The year is coming to a close and, as we approach a brand new one full of opportunities and fresh starts, I felt like I’d share some of my own lessons from the last 365 days. It has been a great year for me. I’ve learned so much about myself and about life.
The first, and this is a major one for me, is that allowing mental illness to consume you isn’t a way of coping or growing. In late 2017 and early 2018, my struggle with depression was at its very worst. I had been going through the world’s longest breakup and it was consuming me. I felt like it would never end. The relationship had been over for a good couple of years, but he just wouldn’t fully let go and still hasn’t. To make matters worse, I didn’t know I had the strength to finally stop opening the door or answering the phone. I allowed him to keep treating me like a yo-yo, so my lack of self-worth at that point was largely my own fault. I gave in to depression and self-harm as though they were this magical, super-safe security blanket. They definitely weren’t. I’d self-harm because I wanted a way to release some of the pain and then I’d end up feeling worse than before because of the marks left behind from a temporary lapse in judgment. I did it over and over. Eventually, I started opening up about everything, self-harm, the awfulness of the never-ending bad break-up, all of it, to the guy I’m with now and my friends. It took a while to see it, but I found that opening up to them and not isolating myself made me feel better. I am now going into my tenth month without self-harming.
The second is that it is entirely possible to be in your 30s and not actually know how to love someone. If your idea of loving someone is constantly controlling their emotions or actions, you don’t love them; you love controlling another human being. No one is bulletproof. When you incessantly belittle someone or control everything they do by either denying your permission to do it or by guilt-tripping them into not doing, you’re hurting them. Don’t confuse things by making them feel like nothing and then coming back around with an “I love you” and an apology an hour later. They aren’t your puppet and that’s not love. If that’s how you show someone you love them, you don’t know the first damn thing about love. Love should not hurt and it should not be a constant battle. Tristin taught me that. In the past year, he has shown me nothing but kindness, patience, and understanding. He does not ever raise his voice at me and he never makes any attempt to belittle me or make me feel bad about myself. He was one of my biggest lessons this year. He showed me what real love is and that taught me how to love myself.
The third was to keep my circle small and tight. You will meet so many people in life and so many of them will call you a friend. On some level, they might be, but that does not ever mean that all of them should really know everything there is to know about you. When it comes to friends, there are those who are by your side through thick and thin, those who are only there during your good moments, and those who are only there for something to talk about with everyone else they know. Your inner circle should only ever be the ones who are always there for you. Those amazing people are the only people who should ever really know your deepest secrets. Not everyone should know everything and not everyone belongs in your inner circle. Keep it small and tight.
I’ve grown a lot over the past year and still have quite a bit left to go, but I’m getting there. What are your lessons from the past year? How have you experienced personal growth?