My goodness, there are so many things.
So. Very. Many.
How does one deconstruct this year, in any way that could accurately express it?
Honestly, I’m not even going to try. It’s been a year, and I’m happy to see it nearing the end.
I am a me/not me transforming into the me I get to be.
It’s rocky, rough, completely unpaved and unchartered territory, with a glimpse of a map that isn’t necessarily accurate…because I’m making it all up based on some intuitive hit…some deeper knowing, like an astronavigator…following the stars to get to my ultimate destination.
This week I took off to LA with my daughter, for a little visit to a bestie who is there for a few months. It’s winter break, we canceled Australia, so we took a trip to SoCal instead.
While there we did a solstice ceremony, sitting around a makeshift alter filled with candles and incense, dressed in our thrift store scores (me a leopard print onesie, bestie a silver sparkly jumpsuit, Lena a pink tank with black skirt) while we wrote what we were releasing from 2022, and inviting in for 2023.
Man, the lists were long. And powerful.
I realized, again, what a year this has been. How it has involved some very, very deep reckoning, and that deep reckoning is still working its magic. Probably will continue to work its magic for the rest of my life, to be honest.
I mean, we already knew this. We already knew the crazy journey of widowhood I was thrown into, but…my goodness.
Who the fuck am I?!?!
I can’t really fathom what I’ve faced and what I continue to face. At Camp Widow this summer some participants were saying the second year is harder than the first, and I’m beginning to see how that is probably true…the first year you’re basically treading water, making it from milestone to milestone (marking each month then birthday, anniversary, holidays, etc.) while basically surrounded by a pocket of love from those who are your support team. But by the second year, you’re not as surrounded by that love pocket, and it’s become obvious that you’re not just skipping through the surface of the year, but deepening the roots of your life with a loss greater than you can ever really accept.
But I digress.
I grew up a lot this year. More than I have in a single year since I was possibly a toddler. Much like a toddler, I learned how to walk on my own two feet, to run, to ask for help, and to self-soothe.
My life doesn’t look the same as it did a year ago. I wake in the same bed, but in a different house. That’s the truth, but also a metaphor.
I am in a different house now.
I am learning to be authentically me, without navigating through any other relationships to get there. I am learning to use my voice, to be comfortable with who I am and to follow my intuition. I am learning to take things easier, to trust that it all works out…from the small to the big. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and also trust that the universe has my back.
I believe that Frank is still opening doors for me, and I’m still getting validation to this effect. You know how I just gave up my business? Well, days later I was contacted by a large corporation to do a neurodiversity presentation for them. That’s Frank, opening the door. I know it is.
I’m tearing up as I write this, just as I teared up during my solstice ritual when I wrote what I’m releasing and what I’m bringing in.
There is so much.
I stand in the face of fire and learn to control it..over and over, until I get it right. Until I learn the lessons I am sent here to learn, until I trust myself, and release myself to be my self.
In 2023 I invite more joy, the ability to put down the obligations of my life and to follow what feels good. I’ve wanted this for a long time, but I was always so duty-bound I couldn’t do it.
My life is different now. I still have duties, but my priorities have shifted. I see that following what feels good is critical. I believe that’s how I’m going to make sense of this life, that’s how I’m going to keep transforming deeper into me…and I don’t have to feel guilty. I can be all of me and see where that takes me.
So far, it seems to be working.
Lena reminded me the other day of the trip down “to the bottom of the bottomless pit,” which is where she said we were falling as soon as Frank died. “We’re falling down to the bottom of the bottomless pit, Mama, and when we get there it will be good. There will be things we collected and saw on the way that were good, and we can keep them. And when we get to the bottom we’ll know. We will have stopped falling, and we’ll be happy again. We’ll feel like we found our place.”
So I asked her the other day how far down she thought we were. “About a quarter of the way,” she replied.
“Only a quarter?! Not further?” I asked incredulously. I was thinking, at least halfway, or maybe I misunderstood her and we had only a quarter of the way left…
“Yes, only a quarter of the way down, Mama. You just gave up your business, we’re not in the house we’ll settle in for years to come, you are still figuring out what you’re doing and nothing is really settled. You have a boyfriend, but that’s still new…we’re still at the beginning of the fall.”
Ug. I want to be further down, but I see her sensibility…”It’s not a time thing” she assured me, “It’s a situation thing. There are things that need to happen before you reach the bottom.”
So we continue. This pit is pretty deep, I will agree with that. Sometimes I don’t know which way is up, or down, but I do stop to notice the things along the way that are good, and there are many.
You, dear friends, are some of those things. Writing this blog is one of those things, always pushing myself to grow is another…seeing the signs Frank sends is another bright spot, as is the new love in my life, and the friends who continue to show up and support me, even at my worst. Learning to ask for help, and to accept it is another, and having given up my business is also one. There is something there, something major, that shifted…I feel free to create something from the place where I am now, not the place I was, and that feels very important.
So, while 2022 is a year that can certainly go to hell, I also embrace it for all I learned. I embrace the opportunity to know myself, to deepen my relationship with my daughter, and to learn what I need to stand solid and secure. I am learning to trust and to know myself. I have lots of fears, of course…I am afraid of being alone, I am afraid of having to make solo decisions. I am terrified of not being as happy as I was…of not ever being really happy again..but then some moments I can see it on the horizon.
So here it is: the end of this year.
I have so much to say, and I feel that this turned out a bit clunky and less prophetic than I had anticipated, but isn’t that sometimes the way? The fallacy of perfection is real, so I’ll post this anyhow, knowing I got something across…and that’s good enough for now.
This has been a hard week. I won’t lie. A hard couple of weeks…Lena and I cry often just in the memory of Frank. I miss being cared for by my husband. It’s been a tough year, and I could use his steadfast love, dedication, care, and concern to see that I am okay. But I don’t have it, so I find other ways to create it. I cry again to Lena as she holds me. I reach out to a loved one or take a nap. I find ways to give myself something that can help touch that ache. Today I reached out to my boyfriend and let him know I needed extra care. That felt brave...and he ended up inviting me over to hang with his adult children and meet his daughter who is visiting. I was feeling so sad, but I pulled myself together and went. Something shifted...and now I feel centered again. Sometimes that's what it takes...being proactive for our own care.
And that's just one of the things...
There are so many.
At the center is love and gratitude...vulnerability and surrender.
I love, and I am grateful.
I surrender to the vulnerability and I open to what is there to hold me.
Thank you, dear readers, for being on this journey with me, it means something more than you may ever know.
Here's to 2023. To thrift store scores, to besties and tears, to fears that are lessened in the arms of a loved one, and the courage to keep going, even when you'd rather quit.