This Year's Resolution

I always seem to get the blues after the holidays; not to be confused with the melancholy I get right before the holidays; or the stress I feel during the holidays. Let's face it, as magical and great as they can be, the holidays really take an emotional toll on everyone. I start the decline at Thanksgiving when I begin to miss my mom. Then I remember all the people I have lost, both living and dead. The list just seems to get longer every year. I begin to ride a roller coaster that takes me from excitement to sadness and back again. By the time January and the cold weather creeps in, I just want to huddle on my couch with a warm fire, a stack of books and a pile of movies.

New Year's eve only emphasizes the melancholy. And, every news show, local program, and video channel runs down the obligatory list of people lost that year, complete with every crumb of sensationalism they can muster. It doesn't help. Even though we are saying goodbye to the old, we are so caught up in the loss that midnight seems sad and filled with the voices and memories of those that are no longer with us, we forget to say hello to the new. I think we are so bombarded by the idea of the loss itself that we forget to hang onto the positive experiences we had with those lost through the years. The news sprawls death and murder across the screen and that's the only part of the story we see. We are inundated with the horror or the sadness or the deliberate self destruction of individuals. But the stories never go any further. We don't see the aftermath, the ongoing lives of the people once attached to the lost ones.

I was recently told that I was a "survivor": of my childhood, of a bad first marriage; of years of struggling without a strong foundational footing to help guide me through my adulthood. I have to admit when I heard this, it took a bit for the meaning to really sink in; even though I kept saying that I felt as though I was walking through quicksand. One minute I was sinking and the next, slipping. But I was always stuck more or less in the same emotional place. And, then it hit me: the difference between knowing you survived something and understanding that you are a survivor was as overwhelming as staring up at the night sky and knowing you are one of those blinking lights, but you can't find yourself anymore. It was like I had been merged with the collective and was totally lost to myself.

So this is my new year's resolution: I will see myself as a survivor. I will not see myself as a product of my mother, my father, grandmother, brothers, cousins, child, grandchildren, or husband. I will see those relationships as a peripheral part of me. Who I was. Who I am becoming. Who I want to be. But I will not define myself based on my relationship with any of them. I will learn to gather up my strength, my essence, my spirit and nurture my life so it can be its own light source. When I look up into that same sky, I will see myself among those throngs of shimmering stars and find myself to be a strong, capable and effective survivor.