I don’t have much positive to say about 2018, but my hope is that in the years ahead, we’ll look back and see the lessons we learned and they’ll be valuable.
One lesson I’m already learning is how important it is to take care of yourself. I’m not sure I fully understood self-care as a real concept instead of just a buzzword before this year.
February and March were tough. I thought the news we got then was the toughest we’d face. I realize now it was just preparing us for even tougher days ahead — rather than a triumphant and quick recovery.
As the year got worse, I learned the real value of taking care of myself and the one other person who truly understands what’s happening in my heart and home.
I can’t really offer advice on how to handle tough stuff. I’m not an expert — in part because my life has been really pretty easy prior to 2018.
I am just taking everything day by day and some of those days are, admittedly, better than others.
I don’t know what everyone else should do. I only know what is working for me right now and what has worked over the past 12ish months.
Therapy — I’ve only been a few times so far, but I understood the value from the first appointment. I walked out feeling lighter, if for no other reason than just being able to say everything I needed to say to a total stranger. If you find a therapist that is a decent fit for your situation, there is much to be learned about what you’re going through and how it is affecting you. If the first therapist you try doesn’t make you feel comfortable enough to share where you really are, keep looking. Find one who does. Therapy is not something to be afraid or ashamed of. Therapy is good.
Embracing anger — This year I’ve discovered anger as a dominant emotion. That doesn’t sound good, but I’ve always been someone who didn’t use anger to its full potential and there can be value in anger. I don’t mean there’s value in hurting others with your anger, of course, but understanding the need to express it and finding healthy ways to do so is very important. Sometimes anger looks like me screaming at the top of my lungs in my car by myself and that’s cool, because damn, it feels good.
That said, learning how to express anger in a healthy way is an ongoing effort and sometimes I find myself getting uncontrollably angry over tiny things. I assume this isn’t all that unusual. Usually, in these moments, I try to say aloud what I’m angry about. If it’s truly ridiculous, I’ve learned I can laugh about it and re-evaluate.
Anger isn’t bad, if you know how to manage it.
Backing off of social media — This is a new one for me — very new. Just this week I deactivated Instagram and Facebook. It might seem like an obvious move to some people, but social media is a huge part of my job, so it took some finagling. I have a work Facebook account that isn’t friends with much of anyone. I kept it activated so I can manage my work pages. Other than that, I’m done on Facebook for a bit.
Instagram was more of a challenge, not because of work, but because I love Instagram. It’s aesthetically pleasing and it’s the one social outlet where I feel like people aren’t always fighting. For most of this year, I’ve made a habit of watching everyone’s Instagram stories at least once a day.
But Instagram isn’t a happy place for me anymore. It is a window into the best side of everyone’s life and when you don’t feel like you can handle the best of everyone else’s life, it can be brutal.
The thing is, it’s not everyone else’s responsibility to temper what they share because of what I’m going through. It’s not anyone else’s responsibility to make adjustments to accommodate me. It’s my responsibility to protect myself. So I’ve stepped away.
I’ve done it on social media and I’m going to start doing it in person when it’s necessary.
I’ve never lived in a space where I need to protect myself like this. It’s not natural for me and I don’t like it, but I recognize it’s necessary and good.
I’d love to look ahead to 2019 and think everything will be different and better. It’d be incredible everything was suddenly better at 12 a.m. Tuesday, but I don’t expect that and I have no reason to.
So my wish for 2019 is that we keep finding ways to learn and grow through this process and that we continue to forgive ourselves when the growing pains are just too much.