Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The end of another Decade

Image thanks to @AlastairJNZ
Every year I try and use my birthday as a marker point for “where I am at”. It’s a chance to review, and look back on how I’m doing, where I’m headed, and if I want to stay in that direction.
This year is a little different. Partly because I’m turning 30, and am old enough to see aging for the bitch it is, and young enough for decades to still mean a lot.
The other part is that this year has been really really hard.
I don’t mean, “oh yeah, work has been stressful and I hated my flatmates” hard.
I mean, “name an aspect of my life and there is a high probability that it has had to change substantially” hard.

I was sitting in training tonight with a phenomenal view over Auckland harbour. The light was pouring in from the west, and there was an enormous black cloud to the east, out over the harbour and covering the Coromandle and east Auckland.  There was some SERIOUSLY bad weather going on over there, the clouds blocked any kind of view, and it was clear the rain was torrential.
But from where I was sitting, and the way the light was hitting it, it was the most stunning sunset I have seen this year.
The clouds were lit up purple, the sea was a deep pearly grey black, and the yachts were lit up like fairies, flying across the water returning into safe berth. The sun was lighting the clouds over me from below, and they were breaking up and showing all different shades of pink and orange.
I sat there a bit stunned by the gorgeousness of it all, and stupidly overwhelmed with how well tonight’s sunset summarised my year.
Those big black metaphorical clouds, haven’t been long gone. I can still smell the rain in the air, and it’s going to take a while to clear up. But right now, having gotten past the storm, life is as beautiful as it has ever been. And sometimes that’s all you can ask.

This year in summary.

I have experienced Loss.
I have lost friends.
I have lost family.
I have lost a love.
I have lost a future that I held as certain as I have ever held any future.
I have lost the body I was proud of, the strength I was sure of, and the certainty of what my health will be in the future.
I have lost an element of hope and optimism, and I’m sorry to say my heart is harder than it was.
I have lost something deeply important to me, which I’m still not ready to admit or talk about.

I have Gained.
I have gained friends.
Oh my god. You guys are AMAZING. I have met the most vibrant, exciting, scintillating, fascinating, brilliant, kind and generous people this year. I have made more new friends this year than I did in the four years previous combined.
I have strengthened and rejuvenated old friendships.
I’m so so proud to say that the same girls that jumped up and down dancing like loons at my 21st will all be there on Saturday for my 30th. We have fewer things in common, but they are my sisters. They know my heart, and I love them so deeply.
I have gained a new space in my heart.
I became a godmother, my friends have had children and I have found a whole new space in my chest, all ready to adore these little people. Every time I see my godson and his sisters I’m surprised by the depth of how much I adore them, and I feel a great sense of honour that their parents allow me to be so much a part of their family. This participation means more than they can possibly know.
I have gained a career.
For the first time in my life I feel as though I have a career, not just a job. I have a sense of purpose, job satisfaction, I am making a very real difference, and I can see a career path that excites me deeply.
I have gained strength.
What feels like a cruel, bitter hardening of my heart right now will eventually soften, and these experiences have given me new skills, ways to cope, and resilience for the future.
I have gained pride.
I have overcome a lot this year and although I’ve had a huge amount of support when I called for it, I have essentially done it alone. No one else got me out of bed and into work. No one else kept me doing what I needed to do to keep my mind well through all that grief. I did it.
I fucking survived, and right now is the first time I’ve taken the time to feel proud of what I have made it through.
I have gained new skills.
I am learning new tricks, have passed a correspondence course, have started a new volunteer job and am learning an instrument.
Partly this is because some of my old hobbies have had to stop, with the Arthritis, but I’m genuinely excited about these new skills, and pleased to say in spite of all the turmoil, I’ve continued to grow and achieve.
I have gained independence.
I’ve always enjoyed and been good at being single, but the last year has been a real learning curve. For the first time I feel truly independent, less chained to what other people think, and confident enough to follow my own path.  I have maintained my sense of community, while realising that I can’t save anyone but myself, and to TRULY let that go was a challenge.  Living my own life, with integrity, is something I am feeling more confident in.

I feel like my world has literally been turned upside down.
It seemed like a bad thing when it was happening. But now, now I look at my life and it’s something I’m proud of. This plant may have its roots in shit, but it grew twice as fast and 10x as strong because of it.

I won’t ever wish for a smooth ride, because boring isn’t something I do well. But the ability to sail through a storm, and be able to use my support crew, and my own skills to get through it, that’s a hell of a gift.
To those of you reading this who have been there with me for the ride.
Thank you .
I can’t thank you enough.

Let me get you a drink and a hug on Saturday.
Image thanks to @PaulaAMelville

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