I realize that Monday is Christmas but if I'm being honest? This year it has not felt like Christmas. Maybe it's the new job. Maybe I just haven't felt much like that Christmas spirit. I watch all these Hallmark movies, these Netflix Originals and they just make me all that much more skeptical. I guess I'm a bit of a Scrooge this year but it's been one hell of a year for me. I think one that I'm not all that sad to move beyond. You know usually when this time of year comes along, I become retrospective. I think about all those things that I experienced, all these things that made me smile. It's not that things didn't make me smile this year. It's just that there's been a lot of confusion for me, so much uncertainty that I am OK leaving behind. I always want to make the things around me better for my family, for my friends. Hell, for perfect strangers, too. I want to know how to look at something and know at least the direction to take to make it as painless as possible for all of us. I don't like conflict but I drown myself in everyone's worst case scenarios. I was having coffee with my almost grown daughter today. She will be turning eighteen on Thursday. I think back to those years when it was just the two of us. I remember the struggle of supporting us by myself. I can't tell you how I did it. I don't know. I just did. But I look back at those moments now? I feel like somehow I had it more together then which I know I was just as big of a mess.
We make these decisions in our lives, never knowing really if they are right, but we make them with fingers crossed. Truth is none of know what we're doing. There is no real way to be sure that this direction, that turn will bring us to a better place until we get there. So, we put our heads down. We do the work. We land where we land. These last few weeks have been pretty hard on me. I'm so used to putting my head down, to doing the work, to trying to control where I land, that it has just become this part of me. I'll be the work horse that gets this shit done because I understand my plight in this life... but sometimes I feel like I've been fooled. Promises we throw at each other with so little meaning but we believe. We believe because I can't look at you and not at least give you the benefit of my doubt. I guess I get aggravated with myself because I just want to know how to live this life without feeling this boulder on my back. I wish I knew what the right decisions were, that this fear that hangs around my neck didn't mock the way it does. I made decisions this last year that I thought were going to make things better for myself, for my family. I thought that it was going to allow me to breathe easier, to not have to work so hard, to get a flipping break for once. I was tired of working fifteen hours a day, serving people who thought I was worthless because of the job I happen to work. I was tired of every bone in my body feeling like it was going to shatter with one bump into the couch. I was so very tired of feeling like the entire world was on my shoulders for a place that just took advantage of how much I was willing to carry. So, I left. I made the decision to leave, to better myself, to find a place that would help me finally shine the way I knew I could... but I was fooled. It was a means to get out of where I was but it didn't mean that the grass was greener. It was just different and, strangely, somehow the same.
I think that is the biggest illusion when we're young, this idea that the world will be a better place when we become adults. We just don't realize that it won't really be better because it will have these new trials and tribulations that we didn't see through our young, rose colored glasses. It will just be different. Instead of deciding which cartoon to watch. It's do I buy gas or dinner. Somehow the world becomes that much smaller and that much heavier, that much more difficult to maneuver. I see my girl, my beautiful and bright and amazing girl, on this brick of her life and I want to tell her to just live right now. I want to tell her to just enjoy these moments of uncertainty and freedom. The older we get, the less of it we have. I understand so much more now than I did when I was a eighteen year old kid. I kind of miss that ignorance but I would never go back to it. As much as trying to figure out how to adult, it's that uncertainty that terrified someone like me, too. She's brave, far braver than I ever was, and I honestly couldn't be more proud of the fearlessness she embodies in these moments of her life. I know she looks up to me. She always has. I've been so aware of that her entire life. I've always tried to show her how to have compassion for the world even at the world's worst but I won't lie. It has not been easy. What she sees is the courage that I seem to fake well but the reality of me is that everything scares the shit out of me. But, then, I remember who I am. I remember my plight. Keep my head down. Do the work. Just shut up and do it because who else will? I haven't conquered being an adult but I was never really great at being a kid either.
Tuesday is Christmas and it doesn't feel like that time of year at all. There is no tree in my house. My cat tore down all my lights. Presents aren't a thing we can afford for this year. There will be no Christmas parties for us or Eggnog toasts. I feel pretty down, kind of defeated, and literally just want to sleep my way through the rest of 2018. Will I? No, I won't because it's not part of my DNA. It's not in me to roll over and say whatever. I understand the demons in my head that I fight. I know that just because another year is coming that these things that weigh on me won't just disappear. I can sit here and say next year I will do this. I promise to do that. I will definitely be her. If I had to take one lesson from this last year, it would be that the color of the grass is relative. It sounds so dire, that no matter which direction I choose it will not be what I imagine but I don't see it that way. What I see is this beautiful understanding of what life really is, a matter of choice. I did not land in greener fields this year even though I tried. I landed in grass that just may need more work than I thought. Sometimes you just have to move to get where you're going because standing where you are thinking about it won't move you anywhere. I don't have the usual sentimental feelings that I usually get during the holidays. I feel more apathetic to it than anything. I guess I understand that holiday magic doesn't really exist but hope does. I have hope that this next year will be better but I own the fact that I am the one who has to make those choices to make it better. It's a number, just a number, but it's our lives that make those numbers mean anything. I won't sleep my way through the last of 2018. No, I will begin to let it go. I will start to let it all go, the choices that I thought I was making to better this life and the reality that I failed along the way. It's not a failure when you try. And, if nothing else, I will always try.