Not As I Do

red ball on branch2In preparation both for 2016 and my Magic Words Monthly e-course, I’ve been trying to figure out my Word of the Year for this coming run ‘round the sun.

Usually in December I love doing end-of-year questions, lists, and challenges – I signed up for the latest 30 Days of Lists, started doing Reverb, and all the usual stuff I have fun with before New Year’s. I might not have a great year but looking back on it helps me remember the good stuff as well as what I can take with me from the bad stuff.

This year I’m having a hell of a time doing any of that. I got maybe three lists in when they started making me angry – I couldn’t come up with items for any of the lists. What did I learn this year? What resolutions did I keep? What new things did I try?

Fuck a bunch of that.

I was staring at a list trying to come up with more than two things for it when I realized the problem: this year sucked.

I don’t mean it was tragic, or dramatic, or anything so obvious (well it was, on a global scale, but I’m talking personally). It just sucked. It was hard and painful and somehow incredibly boring and I was dick-in-the-dirt depressed for 90% of it. I didn’t follow through on any of my goals – aside from finishing SHADOWSTORM, which I do anticipate doing by the 31st (first writing, anyway, not the finished book, but that was the idea, so go me), nada. It felt like nothing worked no matter what I tried, and I took zero steps forward, ten steps back.

I don’t even remember what my Word of the Year was for 2015. I’d have to go back through my blog and look.*

It was at the point where even trying to “look for the positive” or make a freaking gratitude list just made me more depressed, because I knew I was just making shit up. I find the cult of gratitude/positivity annoying anyway (I know it works for some people, but a lot of people with mental or invisible illness find it victim-blaming – just another version of “snap out of it!” when it’s just not that simple for a lot of people.), so finally, I gave up.

2015 is pretty much a lost year. I can’t pretend it didn’t happen, but I’m going to do what Disney did with the Star Wars Expanded Universe and make an executive decision as the author: 2015 is officially not part of my canon.

In fact it’s the most frustrating, badly-written AU ever.

I think my Word for 2016 is going to have to be something gentle – I feel beaten down by 2015, and aiming for something too challenging is not going to work. Kindness, perhaps, toward myself, or possibly Naps.

Every year I start out with all these grand intentions, and they tend to go flat the same way everyone’s New Year’s Resolutions do. You know how it goes. Long about February that treadmill’s got socks hanging from it, there’s kale rotting in the back of the fridge (kale can suck it anyway), and that yoga mat…where is it, again?

You know what they say. You gotta walk before you can run, crawl before you can walk, and get out of the fetal position in the closet with your teddy bear and a bottle of vodka before you can walk.

I think the mistake that I make is that I imagine myself as having way more energy than I have. I keep thinking, hey, I don’t have that much going on during the day, surely that’s time to keep an immaculate house, exercise an hour a day, meditate, cook all my meals, and find a job. I’ve got as many hours in a day as Beyonce, right?

Sure. But what I don’t have are cooks, personal trainers, assistants, publicists, maid service, or drivers.

I’m mentally ill, and not terribly stable just now. I’m working on that, medication-wise, but as I’ve said before, the point of meds isn’t to make your illness go away – they can’t do that. They make it so you can get up, put pants on, and help yourself. Some days I can do that, some days not.

Closeup of message stones on white background.

The point of this is, I can’t treat myself like I’m an average person with an average amount of energy in an average body with average social skills. There are a lot of things I’m awesome at, but being a functional adult is not one of them. And every year that I try to pretend, come January, that I’m starting at the same baseline as everyone else, I fail.

What’s funny is I’ve never been that person. I’ve been depressed since at least my teens if not since childhood. I’ve never been “normal” and I don’t especially want to be. Honestly I don’t think I had much of a chance. Yet I keep trying to make myself that way by setting goals that are either way too lofty or just way too intense for where I’m at.

You know what that is? It’s punishment. I’m punishing myself for being screwed up by screwing up then calling myself a screwup. Yet for some weird reason being mean to myself hasn’t made me better. It’s almost as if shame isn’t a healthy motivator. Hmm.

It doesn’t matter what road we’re on or if we’re running or crawling; we have to meet ourselves where we are.

So, I’m off to find a Word for 2016 – and this time I’m going to try to work with myself, not against.

* – devotion


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4 thoughts on “Not As I Do

  1. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your space here on the interwebs.

    One of my friends is anorexic (still overweight, just struggling with a disease of hating herself) and it just reminded me of how hard society is on those of us who aren’t in the status quo, for whatever reason

    But your article about body Joy just inspired me so much, I mean, it saved my life. I became pregnant and decided I wasn’t going to give my daughter tge same short stick that i and I’m sure a lot of us in our generation were dealth. Thanks to your blunt honesty, humor, and compassion, I’ve found some of the tools I’ll need for arming her in as thick of a cloak of self love as she will need to make it in this world.

    Reading your words here just reminded me of how grateful I am to have you in the world, writing and being creative, and supporting people everywhere who are struggling for one reason or another. You go, girl, and you take all the time you need.

    You is kind
    You is smart
    You is loved

    Thank you for existing. You’re an inspiration to me. I don’t even know how to successfully blog.

  2. “Naps” may be the perfect word. A reminder that it’s okay to just do what you *need* to do, and if that means naps, cool. If that means taking the whole day or week or whatever off, to just take a step back and have a breather, awesome. If that means sleeping more in general because your body needs it, great. I also quite like the idea of just saying this year doesn’t count (and I may do the same). I’ve never really enjoyed New Years Resolutions, they’re too…weighty. And then to only not follow up with them (as most people do). I tried this year for about a month and a half and fell off the bandwagon, down in a ditch almost. Went most of the rest of the year in just whatever, and am thinking I’m quite alright at this point, simply because I’ve given up trying to keep up (and am resigned to the fact that, at least once a week, I will need a good hearty nap).
    Being a productive adult sucks. I tried it. I failed it. I can’t keep up with it. So I quit trying, in the normal ways, because it just doesn’t work. And that’s okay.

  3. So things can’t be fixed – only carried. Thank you for giving me a tools to help carry & let go my own sh*t. Maybe a word to consider for 2016? Maitri.

  4. I like the idea of rejecting a crap year as not being part of your canon. I mean, if we really are stories in the end, we should be able to do some editing, yes? And I’m with you on the “you have as many hours in the day as Beyonce (exceptions may apply)” thing; we ain’t all Beyonce. You do you, my dearest. Let Bey do Bey. That being said, though, I’m always looking forward to what you do next. No pressure, just love. <3

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