Reflections on 2017 and a promise for 2018

Oh, wow! Where did the year go?

2017 was dramatic — full of change in my life and in the world, too. Life is a great teacher, and from it I have learned a ton. A metric butt-ton. Which ranks right up there with bazillion as a scientific measurement. (I’m snickering right now.)

But seriously, the lessons I learned in 2017 are changing my fundamental view of the world and myself. Hopefully, it will all come together and make me a better person and a better writer.

Be True

 

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One of the hardest, but simplest, lessons is the power of being true to myself and others. I used to think being true to myself meant being selfish and taking what I want or using others to get what I needed without asking. Bad Sami. I figured out being true means being honest and compassionate in everything that I do. If I want something, I’ve learned I have to ask, not take. What I want also has to take a backseat to what other people need.

 

The words look simple on the screen, but in practice, this is the hardest thing in the world for me to actually DO. Years of making do, putting the best spin on my life and my actions, and protecting myself from the scorn and negativity of others have affected every decision I’ve made.

Scary Stuff

Y’all, it’s hard to retrain yourself to be vulnerable and giving. Freaking hard. And the honesty. Holy crap. It’s scary living an authentic life. When you’ve spent *mumble-mumble* years protecting yourself with a wall built of denial and deflection, ripping the flawed construction from around yourself feels like pulling off your skin. Ouch.

I have to say, though, that it’s been worth it. My relationship with my husband has gotten SO MUCH better. Negative family patterns have morphed into something that’s tentative and new, and amazingly hopeful. My day job has become less of a soul-sucking grind and is now somewhere that I can authentically help people.

My favorite part of changing so far is that I don’t feel like a mistake waiting to happen anymore. Getting out of the self-defensive mind-frame is freeing me up in a way that I never expected. Instead of spending my time looking for my flaws and covering them up, I am learning to accept them and just live. I didn’t realize how much energy I spent on CYA and trying to appear strong and flawless. Now, I can turn that energy into something positive, like enjoying a sunny day or being kind to someone who isn’t kind to me.

Promises

Something else I’ve learned is the power of a promise. I have broken so many of them over the years that it kind of became commonplace and unremarkable. I didn’t have the best of examples in this arena, so I thought promises were just things you said to make people not be mad at you.

I broke a promise and really hurt someone I cared about. REALLY hurt. Most of my promises were little things, throwaways, I thought. But to a child, those little promises are huge. Nothing makes you feel more like a piece of crap than making a child cry. Ugh. His little face killed me. I felt an avalanche of disappointment hit me, as the memories of all of the people I had failed rained down on me. That hurt. So, I learned that I have to follow through. And apologize.

Sometimes I Suck

 

So ashamed.

I am sorry for being a flake in 2017. I looked over my blog posts, which were pretty spotty and erratic. I made promises in them that I promptly forgot about. I wasn’t honest with you and I am sorry for that.

 

2018 is going to be a year of hard work. I’ve learned the basics of being a good person. Now I have to follow through. There will be times that I will succeed, and some that I will fail, probably spectacularly. But I’m going to persevere and work on making the hard decisions every day.

Here’s my first promise of 2018 to you: I will do better. No more broken promises. If I say I will write a review, I will. If I start a story, I will finish it. If you need me, I will be here for you.

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