outgrown our 2 bedroom duplex and it was time to expand. So I started looking for houses to rent and that proved to be a stressful process. Twice I missed out on the opportunity to sign leases for houses that I had my heart set on. But eventually…I did find one. It was across town, which put us in a new school district. So then it was a matter of looking into schools. I teetered back and forth about whether to send my son, who would be starting Kindergarten, to a private school, though it meant forking over a bunch of money (with no support from his father). But in the end that’s what I decided on because I believed the quality of education would be worth it. However, private school was not an option for my daughter, already in the 4th grade. So that meant choosing between 11 different elementary schools. Once that was settled, it was time to devise a new schedule outlining when my kids would be at their dad’s and when they’d be with me, who would pick them up from school and on what days. Sometimes I wish I could share the responsibility of making these decisions with someone who is as invested in my kids as I am. But that’s not my reality, so to say I had a lot on my mind is an understatement because of course as a parent you weigh every single option, considering all the alternatives, replaying the ‘what ifs’ over and over in your head. And on top of thinking about alllll of this, I moved in July.
Before all this, my boyfriend and I had been discussing living together and while there was hesitation on both sides at some point, we decided to take the plunge. So we packed up both our places, rented a Uhaul and moved.. together. This was very exciting. And stressful. I started a new job a couple weeks later and remember feeling overwhelmed to say the least. It was just one more short month before I spazed and forced him out of my life. I’m a jerk sometimes.
And so, while stressful even during the better parts, 2013 proved to be the best year and the worst year of my life. Half of it I spent figuring out what it’s like to be a family and feeling more loved than I’ve ever known I could be. And the other half of it I spent fighting the regret of my existence. That’s a work in progress. But I’m getting there. What helps is to cherish rather than resist every memory I have of him and our life together. And I can see that my kids do, too. They seem completely content and accepting now of the fact that he’s not here anymore. Yet they talk about him still with the up most respect and a fondness that doesn’t seem to want to fade. Months later, my son still randomly says that he loves him. They know what true love is about. I just hope they don’t forget, or get their heart broken too many times, for that is the risk of being so eager to love.
And this brings me to what I have determined to be my New Year’s resolution, as cliche as that is (since they never last). But this time, I’m hoping, it does. This year I declare it my duty to learn to love myself more, to love my kids more and to love anyone of my choosing, regardless of proximity and reciprocity. I will love and I will forgive and I’ll start with me. This is my rebirth: the acknowledgment that I will make mistakes. And sometimes they’ll be on purpose because I just can’t help myself. Sometimes… I like to destroy things just to make them beautiful again. I’ll run my fist into the mirror just to hear the glass shatter and watch the blood drip down my fragmented face. But that’s just me. Sometimes I’m frightened no one will understand anything I try to tell them. But maybe, if I work on trying to understand me, I might be better able to understand others and that is where I will find comfort: in knowing myself, becoming more self-assure, forgiving myself of all transgressions but not always without regret. I will forgive others, as well. I will forgive my kids for being kids and not being inside my head to know what I need from them at any given time. And I will forgive myself when I forget this. I will learn to accept the love I’m offered instead of scaring it away. I will learn to accept that I am worth being loved, for exactly who I am, fragmented and all. The process of my transformation may seem slowed by mistakes made, when really it is the lessons I choose to learn from every experience that make me who I am. And who I am is enough.
Here’s to starting over. Again and again and again. Until you get it right.