North Star

I have been vacillating on what to write next. This is apparent by both my drafts folder-brimming with half hearted attempts at my next post- and my lack of publishing any of them.

You see, I’ve been meandering through a labyrinth. Patches have been cloaked in darkness. Others have been slippery with self defeat. Areas are peppered with anger or emotional exhaustion. Sometimes all of it. I got a little lost. I forgot what the sunshine feels like. Actually- that’s not true. I romanticized how the warmth comforted my skin. Within the idolization, I lost my ability to recognize it. Even in the densest of forests, pockets of sunlight can be found.

I toyed- a lot- with a post about kissing 2018 goodbye. I started to write it. Several times. I couldn’t shake the hesitation. The reflection that wove itself between my thoughts. How often I have uttered the words “Good riddance” upon the conclusion of another year? Can every year be a monster- heartbreak continually lurking in the shadows? And can the numerical delineation of time I write on checks really give me a clean slate? The brilliant illumination of a sun-kissed meadow?

New beginnings- clean slates- can have a seductive quality. A new annual planner allows me to feel like this year will be different. This will be the year I don’t drop the ball. This will be the year I learn to really love and embrace myself. This year I will achieve the perfection I continually chase. I never frame it like that. Not in my head. I never admit to myself that what I am really chasing is the magical epiphany that will make me who or what I want to be. That the missing puzzle piece will reveal itself and life will no longer feel like one sucker punch after another.

What I am chasing is unrealistic.

That’s the long and the short of it. It is an entirely fabricated ideal that I will never attain. At least not like this. Because unfortunately, there isn’t just one missing puzzle piece. There are lots. And they won’t go away. They will just change with time. As soon as I click one into place, another will surface. Because that’s the nature of self discovery and growth.

That sounds defeating. And it is, when you look at it like that. I think that’s why I have had so many New Year’s Eve parties that exploded in excitement of another year ending versus the possibilities of a new year beginning. Because focusing on chasing the puzzle pieces is exhausting- to only see the voids.

That may be the best way to describe the way I see myself. A scattered site of barren areas that need filling before I am…I don’t even know. Whole? Enough? Worthy? I don’t see the tapestry in it’s entirety. I don’t view the bulges of scar tissue as beauty or progress. Instead, they are flaws. Missed opportunities. Regrets. Reasons to like myself a little less. Reasons for anyone else to like me a little less.

What I have realized is that my view of the conclusion of each year is a symptom of my focus. I view my annual cruise around the sun much the same way I view myself. The dark days- the flaws- are all that I can see. The joy fades to the background. A footnote rather than the prose.

The reach of darkness has no boundary. It presents itself in my view of all the roles in my life- motherhood. partner. friend. It’s an oil that leaves a residue I can’t remove- distorting anything anyone says to me.

It’s toxic.

You see platitudes about removing toxic people from your life. They are anthems to women- a lot of which cannot fathom that another woman would be toxic. Even worse- that they may be. I think it’s because we assume toxic people are bad. Malicious. An underbelly of human nature.

Most of us are just lost. Lost in survival techniques. Coping mechanisms. Hurt people hurt people. Hurt people hurt themselves. People aren’t toxic. Behaviors are.

I see the behaviors. I can identify them. I’m not living in a cloud of denial- assuming I have all of my broken pieces put back together with the flaws spackled over. And I am smart. I can sit in my therapists office and logically walk my way through how to correct them. But I have no idea how to put it into practice. Isn’t that the crux of the issue?

If I had to distill my childhood down to one phrase it would be my mother’s favorite to utter. Awareness precedes change. And logically, it does. I get it. You have to see the problem- identify it as something that needs to be corrected- before you can take on the task of doing just that- correcting it. But let’s be a little more honest- being aware of the problem doesn’t mean shit if you have no clue where to start. Now you’re just very aware of not only the problem, but your own shortcomings. And google is no help. Trust me. I’ve looked. A lot.

There isn’t an easy wiki page with images to show you how to put fear down. How to learn healthy communication skills- skills you should have learned decades ago. Or how to admit you don’t know where to start. That you need help. That you can’t be the leader on this one. I’ve tried. I’m failing.

The advice makes me feel stupid. My failed attempts make me feel like a lost cause. And the epiphanies make me feel invincible. Not gunna lie, right now I live for the epiphanies. The small victories.

So today, in this first month of the new year- that’s where I start. Admitting that I am only an open book when I want to be. Mostly because I am afraid to admit that I have no clue where to start- and I’m crumbling under the self imposed pressure to have all of the answers. But I think what I have come to realize with all of this is that time doesn’t matter. It never did. A new year is inconsequential. It’s the first, shaking step that makes the difference.

Today, with much trepidation- I take said step. I am lost- I think I broke my compass somewhere along the way. But maybe- just maybe- I can find the north star.

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