Boy, am I glad 2021 is behind me! Anyone else feel that way? If 2020 was my best year yet, 2021 was a total shitshow! Ever have one of those years where it feels like nothing goes the way you intended? That was me last year. And I admit I let it drag me down into low energy fields and get the best of me…EVEN THOUGH I KNOW BETTER! Gahh.
When my husband and I rang in the new year watching fireworks (from a warm bed), I breathed a sigh of relief. See, I’ve had it in my head for several weeks now that 12:01am January 1, 2022 would be an opportunity to hit that reset button. I asked my family and friends for grace and patience with me. Just let me have til the end of the year unmolested and then I promise I will pull myself out of my funk and get my shit together. Some people consented and honored my request (sometimes pleas!) and some people didn’t. Guess that’s a life lesson for each of us. When you see someone going through a hard time, what is your natural response? I suppose that depends on how you’ve been treated at the other end of it.
Naturally, if you’re going through a rough patch and someone says they are there to help however you need it, the logical response is to tell them exactly HOW they can help out. Do you need something physical or material? Do you need someone to listen to you? Advise you? Do you just need a hug or a shoulder to lean on from time to time? Do you just need to be left alone until you come out from your shell? These are all valid and unique to you. There is no right or wrong answer. The right/wrong comes in when you’ve communicated your needs and the other person ignores you or does the exact opposite of what you asked for. That kind of response tends to only make things worse, and it certainly provides a troubled person an excuse to isolate themselves or distance themselves from the perpetrators.
So as someone who just went through absolute hell and pulled myself out of it, with the support of my loving husband and some compassionate, empathetic people in my life, I will tell you this: if you’re going to insert yourself into a situation, have the decency to LISTEN to what the person is telling you, and please have the respect to follow through with their wishes. Or else don’t concern yourself at all with whatever is going on in your loved one’s life. Don’t – I repeat DO NOT – make it worse.
I had a good friend who listened to what I was going through and she straight up yelled at me on the phone. “You are better than this! Stop giving these people your energy! I’m mad at you!” You could hear the frustration in her voice. It jarred me. That kind of tough love is good for me. I don’t remember the last time I had a friend put it to me like that and then just leave me with those words. To others, that might not sound too helpful, that’s why I say it’s unique to your personal needs. For me, I realized she was right and I do know better, and I coach people through similar situations every day I work and I still couldn’t listen to my own advice or pull myself up into better energy levels. Constructive criticism: now I finally understand it.
But here’s the flip side of this coin. When asked, I told a few key people that what I needed was time to process things in my own way, maybe feel sorry for myself for awhile, grieve, feel ALL the feelings I’d been suppressing for many months, and just be left alone to work through these things. I’ve been through over a decade of constant self-development. Believe me when I say I know what I should be doing to progress at any given moment. I also recognize, though, that there is a time and place for allowing the lulls and the lows; otherwise, how do we recognize and appreciate the upswing and highs of life? We cannot be afraid of failure and sadness and anger (all those negative emotions we all have) so much that we hide from it, pretend like we won’t ever have the feelings or thoughts that creep up. ALLOW and RELEASE. I recognized it was going to take me all of December to cycle through so that I could reset in January. I verbalized this. I directly said several times that what I didn’t need was to receive a lecture every time we spoke. I’d already heard their concerns several times; in fact, I sought out their advice. Yet, after communicating my needs, it pushed me further into my hole to have those needs disregarded. Do you know how exhausting it is to hear the same shit every day? To be treated like you’re a young child rather than a business owner, wife, and mother nearly 40 years old?
What did I do? I ignored phone calls and text messages. I wasn’t available to see them. I stayed in bed and watched endless TV. I took a lot of naps. I worked very little. Taking a 4-week mental health vacation did the trick, though. As soon as I put it in my mindset to start afresh in ‘22, I gave myself grace and patience that I asked of others. I listened to my body and mind tell me what I needed. I leaned on my sweet husband to do more for me than I’ve ever felt right asking him for. See, I always feel the need to do everything myself so I can ensure it gets done to my satisfaction. I wear too many hats and I take on more than I can reasonably accomplish at once. Naturally, projects get pushed aside, things get half-completed then abandoned, and I get increasingly frustrated at myself for never seeming to learn my own limitations.
But my time off was exactly what I needed. When I woke up naturally on January 1st, I practically hopped out of bed, made that bed, and got straight to work, right back on that horse. I felt myself smile throughout the day. I felt energetic. I felt rested. I felt healed. No, not completely; it’s going to be a work in progress, but I felt so much better than I did any single day last year. I promised myself (and others) I would get my mind right and I have. Now I feel a mixture of pride, relief, sympathy, compassion, and love for myself and what I went through. I know it won’t be the last time I ever go through a dark spell. But at least now I can think back to this time and know what it takes to get through it.
Be kind. That’s all. You truly never do know what others may be going through internally. Everyone deserves some grace and understanding. The true measure of caring for someone is tuning into their needs and respecting them, whatever they are. If that means you need a break from someone, allow them that break. It’s not personal. But it just may be exactly what that person needs. Remember: ALLOW and RELEASE. Happy New Year!