I have not always loved beginnings. They used to fill me with fear and sadness, because they usually represented an end to a part of my life that, while not often very happy, was very comfortable. Yet even in my dark days I always seemed to know when I needed to change in order to grow, and was fortunate enough to surround myself with people who supported that need.
Since those days, beginnings have taken on new meaning, full of promise, full of hope. And while beginnings can't always be planned, the start of a new year is so steeped in the tradition of resolutions that the possibilities seem endless, the change ever possible. I just want to stand out in the cold, take a nice deep breath, and inhale that resolve.
This year also marks the start of a new decade, which I hadn't thought about until I realized it's been two decades since I quit drinking and started living. In those first ten years, I went to graduate school, began writing professionally, earned a black belt in karate, met and married my husband, and had my children. In the last decade, I got to know my kids, won a few awards, wrote some books, and started teaching college.
Those 20 years may be tough to top, but they've also shown me what's possible, what I'm capable of, and so I'm going to try. Here, then, is my list of New Year's -- New Decade's -- resolutions, hopes, goals and dreams. From now on, I'm going to try to:
- Recognize -- and accept -- that my children are not mini-me's. They're not even mini-them's anymore. They're growing up, changing, emerging, developing opinions -- in short, entering the mysterious "tween" phase, and that's okay.
- Stop denying my husband's need for a clutter-free kitchen. It really is the only thing he wants out of life when it comes to our home, and if I need to step out of my role as the "clutter queen" sometimes to give him a little peace and happiness, then it's a small price to pay. I mean, it's not like he's asking for clean bathrooms.
- Accept my daughter's individual style. She's a good kid with a good head on her shoulders, and if she wants to wear sweat pants every day with unmatched socks, then darn it, I'm going to let her.
- Work on my sarcasm, because I can see it cropping up in my children. My son and I couldn't watch "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer" last month with a straight face, but there may still be hope for my daughter. She told us we were getting coal because of our snide remarks, so at least she still has a conscience about that stuff.
- Continue my efforts to show my children that life is a journey, that happiness is a journey, that growing up is a journey. I want them to truly understand that there is no outside perfection, because that involves judgment, but only inside perfection, because that involves self-love and respect. And I want them to realize that they can do and be anything they want, any time they want -- whether it's now, or after college, or after 50. Because life is, after all, a journey, not a destination. And the corollary.
- Try to remember that marriage is also a journey, that there can be easy roads and tough roads and every road in between, and it's all okay. The roads are what we signed up for.
And finally, I'm going to renew my stagnant efforts to publish my memoir on self-injuring, because I honestly believe that telling this story someday was my reason for surviving all those dark years ago. It's taken some time -- decades -- to be comfortable enough in my own skin to share it, but now that I am, I'm hoping it will help other young girls to survive as well.
It's a new year, and a new decade. I wouldn't trade the old for anything in the world, because it's given me the courage and the hope to approach the new. In my life, now, that's what beginnings are all about, so I'm going to open the door, step out . . . and breathe.