It’s not New Year’s yet, but in addition to loving lists and the end of 2015, I also love breaking rules. Even my own rule to never write a year-end list.
I don’t have holiday spirit until about the 23rd, and it recedes entirely by Jan. 2, so I’m permitting myself a little necessarily-painful digression on Dec. 3 because I know it won’t squash my cheer. Creative process and end-of-this-post spoiler alert: if anything, writing about the shit makes me more aware of what I’ve overcome, and maybe (?) helps other people see that the shit does end eventually.
Or the year does, at least. And if you think about violence, racism, hate, and Trump’s mouth everywhere, it hasn’t really been a good year for most of us. I can’t get into all that right now or this post will spiral out of hand, so…
Why 2015 can eff right off, for purely personal reasons. Here goes:
- Hospitals. Again. In the past 12 months, my son had surgery. Twice. On two separate occasions, I placed my little boy into the arms of a stranger and let them take him away, sedate him, and cut into him. You’d think after he spent 87 days in NICU, things like this would be easier. They’re not. Oh, and I had surgery, too.
- Court. Again and again and again. I went to court seeking more protection re: my protection from abuse order. Twice. Once, it went my way; once, it did not. Twice, the judge did not actually listen. The police also did not listen. I learned this year, not from reading–though I did plenty of reading, too–but from personal experience, that not only does society as a whole turn its eyes and hearts away from domestic violence (and tbh, violence against anyone who isn’t a cis-het white male American), but the legal system is stacked against victims and survivors of DV. I learned that no one in a position to help us (outside of DV shelter staff and therapists) is trauma-informed. I’m fortunate to have a lawyer who is, and who helps me navigate what feel like enemy waters. And I’m not backing down from protecting myself, or speaking out about my attempts, whether successful or failed, to protect myself. Is it difficult to confront indifference, doubt, misconceptions, victim-blaming, triggers, derailment, anxiety, and rampant unchecked misogyny in every arena of life, on the daily? Absolutely. Has it or will it deter me? Pffffft. Hi, have we met? Along these lines, I also went to court to change the venue of my custody case from where I used to live to where my son and I now permanently reside. It felt like returning to the scene of many, many, many violent crimes. For the first time since I left. It sucked, it’s over, and as with all things to date, I lived through it. And I was successful in my petition to transfer the case to my home county, so I never have to go there again.
- Other people see my kid more than I do. I exaggerate, but it feels that way sometimes. Jax successfully started daycare. Yay, right? He’s only there in the mornings and my family handle the afternoons, but soon it’s going to have to be full days. We spend 4:30-8 PM together on weekdays, and only every other full weekend. So, “primary custody.” Yeah. I love my jobs, but let’s be honest: I NEED my jobs to survive. The fact that I love them is a bonus many people don’t have, but that doesn’t negate the fact that I miss my son. And this isn’t mom guilt (much). I actually love hanging out with Jax. If I didn’t have to work, I’d wake up super early in the AM and drink coffee and write until punkin started singing, then we’d learn some stuff home-school-style, cook yummy nutritious meals together, go outside every. single. day. no matter the weather, and cuddle with books until he fell asleep. Then I’d write more, replacing my AM coffee with PM wine or bourbon. Alas, that’s not how the world works. So I single-writing-working-mom it up and miss my kid.
- Long-term effects of trauma can wreak havoc on the creative process. I’m not writing as often or as much or as coherently about the things I want to write about as I would like. I’m exploring both my creative process and my healing process, making changes and integrating new ideas and practices as often as I can, but I’m tired. This might seem like an odd reference, but all I can think of when I try to articulate it is Bilbo Baggins’ line from the beginning of LOTR, how he feels “like butter scraped over too much bread.”
- I am never alone. I lived this entire year with my parents. I’d hoped to have my own place by now, but, well, see the previous items on this list. I’m working on it. I’m working on so many things.
But it’s not all bad. I made the list; now to check it twice. Here’s what the aforementioned shit has led me to:
- Jax is a badass.
- I am a badass.
- Passion is badass. The time/energy crunch of balancing mama time, writing time, and my two jobs reminds me how lucky I am to have passion for days. It’s an odd thing, to realize you’re grateful that you’re a passionate person. My passions cause me lots of suffering (a very Buddhist perspective). And yet. I’m not a Buddhist. I spend most days wavering between exasperated and exhilarated, and I’m good with it. How boring life would be if I didn’t have passions. How templated and bland. Next month, I’ll have worked at Juniata College for a year. In August, I had my year anniversary of teaching and blogging for the Elizabeth Ayres Center for Creative Writing. I’m writing a book of poems and have a memoir in the very early stages. I even have a rad idea for a children’s book and am looking for an illustrator with whom to collaborate. I cook and hike and ride and rock out. I love the stuff I love.
- Witnessing one’s own evolution is badass. I can see myself growing stronger and being a more thoughtful writer. See? Hell, I can practically touch my own growth. It’s never as quick and easy as we would like, but there it is.
- Family is badass. If there’s one upshot to never being alone, it’s never being alone.
Still. Good riddance to 2015. I’m ready for more, and for better.
What are the worst and oh-all-right the best things that happened to you this year? Let’s purge it all before we ruin the holidays with brooding!