For the past several years, I've always made a New Year's Eve post (or, a still dark and way too early New Year's Day post). This post is always lessons I've learned during the year... some silly, some stupid, some serious. This year, I have decided to start this post a few days early (it's late at night on the 27th as I start this), but still will wait to post (I think) until the 31st.
So why start early? Well, to be honest, I generally start prepping for this post a few weeks before New Year's Eve (as I have this time). And sometimes start writing it a bit early. But this particular day, and the encompassing theme of lessons, holds a special place to me and therefore I really had to start it now.
You see... last year on this day (much earlier in the day), I was admitted to a psych ward on a mandatory 72 hour hold. 24 hour later, I was informed that this hold could actually last up to two weeks. This would mean that I would not get to spend New Year's Eve with my family. I would not get to participate in the traditions I had started several years ago. A) I would not be able to make my annual "lessons learned" post - something I oddly hold dear. But more importantly, B) I would not be dancing in the kitchen with my daughters, C) I would not be kissing my husband at midnight, and D) I would not be making snow angels with my family right after the calendar switched to the next year.
So yes, today in particular, this post means so very much to me. In addition to the reasons above, this post is going to hold a particular theme. Most of my "Lessons learned" posts do have a theme (one year it was based on me injuring myself, one was on bad crap happening, etc).
This year, the focus is on changing relationships. My psych hold last year made me realize my depression was aimed at changing relationships, and made me start to change one particular relationship - the one with myself. So, that's the other reason I'm starting this early.
Onto the lessons learned in 2016....
1) It was SO wonderful to be able to ring in the new year making snow angels with my children, and with a great friend of ours. We have never included friends (that I recall?) in our snow angel deal, but it was wonderful and I hope we can do it again.
2) NEVER ever ever ever ever tell your boss that you were in a psych ward for depression/suicide. You'll find yourself "let go" for stupid ass reasons in a heartbeat.
3) No matter how long you've been married, bad things/feelings can and do happen which can lead to divorce if you let them (or if they're needed). But when you really love someone (and the marriage is worth saving) you can get through anything and come out stronger for it.
4) If you truly love someone (spouse, significant other, friend, child, parent, whatever) - don't let anger and pride stand in your way. Special relationships are so hard to find. Find a way to forgive and move forward.
5) Dressing up little boys as little girls is still so much fun. I did this to brothers, and sons, and now sons of friends :D (Yes yes, I'm weird :/ )
6) NEVER EVER EVER get between a hungry teenager and her food.... and this message goes out to even those stubborn tin cans that refuse to open...
7) A weekend with no children... especially a Jacuzzi suite with the spouse... can be so relaxing and needed... even if a lot of it is spent watching "Sex Sent Me to the ER" :p
8) Spending quality time with great friends is something to make sure you make time for - whether that time is working on picture frames, playing pool, working on your home, or whatever. Truly great friends are hard to come by. Make time with them as often as you can.
9) Watching a younger version of yourself go off to her last prom, then watching her graduate, then watching her slowly move out... and knowing there is nothing you can do to stop her from growing up and going her own way... hurts like hell. But also makes you smile big and think "watch out world... here's another me!"
10) Spending time with my new God-children is so much fun - whether we're singing/dancing in the living room, or spending time painting my office wall, or just getting hugs and listening to them babble about their day - I love every moment.
11) Having your father wrap his arms around you for the first time in a long time makes everything right again. Having him say he's proud of you... having him listen to you... just having him in your life... makes everything right again. (or, at least it does for this girl who used to always be a daddy's girl)
12) There is something incredibly peaceful and wonderful about spending time with yourself... especially when that time is spent in front of a fire, or drifting off to sleep beside that fire, or in a tent (as long as it isn't a 60mph night that pushes the entire side of the tent on top of you :/ )
13) Even more peaceful is waking up in that tent early in the morning, starting a fire, and enjoying a cup of coffee (and morning prayer) by yourself.
14) I miss camping out. Growing up, we used to do that all the time. Doing so in your own back yard with good friends and family is a pretty damn good substitute. And it just looks super cool to have a bunch of tents set up in your yard :p
15) Tattoos don't hurt nearly as much as I expected. And it's even better when you do it as a group, and when it's for a very special reason. Here's to two of my brothers, and to myself (in the format of the semicolon movement)...
16) When you hang out with crazy people, crazy things happen. This includes, but is not limited to: contests on who can stay on the floating shark the longest, water fights in the house, pies/cakes/whipped cream in the face/clothes/home floor/church floor, skinny dipping, water balloon fights with colored water, and so many other things.
17) Having to carry your just-turned-16 year old daughter out of a softball dugout.... having to wait impatiently for the results of x-rays and MRI's... having to wait impatiently for her to get out of knee surgery... all suck. But what sucks even more is going into that recovery room and hearing that kid who rarely cries or shows pain nearly screaming and hyperventilating because she's in so much pain, and knowing there isn't a damn thing you can do about it.
18) Having friends move away is always difficult. But if that friendship is strong and worthwhile, it will remain. And can still grow stronger despite the distance. Love isn't measured in physical distance. It can travel light years and through time.
19) Sometimes, there are no explanations as to why relationships go the way they do. They just do. Hearts and souls have the reins, and all we can do is hold on for the ride.
1) I have the absolute best family.
- I have two sisters (and families) and a dad who went well out of their way to make sure my children could have a good Christmas.
- I have unofficial sisters/brothers who have made so many trips with me to hospitals, clinics, etc to take care of my family (and me)
- I have family who've had to make that difficult phone call when I've been suicidal/depressed.
- I have family who've stood beside me and forgiven me when I've been a complete bitch and completely gone off the deep end.
- I have children who've always been here for me, their dad, their siblings, their friends, and even strangers just because someone was in need.
- I have a husband whom has put up with a lot of emotional break downs from me - whether depression/suicide based, or catatonic-causing anxiety based, or simply bitch based. And he still stands by me.
- I have family who've dropped everything to fix our sewer or our frozen sewer vent or clear our driveway or come help with medical emergencies or even just a simple lack of milk. (and the list could go on forever)
I really could go on forever on this topic. To put it simply - I am blessed. And this past year has truly shown just how blessed I am. This year has tested some of those relationships, and made me feel guilty as all hell that I can't be half the person they are to me. I love you guys dearly.
1) Grill outs and swimming parties with friends and family is still one of the best ways to spend a summer night.
2) I should never be allowed to have pets. I lost a couple turtles, a snake, and a baby bird :(
3) Late night ER trips kinda suck. Especially when it seems you and the spouse are competing for who can be carted off the most in the ambulance.
4) Medina truly has the absolute best ambulance crew. (And, I think, have us just programmed into some form of auto-drive by now :/ )
5) Mother Nature can be a truly destructive bitch sometimes... but I am so thankful that most of the damage in this town hasn't harmed people or toooo many actual homes/property.
6) Staying up until the wee hours of the morning watching a town landmark unexpectedly burn to the ground is... insane. It's sad, and anxiety-causing, and just one of those "holy shit" moments that can never be explained.
NOT SO HONORABLE MENTION though still a huge lesson this year:
1) It still amazes me how vindictive and petty and spiteful and jealous some people can be. They will tear down a person's reputation just because they don't like the person. They will try to rip apart families because they don't understand what a close family is. They will try to rip apart friendships because they've never had the privilege of knowing what a true friend is. They'll talk garbage to anyone who will listen. They'll hate and spread lies because of their own insecurities. They'll even take it to the extent of hurting little children just to somehow make themselves feel better and "worthy".
2) I still pray for them, even though I often don't feel they deserve it. I am still polite and even friendly to them, and I still don't talk crap about them... not because there isn't crap to say, but because a) I'm not like that, and b) they aren't worth it.
3) They won't win. If this year has taught me anything, it's what true love really is. My relationships are relationships God has given me and God knows I need in my life. You can't break that.
There really has been a lot of changed/changing relationships this year. My husband and I have had our relationship tested. My friends and I have had ours tested. Children have moved away. My mother-in-law has moved away. Friendships have evolved. My father has come back into my life. It's really been an insanely crazy year when it comes to relationships. But I have learned that there are some relationships that nothing can break. Not even by me.
God bless each of you this year. May you all find love that is unconditional... love that cannot be broken, even when it gets shaken a bit.
I wrote the following poem a month before my wedding.... it was what was on our unity candle... and as I look back on this year, it's something that truly fits my marriage.... as well as other relationships worth holding onto...
I watch in horror
As the candle flickers
For it was my last match
That lit this flame.
Yet as the light again
Shines steady and bright
I know the candle is
Too large to melt
And the wick is
Too strong to break.
I understand that sometimes
The flame will waver,
Yet the candle will never die;
But rather, burn forever.