When we met I was wearing a black dress; my heart full of expectation for what you had in store. I was over 2015 and ready for a new year. Later that day I dyed my hair purple. I wanted to signify change; I wanted to enter our relationship with style.
My hair came out pink. It looked cool… but I wanted purple. It took three attempts and too many hours to get the purple I had in mind.
I realize now I should have taken that as a sign.
Maybe my expectations were too high, maybe I put too much pressure on you. I wanted you to be fun and easy and make up for all the ways 2015 failed me.
But you also failed me.
2015 was hard because I carried too much weight and responsibility; you were hard because I suffered wounds and rejection.
2015 crushed me from the outside, you crushed me from the inside. Feeling forgotten will do that to a person.
I said it last year and I’ll say it again: only you and God will understand what I’ve been through.
You were there in early February when I was making a grilled cheese sandwich. It was cold and dark outside and I looked at the skillet and started crying. Afraid I was losing it, I grabbed my phone and texted my mentor, Rozy.
“Do you think it’s possible for someone to be really close with God but still feel lonely?”
Her response? “Yes, of course that can be true.”
On those cold days when I was alone, I cooked soup, wrote, read books, cried. People I thought would be there for me weren’t. I was in transition and it hurt.
Instead of dating to find love, I was more interested in dating to find friends.
“She seems fun…”
“I feel like we have a lot in common…”
“Oh my gosh she texted me!!”
Were all things I thought or said out loud (the last one actually being said while on a date.)
In March you whisked me away to Nepal and wowed me with the mountains. I felt small. My problems felt small. I wanted to remember that ‘small’ feeling when I was back in Gainesville and everything felt big and scary and against me. I got those mountains tattooed on my arm.
The mountains didn’t help five months later when the ache of rejection remained. I wondered if I was destined to feel that way forever… and should I try antidepressants?
In the end, grieving and forgiveness are the meds that worked. I found freedom in September and was finally able to fully let go of what once was, which helped me fully embrace the season I was in and the people in front of me. I only wish it hadn’t taken me so long.
It’s interesting writing about this now, a few months later, because the pain feels so removed from who I am even though it consumed me for so long.
At times I resented you, 2016, but in the end you came through. I felt mixed emotions when the clock struck midnight two days ago. You weren’t all bad.
You took me to London for my 30th birthday. I entered 30 alone, in a hostel, with an attitude of ‘bring it on.’ I saw Les Misérables at night and was moved to tears. The next day I took a train to Edinburgh, where I sat in the coffee shop where J.K. Rowling started writing Harry Potter. The inspiration in the air intoxicated me.
You brought me love. Crazy, stupid, love. It wasn’t what I expected. It was hard. And messy. And passionate. We would fight and cry and kiss and make up. It didn’t look like any other dating relationship around me, so I was confused about whether or not we were meant to be. I wanted a rulebook. Or a formula. I didn’t even know I was in love – someone else had to tell me. “You’re in love with him,” Rozy said. “What?!” I responded. “How can I be in love and not know it?”
Turns out that is possible.
You gave me girlfriends. Quite possibly my deepest desire this year. Some friendships took a little while to form, others came as a surprise. In February, when I was lonely and crying over grilled cheese, God said, “Don’t fear about friendships – they will come. They will be deep. You will be surprised.” (exact quote from my journal).
Turns out he was right.
You gave me strength. You knocked me down time and time again, but each time I stood back up on shaky legs I was stronger than before. I fought loneliness, rejection, darkness, depression, and doubt, at times wanting to scream to Satan “YOU WIN, I give up, I can’t… I’ll just lay here and you can stomp all over me.” I wanted God to comfort me, to save me. He didn’t. Instead he would say, firmly, “Get up.” Again? I asked. Get up again, only to be knocked down the next time? “Get up,” he repeated. “You need to learn how to defend yourself.” I knew it was because he loved me.
A few months ago I wouldn’t have said this… but thank you, 2016. Thank you for the things you gave me. At first all I thought you were doing was take-take-taking from me, but now I know you were trying to give me something the whole time. I’m sorry it took me so long to catch on.
I will do my best to take the things you’ve given me – the friendships, the lessons, the love – and nurture them as I enter 2017.