A new year begins.
And like most, I suppose, my plan for 2010 consists of improving upon last year's failings. Whether my weaknesses stem from ingrained behavioral patterns, character flaws, or poor judgment makes no difference. Reading and research usually light the way. Furthermore, I know what's wrong with me. This means that even though I welcome others' opinions, their views are no surprise. My imperfections are as blatantly obvious to me as they are to them. There are enough to build a library on the subject, should I choose to do so.
Shall I mention a few?
Sure, why not?
Gina Marie, my best friend, often says I return phone calls at a snail's pace—if I return them at all. And she's right. But I'd like to add that I've been blessed with a partner who is as bad at this as I am. Therefore, from the person with which I spend most my time, I receive little in the reprimand department for this "teensy-weensy" defect in my makeup. If anything, I get a gold star for the little amount of time I use the phone, and I like it that way. So sue me.
My illustrious other half, though, rants quite a bit about my combative nature. I pick arguments over the smallest things. And I try to win with hardly any data or personal knowledge of the subject at hand. This, above all else, drives him battier than a monkey chasing its tail.
I'm certain that our readers think his hair is naturally untamed and Einsteinish in appearance, eh? Not true. He grabs the hair on both sides of his head frequently; mainly from exasperation with me (chuckle…). It's a good thing I like the "Wildman" look.
All kidding aside, I'm getting a little better at this, though. Living with a man who is a dictionary, a thesaurus, and an encyclopedia, all rolled into one, helps. Naturally, I still pick the typical female fight. But that's a given, right? Truth be told, I chalk quite a few of our little quarrels up to my X chromosome. And I sleep every night, content with the knowledge this will never change.
Next, my daughter has no qualms about informing the entire world (a slight exaggeration, perhaps) of my immaturity and hippie mindset. She often asks, "When are you gonna grow up?" To which I answer, "If it hasn't happened by yet, I'm pretty sure it never will." (I know I wrote this in an earlier post, but bear with me. I hear it a lot.) Add to this her periodic telephone calls, which usually go something like this: "Because you live your life differently than most everybody else (strong emphasis on "your" and "most"), I thought I'd run this idea by you…"
I'm never quite sure if her intent is to mock or a genuine need for a little ingenuity. But, I always presume the latter. I feel better that way.
So to reiterate, there are plenty of people in my life who voice their opinions as to what's wrong with me. But unlike most, I suspect, I don't care. It doesn't bother me in the least. I never take it personally. And I don't get angry (at this, anyway). At times, I laugh and reply, "Tell me something I don't know."
Hence, let me state that even though there are a number of things about myself I'd change, there are many others for which I'm eternally grateful. And this is milestone for me.
In the past, I strolled from one year to the next hoping that one would hold the promise of tomorrow; a serenity that only comes from a sense of security. But it never came. I had bad luck for so long; one would think the "coin toss" to be consistently rigged. Without fail, it landed on the same side year, after year, after year.
I wanted to change everything. I wanted to be someone totally different. Being grateful for anything never entered the equation.
Then, when all hope was lost, when I hit bottom of the barrel, I found my way. It was rather easy to see "up" from rock bottom. It was for me at any rate.
I realize now, that my bad luck was due to erroneous conceptual choices and the misperceptions upon which I acted. These include love interests, friendships, an obsessive self-confidence issue, and a self-destructive and overly trusting nature, just to name a few.
For all that was honest and true about me, there was a dishonest and artificial side that duped many people and me along with them. Looking back, I longed for my better half to surface. But I never hollowed out the hole from which it could do so. I suffocated it with wanting to fit in and wanting to please. I smothered it with good intentions and juvenile behavior.
The battle I fought with myself was greater than any struggle I had with the antagonists in my life. I harmed myself more than anyone else ever could. It seemed as if there was no end in sight to this madness.
Then, enter miracle number one…
By going back to the beginning—my beginning—I saw a clearer present and a better future. My parents laid the groundwork, and, up until recently—the last six years or so—I completely ignored it. The expression "forgive and forget" comes to mind. It's a silly phrase. We should forgive, but we must never forget.
Our pasts hold the keys to so many doors. And yet, we're more willing to forget them, than to remember where we laid these keys. Our rooms grow musty and dark from the years of neglect. And newer rooms are added in hopes that no one will ever enter the abandoned ones. But the imaginary houses we build eventually come crashing down around us. Without proper foundations, nothing lasts—everything rots.
It took me years to board up my rooms—my past. Therefore, I knew it would take just as many, if not more, to reopen them and dust them off. Each time I discovered the darkness lurking in these walls, I forgave myself for creating it.
Exposing our true selves may not be easy. But how can we advance or recover until we do? We can't. We must forgive ourselves for the mistakes of the past and move on. But we must never forget what brought us to today.
Anyway, I'm still working at it…
Perhaps, I always will.
But through this process, I found some of my answers. Not all, mind you, but some.
It took a handful of long-time friends to point me in the right direction. And from this experience, I learned never to underestimate the power of healthy friendships. The key word in that sentence is "healthy"—there are many that cause more harm than good.
Without my friends, it was difficult to see north from south, east from west, right from wrong, and good from bad. My skies were full of clouds in those days. And their guidance lit my way.
I thank the Lord every day, every year, for the strength he gave me to recognize the error of my ways; and for those who unselfishly shared their hearts and their wisdom. Through this combined effort, I finally made one good choice after another.
Soon, the better part of me sprouted. And others noticed its growth. My support group of friends grew. But more importantly, to my mind, it/I earned the attentions of a man unlike any other. So different is he than the men of my past that I grew by leaps and bounds as a person by his side.
And this brings me to my original thought.
As I embark upon this New Year, as I pick or choose which things to improve, I know that nothing better exists than where I live and with whom. In this ever-changing Lost and Found of Life, I have been lost and found many times over—but never as significantly or as completely as now. I do not pine for things I do not have. For all else is of little consequence.
What I have is immeasurably central to my well-being and soothing to my soul.
Whatever this New Year has in store for me, I embrace its unknown, as I have for the last two years, with renewed faith. This faith reaches far beyond my earthly home and stems from the partner I chose, the good people around me, and how I live each day.
So, attack my flaws if you must. Though mine may even exceed most, I must have done something right. For I have Jeff, Green Hell, and some damn fine friends to show for my efforts. And they're more than I could ever ask for; more than enough to live on for the rest of my days.
Thank you, everyone and thank you Jeff; Happy New Year.