New Year’s Eve Reflections: Happy New Year! … Or is it?
Happy New Year!
Or is it?
I’ll get right to the point: milestones are hard on me. Birthdays (just had one! You can wish me happy birthday. I’ll wait. Okay. Thanks.); anniversaries; Mother’s Day; Father’s Day; the day my wife died (eight days after our wedding anniversary… yeah. June sucks); Valentine’s Day; it goes on and on.
So, biggies, like New Year’s Eve, are especially rough. This is the time when everyone is thinking about their whole past year. They’re introspective and contemplative (See? I have a vocabulary that includes more than four-letter words. I just like those better).
Everyone is talking about how it went all year long; they’re talking about how things will change in the new year. I mean, it’s cool and all, but… I’m over here just thankful to still be drawing breath. I’m thankful that no one else I love has died lately. That my kids are doing okay (Mostly. We all have PTSD from Liz’s death, and it’s taking forever to find ways to cope with that).
I quit drinking just over six months ago. I needed to. I was on an ugly downward spiral as I medicated myself with alcohol every night. I needed to be numb. I won’t apologize. But, I’m totally relieved to not be in that cycle anymore. New Year’s Eve is, like St. Patrick’s Day, traditionally a drinking holiday. I have plans to go to dinner with some friends (and a date; yeah, I’m dating. I’m allowed. Mind your business), but I won’t be drinking. No champagne toast for me. I can’t touch the stuff. I can’t do moderation. I’m either all-in, or I’m out. So, I’m out.
I also don’t really believe in resolutions. I mean, I know they exist. I just don’t make them. I prefer to try to better myself, in small, reasonable ways, over the course of my life. I don’t want to select a basically random date and make all my effort then. Seems like too much pressure. Your mileage may vary. Some folks need the hard deadlines. I don’t.
So, I’m not going to say, “I’m going to write fifty stories in 2020.” No “I’m going to run a marathon.” None of this “I won’t eat any sweets until at least January 24 (that’s my dead wife’s birthday, which I started typing by accident, because my subconscious is a dick).” Nope. Not my way. Instead, I’m going to try to keep it together, emotionally, as I navigate through the next six months, in this, the second year of widowhood. I’m going to try to make sure my children, now thirteen and ten, are getting what they need, not only to survive, but also to grow into self-sufficient, functional adults. I’m going to write, because I love it. I’m going to try to make each thing better than the last. I’ll read more books. I’ll do crossword puzzles to keep my brain sharp. I’ll exercise nearly every day. I will heal. Because these are the things I do anyway. This is who I am.
If you, reading this, need to resolve to make changes in your life; if you need the hard date of 1/1/2020 to be the impetus for change… cool. You do you. I’m pulling for you. I hope you make it. I hope that, if you don’t, you’re not too hard on yourself. Setting goals is easy. Making them is not.
As for me, I’ll raise a glass (of cranberry juice) to you all. Have a happy New Year if you can. If you can’t, at least keep your head above water. Fight on. Keep going. Because, I believe anyway, we get this one chance at life. We should make the best of it. Hold the ones you love. Practice kindness. Laugh out loud. Get laid. Take a hot bath or shower, and stay in there as long as you want (don’t do this all the time; it’s a tragic waste of resources). Read a good book (life’s too short to read the bad ones, y’all). Stream a fun show on TV. Treat yourself to your favorite food. Eat dessert. Laugh some more.
I’m going to try to do the same. It’s unspeakably difficult to come back from grief with a smile on your face, but it’s possible. I’m working on it. It gets easier with time. If you don’t know what I mean, good. I hope you never have to. If you do, know that you’re not alone. I feel your pain. I understand. It sucks.
But, I find more smiles as I go. I laugh more easily. I’ve even loved again, wonderfully and intensely. That’s in the past now, too, but I cherish it. She and I are still friends (albeit somewhat awkwardly). I’m confident I’ll love again too. I’m healing. Whatever your situation might be, know that you can heal too. It takes time. It takes patience. There will, no doubt, be moments of utter despair (I’ve had more than my share, thanks), but, slowly, you come through it. You’re tougher than you think.
I sincerely hope that 2020 brings you joy, and fun, and the kind of challenges that make you go, “Bring it!” instead of the kind that feel overwhelming. I hope you have love and friendship in your life. I hope you find pleasure in writing. In reading. I hope for the absolute best for you all.
Happy New Year!
Is it? Yeah. It fucking is.
Thanks for listening.
Ken MacGregor 2019 (for another day)