I thought 2013 was going to be MY YEAR. I felt great, good things were starting to happen, things I’d been waiting for and working towards for a long time. Then I fell apart. Things didn’t fall apart, work and home and family didn’t fall apart, I fell apart. I’ve felt some shame about that, but as things are getting better I can see that the breaking was necessary, that forced change can make things new again.
When we started the year, my husband had been working on his movie for six months, with at least six months more to go. As we end the year, the movie has been released worldwide, performed far beyond our hopes, and his already established career (and thus our family) is shifting at a rate we hadn’t expected. These are good things, these accolades and successes are worth the struggle that got us here. For what is the cost of a major motion picture? Often it’s a marriage, a reputation, the price real people pay that the public bemoans and rolls their eyes as “Hollywood.”
We are lucky (though that’s not quite the right word) to live a mostly quiet LA life, but we are not untouched. The Gorilla’s movie was not shot in California, so time apart and a sometimes stressful production left us both irritable. Him shouldering the weight of the film, me shouldering the weight of our family and home, neither of those things exactly true given the help we each have with all of it. But it felt heavy and for most of the year we felt like we were driving in separate lanes. On the same freeway, going the same direction, but not in the same car. It was frustrating and isolating.
In the spring, backburner’d emotions caught up with me. They always do. I was pregnant with Pirate in 2011 when we experienced loss and then extreme family illness on both sides. My body and mind went into survival mode to carry and deliver a healthy baby, and even radical hormones didn’t penetrate the wall I’d created to keep out the bigger picture stuff. Nearly two years later, when life felt a little less precarious and my baby was running through the yard, when - fingers crossed - we felt out of the acute danger zone, I collapsed under all the walls I had built.
It’s tidy to sum it up now, but in reality it was a slow burn. Only when I look back carefully can I see the signs. Left alone at the lake house, with just the kids and the rain, I became deeply incapacitated by my own mind. Extreme lack of sleep accelerated a bad mental path I was already traveling. My dark period was so short, just a few months all told. I know this is small compared to the demons some battle for years, in my own life the only other bad season I’ve had went on for much longer. But this year’s brush was enough for me.
I can’t say why I bobbed to the surface and was able to take a breath, I can’t point to prayer or my kids or pharmaceuticals or any other magic answer. I can say that, without even knowing I needed this, certain people proved to me that I wasn’t alone, and that they weren’t leaving my side. Finally believing that let the light shine through. I emerged from this summer with a clearer (and still clearing, every day) sense of myself and my relationships.
This fall, everything felt closer to the skin and brighter on the eyes. There have been joyous times in my life where I was completely numbed out, and fairly miserable times in my life when I was delighted. I know all too well that circumstances and soul are not often in sync. Leaving my heart on the table has made me feel more balanced, whoever would have thought that? My insides more closely resemble my outsides and I’ve tried extra hard to make myself feel everything. I let myself be tired and angry and happy and proud and silly and sad and I finally felt it because I was exposed and raw.
My theme for the year was Set the Tone. When I couldn’t see past the hand in front of my face, I thought this theme was an utter failure. But on this last day of the year, I don’t see it that way. For the first and last four months of 2013, I did lay the groundwork for future writing and fond family memories. All year I put in a strong effort towards the life I’m creating. So I had an especially bumpy middle? For all the sadness and naval-gazing that brought, it has sharpened what needed an edge, and softened the things that were calloused.
This year was long, layered, and ultimately productive. I am the most surprised that I’m ending 2013 happy, content. If you had asked me in July if that was a possibility, I would have foggily replied that I was skeptical. This year was a roller coaster, I feel grateful and tired. But I believe in fresh starts, every day. Especially today.