It was a good year.
This was the year I ran away – again. I packed a suitcase. Put it in my car. I washed the dishes and made my bed. Watered my plants. Locked up my house. I drove away. I like to run away when it gets bad. I like to say there are no mistakes, that everything happens for a reason. This year I made a mistake that could have turned into something big. I could have and would have handled it, but I sure didn’t want to. I wanted to take it back. Turn back time. Lock myself inside my house and never come back out. Scoop out my outsides and wash them down the kitchen sink. Hang upside down and shake myself until all the pain stuck inside me was laying in a pile on the floor beneath me. Please, just let me start over. There really is no starting over, though, and sometimes I need to get out so I don’t get sucked in too deep. It just takes a little bit of time and space. I always come back. It’s the best part. Maybe I don’t like to run away. Maybe I want the come back part. Because when I get back, I can’t start over but I always find a way to start again.
This was the year I stopped letting the reason be the excuse, and stopped fooling myself into believing that an excuse is a good reason. An excuse is never a good reason, and using up energy to justify something is a sure sign that you should’ve stopped doing it a long time ago. I let the reason be the excuse when I say things like “I can’t go to yoga because my body hurts,” when the reason I need to go to yoga is so my body doesn’t hurt anymore. I pretend the excuse is a good reason when I give someone one more chance because I’m lonely, when the reason I’m lonely is because I spend time with people who don’t deserve any more chances. It sounds like, “Yeah, this project sucks, but I need the money.” “Yeah, this person flaked on me before, but I don’t have any other plans.” “Yeah, we’re not a good fit, but my friend set us up.” Too many yeah-buts and it’s time to start letting go. The things that are awesome and good for my life don’t need justification or explanation. They just feel good and make sense without a bunch of lame yeah-buts.
This was the year someone I just met told me I have a beautiful body, and I notice that all I want is to believe him but I don’t. What an asshole, I think. Why would he even say something like that? He doesn’t know anything about me and my body. Then I spend the next week wondering if maybe he really did think my body is beautiful? And all I want is to know how he could see a beautiful body in 30 seconds when I’ve been trying to see one for 30 fucking years. I think about it and I think about it until it hurts. My body does absolutely nothing but look out for me 24/7, keeping me alive, even when I’m not paying attention, even when I treat it like shit, and all I do is obsess about whether or not it looks good? I can allow myself to be shallow and superficial about some things, but I can’t allow myself to be shallow and superficial about that anymore. Ugh. And so I start to believe he was telling me the truth. I don’t believe it all day every day yet but I want to believe it more than anything. That’s a start. That guy will probably never know what he’s done for me.
This was the year I decided I’d rather be understood than liked. I get stuck because I don’t even understand myself sometimes and other times I’m in situations where I really want people to like me. But you can’t make people understand you any more than you can make people like who you really are, and you never know where or when or why it happens. This year someone I’ve know for a very long time stopped understanding me at all by telling me I shouldn’t do the one thing that makes me feel most like myself. A few months later I felt more understood than ever by someone I just met. He let me borrow his jacket and stood with me on a street corner in the middle of the night and let me read his writing. You’re reading this now, but I don’t know who you are and you can’t see me. If you were standing right next to me reading my writing I’d probably barf up my breakfast. Letting me do that, being that comfortable with someone you just met, knowing all I needed was a reminder that it’s ok to let people in sometimes? I don’t know the last time I felt so understood.
This was the year I did more yoga than I’ve ever done before, and I never feel less scared on my way to class. I’ve also never regretted going, not once. I’ll also never get used to the disgusting feeling of walking home in soaking wet yoga clothes, even though I’ll jump at any chance I get to go for a run in pouring rain. I feel like everyone is staring at me wondering why I’m walking around in soaking wet yoga clothes, which makes zero sense because I live in a town where you could throw a rock and hit a yogi. Somehow it feels like all the other soaking wet yoga people disappear the moment I step out of the studio and I’m the only sweaty freak for miles. I never think about any of these things during the one hour yoga class, though. I spend every second of that hour thinking only of my breath and my heartbeat and how it feels to be in my body and the universe and what it might all mean. Which is why I’ll probably never stop going to yoga, no matter how scared I get before every single class.
This was the year I said I love you to a guy I’ve been in love with forever. He said he loves me, too, but he loves someone else more. It was really sad but I wasn’t mad about this guy this time, because I think I love him with the kind of love that I’d only ever heard about, that I thought people lied about, the kind of love I didn’t even think I was capable of until the moment he said he wanted someone else instead of me. Because in that moment I felt something inside of me that I’ve never felt before, and his happiness was more important than mine, and it doesn’t matter if our lives aren’t together because part of my heart is with him forever and it feels safe there. And if what he wants is to be with someone else more and love her then that’s what I want, too. It didn’t break me this time like it did all the times before. It just cracked my heart wide open, ready for more. I owe him everything for that.
This was the year for more practice and less perfection. Because it seems to me that all the things that make someone great aren’t things you get right one time, the first time. They aren’t things that you either have or you don’t have. Almost every good thing is a skill and can be learned and practiced, and you have to practice at the things you want to actually get what you want. And by turning everything into a practice you can’t really ever mess them up, because practice is just something you do when you want to get better. No games or races. No winning or losing. Gratitude. Practice. Good attitude. Practice. Kindness. Practice. Happy thoughts. Practice. Good health. Practice. Some days the practice is easy. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes you’re good. Sometimes you’re not. Some days you even forget to show up. It doesn’t matter as long as you show up eventually, but the sooner the better. And the best part is you get to practice as much as you want and get as good as you want.
This was the year there’s some stuff I still can’t figure out. Like why looking at a picture of a thing is never as good as the way that thing made you feel in real life. Or why I’m stuck in one body that is also stuck in only one place at a time. I still don’t know how to politely tell a guy that the way he’s looking at me makes me want to peel my fucking face off, and he really shouldn’t look at anyone like that ever. Or why people say they want the truth and then get mad when you give it to them (which is probably why most people don’t tell you the whole truth when you ask them for it.) Sometimes I still can’t for the life of me figure out how the hell I got here.
Other stuff I know for sure. Like dancing alone in my kitchen fixes most problems, at least for a little while. I should never read the comments anywhere. Having peace is way better than having control. They’re both equally difficult to get, but peace is much easier to keep once you get there and most control isn’t even real. This is my favorite thing I wrote this year, possibly ever. Asking the right questions changes everything, and “right” answers to the wrong questions from the wrong people are fucking useless. Every once in a while, staying up all night is totally worth it. Things still always take longer than I think they will, but I’m getting much better at waiting. I should always watch the sunset, even when I tell myself there’s going to be another one tomorrow. All I’ve ever wanted is to feel free. Most days I do feel that way. And as far as I’ve come, it feels more and more like I’m just getting started. Sometimes it feels like I haven’t even started yet.
It was a good year. It was the best year ever.