The start of a new month is always something I look forward to. Setting new goals, anticipating new events, challenging myself to make this month better than the last - in 2013 especially, flipping the calendar to Day 1 has always carried a special sort of excitement. That is, every month until October.
Kicking off October 2013 last week, I didn't feel that same kind of anticipation. I was apprehensive, fearful, and almost wished that September had a few extra days in it. Last October was an extremely painful month, and it was unfortunately just the start to a devastating end to 2012. I'm now rushing towards the 1-year anniversaries of that pain and devastation, and I'm not sure if I'm ready. Hopefully writing about it will help me to get there.
This post isn't going to expound upon the details of what happened at the end of 2012, but I will say that I definitely believed the doomsday predictions that swirled around at the time. Just one short year ago, it felt like I was in the midst of the kind of cataclysmic turmoil that was supposed to signal the end of the world, but one year later, here I am.
"There is no coincidence in chaos."
That's a phrase that came to my mind last week as I thought about what the next 3 months were going to bring. Aside from my parent's divorce when I was a teen, 2012 was the next most chaotic time of my life. I'm someone who's irrationally attached to dates and anniversaries, so in the days and weeks to come, I'll surely have a few instances of looking at the clock and reliving to the minute what happened one year ago. It's extremely easy to fall into the habit of saying "Why me? Why now? Why this?" - and while it at times seems like there's no method to life's madness, I've learned that the connected dots and synchronicities will eventually reveal themselves.
Class is still in session, but I'm learning things about myself that I don't believe I would have discovered without 2012's hard lessons. I'm learning what forgiveness looks like in different spheres - forgiving those who actively seek to right wrongs, forgiving people who I know will never atone for what they've done, and forgiving myself for internally blaming and shaming when I really need not. I'm learning how to rebuild - how to craft the kind of existence I will be proud of when this life is over. I'm learning new limits and stretching myself beyond the ones I had set previously. I'm learning how to step outside of my comfort zone, and I'm learning how to trust myself when I tell myself that it'll be OK. I'm learning how to be a better friend, daughter, sister, wife, human being - and I'm learning how to not punish myself too harshly when I feel I've missed the mark. I'm learning that taking care of myself is a more intricate feat than I originally thought, and I'm learning that I do myself a disservice when I gloss over those complexities. I'm learning about my needs and wants; what I can do without; what I can't live without. I'm learning how to heal, how to survive, and how to thrive. All of this isn't easy, but it's essential.
I don't believe in coincidences on a whole, but especially not when it comes to the chaos of life. I read a quote last year that helped me to begin to put things into perspective:
“The Buddhists believe that sometimes when everything is in turmoil, it’s because something wonderful is ready to be born and that thing is distracting you so it can have some privacy during the birthing process.” – Pearl Cleage
The blessing inside all of the burden has been that there is life on the other side of sadness, and there are wonderful things that may be distracting you during their birth. While I often throw my head to the sky and say "But, why did I have to go through _________ to get ________?" I know it's a wholly rhetorical question. Though certain life events are extremely painful and seem totally unnecessary, I try not to dwell on the dramatic fashion that life's lessons are doled out, and instead heed the call to action. In almost all of 2012's bombshells, I now see that there were indeed warning signs. My personal answer to the "Why?" question is that I simply wasn't paying attention, so life demanded it, undivided. My eyes are open wider now.
Can I honestly say that I'm grateful for what I've endured, or that I'm happy it all happened? Nope. I'm not there yet. What I can say is that I'm starting to understand, and I'm proud of myself. I'm starting to understand why that act of my life played out the way it did, and that the chaos was necessary and not a chance occurrence. I'm proud of myself that in the year since, I can see progress. Baby steps are still steps, and there's bravery in deciding to take them. When the tough days with even tougher memories come, I hope I can remember that.