I guess I am giving away my age a bit (not that I ever lie about that sort of thing) by noting this was the Year of the Horse in Chinese Zodiac circles (I’m not much for astrology as a serious pursuit, but I do think certain truths can be divined from it), and I truly thought that—as a Horse person—I would have this amazing year full of great opportunities and growth.
Let’s just say that the opportunities were more of a “fits and starts” quality and the growth was more pain-oriented than I had hoped. While it certainly was not a “one step forward, two steps back” kind of year, it was a time of retrenching.
I haven’t written publicly about much of this past year in large part because the story was not entirely my own. The year began well enough with a long-planned (and long-overdue) vacation with the kids. We hadn’t taken a proper vacation in four years, and while my financial situation had changed dramatically between the time I booked the trip and the time I took it, overall it was a very good trip and a nice break from NYC’s winter.
That vacation, which we took on New Year’s day, was undoubtedly the high point of the year. It was pretty downhill and/or bumpy thereafter.
Among the lowlights:
- Getting divorced. While my ex and I had long been separated, the process of getting divorced is so painful and in my situation brought up a lot of the same hurt, pain, disappointment and anger of my marriage failing. It completely devastated me, so much so that at one point my husband even offered not to file the paperwork. It was the right thing to do, but it sucked all the same.
- Having to move to ungentrified Brooklyn. I have written a bit about this, but I have started and not completed several blog posts about the whys and hows of this move. In short, the story isn’t exactly mine to tell. Both my divorce and the move stemmed from changes in my husband’s work that necessitated making major life decisions on my end. And while neither the kids nor I hate our current apartment as violently as we did for the first six months, it’s still a place that doesn’t feel like “home” and probably never will. It’s not only the neighborhood or the shitty internet or the poorly maintained building (as I write this, we currently have no hot water)… it’s the sum of the parts that makes this place the worst I’ve ever lived in my entire life.
- Finally landing a great job I’d been trying to get for over a year… only to be backstabbed by a co-worker and then let go. I know that people are shitty and the economy is bad, but stealing someone else’s work product and then essentially making the claim that she (i.e. I, myself) isn’t contributing anything of worth is going to be some karma down the road. I am not going to dwell on this one, because it’s water under the bridge and I don’t need to wish other people ill simply because they wanted me torpedoed.
- Getting back with Frank only to have him move to London. Read my book and you’ll get it (i.e. the joke’s on me, I guess)!
- Putting on 20 pounds. The combination of stress and my age finally caught up to me this year, and while I’m trying not to be depressed about my weight, it is, well, depressing.
- Going more into debt. While I’ve managed to stay afloat, my income has dropped drastically from a year ago. I was forced on medicaid (I didn’t want to take it, but I also didn’t want to be fined for not having insurance), and I’m sure I would qualify for all sorts of government programs if I applied. It’s not some political agenda that keeps me from claiming what I rightfully could; it’s pride, pure and simple. It’s terribly humiliating to be poor-ish (see, I can’t even say just plain “poor”). Only a few years ago, I was on target to be out of debt by the time I turn 50. Now, I doubt I will ever be out of debt because the quality of work available to people like myself doesn’t pay a living wage. I don’t like being dependent on others, but that’s what keeps a roof over my head.
- Becoming a full-time single mom. My husband moved to California at the end of summer to take a job. I never really understood what being a single mom was up until that point. Even though raising the kids has always been “my job,” the ex was still around (for many years, of course, we even lived under the same roof!). I never realized how much I needed a weekend away from my kids now and again until I no longer had it. My children—whom I love profoundly—have eaten up a lot of bandwidth this fall and sapped me of whatever energy I had to spare.
- An inability to capitalize on some potential opportunities work-wise. I had a couple projects lined up that I didn’t pursue with vigor. I guess I kept thinking that I would find an in-house position, so I haven’t been doing the whole 60-hour-plus weeks that you have to put in as a freelancer. Needless to say these last three points are probably related!
So, what about the flipside? As noted, it was a bumpy year more than just “all down hill.” There have been positives beyond that January vacation. Chiefly, I am getting to an okay place spiritually, I think. I’m much more comfortable in my own skin (yes, some of that comes from dating again; sigh…). I have managed to connect with several like-minded people who seem to accept me for who I am. It’s refreshing.
I am also letting my son become more independent (more out of necessity than choice); he now commutes by himself every day to school. Sometimes I go several days without really seeing my daughter; we shift from family to roommate a bit more seamlessly than we used to. I’m letting them grow up.
While my exercise routine is still hit-or-miss, I do feel like my new year will be more dedicated to losing that excess weight I’ve put on. While I may not be able to tackle both health and financial issues, I definitely wasn’t able to swing matters of the mind, heart, body and wallet all at once. I am cautiously optimistic that the two main relationships I have going on will be on-going (here’s to a poly lifestyle!), and that both these men will support me in my efforts to take better care of myself.
Which will probably be my takeaway from this challenging year (one of the things I taught myself to do this year is to change my outlook from “bad” or “difficult” to “challenging,” which seems like something surmountable): I was able to transition through a ton of shit emotionally/mentally/spiritually (pick your favorite term). Trying to focus on more than one thing is nearly impossible, at least now in my life. Getting that spiritual component into some kind of molded form was a big deal for me this year. I hope to choose one key area next year (probably physical/health because—hey—I’m not getting any younger!) and ride whatever new waves 2015 has in store.
Happy new year to all!