This picture sums up how I feel about a new year. And it is not what you think. Please. Don’t even imagine that it’s about me conquering some wall or mountain with any kind of grace or skill.
What you don’t know about this picture is the feeling I have in my stomach. The butterflies flutter around my insides and my heart jumps in my throat. I am afraid to keep going. I’m scared to get to the top. And the worst part is I don’t even know what to grab onto next. There are so many colors and shapes to choose from and no clear easy way up. I don’t even know where to place my hand or put my energy next.
And it’s isolating up here. I know there are others climbing and struggling. But I can’t see them and I can’t feel them. Scary things do that. They make us think we are the only ones.
I know others have slumped into the New Year after they have crawled out of Christmas. The new years resolutions and goals and vision making is all very beautiful and inspiring if you are in a good place. If you are in a bad place, well then you and I both know how it feels.
Just reaching forward is overwhelming. One cannot try to come up with a list of new habits and goals when one is only hoping to hold on.
And can we talk about how puny and tiny some of those rocks look? Please. It can’t hold on to me. It certainly can’t hold my entire body weight.
Scott and I have had some hard knocks this fall. We’ve gotten some bad news in a variety of forms. A phone call. A conversation. An email.
You see when I get bad news I freeze. And usually my face shows this. I call it the emotional tundra of the soul. It’s what therapists call a “flat affect”. It’s not a positive thing. But it’s my thing and I’m used to it. It’s how I appear calm under crisis. But inside as the news makes it’s way from my brain to my heart and burrows into my being, then I begin to feel it because once you start to feel you can’t think your way out of it.
Bad news is always delayed with me. I often feel numb. Or just flat. I hear it and then days and weeks later I feel it. Soon I feel it is so strongly I fear I am going under. It hits me like lead and lodges itself into all the corners and cracks within me. And I wonder to myself how does one jump into the New Year expectant and hope filled with glitter and gold and confetti and noise makers when you fear what looms ahead.
Sometimes life does feel like a very scary climb with lots of choices and bad news and so much uncertainty (and stupid puny rocks to hold onto). I would like to title these rocks, “pray more” or “think positive thoughts” or “God is with you” and truth be told, sometimes I want to kick these well-meaning but quite dudly little rocks to the curb.
But sometimes I need these little rocks and sometimes all I have left is to pray. And sometimes I’m surprised because it does hold my weight and sometimes that seemingly silly little pebble gets me to reach forward again and grasp what is in front of me.
Basically what I want you to know is this: if you aren’t waltzing into the New Year and you are actually limping, crawling, slumping, or just dragging yourself into 2018 then YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
I’m sorry life is being a giant shit sandwich for you right now. I know it’s overwhelming and that the “whelm” threatens to flood you. I want you to know it’s okay to be where you are at. Anyone who needs it to be all sparkles and rainbows and confetti for you is just uncomfortable with pain. It’s not your fault they haven't built up those muscles yet.
I say, forget that noise.
Instead focus on the next rock or pebble or piece of gravel in front of you and hold on. It might be reaching out to a friend, it might be calling your therapist, snuggling your dog, trying out a new recipe, a walk on the beach, practicing a meditation, maybe it is a prayer. I know it will literally feel like you are holding on to a feather and you will feel your heart pound and your hands will sweat. It will feel like it isn’t helping AT ALL. But don’t stop.
Listen; there’s another side to this climb and this New Year. I promise there isn’t only bad looming ahead of you. There is some good waiting too. (there could be confetti: don’t hate it too much). There is some joy and laughter and lightness and glee too.
But if you are skeptical of some good in the New Year, that’s okay too and I don’t blame you. In many ways we're all still reeling from what 2017 flung at us.
Still there’s always the chance of being surprised by good news, taken off guard by hope, and marveling at the good still in this world.
Wobbly legs, shaky arms and a sensitive soul has never stopped us before.