Some years are better than others, and some are downright disgusting. For my life, those disgusting years were 1987, 1990, 1995, 2002, 2010, 2012 and 2013. And I use the word “disgusting” on purpose because some of the events of those years comprise things like death of a parent, health problems for my own and my relatives, unemployment, severed relationships, adolescent behavior... in other words, those were the years that cannot be forgotten. It makes perfect sense to chuck the disgusting years in a mental bucket and throw it off a bridge, and for some of those I did chuck them a long time ago, but for some of those years, it really made better sense to keep those memories alive to make me a better person.
So here I stand, the last day of 2013, the last day of the last disgusting year on the disgusting list and why am I reflecting instead of chucking the year off that bridge? While there were plenty of ugly moments in this last year, I cannot forget them because it would be very foolish of me to not use this opportunity to gain some very important wisdom: Let it go. Let me explain...
There was a time during this year that I realize that I cannot be in control of everything. Removing the self-imposed controller of my universe and my family, has helped to lessen some anxiety. It’s important to “let it go” because it helps to get rid of the anxiety that has been plaguing my life. It’s important to let the universe drive the bus sometimes especially when I don’t know where to take the next turn anyway. But this has been an extremely life-altering lesson that I cannot always be the director all the time and I sometimes need to walk away from someone else’s train wreck, even though it sounds apathetic and even negligent. The role of spectator is very unfamiliar for me so I’m still learning this lesson but I feel like it will help my life expectancy to ease the anxiety.
Since having my stroke a little over a year ago, the little words “let it go” can’t be more important. It is important to my good mental and physical shape. It’s important to my family. It’s important to my friends. Every January 1st that I start a new year I have all these resolutions like drinking less, volunteering more, being a better mother, painting my house, getting a new job, and making world peace. There are too many expectations that by the next year I haven’t done a thing, not knowing where to start, yelling at my kids while drinking a beer with Syria on the news behind me on the TV. “Let it go.” I can’t do everything.
The year after my stroke, my goals became rudimentary and primal. During all of the real and unreal adult problems that continued so much through the year and last year, I’m just now realizing what the first priority is - the fact that I can even write this retrospection and read it back, is a testament to my priority. When I lost the ability to speak, write and read it took several months of grief to move onto from the phase of denial to acceptance. I’ve had a stroke, I’ve had a stroke, I’ve had a stroke. Denial is crippling. I thought I would be able to keep doing everything the same. Thank God for the acceptance.... letting it go, letting it go, letting it go.
So looking back, this year I certainly have had some successes. To others my accomplishments would be commonplace, even myself 14 months ago. This year I re-learned how to read, I re-learned how to write, and I re-learned how to talk. As part of the recovery, I just read this book:
Other things during the year that I completed, I published a photography book, built a vegetable garden for the first time, learned how to cook new recipes from the garden, learned how to make and can salsa and learned how to cook a family ketchup recipe and dabbled in some new art projects that I’ve never done before. There were all reasons for those things and they were all crucial for my recovery. All of it would not be without the tenacity of myself and others in my life to keep moving on and getting better. This year I am grateful for my husband Eric, my mother, my brother Michael, my in-laws from California and New York, and my kids who don’t know that all the chaos they bring around the house has helped me to get better as I work on my attention span, my speech, my multiple tasks and my better mothering skills.
An old friend who unfortunately several years ago had a stroke, too, helped me to realize that, “Having a stroke is such a game changer in life and you will start to care less about perfection and having everything back like before”. Over this past year it has been unbearable to see a new person come alive that I didn’t want. It’s been unbearable to realize that I can’t make all my problems disappear. Every year I am going to have problems. Every year. I can’t imagine what the next new crisis will be and at the same time I imagine it all and accept it.
So this year, I’m starting this new year, 2014, as the new person, the new person that I like with all the imperfections, flaws, typos, stuttering speech and all without the anxiety and without the control and won’t it be so exhilarating to just let it ALL GO and unfold in front of me? We will see, we will see...