This time last year I shared my very own cliche new year's resolutions.
It was written from a place of hurt, reflection, and anxiety for the future (a common theme around this time, apparently)
It was also the start of my online writing journey, which has brought us all here now!
This year, I'm shifting my reflection focus just a bit. To say 2022 was a crazy year would be an understatement (& I thought the craziest thing that could happen to me was a fire...)
I could fixate on the lows, sure. It would be easy.
But this year I challenged myself to view the lows as lessons, which has totally shifted my perspective on one of the most difficult years of my life.
These were not easy lessons to learn, and I'm still working on total acceptance, but acknowledgment is the first step.
Below is a list of 7 things I learned in 2022.
1. There’s probably equal amounts good in the world as there is bad— look for the good.
Life sucks. A lot.
Shitty things happen to good people, and good things happen to shitty people, and sometimes you’re just like…what the fuck?
This year brought a lot of WTF moments for me, but (thanks to intense therapy) I’m learning to prioritize gratitude. This means I’m learning (ie: forcing myself) to seek out the good. The small things throughout the day that make me think “Damn…This shit ain’t half bad. I’m lucky to be alive”.
Maybe this is your $7 latte from Mindpub, or your vape you just “can’t give upppppp”, or your daily dog walks with a friend. It starts out as the small things, but gradually these become the big things.
A regular GoPuffing you Mucinex because you said you felt sick. Your mom stroking your hair while you cry in her lap about never being loved again. Being able to comfort your friend in a time of need.
Life has a lot of bad, yes. And that’s not going to change anytime soon. But when you force yourself to prioritize the positives, there’s not much room in your head or heart for anything else.
2. You won’t be fucked up forever.
I have had 3 different therapists in the last 2 years. (I won’t even count how many I’ve had since I was 12)
All have helped me in some way, but the most impactful woman I’ve come across in a long time is my girl, Amy.
Amy was Billy & I’s couples counselor (yes, I do know it’s crazy I was seeing a couples counselor at 25 years old…but I ((really really)) thought it would help us. And it did! For a bit)
My personal therapist was moving practices around the time of the break up and I was forced to find a new one. I was overwhelmed with dread because I’ve had a LOT of therapists over the years and honestly, it’s really fucking annoying “catching up” a new one.
In comes Amy. Amy knew Billy (so when I played her the voicemails she wasn't surprised at all), saw us interact, saw our relationship with all its ups and downs, and, ultimately, saw our demise.
I couldn’t imagine anyone better to help me heal from this situation. We’ve come a long way together through weekly sessions, but I can’t help but reflect on our final one of this year.
We’re done talking about the not-so-great things Billy did to me, because the possibilities are endless. Yeah, there was a lot of good. And I cherish those good memories with every ounce in me.
But all “good” doesn’t normally leave you with PTSD, which Amy informally diagnosed me with. She has been helping me process the trauma and understand the parts of myself (deep, dark parts) that allowed me to be treated that way.
It’s brutal, lemme tell ya.
As I went through yet another box of tissues in her office, I muffled “I’m just scared I’ll be fucked up forever”.
Amy looked me in the eyes and said: “Look, I’m not supposed to promise you anything. But I can sincerely promise you—you will not be fucked up forever.”
“Right now this is sitting heavy in your heart and on your mind. And while, yes, this will always be a part of you, it is up to you to decide where it sits and what you do with it.”
As someone who’s whole life has seemingly been defined by trauma, to be reminded that I have the power to choose how that trauma sits in me, what it becomes, and what I learn from it was so so so empowering.
She ended the conversation with: “Hopefully someday this will sit somewhere so small in you, you won’t even notice it. Like maybe in the tip of your pinky finger”.
3. Friendship isn’t about longevity, it’s about who shows up.
If you would’ve told me the 19-year-old mess of a strong woman I hired as a hostess 3 years ago would end up being one of my best friends, I’m not sure I would’ve believed you.
But she is, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
If you would’ve told me the girls I called best friends for my entire adolescence would become distant acquaintances over time, I would’ve never believed you. But they have, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
If you would’ve told me the girl who pushed me down the stairs in 6th grade (sorry Zo I’ll never let it go) would become the girl that texts me daily for a check in, I literally would’ve NEVER believed you.
But she is, and—you guessed it—I couldn't be more grateful.
Life has a crazy way of making room for what’s meant for you.
This time last year I joked about being “friendless” and having no friends. How silly was that?????
I was so nearsighted and focused on what I didn’t have, and not all that I did.
Today, I couldn’t be more grateful for the way this year has worked out and allowed me to strengthen the friendships that truly deserve my effort and energy. Our dinner conversations are full of discussions about plans for the future, raw emotion, and genuine support (& of course a little bit of shit talking our crazy exes lol)
The people I keep around me now are people I can go to about anything, at any time. Let people leave, and you’ll be surprised who shows up.
4. It’s okay to be the villain in someone else’s story.
Over the last year there have been numerous times when I’ve heard something ridiculous I did (or did not) do.
I've learned people work really hard to make themselves feel better by making someone else out to be the villain. Like I mentioned in my most recent piece, I will continue to share my side of the story even if it doesn’t paint the best picture of myself. Although any story I share will be from my perspective (obvi), I have no problem admitting my faults along the way.
I have no problem accepting I am a villain, as well as a a victim.
When relationships/friendships/situationships end, literally everyone is a victim of something.
Not being heard. Not feeling accepted. Not getting the love and care they need. And guess what? Someone is always the villain.
But who? Well that depends on which story you hear.
You can say I walked out on you. You can say I abandoned you. You can say I turned my back on you; I gave up; I “left when things got hard” (which okay what was the last 3 years then? Lol)
At the end of the day, I know my truth.
If leaving a situation where I was not supported in my choices, encouraged to be the best version of myself, nurtured, cared for, and loved properly makes me the villain…so be it.
5. Standing up for yourself can often feel like you’re standing alone.
I shared a really ugly voicemail from Billy on my Instagram story. It was my last resort.
I just wanted the calls to stop. I needed to stop hearing (from someone I loved, mind you) that I am a “worthless, disgusting pile of pig vomit”.
Sure, we can laugh now. It is so ridiculous it’s funny. But hearing this over and over from someone who was once your home is just fucking hard, okay?
But posting that voicemail made the calls stop.
Now, I don’t know if it’s encouraged Billy to make any efforts to change his ways (but I’ll get into that a little bit later) and it's not really any of my concern if he has, although I do sincerely hope he got the help he so desperately needs.
When I shared that, someone I considered a really close friend (apparently) sent out a picture decked out in Barracudas gear saying “I stand with Billy”.
First of all: this is not a national debate. There is not now nor was there ever any reason to pick sides and, honestly, it’s weird af.
Second of all: to hear that someone I thought cared for me went OUT OF THEIR WAY to publicly condone Billy’s actions and words was…terrifying? And cold. And disgusting. And disappointing.
But once my initial shock wore off, I realized this said so much more about that person than it does me, and this isn’t someone I want in my corner.
People with anxiety (ie: me) tend to fixate on everyone that’s “against” them, instead of who’s standing by their side.
Instead (again, back to #1) I’m shifting my focus to the people that are in my corner.
When I posted that voicemail, my DMs were FLOODED with responses. Most out of care and concern, but some people came forward to say they’ve dealt with similar forms of abuse from a partner.
Creating a network of people who understand, hear, and see you is fundamental to human existence.
So let me edit my takeaway from this year: Standing up for yourself will bring you to an authentic army of support. Even if you lose some people along the way.
& third of all: until you have someone you loved calling you (wasted) nonstop—all day and night—harassing you, saying awful things about you and your family, screaming how worthless & disgusting you are, AND calling you the most vile names imaginable…don’t speak on it. Please.
6. People can change, they just gotta want it
I am so tired of hearing “people don’t change”. They can, and they do. They just have to want it.
The beautiful thing about this life is that you are never stuck on any one path. As human beings, we make choices every second of every day that shape our reality. If you want people to stop thinking you’re an asshole—stop being an asshole! If you feel like your life doesn’t align with your dreams—do something that does!
Wake up earlier, go to bed later, get a new job, go to the gym, go for a goddam walk, get a coffee, smoke a doob, move in with a random roommate (seriously they'll change your life), do whatever you have to do to make your life look like how you want it to.
And don’t even get me started on age.
There is no age you hit where you just “stop growing”. I do not believe in that now, nor will I ever.
& sure, I’m only 26. I don’t know what it’s like to be 30, or 51, or 90 (s/o Mommom Dot!)
But I do know the best people I’ve come across in life—from all over this world, on all different paths, at all different ages— have been the people that consistently choose to grow through what they go through.
Life is a continuous journey of growth, tragedy, healing, power, and pleasure. You can’t have one without all.
7. You will learn the most about yourself on your own.
I have always been anti-relationship. Maybe it’s cause I’m a bitter bitch.
Or maybe it’s because my most intense periods of growth have always, ALWAYS come from times when I found myself the most “alone”.
Being able to be alone with yourself and your thoughts is truly a talent. People really hate being alone. I, personally, don’t mind it. I don’t bother myself. I don’t stress myself out (okay maybe sometimes but not often). I don’t belittle myself. I don’t put myself down. I genuinely love my own company.
Can you say the same? If not, force yourself to spend some time genuinely alone with yourself and your thoughts. It might be scary at first, but I promise you—getting to know yourself will set you up for success in all facets of life. Being strong and confident in who you are is the most powerful thing in this world, and it’s something no one can ever, ever take away from you.
I thought I was secure in who I was when I came home from Italy; I’ve since realized I was barely scratching the surface.
There are still so many beautiful parts of myself I have yet to unlock, and I cannot wait till I do. But I’m going to enjoy the journey, and my own company, along the way.
I am so grateful for these lessons, despite the pain that came from learning them.
I will carry them with me into 2023 and use them as stepping stones on my path.
What are some of your takeaways from this year?