2022: The Year That I Couldn’t Do It, until I Did It
2022 being over allows me to reflect on who I was during the year and before it. I keep quoting 2022 as the worst year of my life. I don’t think I’ve experienced the worst year of my life yet, truly. But I think 2022 was one that forced me to spend a lot of time in my least favorite place- my head.
I have this tendency to not heal from things. For instance, I cried right when my dad died, and then never again. I told my mom, “My dad is dead,” and then asked her if she was okay before walking back inside. I’ve always been too busy to stop and feel things. Even when I’m not by the book “busy” I’m scheduling an hour to read or to try to evenly apply fake tan to my back (I never do a good job). Every time I’ve attempted to heal, there’s always been something a little more important than crying. I’ve always considered myself as strong. I’ve always had mixed feelings toward people who couldn’t pull themselves together. Karma tested me against that in 2022.
It took me until 2022 to realize what it meant to heal. Putting a bandaid over everything wasn’t healing. Healing isn’t just putting Neosporin on a cut, it can also be 6 weeks in the ICU. My old coping mechanisms didn’t work for me anymore in 2022. It wasn’t as simple as free vodka sodas, condensing my diet to 900 calories a day, or trying my hardest to be mean in a “hot” way. It wasn’t until the end of October that I felt myself beginning to heal. Healing didn’t feel good, it didn’t feel like what I thought it’d feel like. I thought it’d feel like not caring, it doesn’t. It feels like not fitting into the places you used to. It felt really isolating and confusing.
PART OF THE PROCESS
Between the crystals, reiki, and the bangs, I really have been doing better. It’s been a really tedious and tricky process. I wouldn’t consider myself fully healed, but I’m definitely not like...bleeding out on top of a pile of burning glass shards anymore. I’m not hopeless. I’m not convinced that this is the rest of my life. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know how I did it or what journal prompt broke me, but I had a revelation along the lines of, “wouldn’t it be nice to not care if I’m getting a text back?”
I’ve pretty much always been single. But I’ve never not been treating life like a catalog of who my next male obsession would be. At this point in time, I just want peace, no matter how loud everything actually is. I just want to be in control of every feeling I have. I don’t want to depend on the validation of someone that I’m not even sure that I like and their willingness to say something that drains the absolute life out of me. I want to make myself happy, by myself. I realized how many jokes I missed because I was checking my phone. I saw how many times I zoned out because I started thinking about how I don't like my arms in tank tops. I knew how lonely, insecure, and sad of me it’d be to not give myself the time alone that I desperately needed. I like myself a lot. I think that I’m interesting and that I say funny things. I think that I’m really good at my job. I know the capacity to love isn’t a weakness, and it was always in me. I decided that 2023 would be the year that I had to put that love that I was begging to give to someone else into myself, I needed it more than anyone I knew.
In 2022, I realized that it was no longer about finding my old self. At nearly 24, I will no longer fit into the shoes I wore at 21. Both metaphorically and literally. I wore the shoes that I wore at 21 to death. There was a hole in both of the big toes by the time I finally slid them under a bed. They’re not thrown away, they’re just under a bed. Maybe that’s also a metaphor for how I’ve been dealing with things my whole life. The shoes have holes in the toes, bloodstains on the ankles from when they gave me blisters, and the remanence of about a thousand times when someone bumped into me at a bar and spilled a red drink on my white shoes.
And I’m keeping them. Not because I’ll ever wear them again, or because they were expensive - they weren’t. I guess it’s just that they were my favorite shoes. I finished my last college class in them, went on a lot of beach trips in them, walked home with my college roommates in them, slid them off to work my stupid college job, you get the point. It’s not what they are, I guess it’s what they were. That’s kind of how I feel about my old self and how I’ve been dealing with things that hurt me. Who I was before has been worn to death, with holes, stains, and all. I can’t hold onto her, I can’t stick her under a bed just to remember she was there. That part of me has to go.
But like the shoes, I miss my old self. When you find your favorite shoes, it’s hard to replicate them. They were just canvas platform sneakers from H&M. I bought a pair of Adidas that were similar when I stuck the other ones under the bed. They’re more expensive and better quality, but I miss the old ones.
And I miss the person I was when I wore them. The naivety that I abided by cost me no emotional baggage. There’s something that Taylor Swift says in the behind-the-scenes of the All Too Well music video about the character that’s representing the main character, 10 years older. She says, “There’s a stillness, and a stoicism, and a seriousness to her - a stillness but a sadness. She’s fine, but she’s not who we met.”
THE OLD ALLISON CAN’T COME TO THE PHONE RIGHT NOW
I can’t be her again, which makes me sad and grateful at the same time. While I’d love to view the world through a pair of rose-tinted glasses 24/7, not check my bank account, and say things I don’t mean to people I don’t like, I just can’t. I don’t ever want to be in that headspace again. At the time, I moved sort of in the way that a feral raccoon does. I was mean, but I was more afraid of being the prey than I was interested in being the predator.
But I don’t ever want to be insecure to the point that I yell at strangers, or shut down mentally when someone asks me how I’m doing. I don’t want to experience the summer I spent inside and asleep ever again. 2022 taught me how to mourn myself. It taught me how to delete the photos and move on.
I’m healing. I see it now. I don’t look into my future and see a huge grey area. I don’t get sad when I think about my future. I remember telling my therapist that I didn’t think I’d ever heal, I felt like I’d pile 2022 on with my list of grudges and resentments. I had a list of people I wanted apologies from, and I was unwilling to accept that I wasn’t going to get them. By the end of the year, I was more motivated by apologizing to myself and moving on. I learned to delete the photos, stand up for myself when needed, and say yes more. You can’t just bandage up huge wounds. It’s not that easy. I wish it was. I wish I could tell you it takes two weeks to get better. I can’t say that. But I can say that you’ll feel little pieces of healing in small doses and then all at once.
2022 was the worst year I've had thus far, and I’m turning it into the best thing that ever happened to me. Here’s to 2023.