TW: this blog will cover issues of rape/sexual assault, so if you’re not feeling particularly safe and supported please take care before reading.
Every year someone inevitably tells me: “You know, they say, ‘whatever you are doing to bring in the new year is what you will be doing for the rest of the year.'” I hate this saying for a number of reasons: 1) because there is often this pressure to spend the new year with people, partying, drinking, etc. Essentially doing things that are really out of the norm for a lot of us. 2) because some years ago I did succumb to that pressure and I brought in the new year being assaulted by a man who said he was “going to take care of me.” Thus, the people I considered friends left me fully at his mercy. I brought that year in wishing for it to all just be over.
And, 3) because every year since then I have chosen to keep myself isolated on new years in order to prevent anything like that from happening again. Not that I should have to sequester myself to avoid assault. Realistically, a man would know how to control his impulses and penis. But, alas, we aren’t yet there as a society.
So, here I am on New Year’s Eve thinking about how that saying would have meant I spent that entire year being assaulted. And, to some extent, I guess I did. I was assaulted by the memories and the lingering physical effects. And the change to those friendships. But, I hate the implication that because I spend each New Year’s alone now, I will be alone for the rest of the year.
I feel like, certainly through no malicious intent on the sayers part, this saying diminishes the human capacity for growth and progress. I am not the same person I was on January 1, 2017. I’ve gone back to graduate school. I’ve chosen to seek therapy and stick with it (despite the voice in my head constantly telling me to just quit, it won’t make a difference, I’m not really worth it, etc.). I am learning how to be okay with having needs and letting people meet those needs when I cannot do so on my own (this lesson was solidified recently as I got the flu and a kidney infection simultaneously. I could literally only move from the bed to the couch). I am slowly, very slowly getting better at asserting my own boundaries and being okay with knowing that others will maintain their own boundaries (and if they don’t that is on them, not me). I have started tackling my issues with spirituality and the abuse I suffered as a part of my religious upbringing. As a part of that, I connected with a potentially cool group of people who share in a sort of traumatic religious experience, so there is a sense of “getting it” among them that I haven’t ever felt before when considering religion. What else…
Oh, I also lost about 60 pounds since June. This, in and of itself, is not a big deal, as I think people are beautiful at whatever weight they’re comfortable at and feel most healthy. For me, my weight loss is a big deal because I was hiding behind the extra pounds. I was using them as a protective shield. Somehow in my mind I decided that the larger I became, the more invisible I was, the less likely I was to get assaulted again. Incredibly faulty logic, as well as naive, ignorant, and downright harmful (nevermind that society actually kind of reinforces this sort of negative thinking). But, anyway, I decided this summer that I was tired of hiding. When I set my mind to something, I make it happen. So, I lost 60 pounds in 6 months. But, along with that came some unanticipated difficulties. I am having to learn how to navigate the world in an entirely different way. A lot of the faulty thinking that served a purpose before, just doesn’t do the trick anymore. Hence the therapy.
And yoga! How could I forget yoga. I started doing that in March of this year. Also, a major change. Before I started yoga I had been on medication for hypertension. After several months of yoga, I was able to stop taking the beta blockers (with approval from my doctor, under the understanding that I maintain the healthy choices that were managing my BP). More than just the physical aspect though, yoga gave me a sense of community and calm that I hadn’t experienced before.
One other positive thing from this year: hiking. I have always loved hiking but I let myself fall into a deep depression, thus hiking was neglected. But, after I started yoga again and started changing my relationship with my body I rekindled that love. Just being in nature, experiencing the resonance between my body and the environment has been revitalizing.
All of this to say, for me, it doesn’t matter how I bring in the new year. Because I believe that the rest of the year is what I choose to make of it and as of right now, it’s a blank canvas. I have no expectations. I will grow, how I grow. Things will be what they are. Which isn’t to say that I am going into this year without any hopes. I do have some of those: I hope to learn more self-compassion; I hope to continue my growth in therapy; I hope to let the therapy relationship not buckle under the immense cognitive pressure I’m exerting on it currently (more on that in another blog, perhaps); I hope to be able to build safe, healthy, lasting relationships with others; and, I hope to find a sense of community via more social avenues (yogis don’t really talk much with one another). I will not call these things resolutions though; for this is not me setting firm determination to do something. I don’t resolve to do any of these things. And, I won’t even go so far as to call them goals because I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve goals. They are just hopes, abstract longings for what might be, one possible iteration of my 2018. No pressure.