Each year I take the blog posts from that year and turn them into a paper book that I can sit on my shelf. I like doing it, and it helps me to have physical evidence of the fact that I do write a lot of words in a given year. Except, I hadn’t made one since 2014. Nor had I created the annual family photo books. I’ve been so far under water, nearly drowning, that I couldn’t face going through the words and pictures from those years. I did not want to live them again. Until, suddenly, this past week I did. Somehow as I neared the end of 2017, I wanted to clear all of that away, put it to rest for good. So in less than 7 days I put together books for 2015, 2016, & 2017. Going through quickly gave me the benefit of some additional perspective. I have a lot more compassion for past me than I did before. I’ve spent weeks feeling like I failed at parenting in dozens of critical ways. After three years in review, yes I failed at some things, but not the biggest ones, and I never let failure stop me from trying to do better. Which is the true measure of success: don’t let failure be the last thing you do.
This past year has been one of finishing up. We finished up Kiki’s college education. We’ve finished up Link’s residence here in our house, launching him into his next life stage. We (finally) finished up the Planet Mercenary project and the seventy maxims project, which represents massive effort and success on my part. I rescued both of those from failure, and was rescued from my project failures by amazing collaborators. The biggest thing I want to finish up before the end of 2017: I would like to cap off and close the five-year-long chapter of my life where my daily existence was dictated by mental health crises. I want next year to be different. Finishing off the books felt like a step toward that.
While I was making the books, I also made a list summarizing my parenting experiences in the past five years. (For the entirety of which, with only brief respites, I always had 2-4 children in crisis.)
2013 Transitions and meltdowns
2014 Melting down and getting smaller
2015 Pit of despair and shrinking
2016 Stabilizing and grieving
2017 The intensity knob went up to 11 and I got transitions, meltdowns, despair, grieving, and (miraculously) enough growing to counter balance most of the rest.
This was a year defined by anxiety and fear. I want something else now. But I wouldn’t give up the growth that happened this year, and the growth was a direct result of everything that came for all the years before. So thank you 2017 for existing. I now release you, and turn to move forward.