Welcome a New Year

Ten years ago, a chapter of my life closed, and a new one was beginning. Some of the hardest years of my life were on their way.

Nine years ago, I tore muscles in my back. Nine years of chronic pain later, I’ve learned to live with the constant sensation of being stabbed in the shoulder blade. Nine years ago, my grandfather became sick. Nine years ago, I was baptized. Nine years ago, I went to Costa Rica on a mission trip. Nine years ago I read Lord of the Rings for the first time. It saved my life.

Eight years ago, a friend was dying of rare, highly malignant brain tumor. Tamara was 13 years old. Eight years ago…I don’t remember much about those years. I read, a lot. Maybe I wrote a little.

Seven years ago, eight days after my birthday, my friend died of her cancer. I still remember that moment perfectly, because I knew that she was dead, the moment she died, three days before anybody told me. Seven years ago, another friend died because his father, a man who had once dated my mother, and who was one of the most ‘Christian’ guys in the church, refused to take his son to the hospital. Paul was 17. He died of strep throat, and we never saw the family again.

Six years ago, my aunt invited me to come to Idaho with them for a week-long packtrip/campmeeting. Still reeling from the deaths that my grandmother had forbidden me to talk about, I went. Horses. The wilds of Idaho. I went home, and my heart was at peace, for a while.

Five years ago, I started writing more seriously. It was still fanfiction. But it was writing, and my grandfather, of all people, was encouraging me to take it more seriously.

Four years ago, I went to dinner with my grandparents, on my birthday. As we left, I told them that I wasn’t going home with them. That I’d moved out. Mom had gone out to the house earlier, taken all my stuff. It was the only way I knew how to do it. They would never have let me leave, otherwise. I would never have been strong enough. Four years ago, I started college. I was so nervous at walking into the room, I was shaking, sick. Four years ago, I met my best friend, the man I’d fall in love with. Four years ago, I was writing 5000 words a day, and on the edge of a breakdown as the scars of a lifetime started catching up. Four years ago, I was dating a girl without realizing it (don’t ask!). She made me think I was responsible for her suicide. I kicked her out.

Three years ago, I moved out of California. Drove 3000 miles. Met people I’d only talked to online. Three years ago, I joined Fifthwind Forums and began writing seriously. Three years ago, I flew to Dallas, by myself, to spend a week with my first serious boyfriend. Three years ago, I didn’t have any friends within 500 miles of me. Three years ago, I was hired to work at Victory Junction Gang Camp. Three years ago, I learned how to love, and forgive, and hope. Three years ago, those new emotions were tested when the best thing in my life, screwed me over the worst. Three years ago, I was given the best words ever. “You’re good people.” First time I ever thought I was good people. Three years ago, I came out.

Two years ago, friendship changed to something more, and my friend began talking about marrying me. Two years ago, the dreams–and the nightmares–came back, leaving me physically and emotionally exhausted. Two years ago, I started my tattoos. Two years ago, that friend sat quietly and listened to me cry as I remembered my girls from camp, and that it had been a year, and that I’d never go back. Two years ago, I was on top of the world for two weeks. Two years ago, at the end of that two weeks, I couldn’t move, because that relationship had come to a fork, and I knew he could never accept me as I am. Two years ago, we tried to make it work, and when it didn’t, he held me for an hour while I cried. When I woke up the next morning, I literally felt like a piece of me was missing. Two years ago, I finished my first novel, and my first novella, and applied for an internship.

A year ago, time moved as slow as molasses, and as quick as thought. A year ago, I felt the hole healing. For the first time, I found my feet. A year ago, I discovered that I really do prefer to be alone. A year ago, the dreams went away, for a while. A year ago, a good friend came back. A year ago, I was hired as an intern with Fantasy Magazine. A year ago, I discovered that I could not only walk into a room without being sick, but walk into it with my head held high and own that room. A year ago, I started working with Blind Man. A year ago, I finished my first short (Me? Do things backwards? Noooo…) story. A year ago, I began to discover my own spirits, and my own faith.

The last decade has been intense. The emotional ups and downs…more than I care to remember. I really don’t remember quite a bit of it. Most of it, in fact. Just bits and pieces, the bad things. Oh, there are snapshots, moments when I consciously decided “I need to remember this”.

I sang ‘Into the West’ to my childhood pony as I waited for the vet to come euthanize her. She’d been my only friend, many a time, but she just couldn’t get up that morning. I cried while I sang it, but it soothed her.

I remember the moment I knew Tamara was dead. 1pm. Thursday. I was on the road outside the house. The sky was thickly clouded. I didn’t cry, because there wasn’t any need to.

I remember the moment I found out that one of our girls had died at camp. Twilight. Surreal. Shadows moving around those of us who had been her counselors as we clung to each other and cried. I’d never cried so often as I did that summer. Most of it was good tears, as the girls brought warmth back. Some of it was healing, as I faced the repressed terror of seizures. I saw my aunt die of a grand mal seizure, grandfather had them all my life. Preparation for camp, I saw a video, and broke. Some of it was angry tears, as we saw first-hand the horror of humanity, and what it will do to the most helpless beings.

I remember sitting on my horse, at the top of Suicide Hill in Idaho, looking down at the mess of fallen logs, tangled brush and rocks, and thinking, “I can’t do this”. I did it.

I used to say that I couldn’t see myself in the mirror. A transparent face, missing eyes. This isn’t a metaphore. I couldn’t process the face in the mirror, I never was able to. Now I can look in the mirror, and not only is a solid person there, it’s me. I know it’s me. I like how I look. I can finally look myself in the eyes and say ‘you made it, girl. You survived.’ It’s like how I bought clothes five years ago, and they finally fit me now.

I got my tattoos because they are solid, and real, and I know that they are there. It’s like they nail down a piece of my skin so it doesn’t just slip off and leave the silent watcher behind. They remind me that I’m strong, that I made it through everything. That even though I’ve become everything that I was brought up to believe is evil, it’s ok. I’m good people.

The last decade brought my strength, hope, wisdom, hurt and pride. I know who I am now. My skin still feels too big, my mind too small, my gaze too muddled. But at least I know how to walk into a room, and how to heal and how to protect. I am me. And I don’t have to explain me to anyone, or to myself. Not anymore.

I hear a lot of people saying ‘good riddance’ to 2009. Yeah, 2009 had some terrible moments. It really did. EVERY year has had its share of hell. I wouldn’t change it though, if I could. Not one moment of it.

Y’see, the best lesson the past decade has taught me is this: You never know what the moment is teaching you, or what the next one will bring. I learned not to fight the moment, the pain. Let go, ride it, listen to it. It’s telling you something. It is leaving its indelible mark on your inner skin.

We’re all tattooed with life. And hell, those tattoos aren’t ever going to be any prettier than they were this last decade.

Goodbye, 2009, and decade. Thank you.

Welcome, 2010. You’ve got big shoes to fill.


2 Responses to “Welcome a New Year”

  1. It’s hard to remember that we’ve only known each other for three years, and only really been talking for one. Though I do remember sitting outside at my college and singing Girl Scout songs to you. That was the first time we actually talked, really connected, I think.

    I’m very glad to know you, and even prouder to call you my friend. I’m looking forward to another year knowing you.

  2. “That which does not kill you can only make you stronger”

    I am sure you know that phrase well. Everything you have experienced in the past 10 years and before has made you what you are, however it looks as though in the past 10 years you have made CHOICES that drive you on a path of your own choosing. There is still a lot more out there to experiences, more of you to find, so don’t ever let me hear of you shying from it. I have a lot to learn from you.

    big hugs

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