I hug my dad tightly and as I do, tears spring to my eyes.
This takes me completely by surprise.
In the past, our relationship has been fraught. I have never been able to admit it before, but he and I are so very much alike. Opinionated, hot headed, kind, passionate. We have clashed because of it.
This holiday has been different.
We have, without communication, or perhaps with an unsaid communication, found common ground, found the love that was always there, but was perhaps hidden. We have let go of the past, mostly.
He is happy. There is no mistaking that.
His partner of five years makes him happy. My mom is no longer part of this world and his picture has changed. I am finally reconciled to that, to the loss of her. He has known his partner since childhood and there is a comfort between them that I did not witness between my mom and he. Shared childhood memories bring with it this comfort. As I watch them together, I realise that there is a lot to be said for childhood friends and the connection they bring to the present, the thread they weave through our lives. I love their ease, their comfort. And I like her a lot.
I am on a constant path of growth. I analyse, question, step back and finally take a step forward. Part of this process is acknowledging what is around me, and inside my heart.
I would be a fool not to notice, acknowledge and accept the ease with which my dad now lives his life.
We had a couple of clashes, but they were short lived, and neither of us allowed them to overshadow the holiday, as we would have done in the past.
It has been a massive time of growth for both of us.
I think about this on the way home from the airport, tears still staining my cheeks. I am going to miss him.
I think about my year.
I am tired.
For three solid weeks we have been on the go. Firstly visiting Thailand, then home for Christmas spent with not one, but two overseas families and finally New Year.
The house is quiet and I have no appointment that needs keeping. Tiredness gnaws at me.
I crawl into bed at 9am, and don’t surface before 11.
I wake still thinking about my year.
I held onto a lot of anger last year. Anger at so much. I grabbed anger by the throat, and I chose not to let it go.
I tortured myself at how I felt at being rejected, at being given the silent treatment, having no way of defending myself, not knowing what I did wrong. I tortured myself when others did not step up to defend me. I tortured myself when I wrote about my feeling of loss and rejection and I was ostracised to the point of having to cancel trips I was meant to take. I tortured myself at the loss, the deep mourning of those friendships I once held so dear.
I tortured myself when religion got in the way of kindred spirits. How dare the notion of God interfere this way, I yelled. And then I tortured myself for being less tolerant, less kind.
I tortured myself when I did not achieve things, even when these things did not feed my soul, or made no sense to me at all. I tortured myself by telling myself that they were yet more things added to a long line of things that I have not achieved in my life.
I tortured myself for a life that I felt I had not lived well. I tortured myself for being in my late forties and not being defined by any one thing.
Indeed, the first half of last year was very much one of personal torture. A period where mental self flagellation ruled.
By September I was ready to give up. I fell to my knees and begged for some kind of relief from all the anger that I knew I no longer had by the throat, but which, instead, had me by the throat and was suffocating me.
LIFE OWES YOU NOTHING. NOTHING STAYS THE SAME. EVER.
Slowly, through the engagement of a life coach, I came to realise that life owes me nothing.
People come together and part all the time. We don’t always have to know why. That we care about ourselves enough to walk away because not to do so means our mental health is severely affected is a great gift.
I learned to be okay with the unknowable. One of the things I love most about my dad is our heated debates about religion. It didn’t always used to be this way. He is a devout proud christian. I am not. I resented his faith, and that of my siblings. How could they be so blind, I would say. How could they place so much faith in a fairy story. Now, I am okay with the idea of a-priori. I am okay with the not knowing. I do not have to know with definitiveness in order to find my own level of spirituality, and to accept theirs.
I am now okay with the fluidity that is my life. I am okay, and accept that nothing, ever, stays the same. That is indeed the circle of life.
I look back on my life and I am finally comfortable with the raft I chose to take down the river. Some decisions were made for me, others not. I could have done better. That is growth. Always room for improvement.
As I stare into another year, I find myself without expectations. I have no resolutions, but I do have hopes.
I hope to be kinder to myself and to others.
That is all.
For I am an idealist.
I believe that a peaceful life and indeed a peaceful world begins and ends with kindness.
So much anger fills our lives. It fills our airwaves, it fills our minds. I hope to address this in the coming year.
I am letting go. I am letting go of expectation and the associated anger that comes when those expectations are not met. I am going with the flow and accepting that life owes me nothing, and that it is always changing.
That is a start. That is my start.
Where is yours? What are you hoping for in 2016?
Until next time,