I make no secret of the fact that 2017 was a difficult year for me. I fell in love and got my heart broken with far too little time in between. Love, blink, heartbreak. “Okay, let me give in to this scary, terrifying free fall and hope for the best and – oof, okay, there’s the ground.”
It sets one back.
It set me back, for months. I am still set back. I still examine the cracks daily and wish that they were smaller, or somewhere closer to healed.
But some good came from the fall, the crash. I did not just fall in love with him. I fell in love with myself.
It’s corny, I know, I cringed while writing it, but it’s the truth.
2017 was the year I became my favorite person.
“You are your best thing,” Toni Morrison wrote in Beloved, and it has become my mantra. After 30 years in this body, in my own mind, myself my most constant companion, I finally, finally, finally realized that I am my best thing.
I started smiling randomly at my reflection in the mirror. At the one person who I am guaranteed to be stuck with for the rest of my life. The person who has been through things, but made it. Has cracks to examine, but does not hate them. Tries. Fails. Tries again.
I fought like hell for that relationship. Even after it ended, I tried. I felt the full depth and breadth of what it was to me, and I knew that if I did not do everything possible to make it work, I would look back someday and regret that I hadn’t.
I will never – I will never – have to regret a single moment of my role in that relationship. And as I am a person whose biggest life fear comes in the form of Fantine singing “I Dreamed a Dream” in Les Miserables – “I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living” – leaving any situation without regrets, knowing that I did the best I could, is huge. Tremendous. Leaps and bounds from who I once was.
Who I once was? I pretended. I pretended things didn’t touch me, didn’t hurt me. I had pride ten feet high – tall enough that no one could see over it, that no one would ever know if my heart had been dinged or bruised or shattered.
I still have pride, but it’s changed. It’s evolved. Now I am proud of the pain. I am proud that I allowed myself to care so deeply for somebody that their leaving fundamentally shifted me. I am proud that I felt every drop of what I felt, from the love to the pain, and that I did not hide from any of it.
Heartbreak is a long dark tunnel, and if there is a light at the end of it, it’s sometimes impossible to see. But I made it through the tunnel. I made it to the light. And I will never be ashamed of my journey.
I could have been anyone. I could have lived any life. Once upon a time, I might have wished to be different, to have kept him. I might have wished to have been what I needed to be so that he’d still be here.
2017 was the year I realized that I don’t want to be anyone other than who I am. I found comfort in my own company. I have learned more fully and completely the difference between alone and lonely. I don’t need anyone around me to block the voice in my head, because I love the voice in my head. It pulls stories from my mind onto the paper, it has kindness in its depths. Kindness to others, kindness to myself. Kindness even to the boy who broke my heart, when once upon a time, I might not have managed it.
All I hope for from 2018 is more of the same.
Finally, a resolution I don’t think I’ll have any trouble keeping.