January, a season of sadness

2018 started off quietly. Our holiday season was peaceful and relaxing, but only because I finally decided that I couldn’t handle one more minute of the drama that occurred in 2017 and I told people, in probably too nice a tone, to fuck off. And temporarily, people mostly fucked off.

After this merry season of peace and quiet, my husband and I started to think of what we wanted to accomplish in the new year. I have tried, in years past, to put more effort into making a list of resolutions for the sake of setting intentions, even though it has always felt sort of silly and pointless. But this year, I decided to take one of the scariest “intention-setting” bulls by the horns and make a pragmatic, no fudging budget for the year. One with accurate accounting of expenses and realistic forecasting of income. Now that I’ve abandoned another career track with quitting residential real estate sales, I needed to budget the money we still have and figure out a way to try to make new money without wasting more time pursuing non-lucrative jobs. Since I have tried many professions without finding a sustainable position, this budget project was daunting.

Writing this as of July 2018, more than half-way through the year, I think the budget has held up. I feel like I know, better than in years past, where our money is, how it is spent, and when we make any kind of income. It has helped me make informed investment decisions and it has reduced my anxieties about money generally. We are doing a great job staying within our means at this point, but I still haven’t solved life’s riddle of finding any sort of meaningful work. I can make money and I do, but that is not enough for me and I can’t seem to figure out what is enough for me. The struggle continues.

With our worldly necessities accounted for, other pressing issues lurking in my subconscious started to appear in January. First, the drinking. New Year Resolutions trigger an internal debate that I’ve been having over the last four years. My first thought is, “I want to drink…less. I need to drink less. I hate how much I am drinking.” So, sometimes I’d write, “Drink less.” Or maybe, “Drink only on weekends.” Or some other variation of arbitrary rule making in an effort to slow a train that was already barreling down the tracks. My next thoughts were then about how hard it would be to even drink less, much less quitting altogether. I would think about how it was part of every social event I attended and how I felt like I needed to drink to feel comfortable in those social settings. Then, I’d really think about why I drink every night. Does it matter how much?

That real reason for the wine every night, while cooking dinner, while eating dinner, after dinner, and at every outing…the succinct version of the reason is because I felt intensely sad and anxious most of the time. The long version starts with my parents, how they lived and then how they died, and the subsequent fallout events related to their deaths. Needless to say, a lot of shit happened and there are certainly many anniversaries to remember, but the only one that truly hits me every year is in January. My mom passed away in January 1998, and her birthday is also in that month, so two days hang me up in the first few weeks of each year, for the last twenty years.

Twenty years.

I see it is inevitable that I must take stock of these last two decades and the woman I’ve become in those years. In January 1998, I was 13 going on 14 with my birthday coming up in March. Back then, I couldn’t really conceive of myself twenty years in the future. Everything seemed so chaotic and uncertain at that point. I remember I hoped I would be a free woman with a peaceful heart. That was all the detail I could imagine or hope for at that time.

And here I am, twenty years down the road, definitely a free woman, but without a consistently peaceful heart. I think the years of upheaval in my early adolescence have made it difficult for me to make plans for the future. I have a hard time setting big goals or dreaming big dreams because I worry that, ultimately, things fall apart. Such was my early experience. Or, that maybe I’m not good enough….for what? Anything?

In January, 2018, I found myself crying during yoga, or while driving, or when I was puttering around my house. I felt like I still had so much pain from where I had been in my life and I was (am) so confused about where my life is heading. The result was my daily feeling like shit. A general malaise. I kept drinking wine and feeling like shit about that too. I also started going to more yoga classes each week and allowed myself to cry when I needed to, even though wine, yoga, and tears didn’t really make me feel any better.

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