My year in review: looking back, looking forward

14 Jan

New Year’s Eve always makes me think about the year that preceded it, and I’ve always wondered whether the way you spend your new year’s eve has any bearing on how the following year turns out.  I know that’s a lot of pressure on one night, a night that is often over-hyped, spent intoxicated, and often plain stupid.  But to be fair, my NYE’s have been delightfully varied, and in the 8 years I’ve spent in Charlotte, I’ve celebrated New Year’s in a variety of interesting ways: with a boyfriend (on two separate occasions), uptown with revelers, alone (frankly, in my top 5 NYE), at a dinner with friends, at a house party, and this year, with a close friend at an all-inclusive bar with a bunch of 25-year olds having a bang-up time.  Last year I spent it with J, my ex, and it was also one of my better new year’s.  But the glow didn’t last long—we had our first major fight a month later, and broke up 2 months after that.  So I guess a New Year’s Eve is just that—one evening—but every year it makes me think of what that year was like and what the next year will bring. 

This year was challenging, for a variety of reasons.  Again, it started out perfectly, but that was the smoothest part of it.  J and I had a long distance relationship that ended after nine months.  In truth, I don’t think it was ever going to go the distance, but I had hopes.  It was good for me, in a way that past relationships weren’t, and it was something I needed at the time.  But the break-up was drawn-out and I have a tendency to feel acute agony when I’m causing someone else pain.  In times like that, I wish I were colder, more clinical, but I’m not.  So all of that aggravated my disease, and I just couldn’t stop myself from backsliding.  Being in a constant state of sickness is debilitating and after a while it wears you down.   It wasn’t until November after seeing my new naturopath that I was back on the road to recovery (bless that man).  But I have a feeling that any romantic relationship has the ability to affect my health, and unless I want to be a nun, it’s just something I have to deal with.  Relationships just don’t conform to the black and white world my colon seems to prefer.  I don’t do uncertainty well.

Of course there were highlights—going to Kripalu yoga retreat in Massachusetts in June was amazing and restorative, as was visiting Vermont in August and having a quick girls’ trip with my best college friends.  Work has been challenging and rewarding, and I’ve finally found my future there in academic library instruction, teaching students and developing information literacy programs.  After years of wondering (and stressing over) what I’d be good at, it’s a relief to finally find something that fits me, something that I can see a future with.  My friends and my family (especially my mother) never cease to amaze with their wisdom, support, and humor, and I’m grateful for having them in my life.  

And continuing with the highlights, the year ended on a surprising note, one that I wasn’t expecting. I went home for the holidays and saw an old friend for drinks. This man and I reconnected a few years ago, and at that time, I was surprised at how intensely I was attracted to him, since we’d never spent much time together back in high school.  We didn’t even think we liked each other back in the day!  He was a bit of a bad boy, and I was a goody two-shoes, and never the two shall meet.  But my first and most persistent thought when we got together with friends for dinner, 4 years ago, was “Sit by me.” I just wanted him to sit by me. To be near me. For all of the people that I have dated, I don’t know that I’ve ever had that reaction to them, that spark of immediate chemistry.  It was a bit of a revelation.

And so after Christmas we had drinks, the first time we had seen each other in four years. And it was lovely. He was lovely.  It was the most comfortable, refreshingly easy time I’d had in ages.  Effortless.  I think we both shocked the hell out of each other.  And being with him inspired in me a wildness that I’d forgotten I had, a sense of abandon that I honestly felt like I had lost.  There is a time after a breakup that I think most people go through where a sense of hibernation happens, and you stop caring whether or not you’ll ever meet someone.  The cynical part of you wonders if you will ever be really engaged again, awakened, energized.  The fire has been banked, and you doubt it can (or will) be reignited.  Will you ever find someone who gets you, who knows you?  Seeing him reminded me of that part of myself, the part that reminds me not to settle for less than what I deserve.  He’s my idea of Prince Charming: a funny (as we laughed the whole evening), delightful, comfortable, interesting, sexy, smart as hell, thoughtful, husky-voiced, slightly potty-mouthed, crunchy coated, sweetly gooey-centered, sensitive-yet-still-kinda-badass dude. So, like, WAY more interesting than Prince Charming, because that guy is pretty dull (wouldn’t you’d agree?)  But this man is just a completely unique package.

And yet, as with most (all?) of my romantic entanglements, it can never be easy.  I live in Charlotte, he lives 7 hours north.  Doable?  I think so.  Ideal?  Of course not.  If you’d asked me if I would do another long distance relationship like I had with my Orlando ex J, I’d tell you (once more, with feeling), hell no.  Too hard.  And yet, for him—I would.  In a heartbeat.  But only temporarily, to see where it goes while we figure it out.  It’s not in my nature to let an opportunity slip by (and sometimes to my detriment, as I have the tendency to put it all out there.  Oh look!  Example A: This blog!) especially when there’s something so good there.  But I can’t make that decision for him.  I can only hope he knows a rare thing when he sees one, and that the right answers make themselves clear to him and to me in this new year.  What I CAN do is be grateful for having him come back into my life, in whatever way he’s meant to be in it, for reminding me what I need and what I want.  Cliche or not, he gave me my groove back, just by reminding me the potential of a really good thing.  I’d missed it.  I’d missed him.

And so I’m looking at what 2011 will bring with anticipation, in ALL areas of my life.  I don’t want to stagnate.  My plate at work is full and varied for the spring.  I’m ready to really build up my career—have long term goals, attend conferences, put together a “package” of sorts full of accomplishments that I can take with me to a new place.  I love my job and the people I work with, but I don’t want to feel like I’m stuck somewhere, in a city I’m growing ambivalent about after 8 years, just because I’m too scared to try something new.  I want to be bold.  I completely freaked my mom out last month by checking out a job posting in California that appealed to me, but I was just trying to picture myself on the west coast.  Maybe?  Maybe not.  Who knows?  Seattle, Vermont, D.C., Austin, upstate New York, Maine—there are college libraries everywhere, the possibilities are endless.  I’m single, no kids—I have no specific ties to me besides the ones I’ve made here (which aren’t insignificant, to be sure).  So I need to start preparing.  My brother, one of the wisest people I know, told me that when I bought my new (to me) car in October, it was telling where I invested my money.  I didn’t put it in a house, in another degree, in expensive jewelry.  I put it in a (literally) mobile device, something that travels. I’m ready for change, in whatever way it presents itself—a new job, a new man, a new city, a new SOMETHING, I just don’t know what yet.  But it will make itself known to me, somehow.

I often make resolutions (don’t most people?) in the new year and of course they get abandoned in mere weeks, but this year I want to do something a little different.  I read “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin, and I want to focus on my own version this year, in a spirit of rebuilding and renewal.  Let go of the things that don’t work, embrace the things that do.  Be more generous with my time and my money.  I want to work on my health, which is has been in a shaky state with the excess of the holidays.  I want to get off my meds and get my body in a state of continual healing—I put my poor body through the ringer last year!  Part of that was due to the stress of the breakup, but much of it was simply me not taking care of myself.  I want to trust God more.  I want be able to let it go, like that TD Jakes letter (if you haven’t read it, you should—for me it was life changing).  I want to feel vibrant.  Appreciated.  Exciting.  Soulful.  Open.  I want love to surprise me.

All of this isn’t an easy thing to change.  Anxiety, like depression for some, has been an unfortunate long-time companion of mine (so it’s no surprise my health problems are rooted and exacerbated by stress).  I have worried and stressed and pushed and forced and controlled my life where i thought it should go.  And for the most part, it worked!  I’ve gotten almost everything I worked for, in the order I worked for it, with a minimum of effort.  But I was surprised to find I wasn’t satisfied with the choices I was making or the results I was getting, especially in love.  The most liberating feeling I had was turning 30, realizing my life had gone in a completely different direction than I originally thought it would (mostly in the marriage and kids department), and finally letting it take me there.  Not resenting it for not being what I thought it should be, not fighting it.  I want to continue feeling at peace with my decisions, and to know that I regret nothing.  And thus far, despite so many of my stupid past mistakes, I’m making good on that.  I want to embrace my Buddhist nature and know that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, and be satisfied with it.  That’ll take work, but it can happen.

2011 beckons me, whispering sweetly hopeful plans in my ear.  I’m ready for what she’s going to bring me.  I’m ready for a really good year.



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