Looking forward

Well hello there, 2019! I hope you know this but, just in case you don’t or 2018 didn’t warn you, people have some mighty high expectations of you. For a lot of us, you are a fresh start, a reset button, or perhaps an escape hatch. You represent a chance to do better, an opportunity to make different choices, or perhaps a time to take a good hard look at what we don’t like in our lives and jettison that crap into outer space where it belongs.

We all know it’s not the year that’s going to shoulder the responsibility for us doing what we need or want to do. It’s you, it’s me, and nobody else. Either do what you’ve put your mind to or don’t; the only price you’ll pay, whichever you choose, is the words that will swirl around in your head. Words like “Holy cow, I did it!”  or words that go something like, “I can’t believe I let that happen again.” Those last ones are the ones that will haunt you. Especially at 2 am.

There are some end of the year quotes picking up steam out there and I’ve seen them more times than I can count. I know you’ve seen them, too: “A strong woman…”, “letting go…”, “walking away…”, “I refuse to take any more shit…”, “I will no longer…” - you get the idea. No matter what my feelings are on all this, if one of those quotes has spoken to you and has given you the nudge or courage you’ve been looking for then have at it; whatever it takes to propel you into a brighter future and a happier you.

The thing that always makes me cringe a little when I see those particular “strong woman” quotes is that I do consider myself to be strong. As a person, not just as a woman. And I will tell you this - no matter how strong I am, if I love and respect you I will put up with some shit, I will not walk away because of hurt feelings, and I won’t let go until there is nothing left for me to hold on to.

The way I see it, none of that makes me weak. It makes me human. For me, in being human, there are no hard lines, no black and white, no “no matter whats”. I’ve found this out the hard way or, to put it in a way that’s a bit more kind, I’ve found this out through experience and maturity. Aside from keeping my children safe, there is no way I can say with 100% certainty that I know how I will react to a situation until I am knee deep in it. I’ve surprised myself a time or two and disappointed myself far more times than that.

The thing is, the people who have hurt me - well, I’ve hurt them, too. I’ve said things I don’t mean more often than I’d like to admit, I’ve slammed down ultimatums that amounted to nothing, and I’ve closed a door only to open it over and over again. There have been times when I’ve been so ashamed of my actions that I had a hard time looking in the mirror. I have failed my children in ways that I swore I never would; I let stress, exhaustion, self-doubt, and self-pity affect the way I spoke to them - not often, but I remember and oh, how I regret it. I learned from my mistakes but, as they say, you can’t unring a bell that’s already been rung.

I’m writing this as a way of reminding myself (and you, if you’d like) to look at the new year as a time to look forward, keep learning, apply what I’ve already learned, trust in my abilities a little more, and be grateful for every opportunity I am given to show the people in my life just how much they mean to me. It’s time to cut the new year, and me, some slack.