I’ve been trying to figure out how to say all of the things I needed to in the right way. I’ve written this post a million times and I hope this time it makes sense. It’s funny, this wasn’t supposed to be a 2017 recap and yet here we are. Bear with me for one more cheesy post.
Over a year ago, things started to fall apart. In my own life mostly, but that became a catalyst. My hurt opened my eyes and made me realize that everyone is hurting. Unfortunately for me and my empathy, this made my heart break even more. My only aspiration for 2017 was to feel better. My motto for the year was a line from the song This Year by the Mountain Goats. “I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me.”
I was going into 2017 with baggage and pain and I thought that things had to get better. Starting off my year at what I thought was rock bottom, all it could do was go up. Sadly, I was mistaken. Things got worse. My mental health got worse. My doubts got worse. My mood got worse. My situations got worse.
But a year ago my brother taught me the word “lament.” It means “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” I made it my word of the year. It was everything. I think I cried more in 2017 than I ever have in my life. I cried over my hurt, others lives, things I saw on the news, things I read, movies I watched, sunsets I saw; I just cried. And I learned to let myself cry, which was one of the most painful lessons to learn. I knew my one New Years resolution was nothing; I had set the bar so low. I didn’t want to grow from pain. I didn’t want it to make me better or stronger. I wanted it to stop. I wanted all of my grieving friends to stop and find peace and I wanted the global catastrophes to stop and I wanted the shootings to stop and I wanted my families financial problems to just stop. But none of it did.
At first, it was fine. I prayed more and listened in church more and read my Bible more. I felt so empowered and strong. I had all this faith when it first started. But then time passed and I thought I had learned my lesson, so it would end soon. Then more time passed and I started wondering if God was listening. Then more time passed and I started to get angry. And yet even more time passed without change and I gave up. I can’t explain that last phase of time because it was the darkest it’s been in so long. Because at that point, lamenting becomes sitting and staring at a wall and somehow that’s worse than weeping. I would have given anything to feel emotions again.
I cycled through those phases several times. I’m still cycling through those phases. It’s a constant battle between feeling everything or feeling nothing. Every high was a peak this year, and every low was a new rock bottom.
But slowly, it started to level out again. The lows are just sad, not devastating. The highs are exciting, but not enough to make me forget my pain.
And the thing is, there is no way to recap that. I wanted some grand lesson for people. Like, “Here’s how I got better! In 5 easy steps!” But it’s not like that because some days feel like I’m back at day one. I wish I could say it would be easy. I wish I could take your pain. But the truth about suffering is that sometimes you have to bear it. Sometimes you will feel like it will kill you. Sometimes you will make choices in your pain that will make it hurt even more. Sometimes you will hurt people you love because of it. Sometimes you will ask God for death. Sometimes you will search for answers to feel better or seek a reason for your pain because you need it to mean something. But sometimes it doesn’t mean anything.
If there is one thing I’ve learned during my season of lament, is that sometimes there are more important things that for you to feel better. And that’s really harsh, but that’s the truth. There is no quick way through suffering and that’s okay. You are not obligated to be happy all the time. I want you to know that it is okay to lament. There is a season for everything. If 2018 is going to be your season of pain, let yourself be in pain.
That’s it. There is no magic. No eye opening moment where I realized my pain was gone. There was only a collection of happy moments that carried me through the dark nights. Life isn’t 100% anything. You can’t be happy forever, but you also can’t be sad forever.
I honestly thought I had dragged myself through 2017. But I made a list of all the great things that happened and I realized that all those little happy moments were enough. So many beautiful things happened while I wasn’t even aware. I’m not sure if any of that made sense. My point is that life is messy and we can get so caught up in trying to change how we feel or change the things around us that we forget to enjoy the little things.
So, more for my personal reference than anything else, here are some beautiful things that happened to me this year:
-I saw twenty one pilots live. (This feels like it was years ago. My sister and I camped out for 14 hours in below freezing weather just to snatch barricade. It was amazing but we both agreed we are never doing that again.)
-I met one of my Internet friends in real life. (And we actually became best friends. I see her often now. She truly the best thing to happen to me in 2017.)
-Saw Foster The People (twice!), Bleachers, and NF live
-Spent another summer at Wrigley Field
-Shaved half my head of hair
-Took summer classes online and graduated in July with my Associates in Arts
-Moved into the city at the dorms of my new university
-Won NaNoWriMo for the 5th time
-Spontaneously got matching tattoos with one of my closest friends (also rekindled our friendship after years apart.)
-performed in my first musical (Coraline. What a show.)
-watched my adopted sister get married and watched my brother get married
-photographed my first wedding
-got my tongue pierced
-went to a Cubs game with my best friend (as a fan and not to work.)
-went to my first homecoming dance
-came clean about my fear issues (which is something I had needed to do since 2015.)
-started going to a new church
-had so many adventures with my roommates
-started taking pole dancing classes
-got super into poetry and spoken word/poetry slams
-went hiking to Starved Rock for the first time (and made new friends there as well.)
-starting getting counseling
-got closer to two of my little brothers
And those are just highlights and things that came to me off the top of my head. There were so many great times as well as so many hard times. And that’s okay. I think that’s finally okay with me. I’m so excited for 2018 because I love the sense of renewal and starting over. I love every cheesy resolution and all the long, reflective posts. I’m here for it.
This year, I hope you hurt and do not swallow your pain. I hope you will love despite the fear. I hope you will cry in public. I hope you will learn to laugh even louder because of it. I hope you will open your eyes to see the world around you. I hope that fear will motivate you rather than hold you back. I hope that when your pain feels overwhelming you will remember to breathe. I hope you will know that sometimes life gets better only to get worse again; so enjoy the good moments. I hope you will stop equating “good” with “perfect.” I hope you will ask those questions you think you cannot ask. I hope you will not be afraid of the answers. I hope you remember that it’s okay to be broken. I hope you remember to give grace to everyone; including yourself. We’re doing the best we can.
Happy New Year
(How did your year go? Any lessons learned? Do you have any resolutions for next year?)