Exquisite New Year
For the past three years, on New Year's Eve, I sit in front a computer and write out a reflection about my previous year, bringing words to life and weaving 700 words or so as the story of that year. As difficult as some years have been this has always been an easy task, the words falling onto the figurative page, making a home for themselves in a bleak white world in more ways than one.
This year, I struggled, the words weary from strangers and seemingly friendly eyes, and for the first year so much of myself is telling me to stay quiet and keep a safe distance from the world. I’m no stranger to walls, both figurative and literal, and this is not the first time that I have barricaded myself in a castle where no one can reach me. It’s no secret that I’m a fantasy novelist, and I have also been honest about the reality that the realms and worlds I have created are layers of walls to keep me away from the world.
Very few know the truth about my initial journey into Suicidality nearly 9 years ago, at 17. My path to suicidality was paved by grief, chronic loneliness, and wounds that I did not have the ability to process caused by those I believed loved me. Back then I felt as if I had lost everything I never even owned, I lost the world and every ounce of life promised to me.
I lost five best friends this year. Seemingly overnight they were all gone and I had to pick up the pieces, no time to mourn, no time within my pain, no time to truly heal from the largest scale abandonment of my life.
The experience tore everything I had and didn’t have from my grasp, and overnight I didn’t know who to trust, where I belonged, and most importantly why I was alive, and I’ve been trying to answer these questions for a little over 6 months now. Every day, I wonder, and every day I am reminded of the incredible journey that I have been on, and the strengths rooted deep within my ancestry.
Deep in my bones, I know that this is nothing for me, and yet it tears me apart because I know that doesn’t matter if the deepest parts of me are not motivated to be alive. I’ve been down that road before, I know what a single moment of psychosis can do when it comes to suicidality, and I don’t pretend like I have much of a say on whether I live or die when I can not even tell what’s real and what’s not.
For over 6 months I have walked on this journey, attempting to reclaim my identity, to reclaim my soul. Severe psychological abuse (gaslighting) leaves us in a world that looks like ours from the outside but is slightly fabricated, leaving us in a state of utter confusion and uncertainty about what is real and what’s not. In an instant, I forgot everything that I am, everything I stand for, everything I’ve ever wanted.
This iteration of this cycle of abandonment and abuse started four years ago, and every year I assume that a bad year is going to be followed by a great year because I deserve a great year. Instead, it’s a bad year, followed by a worse year, followed by the absolute worst year. I know this. I know that without transformation cycles do not break, but it’d be nice if they did. It’d be magical to find ourselves in a completely different world on January 1st without doing the transformative work necessary for us to reclaim our lives. It’d be nice if transformation required a single round of energy and nothing else. But transformation, in its most pure form, requires intentionality and sustainable work directly at the very foundation of our challenges and who we are.
Yesterday, for lunch I was introduced to an incredible individual, who in passing said: “people say good morning as if good is just going to happen when we all know we need to put in some damn work for mornings to be good.” I’ve been working on my own transformation and doing work around it for years, but that is the greatest way I have ever heard it explained. We say Happy New Year, but happy is a lot of work for so many of us. Tearing down our walls is a lot of work, and it’s made harder the closer we are to our liberation.
So, it’s tempting. It’s tempting to put up the walls, to disappear into a meaningless job, to become invisible in a world that is constantly erasing so many of us. With that disappearance comes easy money, material things, and a world where our pain never reaches us. I have been tempted by this, every day for the past six months, for the first time in my life. Starting at 17 I may have been grounded in suicidality for 7 years but I mostly knew what I was meant for, disconnected from that purpose meant I could disappear and the world would not change. And every day, as I tell myself this, I am reminded by Viola Davis’s words “They tell you to develop a thick skin so things don’t get to you. What they don’t tell you is that your thick skin will keep everything from getting out, too. Love, intimacy, vulnerability.”
These are words that have been spoken for decades by bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker and so many other incredible women of color before Viola Davis, and they will always ring true.
I have never been here for half-assed healing, I demand a wholehearted vision of life, good enough is for Calculus homework, not life. Another incredible individual who has recently come into my life recently said: “Getting through it is what you do with Chemotherapy, not life”.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have been given a glimpse of a life that is not yet my own. A life with wholehearted spirituality, a connection to others, to work, to a higher power, to life itself. It was a glimpse of a world where you can belong, and self-actualize. In this parallel universe the worst thing was that the coffee was ‘not bad’, something I’d normally accept, but I felt empowered to say out loud “why have ‘not bad’, when you can have exquisite?”
I don’t have all the answers, but over the last few weeks I have filled a gap within my foundation, and will use it to transform every aspect of my life: I deserve, appreciate, and humbly demand exquisite in every arena of my life. Exquisite is not perfection, as I do not strive for something defined by someone else. Challenges are a constant part of our lives, but abuse and being wronged do not have to be.
I’ve written about this before, and I am in the greatest need for a reminder, belonging is not something we should be working so hard for, it should be the expectation. Today, I finally know what’s possible, an inner world with belonging and self-actualization, with constant streams of support from those you allow into your day to day life, personally, professionally, romantically, and in every other way. The incredible Maya Angelou once said “You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”
The world has a long way to go, but that doesn’t mean that my actualization and transformation have to wait for it to get to where it needs to go. I hold hope that we as a world can get to where we need to go, but I’m not waiting.
This year is not filled with goals and resolutions. I know exactly where I’ll be this time next year, if I am still alive, as change is constant and I will find myself in front of another computer writing another reflection. This coming year is about transformation, it’s about living an exquisite life, and doing everything I can so that everyone has the opportunity to transform and live an exquisite life themselves.
This year is about reclaiming my roots of ancestors who have lived exquisitely and were erased by systemic oppression. This year is about me. I don’t choose work, I don’t choose friends, I don’t choose partners, I don’t choose family, I don’t choose responsibility, I choose ME, and I have finally amassed nearly enough privilege for that to be an option.
I choose me, my belonging, my actualization, my wellness, my transformation. I’ve been called selfish, self-absorbed, a narcissist and so much worst because of these same things, and for the first time I’m tearing open my shirt, painting a red X on my heart, and saying come at me, you’ll find me beyond walls and in a place where I will choose me over the vision of me you want to use to destroy me.
Here’s to transformation, to wellness, to actualization, to ME; there is and will only ever be one, I might as well take care of them.
Happy New Year, but you have to make the Happy part true yourself!