Ok, I've already heard all I need to about the year 2016. Everyone is coming out with their yearly reflections, New Year's resolutions, and hate-filled posts about how shitty this past year was. I won't lie to you, 2016 was the pits. Personally, I don't think it was a horrible year in comparison to other years I've lived through in my life. But for the world, for the U.S. government, and for ideas and morals like love and tolerance, we've been knocked down once again. I could sit here and list all the shitty things that happened in 2016. Yes, a lot of important people died this year, a racist demagogue somehow took the U.S. election away from the first woman presidential candidate of a major political party who was on track to make history, I worked my butt off for HRC's campaign only to become so emotionally invested that the results of the election crushed me, my partner had major shoulder surgery, and several anti-abortion fake news sites stole my abortion story narrative and my personal photos and made me out to be a monster. Just to name a few of the things. Personally, the election results are enough for me to say 2016 can go to hell in a hand basket, but I've been there and talked about those things already. What I really want to say is that we shouldn't be mad at 2016.
I know most people do not want to hear "but it could be worse" so I won't say that, but I have thought back to the years when I was barely scraping by. 2012 - by far my worst year of drinking and using. You know, the year my fiancé almost saw me plummet to my death. It's a blur, and yet, it was the year Barack Obama won his second term. I voted by absentee ballot because I was in Mexico, but I was basically uninvolved. I had the luxury of a drug and alcohol fog to keep me from actually caring about the election results that year. I wondered why Trump couldn't have won the presidency that year, or any other year that I wasn't really paying attention. Why this year? Why when I am sober? I think the answer is, it happened because I am sober. It might have sent me off the deep end if it happened when I still drank. Who knows.
I could list other years that were bad for me. Years I had more than one knee surgery. The year my grandma died. Years I had my heart broken by men who were never good for me anyway. But what good does it do us to rank our years on a scale from shitty to the best ever? If I've learned anything it's that every year is both. There are always highs and lows. So, will you let the highs define your year or the lows?
2016 will always be the year Hillary lost and we got the least qualified person ever elected to the highest office in our country. But 2016 will also be the year my amazing nephew was born, the year I got to watch my sister give birth and watch Kieran take his first breath. The year Fer and I picked a wedding venue and planned our wedding. The year I started my full-time job in the addiction and recovery industry. The year I broke the silence about my abortion. The year I won an award for my writing.
2016 was a year of major growth. I'm still sober. I am exploring different recovery pathways, deciding if I've grown out of the 12 steps or not, incorporating yoga, reading more into spirituality, and planting roots in the online recovery community. I made fitness one of my top priorities this year. I lost 10 lbs. and some body fat, and I also gained muscle. I quit soda. Fer and I purchased our first home. We made a house a home, we paid bills, we struggled with finances here and there.
There is beauty in the ups and downs. Because that is life. The only reason I am able to cope and deal with these ups and downs today is because I'm sober. Sure, I could be mad at 2016. This year hurt me in a lot of ways, it really did. I shed a lot of tears and had some terrible grief. But in recovery, I have learned to be grateful every day and to not let the negative overshadow the positive.
I cannot in good conscience say "2016 sucked" and give it the finger. I don't think you should either. Let's instead, shift our thinking and be grateful for the positive and carry that positivity into 2017 with us.
I also won't be the person to tell you, "don't make New Year's resolutions, they're stupid!" I get it. Every day is a great day for change, that's true. But there is something refreshing and healing about starting new on day 1. There is something transformative about putting your goals on paper and looking back on them a year later to see how far you've come. Make those New Year's resolutions. But make them gently. Keep in mind what feelings you want to be feeling and what kind of person you want to be. The material things will come. Don't make goals that are a long shot, or if they are, make deliberate actions that will carve a pathway to those goals.
At the end of the day, I am here, I am sober and I am present. Every morning I wake up is another day to make change in this awesome and tragic world we live in. Don't do it for anyone else, do it for you. You're worth it. In 2016, and in 2017. Your life means something and we will all benefit from your light. Let it shine.
Thank you 2016, Welcome 2017! Happy New Year everyone!