Can 2020 be a friend?

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and she said “who of us doesn’t feel like we need medication this year?!” Maybe just something cute, like a sedative, to knock me out til Christmas Day? Of course, I’m kidding. Right? I mean, I think so. 2020 has been a b***h. I don’t usually cuss, but that’s what 2020 has done to me. You may or may not have had a similar experience.

Sometime around the beginning of the summer I realized I needed help, I needed help beyond my capabilities, I wasn’t only losing my cool, I was losing all semblance of having ever had a “cool” in the first place. I had been feeling for a long time like I was in a rut, in all of the ways: mentally, spiritually, emotionally. I realized I didn’t have dreams, I didn’t set goals, I didn’t have hope for the future at all, quite frankly, I was finding it difficult to find the motivation to complete simple day-to-day tasks; and it wasn’t because I was unhappy with my life, really, in any way, it was cyclical negative thought patterns I’d struggled with all my life, the hateful way I talked to myself in my head, the way I felt like there was some “right” way to do life and I couldn’t figure it out for some reason, that I had been put together wrong. I couldn’t let myself be happy. I no longer knew who I was, or who I wanted to be, I heard a dozen different, condemning voices in my head, I was off-putting all of my energy into other people and I’d run out of all of it, I was bone-dry. I felt so confused, even though it makes sense: I struggled with infertility for four years, then I went through the sickness and death of my mother, six months after that, I, shockingly, became pregnant, I had an emergency cesarean (broke my heart), fifteen months later I, surprisingly, became pregnant again... It was really just one huge life change after the other, and I’d lost myself in the constant pivoting.

Sometimes this happens, life is messy and hard. It seems that many mothers find themselves at a similar position after years of giving over your body and mind to other little, wonderful, tumultuous human beings; meeting everyone’s needs but your own.

I decided to start personal counseling this summer after relationships in my life started causing me so much anxiety I could hardly sleep or concentrate, I needed help. I didn’t know where to start, but I started talking to friends about how I was struggling, and that openness led from one helpful open door to the next until I found a safe place to be, to ask for advice, cry, admit I was no longer this tough, put-together woman I had thought I was, admit I no longer knew who I was or even wanted to be, admit that I no longer trusted God or knew what to say to Him.

And I started putting the pieces back together. I have gone back to my wee years, longings I had as a little girl, things I intuitively knew about myself as a little girl before people’s criticism and expectations began to scare me into being someone else. I’ve started dreaming again, at night I used to make a big pot of stew over poorly communicated conversations, or impossible expectations, a little bit of this negativity, a little bit of that negativity... now, I dream. I dream about trips to Europe after Covid, I dream of a home in the woods, I dream of dancing and painting and singing, laying in the grass and being silly.

Everyone has or will find themselves at similar places in life, I think. Life has a way of dealing blows and giving blessings that will knock you back on your heels with the blast. You’ll wonder who you are now: is it the same as before? Or is it the same as twenty years ago? Or have you never been quite yourself yet?

Don’t be afraid of these questions. Allow your questions to point your feet in a new direction, allow your questions to land on friendly, kindly ears; I pray to God you have them offered to you. Let the tension be your guide to change and let change be your friend. We are all on a journey, our whole lives we will be, towards a truer, more robust knowledge of wholeness.

2020 has shaken me to my core. I hate it, I love it, I want it to be over, and I want to continue on this quest for authenticity all my life. We’re gonna make it, you guys.