One of the mental health support and awareness groups I follow is called To Write Love On Her Arms. Every year for New Year’s Eve, they do a thing called “Welcome to Midnight.” It’s about more than just your typical NYE resolutions. It focuses on truly believing that it is possible the change and turn your life around, and that those changes don’t happen in a moment.
I use Welcome to Midnight as a chance to reflect on the last year – how I have learned and grown and changed, and also how I struggled. I use it to decide what I want to work on and how I want to grow in the coming year. I’ve never publicly shared this before, but this year I decided to do it. I’m fairly late, this year, but better late than never.
Here is what I decided last year that I wanted to work on in 2015.
I want to learn that it’s okay to need help and how to trust enough to ask for that help, even when I am at my most broken. That I am worth the help of my friends. That I am worthy of love and that I deserve to see better days. That better days are coming.
I want to continue to grow in the area of living every moment and not just existing and dragging myself through life. I want to continue to grow in terms of not just refusing to let fear hold me back, but in living a life free of the fear and uncertainty I’ve allowed to hold me back for so long. I want to grow in my relationships – in truly knowing my trusted friends and letting them know me. Not just the pretty parts of me, the areas where I seem to have my life together, but the struggles, the pitfalls and the triumphs, as well.
I did so much in the last year, in terms of not letting fear hold me back. In February, I accepted a new job. Within days of accepting that new job, a former colleague of mine posted on Facebook that she needed a new roommate. In a matter of days, I had signed on as her new roommate. I moved on February 28th, a mere ten days after I decided to move, and started my new job two days later. Taking that leap was a terrifying thing to do. I grew up in a home where it was expected that I would live at home until I got married. It’s implied in that teaching that women are somehow unable to live independently, without a man to watch over them and care for them. Despite the fact that I no longer hold to those beliefs, the insidious ideas that were planted by purity culture and my fundamentalist upbringing still linger in more ways than I would like.
Moving out went smoothly, and I will forever be grateful for my friends who helped me with moving my things. My new roommate, Maggie, and I got along from the beginning, and being out of my mother’s house meant that I no longer had to conceal the way that my beliefs had changed. As welcome as the change was, it was difficult to adjust to at first. I often found myself missing home, though I knew I didn’t miss how afraid I often felt, at my mother’s house. And it was hard to learn to relax and feel safe in my new home. I found myself feeling afraid that Maggie wouldn’t like having me as a roommate, or that I would be a nuisance to her. It was quite the opposite, though, and she told me not long after I moved in that I was the best roommate she’d had since her sister moved out.
Emelee and B both helped to ease the transition quite a bit. B supported me and comforted me from afar, while Emelee frequently came over after we got off work and kept me company. It took a few months, but I gradually grew accustomed to the apartment and and it began to feel safe and to feel like home. Maggie and I become better and better friends, and I began to trust her and feel comfortable in confiding my struggles in her, too. She’s been extremely supportive during the struggles I’ve been facing with my mental illnesses, even when it has had an impact on her. I’ve learned to trust both her and Emelee, and to reach out to them when I need help. Especially as the symptoms of my PTSD worsened and I was officially diagnosed with it, I’ve had a lot of new opportunities to share about my struggles as part of my ongoing commitment to raising awareness about mental illness by being open about my own struggles.
Once I had begun to settle in a bit more, I decided to do something that I had always been loathe to do – I joined OkCupid. While I lived at home, I was afraid that Mom would want to watch over my shoulder and pre-screen any matches, in keeping with the purity culture traditions I was raised with, but no longer believed. I’ve already chronicled my adventures on OkCupid in some of my earlier posts, but this really was a huge step towards my goal of not letting fear and uncertainty to hold me back. The relationship I developed with A gave me an opportunity to work on growing in my relationships. We’ve taken time in letting our relationship develop, but there is very little I wouldn’t share with him, at this point.
I think this year was definitely a huge success, in terms of what I set out to accomplish, last year. I accomplished my goals and did things that I never imagined would be possible, at this point in my life. I have lived so much and done so many things that I would have previously allowed fear to hold me back from. I’m very proud of myself, all that I have done, and how far I have come.
So, what do I want to work on, this year? How do I want to welcome midnight, this year?
This year, I want to learn that it’s okay to give myself a break and to accept the limitations that the PTSD places on what I can do, while also challenging and pushing those limits. I want to continue to build a better life for myself. There are many more better days ahead of me. I know this, now.
I want to continue to grow in my relationships and the openness that I have been learning. It is a truly wonderful thing to be open with someone and to know that they accept me for who I really am and not hide behind the mask I so often put up when I am in public. I want to continue to work on not letting fear and uncertainty hold me back. Both of these things are ongoing projects for me, and will likely be something I work on for several years.