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Another year draws to an end.
An intense year. One of profound loss and profound gain. A year where I not only jumped out of my comfort zone, but I launched myself into the unknown depths of an abyss. A year that I will never forget.
I stepped into 2022 with guts, grace, and gratitude, and I needed every last bit of these. I was tested, challenged, and pushed to my limits. I felt myself splintering, cracking, and there were days I felt broken. There were days I held onto that guts, grace, and gratitude with everything I had. I was also rewarded, blessed, and shown a compassion and love that will remain with me forever.
2022 started with a bang. I completed my masters in holistic counselling, and I was writing up a storm. I was excitedly planning an overseas “bucket list” trip that I had dreamed about for years. My daughter announced she was pregnant with her first child, my first grandchild. I accepted a retrenchment from my 35-year career so I could pursue my passions; this was simultaneously exciting and terrifying. I was on the right path, and I felt I was exactly where I needed to be.
Then life changed forever.
With only seven weeks before my grandchild was born, my beautiful mum passed away. Devastating that she never got the chance to meet her first great grandchild. Coming to terms with that loss, my daughter became unwell, and there were concerns for the baby. It was decided to induce at 36 weeks. Such a bittersweet feeling, farewelling my mum and then three weeks later holding my new granddaughter. I cannot put into words how strong the opposing emotions of grief and joy were. Laughter between sobs. Alternating between happiness and sadness. And so much guilt. Guilt for feeling happy when my mum had just died and guilt for feeling sad when I was blessed with this beautiful granddaughter.
But with everything that happens in life, there are things we can learn. Things we can grow from. Things we can change. And things we can let go of.
This is what 2022 taught me:
1. Life is unexpected.
Whilst most of us gravitate toward comfort because, well, it’s comfortable, we need to challenge ourselves to be comfortable being uncomfortable. We won’t grow sitting in our comfort zone, and if we fear the unknown and unexpected, when it enters our lives we will struggle more. We will find life harder to navigate. The courage is to continually step outside of our comfort zone so facing the unexpected becomes less difficult.
2. We need to feel our pain.
Nobody likes to feel the intense emotional pain of loss, grief, anger, and sadness. But it needs to be felt. There’s a whole industry out there trying to convince people that there are ways to bypass our pain and get over things quickly, that negative emotions are bad. Don’t be sucked into the bullsh*t; this simply is not only wrong but unhealthy.
When we are faced with pain, there’s a process, and no, we don’t want to sit floundering in our pain, but we are meant to feel it. Distraction as a way of helping intermittently is okay; distraction and dismissing pain ongoing is dangerous and will cause us issues both emotionally and physically down the track. Sitting with and unpacking our pain, as difficult as that is, is the way we heal and grow from what we have been through.
3. Connection is key to fulfilment.
We all need connection, but let’s not confuse what connection is. First and foremost, we need a strong connection to ourselves—an awareness and love for ourselves and who we are, which gives us both the courage and vulnerability to find contentment within. Connection with family, friends, and like-minded souls. Maybe you see some often. Maybe you chat on the phone or have video calls. Or perhaps it’s just a comment or tag on social media. It’s all connection.
Of course, there’s connection to romantic partners also but contrary to popular belief, this is not the only connection. Humans need connection, but that connection comes in many forms. And make no mistake—the most important connection we need is the one to ourselves.
4. Grief doesn’t end on society’s timeline.
We’ve really screwed up the notion of what grief is. There’s no time frame and no two people will face grief in the same way. There’s no getting over it; we move through it and it changes us as we adapt to a different life. We don’t farewell someone at their funeral and miraculously recover and forget our loss. We don’t end a relationship, forget the person, and are ready to start a new relationship. We don’t change our lives, even for the better, without grieving our old life. It’s healthy to grieve. It’s healthy to feel. It’s healthy to spend time alone. It’s healthy for it to take as long as it takes. And it’s healthy to unpack and process in our own individual ways.
5. People can only ever meet you at their level of understanding and awareness.
How many times are we hurt or upset by another’s words or actions? See, we expect that everyone perceives things the same way we do. We think that people will show compassion and kindness in the same way as us, and when they don’t, we feel hurt. Some people lack self-awareness, and because of their own wounding and trauma have closed their minds off and project.
Instead of accepting someone different, they judge them. Instead of being authentic, they wear a mask. Instead of working on themselves, they search for external happiness. Some people will always lack the ability to understand another’s views because the truth is they don’t understand or truly accept themselves.
6. Honour yourself and what’s important to you.
Sometimes we are afraid to look inside and really honour ourselves. How we feel. What’s important to us. Because we fear the opinions and judgements of others. After my mum died and my granddaughter was born, I put building my counselling business and writing my books on hold. I needed to direct my energy to my family and my healing. Some people could not understand this, as I didn’t have an income coming in and “isn’t keeping busy better to get over things.”
We are so conditioned to focus on work and money that we forget ourselves and what we need. I chose to sit with my feelings and take the time I needed to begin the healing process. I chose to support my family through their grief and my daughter and her partner with my new baby granddaughter. I chose to begin writing as a cathartic tool to help me move through everything I felt. I chose to honour myself and what at the time was most important to me.
7. Self-belief is critical.
There have been times over the past few years, in particular, where I lost all my self-belief. I didn’t trust I could make the best decisions for myself or that I could be anything different or more than I was. I sat in my little comfort zone, holding on for dear life because I was terrified. Then something happened, without realising it, I took a step outside that comfort zone. I started to make big decisions by myself, for myself, and set myself little challenges of self-trust. Each time I followed through on something I promised myself, my self-belief grew.
Over a period of a few years, I ended a long-term marriage and moved to a completely new area, alone. I navigated a relationship that taught me huge lessons and showed me incredible passion, and when that ended, I grieved both that relationship and the end of my marriage. I studied and completed my masters. I began writing, a passion I had long forgotten. I started my own business and accepted that retrenchment. It’s taught me self-reliance and self-belief. Sometimes it waivers and that pushes me to dig deeper and find out what limiting beliefs I still hold. My self-belief is what has gotten me to this space.
8. Remove yourself from any space not conducive to your happiness.
It’s true happiness comes from within; however, we need to be in an environment conducive to happiness, and when that’s no longer the case, we need to be brave enough to leave. Yes, there are people who will judge you and suggest you are selfish, putting your happiness above others. My response is, if I’m unhappy, it will effect all those in my life. We can be inauthentic and live a lie, but what’s that doing to us long-term and those close to us? There’s enough inauthenticity and toxic positivity in this world and we should be teaching our children vulnerability, courage, and how to be true to how they feel. Staying in places where we feel stuck and unhappy is unhealthy for ourselves and everyone in our life.
9. Stop chasing things externally that can be found internally.
We’ve all been guilty of this. We think more money or success will make our lives better. We think being in a relationship or a different relationship will make us happier. We think a bigger house, newer car, designer labels, and that new handbag will cheer us up. Always searching and chasing something else, because while we are searching and chasing, we never actually have to deal with how we feel. We never have to see our truth. We never have to address the voids in our life because we always find a temporary filler.
The truth is these things will not change or fill our voids long-term, and nobody else can do it for us. We need to dig deep and find out what’s missing within us. What unhealthy beliefs are we hanging onto? What do we need to do to fill ourselves? We’ll never find or catch what we need externally when what we are lacking is internal.
10. Believe the energy.
The energy tells us everything we need to know. The energy of someone will enter the room before they do. Our energy will be drawn to another’s energy without us consciously knowing. Energy will trigger our intuition, and too many of us ignore what it’s trying to tell us. We are too conditioned to listen to someone’s words and look at their actions, but often it’s the energy that will give us all the clues and information we need, yet we dismiss it because they’ve said or done “the right thing.”
Our energy emits, and our vibration will either be high because we feel abundant, confident, love ourselves, and have the ability to fill our own cup, or it will be low because we feel lack, we search externally for happiness, we are insecure, and we don’t know how to love ourselves. We will attract like energy to us, meaning what we send out, we will get back. Trust the energy; it doesn’t lie.
11. Show up for yourself.
Show up as your most authentic self for yourself. Why are we so scared to see our truth, speak our truth, and live our truth? If we can’t be honest with ourselves, we can’t be honest with anyone else. We all have versions of ourselves, but showing up for ourselves authentically is key if we’re ever going to live the truth of our soul. When we are able to show up for ourselves, we can show up for those who matter to us.
12. Society’s conditioning and judgement does not have to be yours.
We are surrounded by archaic conditioning that is ruining our relationships, children, ourselves, and to some degree, society as a whole. Steeped in generational trauma due to unhealthy and limiting beliefs. But people are opening their eyes, learning and growing, and starting to understand themselves and what they need to heal and change. We don’t need to follow the narrative we are told about how relationships should be. How children should be raised. How we should live our lives and what determines happiness and success. We need to question and learn. The “when I grew up,” the “it didn’t hurt me,” the “when will you settle down?” the “this is how it’s always been done,” and all the other things that are said need to be questioned. Is this actually right for you and your life? Your family? Change can only happen when we stop blindly following the past because what “was always done” is not necessarily right, nor is it healthy.
So 2022 was a year that will stand out with some of the highest highs and the lowest lows. A year that was bittersweet in so many ways. And a year I want to desperately say goodbye to and hold it tenderly for a little while longer at the same time. A year that showed me my guts, grace, and gratitude at every turn.
So what can we expect from 2023?
I have absolutely no idea of the external events that will take place, but I do know that I’ll face them with guts, grace, gratitude, courage, humility, and a heavy dose of self-belief. I will step up onto the ledge once more and dive into a new abyss as I officially launch my business and finish my books. I will trust I am exactly where I need to be.
I know my journey of grief will continue, and as I watch my beautiful granddaughter grow every day, I will take time to remember my mum and mourn the loss of my biggest supporter and fan. I will choose every day to speak my truth, feel what needs to be felt, and follow my soul. And like I once said, a life without authenticity, truth, passion, and soul really isn’t a life at all.
I walk into 2023 with courage, humility, and self-belief.