2015: The year I lost everything.

Right now, all over every inch of the internet, people are summarising the year that was. Thousands of lovely people and exceptional writers are sharing their good hope and empowerment with everyone else — these articles are both soothing and exciting to read. They tell stories of problems overcome and ground made in the direction of their dreams.

This isn’t going to be like that.

This is the last trip I took before all this happened, I like to think I took good care of the girl who took this, who didn’t know what was coming.

This is a story of 2015, a year which I’m beginning much as I ended it. A year that very nearly floored me but didn’t quite. And a look at 2016, in which I plan to give everything another go.

First, let’s get a quick run down of everything that happened in 2015. Good and bad. This isn’t some sort of call for sympathy, but to know how I’m feeling now you need to know what I’m reflecting on. This is that.

Three days in to the year I had my heart broken, it hit me harder than it should have and I’m still trying to understand exactly why I was so devastated by the loss of someone who clearly had no interest in being my partner. We’ve reconciled as friends now, and the time where watching him be successful and happy with someone else was about as much fun as putting pins through my eyes has passed. I haven’t had anything else like a serious relationship all year, and 2015 certainly threw me a lot of red herrings in the love department.

On the 15th January I lost my younger brother, we knew it was coming and the explanation isn’t for here, but that is just as disruptive and devastating as you could imagine and then some. You don’t process something like that in 12 months, if you process it at all. Beyond the overwhelming anguish and pain of grief I now dread the question ‘So, do you have any brothers or sisters?’. I lie every time and I’m continuously annoyed at myself for doing so. I learnt it’s possible to grieve and also be made to feel bad about the way you do so.

In the immediate aftermath of this I coped by going back to work and carrying on with my Masters degree against all sensible opinion. I worked myself into the ground and put too much pressure on myself and lost a lot of weight doing so. My current weight is a constant reminder of a body not yet recovered. A body that absorbed all the pressure that my mind endured. 2015 was a year of strain and it was always going to show somewhere.

I changed jobs. Not a mistake but my experience there was hardly wholly positive. The CV is immeasurably strengthened by it though and it’s opened doors I’m still fully exploring. Eventually I was too much of an expense and I lost my job by virtue of being told I wouldn’t be paid enough to have any sort of life on my earnings. I went back to my old job, I was welcomed with open arms and lots of laughter and a work colleague who tells me she loves me being there every single day. I am lucky.

I have to appeal my grade. Future life plans than involve a PhD which I don’t fund myself make this worth it and I wouldn’t be undergoing this incredibly invasive and unpleasant process otherwise. I still haven’t graduated. I’ve done so much, and worked so hard, and I have absolutely nothing tangible, either professionally or academically, to show for it.

I pitched a million pieces and applied for a thousand jobs and had freelance work rejected or ignored time and time again. I felt like I was metaphorically flailing around and finding nothing to cling to and also like I might actually be unemployable. Despite my Masters degree and wide and varied work experience I was beginning to believe I may end up as a Victorian pauper.

A lot of people let me down, people I thought were my friends didn’t know how to cope with what had happened (thanks again, for implying your feelings were more important than mine). So, they either drew back or worse still, resented me for being the centre of so much attention. Some people let me down generally and would have done so anyway. This always happens but sometimes If you’re really at the stage of saying ‘at least it can’t get any worse’, then it almost definitely will.

I embraced this and learnt to laugh about it. A trait, I’m told, which is simultaneously ‘unsettling’ and ‘incredible’.

So what, then? So I had a terrible year. So I ended up exactly where I’d started, same job, same city, still no degree, still single, same friends, less family. I’ve lost more than I’ve gained and I’ve gained almost nothing. I’ve made approximately no ground whatsoever.

But there’s something quite nice about that. There’s something really relaxing about starting a new year and really being able to start all over again from the ground up. Let’s try and see 2015 as a dress rehearsal and give everything another go.

It’s also worth pointing out that 2015, obviously, wasn’t all bad. I’ve received more support and more love than I thought possible. Some of it from people I haven’t spoken to in years who were essentially perfect strangers. This year made me understand the importance of love, real love, for the people you surround yourself with. The importance of holding on to the people you want to hold on to and going after what you want.

I strengthened relationships I already had immeasurably, and reignited some that both parties had been guilty of leaving to dull. I took a lot of decisions about my well-being and my life and my happiness and I feel comfortable with all of them. I trust and admire myself a thousand times more than this time last year. I’m optimistic that I’ll look back and see that the things that happened to me happened at exactly the right time and led to the best possible conclusion. I am proud of myself.

So I’ll submit more pitches, and apply for more jobs, I’ll go on more dates and make more friends. I’ll graduate, eventually and change job, hopefully. I’ll find my way, and I’ll make some ground, because if I did last year I can definitely do this one. You don’t need to have had a perfect, or even remotely good, 2015 to have an excellent 2016.

2016. Like 2015, but better.

Originally published at motsdeclaire.blogspot.co.uk on January 4, 2016.