Happy New Year.
I have never thought much about those words, Happy New Year.
You say them. It means it’s a new year, go have a good one, a better one than last year. Go do all those things you have been not doing in the previous year.
Now is your chance, it’s a brand new number!
This year I struggled with the words. I said them, multiple times. Texted them. Emailed them. But I didn’t really mean them. I felt a bit like new year’s is a crock, some arbitrary date on a calendar that people use as a milestone to make a bunch of plans for their lives that they can and should make on any day of the year. You wanna quit smoking or lose weight, just do it. Stop picking some meaningless date for yourself that ends up creating disappointment and sadness when you can’t find the motivation to continue after a few weeks. (Also, it makes the park I run at really crowded and it’s annoying.)
Don’t get me wrong. I have my share of ugly shit that needs a New Year’s Fucking Resolution to fix. But I am not foolish enough to believe that I will walk through the magical door of a new year and suddenly accomplish all my goals. I am, unfortunately, aware that the only thing holding me back from all that I want to be and become is ME. I am the problem. I can fix it all and I am not doing it because I don’t really want to badly enough.
It’s hard. To fix my shit. It’s hard to work through the pain I am holding onto, the anger, the fear…all the things that are keeping me from being the person I want to be.
I have the secret. It’s me.
I don’t do what needs to be done because I don’t want to. This truth is so hard to swallow because it is…well, really hard to swallow. And I don’t wanna. It’s yucky and unappealing.
So instead, I distract myself.
With busy. With projects. With love. With stuff and shopping for more stuff. With social media. With taking care of other people. With criticizing or finding fault in others.
I go, and go, and go.
Because what will happen if I sit still long enough to feel what I need to feel, to think about what I need to think about, to grieve, to settle, to accept, to heal?
It’s too scary.
Let me just get on Facebook one more time.
Let me just accuse my x-husband of bad behavior and obsess over what a dick he is to avoid accepting the reality of post divorce life and the struggles of co-parenting.
Let me work more hours.
Let me buy a new car.
Let me watch more TV or read more books.
Let me overly care for the people I love and do things they can absolutely do themselves and probably should do themselves.
Let me hate that person who wronged me and hope they have a terrible life.
Let me have another glass of wine, or another cocktail.
Let me go shopping and buy some clothes I don’t need and can’t fit in my closet.
I’m not alone in this behavior. It’s quite common. All addiction, I think, is rooted in escapism and avoidance of pain or reality.
I see all the folks on the book of FAKENESS (also known as the BOOK OF MAKING PEOPLE FEEL BAD ABOUT THEIR LIVES BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE IS HAVING MORE FUN THAN YOU ARE or THE BOOK OF WAYS TO HURT PEOPLE WE ONCE LOVED) who are obsessed with hating the government and beating on Obama and his “muslim ways”…anything to avoid dealing with their own shit.
The problem is the government.
The problem is the way other people drive.
The problem is the stupid people.
The problem is this or that or the other thing.
The problem is my crappy childhood.
The problem is my X or worse, my husband, wife or partner.
Anything to avoid the truth.
Anything to avoid getting real with yourself.
I went for a walk yesterday on New Year’s Day. I felt too shitty to run so I went to my local park and walked five miles. I had planned to make some new year’s day calls to family and friends while I walked.
God forbid I should just simply walk.
It was really cold which is rare for South Texas and the park was nearly empty. About a mile into the walk my phone died. I guess I hadn’t charged it overnight like I thought I had.
So I walked, alone, for four more miles.
I have been alone a lot this week. More than I think I have ever been alone in my life. I am a solitary creature and have always craved alone time. But this has been a very alone week, even for me.
Some weird thing came over me on that walk, some might call it a light bulb moment or whatever.
But I realized just how deeply distracted I keep myself to avoid being present. I’ve known for a while that I needed to work on being present when I am in conversation with others. It’s something I took into therapy three years ago and have worked hard on, being present in rooms full of people or in one on one conversations. I have improved greatly on this problem.
But being present with myself?
Nah, I have got some serious work on that. And frankly, the realization that I am distracting myself to death to avoid it, is kind of significant. I didn’t know I was doing that.
So I suppose my new year’s resolution is to be more aware of my tendency to distract myself. To tune out those distractions and spend time undistracted and see what happens, what comes up, where I go when I don’t have anything external controlling my thoughts and actions.
That’s a good one to work on. I can totally do that.
Happy New Year, and I mean this time.