The End of an Era

And here it is – 31 December 2018. It is the ending of a tumultuous year. It has been a year of massive change, huge highs and lows and much growth for me. I can categorically say thank goodness the year is over. It sucked. On a level of one to ten, I would give it a minus five.

I could consider it a good year from the perspective that I escaped an abusive marriage and that I didn’t escape by committing suicide. A very viable option at several times during the year, let me assure you.  However, it was also the year that it finally sunk in that I didn’t matter in terms of being a fellow human being. As long as I facilitated the marriage in the view of the general public, kept the house and business running and the children occupied, I was not worth more than a whipping boy. In fact a whipping boy would have ranked higher than me in the general pecking order of life.

There has been a lot of heartache this year. The song Never Ever by All Saints comes to mind. Questioning how much was my fault and if I had done things even a little bit differently, would there have been a different outcome? Would there have been wedded bliss? Would there have been “happily ever after”? Let’s not forget that there are a plethora of stories which end with happiness forever after, no sweat. Clearly they are fairy tales for a reason.

And yet I have to keep my cynical side in check to a certain degree. I have friends who are in long term relationships who are happy – very happy. They have to work hard at it sometimes, but nonetheless, the happiness persists in general. So perhaps it is possible. Of course this leads me down the rabbit hole of whether this is just for other people, not me. I have the persistent belief that I am not good enough and not worthy, so why would anyone want to spend their life with me? Why would they want to try to make my life happier in any shape or form? Why would I deserve such a thing? It has been repeatedly reinforced in my life that I am sub-par. It is a huge hurdle for me to overcome. I can’t take it at face value if someone utters something in contrast to this. I have to question it, their motive for saying it – how are they benefiting and what will they get from such utterances; whether or not it is a platitude.

2018 has taught me a massive amount about my behavioural patterns. These have generally been lessons from friends and their observations that have stimulated my own thought processes. I have been forced to reassess my reactions to situations – are they relevant to the situation, are they in context, are they normal or are they a result of preconditioned responses from childhood or from surviving an unhealthy marriage in anyway possible? I have questioned my reflexive answer to stimuli on almost a daily basis. Especially those that I perceive to be out of line with the norm. Unprovoked anger, the desire to hurt the feelings of loved ones, the cutting off of all emotion – the latter being like a steel door that comes down and closes off all empathy or concern or sympathy or kindness. There is a cold and hard-hearted answer to the problems of others. Particularly those people that are unable to respond in kind. A sad situation to be in, but my only hope is that I recognise that I do this and try to stop it in its’ tracks as it is occurring.

I have a huge resentment of labels and have felt angry often during the year that I fall into the category of the victim. I don’t want to be a victim. I am not that person. I can do better than that. It means that you were not observant enough to see what was going on around you. It means that you let yourself be suckered. It means that you were complicit in some way to be in this place at all. It means that you are weak. It means that someone bettered you in some way. Or at least that is my perception some of the time. I can also see how slick-tongued and manipulative the narcissist can be. How they suck you into their reality, which I can assure you (sort of) is an alternative reality to the norms in my society. They are so adept at persuading you that you are inferior and immaterial in life. And just when you are thinking that you can’t do this for one more day, they flip the switch and are as sweet as pie. They proclaim their love, tell you how their lives would be unlivable without you and how you are their dreams manifested. So you stick around for another hour, day, month, week, year, decade. The pattern repeating itself. When you question them on the days where you are being berated for some transgression, they gaslight you by reminding you that they told you how important you are in their lives and after all, they are just helping you to work on yourself. Improve all those flaws that you possess. And why are you questioning their motivation for providing you “positive criticism”? This is all to help you – they love you so much that they want you to be the best that you can be. In other words, you are currently not meeting the standard.

2018 brought some new friends into my life and brought some current friends much, much closer. Both categories of the aforementioned have been a Godsend in every way. They have carried me when I have been unable to walk one step further. I am so very thankful for each and every one of these people. Then there was also the awakening to the fact that some people have ulterior motives for being friends and in fact are not really my friend at all. There was a time in my life when I would not have been able to discern easily which people these are, but this year I have learned to trust my instinct and it has not served me wrong yet. It has been a year of separating the chaff from the grain. And no loss for those who have proven to be chaff.

I have learned to preserve my energy not only for those that are important, such as my kids for example, but also for myself. I have never taken to heart the adage that if you are running on empty, you have nothing to give. Not until I reached the bottom of the proverbial barrel this year. When it is taking everything you have just to make it to the end of the day – both literally and figuratively – then you start to appreciate why it is important to care for yourself by eating enough, sleeping enough and showing yourself acts of kindness, such as forgiving yourself for mistakes made or by treating yourself to the odd luxury that you would not normally get for yourself or whatever it is that you consider to be a kindness. I am yet to get some of this right, but it has improved. My FOMO still acts up daily and sets up an argument in my head as to why I should not go to bed even when I am exhausted! Little by little. I think I need to live with a bossy person for a while who tells me when to go to bed and then enforces it!

Whilst I am all in favour of improvement and change for the better, I hope it is a much gentler process in 2019. This year has been savage in many instances. The end result has been positive in so many ways, but hell’s teeth, it has left me beaten and bruised at times. I am forever grateful for what I have learned though about myself, about how I interact with people – those close to me and the general populace and for the opportunity to model better choices for my children.

That said, fuck 2018. I am glad it is done and may I never see anything like it again.

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