Saturday, December 31, 2011

resolution, of a sort

I do not for a moment believe that 2012 is going to be perfect. 2012 will be a year, made up of months and weeks and days, and all of those days will be real and flawed. I don't expect to wake up tomorrow morning and step into the ending of a fairy tale. Life goes on, with all the good and all the bad that that entails. 

My house is a hundred years old, my car nine, and the dogs eat the furniture. There will almost always be something that needs repairing, and there will always be something that needs cleaning. 

There will be days when an article of clothing that made me feel like a goddess falls apart in the wash, when a cherished piece of jewelry is lost, when a mug given to me by someone now gone is dropped. 

There will be days when I miss lunch, when I stagger home already a wreck to find that the furnace has gone out and the dogs have thrown up everywhere.

There will be days when the vet's bill is $400, when the car doesn't start, when my body image issues overwhelm me (I may be on a very even keel as far as that goes, but I'm a woman in 21st-century America and I'm not superhuman). Days when I fall off the cheese or caffeine wagons and pay for it with a grubby complexion and feelings of weakness. Days when my envy, for all the work I'm doing on it, comes back, toxic as hell. Days when a drink sounds terrifyingly good. 

There will be days when work is mind-numbingly repetitive, or soul-crushingly petty. Days when everywhere I go there's an obnoxious jerk taking out his or her pain on innocent bystanders. 

There will be the actual practicalities of the divorce, which is my priority for the new year. There will be filing, and court dates, and all the emotional components of these things. There may be some very nasty arguments about money. At least there will not be doubts. 

There will be days when all I think about is cancer. And there is always the very real chance that the cancer will return in 2012, and that it will turn into a year associated with words like "mastectomy" and "chemo". 

But there will be Mozart, and Bach, and Vivaldi. There will be tea, and warm socks, and dog kisses. There will be Shakespeare, and poetry. There will be books, always, books I can't put down, books I've read a dozen times that soothe like a hot bath, books that make me snort with derision and appreciate the next good one all the more. 

There will be the most wonderful medical team anyone could ask for, even if (please if) I am only seeing them for my screenings. 

There will be bad movies, and in-jokes, and constant laughter with excellent friends. 

And there is the knowledge - which, finally, brings us to the resolution bit - that I am allowed to be happy. That my happiness is not selfish. That I am allowed to go looking for it, whether or not I find it. 

I am allowed to do the things that make me happy. Read the books I want, listen to the music I want, get into my pajamas as early as I want. Go for long walks, take road trips, spend hours at a museum. Try new things, new places. Find out that there's even more in the world that makes me happy. 

I am allowed to dress up, and go out, and flirt (whether or not that's in my skill set is another issue entirely). I am allowed to think myself worthy of someone's attention, and at the same time confident enough in my own skin to attend events alone, because I want to be there. I don't have to have any other reason.

I have no doubt whatsoever that 2012 will have its own set of new and exciting rejections. But I know now that the end of love is not the end of the world. That someone you want very much telling you that you are not worthy of love or respect doesn't make it true. That even a relationship of ten years, which was supposed to last sixty, didn't define who I am. I'm not willing to love like I've never been hurt before. I'm willing to love because I have been hurt, and I know that it's worth it. 

Happiness isn't selfish - well, if it involves breaking hearts or outdoing friends or polluting groundwater, then it is, but mine doesn't require those things. No more of this idea that suffering is noble. I will cope with suffering as nobly as I can, because suffering is inevitable, but I know that happiness makes me a better person, and so that is where I will be devoting my energies. 

Of course there is the Puritan part of me arguing that a devotion to happiness will come at the expense of my responsibilities. Which are? I have a responsibility to myself, to my dogs, and to those people who love me and want me to be happy.

I have no responsibility to those people who want me to be miserable, whether due to their own unhappiness or because they think it makes a better story. I have twenty-one years of daily journals and those people are welcome to sit down with about eighteen years' worth of them if that is the story they want. I'm bored with it. 

A few years ago around this time, I wrote a poem about living by the ocean as a metaphor for new beginnings. It's deeply flawed and I never managed to revise it, but the ending was all right:

There is no blessing like a chance, like a new day truly new:
Here each morning decks the beaches like a new-created bride;
Here you could not re-trace yesterday even if you wanted to:
Your heaviest, most dogged steps are victims of the tide.

Here the mundane is redemption, whether sea or I redeem;
Daily, with the ocean's washing-in, wash out what came before;
The background to each choice, however permanent it seems:
Angels, or their possibility, breaking on the shore.

A very, very happy New Year to all. 


  1. Sometimes, you're a little bit like staring at the sun. Not in the bad, you'll go blind way, not in the you're too much way, but before that, when I'm just dazzled.

    Also, I went directly to this: