New Year, New Me.
The first of January. A new start, a new me, but where am I supposed to put the old me?
Cracking the spine on my new diary with pen in hand I begin my yearly ritual of listing the things I want to achieve, but as my ballpoint hits the page I have a moment of anxiety; I don’t even know what I want for lunch so how can I write a list of things I want to achieve over the next twelve months? In frustration I pick up last year’s diary which was so important to me only yesterday but now feels like a lead brick weighing me down; listed in these pages I see nothing but failures which is highlighted most when I turn to the first page and see last year’s wish list.
The few small things I managed to achieve I crossed out to the point you can’t read what was there as an act of pure joy at having completed something . . . anything. I can’t even remember what those things were even though they clearly brought me a sense of accomplishment at the time. Glaring back at me between the sparse scribbles is everything I failed to do.
- Take a night course in photography
I’d talked myself out of this one pretty early in the year because who would I take pictures of? It’s not as though I’m a social butterfly who people want to hang out with all the time and there’s only so many pictures of landscapes and buildings a person can take before it’s just seen as sad.
I at least started this one and managed to lose seven pounds. I was half way to my goal when Jon—my boyfriend of two years—dumped me and cake became my solace.
This one was vetoed due to not losing the weight. No one wants to see a fat girl run.
After Jon left there really wasn’t much point in booking the trip. There was no way I could travel all that way alone, I wouldn’t have made it onto the plane before my anxiety kicked in and that’s if I survived the horrors of holiday clothes shopping. Picking out a one piece while everyone around you decides if they want matching tops and bottoms to their bikinis, or if vogue was right and mix and matching was the way to go this season. Not exactly my idea of a good time.
The more I looked at the list the angrier I became with myself. Seeing in black and white everything you didn’t do isn’t the best feeling in the world, but when you’re a masochist like me you can’t help but keep reliving the pain of disappointment while constantly slicing the knife across your already torn and bleeding heart. Hours slip by as I read page after page about this woman I don’t know; her handwriting is just like mine, but I refuse to believe the words she writes are mine.
The pages of January and February are mostly filled with tiny victories in the diet and exercise area, mixed with uncertainty as to why Jon was becoming distant and unsupportive of the new me I was trying to achieve.
In March I found out why, he didn’t love me. He told me no one would be able to love someone who hid behind a fake illness like depression. He said I just didn’t want to be happy and he wouldn’t allow me to drag him down too so he left. Reading the thoughts and feelings I had during those months bring tears streaming down my face. How could I have ever allowed one person to make me feel so worthless?
Throughout April I seem to have been numb and there’s no evidence of attempting anything on my list of dreams for the year. In fact, I barely wrote in my diary at all and the few pages I did weren’t easy to read through the tear stains.
May was the month my mum marched me to the doctors because I wasn’t coping with life. I wasn’t dealing with my thoughts and emotions and I certainly wasn’t living . . . I was simply alive and present in body alone. Reading back makes me ashamed of myself. The hate and abuse I pushed onto my own mum for doing nothing other than love me and want me to be well makes me sick to my stomach and once again the list of dreams were ignored which is ironic as my doctor had told me I needed to focus on myself.
I make a mental note to spend tomorrow with mum and to let her know I love her always and apologise for the way I treated her back then.
During June and July I took my meds, went to work and moved back into my mum’s house so she could take care of me. What I wrote was that the world could get fucked and I was reverting back to being a small child who needed her mummy to tuck her in at night to keep the bad dreams away.
June and July were slightly dramatic months for me.
August saw me take a trip, not to Bali and not on my own, but a trip none the less. A few friends and I went to Paris for the weekend. Reading the apprehension I felt beforehand brings the feelings crashing through my body once again and for a moment my chest is tight and my breathing shallow, I don’t think I can continue this trip down memory lane, but I know I have to. I don’t know why, but I know looking back on the year gone by is what I need to do to be able to look to the year ahead.
The trip was one I’d always wanted to take, but had thought I would take it with Jon and we would explore the most romantic city in the world together.
Reading the fun the girls and I had while there brought me my first smile from the pages of last year. Seeing the Louvre, The Mona Lisa, The Eiffel Tower and losing myself in the gothic beauty of Notre Dame were a turning point for me; they reminded me there was a world out there and it was mine for the taking. The medication helped me not get too excited, the last thing I needed was to set my sights too high; I was all too familiar with the fall which could and inevitably would follow. My most vivid and profound memory of the trip though was adding my padlock to the hoards of others on the Pont Des Arts or bridge of love as it is more commonly known.
Surrounded by lovers holding hands and making promises to each other I crouched down and made a promise to my heart—never again would I give it to someone unworthy, someone who would not fight to protect it and rather than throw my key in the river, I brought it home and stuck it in my diary.
Fingering the outline of the key the promise I made slips from my lips “One day I’ll come back here with someone who loves me for my ugly parts, the parts I only show him and we’ll unlock you again.”
September always feels like a new start, something probably instilled in me from my school days and last September was no different. My every day routine became just that . . . routine. Things I found hard only four weeks before such as get out of bed or meet up with friends I managed without anxiety. I no longer worried if I made arrangements with friends they would cancel or that it would be one of the days I refused to get out of bed. I could go shopping in the local supermarket instead of driving twenty miles to the next town just to be sure I wouldn’t bump into Jon and fall apart.
It was also the month people began to comment on how well they thought I was coping with life. I think having that kind of external validation was something I needed to be able to see the change in myself.
October and November I decided to get back on track with my diet and fitness. I joined a swimming club, running club and dance class. I almost chickened out on the dance class because of my weight, the fact that I couldn’t dance and I also had no partner, but my never wavering wall of support or mum as she prefers to be called refused to let me quit before I started and she came with me—trust me, seeing a fifty-five year old woman attempt street dancing will have you laughing off the pounds if nothing else. After a few lessons it had become one of my favourite ways to spend my time, the class was fun and I was partnered with a guy called Joe. He was a little younger than me, really fit and a great dancer; he wasn’t so bad on the eyes either.
The dance school hosted a Halloween show and even the beginners like me who had only just realised they had a left and a right foot were involved; because Joe was my partner and he was an experienced dancer we had a dance where we were the leads. We practised every night to get me up to par and each practise session ended later than the last. The night before the show Joe asked me if he could take me out for a drink, at first I thought he meant the whole cast were going and he wanted me to tag along, that was until he kissed me. The page for the thirty-first of October was filled with a flyer for the show and the rose Joe had given me as I walked out of the girl’s changing room.
December read like a love struck teenager wrote the entries, but the truth is I’m still learning a lot about Joe and myself as individuals—he calls us a couple, I call us love buddies.
Having relived the past year in just a few hours I realise how tired it’s made me, the year drained me for twelve months and I just let it take the first few hours of the New Year which lies before me.
I hear Joe walk into the bedroom, I think he’s been doing it a few times while I’ve been reading, but he knows when I need space and respects me enough to give it to me. Looking up at him I know no matter what the year ahead has in store, the lessons I’ve learned with this man will help me steer clear of my darker parts or at least know if I visit them, they cannot keep me for as long as they once did.
Cracking open my new diary once again I write without hesitation.
My goals for the year ahead
My friends and family say I’m doing well, but I’m doing so much better than well, I’m doing strong and focused and MINDful. For the first time in my life I’m listening to the warning bells my mind and body send me. I’m learning to live within my own limitations and knowing that having limitations does not make me weak, it makes me human. I now see that asking for help is the strongest thing I can do while living with depression. I know anxiety can always appear without a moment’s hesitation, but I also know the breathing exercises I need to do to fight it.
Am I fixed? No, I don’t believe I was broken. I’m just wired differently to others.
I do have a new me stepping into the world this year, but where do I put the old me? I keep her inside of me because she is the greatest person to teach me things about myself.
Lisa Fulham © 2016
I am an explorer of words. I love to create new people and see what adventures they can go on, but most of all I love to write. My words are my passion. 2015 saw me attend my first book signing and I am pleased to announce I will be attending a Leeds signing in 2016 too. Please check out my blog for all my latest news and work
Thank you so much for taking part Lisa!
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