What was it the Queen said that time, in her 1992 speech – that it had been her ‘annus horribilis’…? Well that phrase just about nails it for me, for 2018. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to drag you down by telling you what a sh*t year I’ve had, because there have been some glorious moments in there. Launching my blog and connecting with you guys, for one. My wonderful friends and family, my rocks and my lights. But I’m feeling reflective, in a positive way, so bear with me for just a moment while I summarise 2018…. and then maybe we can look back in 2019 and see how far we’ve come… good idea, Shell.
The year began with my dad fighting off Stage C Leukemia, to be then told he had skin cancer. And then he got trapped in hospital in Tenerife, being pumped full of IV antibiotics when his melanoma scar/wound decided to go septic – although in fairness to the hospital, my dad was a berk for going on holiday in the first place.. but still. A scary time. He’s fine now by the way, the hospital are monitoring his bloods to make sure he bounces back. But I underestimated the effect it would have on me. It was the first time any ‘serious’ illness such as cancer had affected me directly. I’m not ashamed to say that, for a time, I sought solace in a few bottles of Merlot and Spiced Rum. But I soon realised it was making me feel worse – Mental Health First Aid training kicked in.
And then there was the man. We all know one, unfortunately, whether romantically or through family, work, socialising… the one that sucks you in, changes everything you think you know about yourself, gives you a new identity – and spits you back out again. Call it womanly pride. I don’t think it was the fact that he left (well, ghosted) me, it was the constant internal questioning afterwards – ‘what is wrong with me?’, ‘why wasn’t I good enough?’ – that really dragged me down. The fact that he acted like a d**k came second, was almost forgotten – it was the total annihilation of my self-esteem and self-identity that temporarily destroyed me.
The last 6 months of 2018 have been a revelation. I have been in intensive 1-2-1 therapy, working hard to get myself back to ‘me’, whatever that means. I had to start from scratch. Hit the bottom, and build back up slowly. I remember the moment when I said to myself ‘right, this is bottom, this is as far as I can go. It has to get better from here’. It was very late/very early one night, I was sat in my car round the corner from my house, chain smoking (gah!) and feeling like I had no place in the world. There wasn’t a soul about, and I just sat and thought, and thought, and thought, until I exhausted myself and cried myself dry.
I worked with my lovely therapy lady to rediscover what makes me tick – my values, my important people, where I want to be, what I need to achieve, what makes me happy, and what depletes me. And reading and writing are two of those things that make me truly happy. I can hear you groaning from the cliche, people… but it’s true. Therapy is hard work, the hardest work you’ll ever do, believe me. You connect dots you never knew existed, and you put yourself back together like some wonky Meccano set and come out the other side a new version of yourself, the right version – Michelle 2.0 as it were.
The past two years have been challenging. Dad’s cancer fight, my own mental health, work, lost loves and friendships. But you know what, we’re all still here. I’ve made new friendships, strengthened old ones, and learned to appreciate the things I became blind to.
So I have decided that I won’t be making any new years’ resolutions. I’m just going into the next year knowing that whatever happens, it won’t be anything like 2017/2018 and I will just try and maintain this sunny come-what-may disposition that has kindly befallen me these last few months. And maybe try to stop inhaling Pringles. In fact, I shall try and make 2019 my ‘Annus mirabilis’ – take that, Queenie.
All the best for 2019, everyone. M xx