Onwards, Upwards, Outwards, Inwards

portrait of the artist before she had a clue.

2017 was a real fucker. What a divisive, hateful, illuminating year.

And what a necessary one.

I’ve been talking about this a lot with my therapist. How ultimately — in spite of how damaging I’ve found this year to be — necessary it was to have this year happened as it did.

Yes, even the Trump thing.

Because the Trump thing exposed us — it brought to the surface all the things we as a nation (society? human race?) have hoped to avoid talking about since, oh I dunno, the Civil War? The beginning of caste systems? Time?

But with all our festering wounds finally exposed, maybe we can start to actually heal.

And healing is more important than I’d maybe previously accepted.

I’ve had one of the most stressful and challenging years of my life, to be frank. For so many reasons: the world was bleak, work was tough, life was tougher, and my PTSD and depression and anxiety really leaned into the lot of it. And, of course, that made everything worse: my creativity felt drained, work felt meaningless, I was always a bill or two behind, and my friends either didn’t notice or felt helpless, leaving me high and dry since familial compassion and understanding on the matter is, to be honest, largely nonexistent. My brain has not wanted me to survive this year, and made it its mission to see the end of me. The fact that I have beat down the voices telling me, quite literally, on the daily that I should be dead makes me relieved, if a bit anxious for how much worse it may get before I feel like I am a person who deserves to be here, alive, and thriving.

I’ve not known how to be honest about that with most people (especially when it feels like I am punished when I am, or it pushes people away when I do), and that’s only made it worse.

I don’t know what 2018 will hold: it feels like a year that will either make or break me (and the world), very literally. I am terrified of it, inspired to meet it, and unsure of how to manage what comes next. What catastrophes may it, or myself, unfurl upon the world this year? Will I survive? Will I find peace with myself and the people in my life? I admittedly hesitate to find out but know it’s unavoidable. We simply have to do what we can and admit when we don’t know what that is, or if we’re drowning because of it.

And it’s really fucking hard to not feel like an emotional burden in those situations, or find a way to navigate it that doesn’t push people away or alienate you.

In 2018, we all need to be better. Myself included (maybe doubly so). To ourselves and to others. We need to be more compassionate, empathetic, open, and understanding. We need to learn and choose to learn not because it gives us an advantage, but because it gives that to others who need it more. We need to be inclusive, representative, passionate, and progressive — because retreading past behaviors has only ever hurt us. And we need to learn a lesson that I think was ever so beautifully put forth in The Last Jedi: it’s not about destroying those you hate, it’s about saving those you love.

And may we all find a bit more love to give to ourselves and others, selflessly, in 2018.

It’s corny but no less true: it is only through confronting our fears that we’ll find a vulnerability worth engaging in — and not just emotional flagellation because something in the world has made you feel bad or scared or alone or unlovable. (ahem.) We must love for the sake of love, for the fear of it holds us all back.

This year I hope to spend far less time on social media because, frankly, it just makes me feel bad most of the time. Instead, if I have thoughts and words and feelings, I’m going to try to put them here or somewhere private, because I don’t always have to be a walking exploitable wound, but I have to write it out. It’s the only thing I know how to do.

And also because the Facebook posts were admittedly getting to be a bit much.

So here we are, a scary new year and a boatload of reality to settle into. Where will we be when it all ends? Hopefully in a better place, but I’ll let you know in a quick 365. Until then…

Be thankful for what you can, righteous about what you should be, and persistent in your journey of enlightenment and education. Engage with the world passionately and without shame, but never with delusion.

And try to love, even when it hurts — maybe especially so.