I am one of those people who is aged really strangely. Not the wrinkles on my face, which I am sure have arrived about 15 years too early, but more that at the age of 26, I have seen the turn of three decades and one millennium. Tomorrow will see the turn of decade number four, and it’s the one I am most excited about, I think?
If you’ve been here for a while, however, you know that I focus on the year ahead tomorrow. If you’re new here, which due to recent gin-fuelled events I am guessing some of you might be, then every new years eve, I round up the previous 365 days, and then on new years day, together we set ourselves up for the next 365. It’s like finishing a chapter of your new favourite book and then skimming through the pages of the next one to see if it’s worth reading before you go to sleep. Sort of.
It’s been a strange year, hasn’t it? The biggest ups, the biggest downs, all mixed with the biggest political turmoil and just generally a strange time to be alive. Personally, I ask you to cast your minds back to this time last year, when I was awaiting the results of the UK Blog Awards. At this point in 2018, I had been shortlisted and was waiting to see if I had made it to the final stage. Well I did make it. Not only did I make it, but I bloody won the thing didn’t I? Being named the number one mental health blogger in the country was a huge personal win for me, but also came with some huge emotional loss. I felt guilty, I still feel guilty, for winning that award. You see, I’ve always spoken about my mental health, my relationship issues and my adoption. Without any of those things, I wouldn’t have a story to tell. And with the win came the stark reminder of every single hurt that had lead me to where I am today. The funny thing about the past is that it rarely stays where it should. It has this way of coming back to haunt us from time to time. In April, when I won, I began to feel immensely guilty for ever writing about James and his suicide, for ever mentioning the relationships that came after and finally, for ever talking about how my mum didn’t want me. It’s a guilt that I’ve sort of forgotten to let go of and have instead, welcomed back into my life and allowing it to constantly push on the back of my neck. The relationships that followed J’s suicide were never easy and I made a lot of mistakes. Through therapy, through various doctors appointments and such, I began to work through my mistakes, learning from them and learning how to accept them. But again, the past came exactly where it shouldn’t and lived on my shoulders for a very long time. Some of it still remains. And I am tired. I am so utterly tired of living in the past.
Somewhere over summer, I learned how to be selfish. For the first time in a long time, I learned how to prioritise myself and how to look after myself. In doing so, one of the strongest friendships I had established drifted, crumbled and inevitably fell into the distance. A bitter pill to swallow at the time, I’ve since come to learn that not everybody is supposed to be in our lives forever and that it is okay for friendships to drift. It’s okay to not be bitter and full of hate, instead wishing somebody well on their journey. Perhaps your ships will cross again, but the ocean is vast, and there’s also a chance that you will both sail in completely different directions – and that is also completely okay.
In September I returned from my trip to Florida with a new view on the past. Sometimes it can come back and haunt us, and sometimes we can utilise the skills have picked up along the way to build something brighter. I decided to put down the blog (sorry) and pick up a job in social media. It’s been a huge learning curve, it’s been more than I expected and many days I come home and cry in the shower. Not because I am depressed, and not because I am stressed with the workload, but because once again, I don’t feel like I am good enough.
Finally, and probably why most of you are here, the past reared its ugly head once more over Christmas. You all know the story by now, but in a quick short sentence here we go; I was at midnight mass with my mum on Christmas Even when to the left of me was a man I had previously dated. Sure, we all hate running into our exes. But my ex had his wife and children with him. A family I never knew existed. Once again, the past had come back to bite me right where it hurts.
But, in the chaos of this weeks events, I am trying to view 2019 in two different ways.
On one hand, the past has constantly been pushing its thumb into the back of my neck, with just enough pressure to make me aware of its presence. It has been a year of incredible highs that have been consistently tainted with a stark reminder of why I am where I am today. At times, I’ve come home and cried to my mum, unable to find the words to tell her that the past scares me more than anything. It seems this way for so many of us too. This year seems to have served a constant reminder for what was there before. Of the paths we have all walked to get where we are today. And that brings me to the other view.
It is almost as if 2019 has closed the chapters for us. It’s almost like it has given us what we needed to be given in order to move forward into not only a new year, but a brand new decade with a fresh, clean attitude. 365 days of carving us into the people we need to be, of setting us up the next ten years. The next decade is here, and we cannot run from it, just like we cannot run from our past – as much as we try.
Embrace what has happened. Take the lessons. Take the hits and take the scars and walk into tomorrow with your head held high. It’s not about fancy resolutions or unrealistic goals, just promise yourself that you’re going to give yourself a second chance. The beauty of life is that we have the opportunity to wipe the slate and start again. You owe it to yourself. I owe it to myself. We owe it to ourselves.
Thank you for an incredible year. Thank you to those who have stuck around in my absence. To those who have checked in from time to time and to those who have propped me up when I’ve needed it. Thank you to those who have recently joined me; welcome to my weird existence.
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