A Whole Year’s Worth of Memories
I feel like I can barely remember these last 3 weeks, let alone the last 52 of 2019. It’s been a crazy time for me, as the Holidays often are, and I haven’t felt much like writing. But the first step is just to start, so here I am.
Throughout this year I graduated from college, turned 23, moved 3 times, got a dog, celebrated my 3-year anniversary with Devin, got 2 jobs, quit them both, started my own business, took a break from it, got another job, and now I’m trying to juggle both while somehow still feeling the after-effects of my New Year’s Eve (and then some) Hangover (I guess once you take a break, they only hit that much harder). There are thousands of other days, minutes, surf sessions, tears, laughs, surprises and obstacles to reflect on from 2019.
Re-Learning My Rhythms
Honestly, I don’t want to be writing this, but I feel I have to. Getting back into a restaurant job drained a lot of my spirit. That, combined with missing almost every family gathering because of working during the holidays thanks to being one of the new hires, left me a little dispirited and less than ecstatic for the New Year. It’s been a weird couple of weeks, going back into the monotony of the restaurant biz, drinking and losing sight of what I want my life to look like. It feels like I’ve been in a blur for a while, in the worst kind of way.
Maybe it’s the VOG, or dehydration, or something else that’s going on, but I’ve had a headache almost every day for the last 2 months. I want to complain, and sleep all the time. I want to say that I haven’t been going to the gym or surfing or taking care of myself because a new job is hard and because it’s been rainy and because I am an addict.
Monotony and Comfort
All those things are true, but it’s also true that I’ve been afraid of those things. Changing your life isn’t linear; it’s a back and forth process of seeing what works and what doesn’t. As much as I’ve disliked the last couple weeks of drinking and sleeping in and watching too much T.V. until it was time to head back to work, there’s a familiarity to it that was also soothing. There’s a freedom to being sick and self-destructive, a freedom to not think about much else. I’ve been through addiction enough times to recognize it very quickly now when I’m in it again.
Because, really, whatever the addiction, it’s still the same. I still remember going a few days or weeks without throwing up, or drinking, or partying, and seeing how much better I felt, how the world just seemed to keep opening and opening up for me with all its beauty and newness and light. Everything was all right there in front of me, proof that drugs or alcohol or my eating disorder wasn’t the true answer I thought it was.
Two Steps Forward, Ten Steps (Back?)
Yet, all it would take, after days or weeks or months, was one evening. One night of bingeing to throw my mind back into the vicious cycle of overeating and purging. One night of drinking to bring back all the anxiety and fear and craving. All it takes is one night of drugs to send me right back into the fiending, spiraling, nerves-on-edge hunger for more.
There’s never enough with addiction. That’s why it kills so many people. That’s why we all make resolutions for the New Year, because we need an end-point, a last hurrah.
New Year’s Resolutions
I never used to believe in New Year’s resolutions. What was the point of telling myself I’d have to change at some arbitrary date, beginning at some specific time, just because that’s what we do? Like diets, resolutions always set me up for failure, for the craving and the need and the emptiness once it was over and I suddenly turned over a new leaf for some random reason like the clock striking midnight.
More than resolutions, I believe in momentum. Yet even more than that, I believe in fear. Fear pulls me in, and it brings me back out. Fear motivates me and destroys me. It keeps me alive, but also puts me into danger. Resolutions make me afraid, because they are absolutes, absolutes which I despise being held to, even when I am the one who created them.
This New Year, I told myself I would change. I’d wake up early, go to the gym, not be hungover. I thought I’d be better. And I wasn’t. I was hungover with the best of them, and have only gone to the gym twice since the turn of the decade. But I also don’t care. Part of me doesn’t care, because part of me is still fighting the mental spiral that the last 3 weeks has wreaked upon my consciousness. The little nagging voice that says nothing matters, that life is meaningless, is louder again.
I could get angry and blame the job. Or I could blame myself for being weak and lazy. Even better, I could say screw it and go right back into what I knew, what I know and what feels comfortable, regardless of how agonizing it is. Because that is addiction, too. It’s doing things because you feel you must, even when they are causing you and others pain. To me, those of us who are addicted are those of us who feel we have no choice to stop.
New Day, New Choice
But we always have a choice.
Last night I finished my shift at work and all I wanted was a drink. But I packed up and went straight home, showered, and climbed into bed to watch a show with Devin before falling asleep. There are hours and hours’ worth of mistakes and backslides I’ve made, which probably outnumber the hours of progress and work I’ve achieved.
Because, unfortunately, that’s what it is. We fall off more waves than we ride when we begin surfing, and many of us make more bad choices than we do good ones for a lot of our lives.
One Great Wave, One Hundred Wipeouts
What’s pretty cool about good choices, though, is that they are just like finally catching that wave after hundreds of wipeouts. That one ride, that one choice, makes every other misstep and wipeout 100% worth it. Even though you can lose sight of progress when you’re having a bad day in the ocean, all the strength and knowledge you’ve acquired doesn’t go away.
As much as part of me believes I have taken 1 step forward and 100 steps back, another part of me also knows that those steps can’t be measured in the same ways. Part of me knows that there are vast differences between the strides I make forward from the poor choices I make that take me back.
Remembering the Changes
I felt like I didn’t even know how to start writing again after such a “long” time away from this blog, but I didn’t think I could even start a blog 6 or so months ago, and that was after over a year of not writing. So I made the choice to sit here, and write something, to make myself do something different, to make myself catch a wave today instead of thinking about all the times I’ve fallen.
The addict in me wants to give up, to call it quits and spiral out and say screw the New Year’s resolutions. Who cares, really? And, if you think about it in the great grand scheme, very few people do. My immediate family, my friends, my handful of readers here on this blog, compared to the 7.2 or 7.5 billion or so people in the world—it’s minute, it’s arguably meaningless.
But, just because no one sees me catch a wave, doesn’t mean I didn’t have an epic session. And, just because I am small and tiny and not particularly visible in the world, doesn’t mean it’s meaningless. I think I mostly started writing because I wanted to share my internal with the world, to make my internal into external, and hope it could reach someone, make them feel something. If I can do that, isn’t it enough?
Very Un-Special Me
I catch myself thinking I’m special. That I’m the first person on the planet to struggle with these fears about the meaning of my existence, or that I’m the first person to relapse or have depression or wonder whether any of it means anything. And then I remember I’m not special. I’m un-special in the sense that I don’t have to get so caught up feeling like a failure. Even the pros wipe-out, right? So, who cares if I do too? What matters is I get back up again, whether it’s after 3 months out of the water or 4 weeks of not going to the gym or a year of not writing, what matters is I start again, not all over, but again.
Because one abiding truth is that time only moves in one direction, and so do we. As much as it may seem we are falling backwards, or losing our motivations or becoming someone we didn’t intend to be, we are still changing, minute by minute, and year by year. As much as I could look back and see myself making some of the same choices I did in 2019, or 2015, I’ve still grown. Like a zany tree, I might have grown sideways, into knots, around other branches, with my roots cracking the concrete or wedging themselves into strange places, but the growth itself is unquestionably continuing, even if it’s not how I imagined it to occur.
That’s another reason why I’ve never much seen the point in resolutions, because most of the time life changes so quickly that deciding exactly who and what I’m going to be on January 1st, 2020 seems a little insane when I look back on who I was on January 1st, 2019.
Today is a Good Day
This little fan with the phrase “today is a good day for a good day” was sitting at Devin’s shop. I saw it a few days ago and I realized there is never a specific day for change: every day can be a day for a good day, a day to grow and feel good and make a new choice. Every day doesn’t have to be, but the possibility is always there. I keep reminding myself of this little slogan, because it doesn’t matter whether it’s the first of January, or the eighth of March, or a Tuesday, or my birthday, or any other day.
Every day has the power and the opportunity to be a great one, just like every surf session and experience has the power to be wonderful. Most of what makes it so is my ability to see it that way, to chose to make it something great.
I simply want to make steps forward, because specific resolutions aren’t on my agenda. Life is too unpredictable and beautiful and frustrating and promising to decide on right in this moment. For now, I’ll just keep trying to grow.
Hopefully, that will be enough.