A few years ago I gave up New Year’s resolutions in exchange for One Word to guide my year. Every year has been a surprising journey, one in which I couldn’t predict the outcome.
I started this year with some expectations. I wanted to focus on being whole. A year ago I was dangerously close to turning into a woman I hated–bitter, unforgiving, afraid of everything, hopeless. I still feel some of those things, but I no longer hate who I am. That’s one victory of this journey.
But it surprised me, this year, how much breaking I had to do.
And honestly, I still feel more broken than whole.
There are pieces of me littering my life, things uncovered I thought I had buried for good. And maybe they were buried but they’d begun to rot and were making my life stink. Unearthing what has long been buried is not pleasant but sometimes it’s necessary.
I used to thinking breaking was a bad thing. Like holding it all together was the point of life. It’s exhausting, though, trying to keep yourself, your family, your world, from breaking. Sometimes, breaking is good, and it lets you discard the pieces that no longer fit, or make something new from what is left.
I feel like I learned more about who I’m not, this year, than who I am. And I’m wrestling with that, learning to accept the things I’ll never be as much as the things I am. As a fellow writer puts it in her book, Bandersnatch, “Do I know where I begin and where I end?” It’s a scary endeavor to discover who you are, even scarier to say with confidence, “This is who I am” and “This is who I am not.” The insecure people-pleaser in me wants to be all the things I’m not and all the things someone else is, but none of the things I am. The essence of who I am has been buried under pain and hurt and experience. I think if my true self stood before me, I would not recognize her.
But like a police sketch artist, I’m beginning to get an idea of what she looks like, mostly by ruling out what she doesn’t look like.
There were a lot of things I wanted to become this year, but I’ve found that it’s been more about un-becoming. It’s such a strange word. We use it to describe behavior that is less than acceptable. (It’s a bit antiquated, but I think it’s still used.) But I’m seeing that “un-becoming” can be as beautiful as “becoming,” when it strips away masks and layers of falsehood to reveal a treasure inside.
I apologize too much. Sometimes I’m sorry that I cry so much or that I don’t keep a clean house or that my brain is filled with words, phrases, characters and stories that compete for my attention. These are not good reasons to be sorry. It is the end of the year, and I have not yet learned to stop apologizing for who I am. Another breaking point.
I’ve been seeing a therapist for more than a year now. It was part of the “whole” plan, to work on my mental health. I did not enter the relationship enthusiastically, but I have no regrets about the work we do every few weeks. I cry a lot. I sit in silence, searching for answers to questions I never thought to ask. Once or twice, I’ve illustrated my feelings in a tray of sand using inanimate objects.
I know there is healing in all of this because I sense a change in my mind. I am not free of all the things that plagued me a year ago, but I no longer hate who I’m becoming. I refuse to be a bitter old woman whose life is full of regrets. It would be easier to let the wounds fester, I think. Healing always comes with a cost, but it’s worth it. I tell myself this on the difficult days when I want to opt out of counseling, and occasionally, the rest of my responsibilities.
I am not yet the kind of whole I thought I would be at year’s end. But I have potential. Breaking has to come before re-making, and maybe not all the pieces I had added will fit the final creation.
I wish I could give you a blueprint for how to achieve wholeness in 12 months or less. All I can confidently say as this journey continues is that opening yourself up to transformation, one word at a time, is not to be taken lightly. I expect to be changed by my One Word focus each year. I’m just never sure how it’s all going to end.
You can find all of my OneWord365 posts–from this year and years past–in the category of the same name in the dropdown menu to the right.