My mother-in-law has always embraced the theory that whenever you are going through any sort of mental anguish that you can't quite pin down, it's because you're psychically living out some sort of anniversary. Say, the death of a loved one or the day you lost a job, or the month a relationship ended. She believes that you can't really compartmentalize things, that some sort of energy from past pain will always rear it's ugly head at some point, often when you least expect it.
Wise lady, huh?
So, seeing that a shitty anniversary of my own is just around the corner, I've approached early 2017 with kid gloves, asking that I be spared the worst of it if I keep my head down and not question anything. But that's not really how life works, is it?
So, I'll just come out and say it: 10 years ago my husband was diagnosed with cancer and both of us went through the darkest period of our lives. 2007 was one year we'd gladly erase from the history books. We'd been dating for a little less than a year at that point and had no idea what lay ahead. He was stoic in his pain - perhaps he had to be - as it was literally his life on the line, not mine. I completely fell apart, my already precarious state of mental health unraveling even further.
I don't know how we did it, but we got through it. With that fact in mind, some would say that this year should be a year of blessings and celebrations, a milestone of having come out of the worst of it together, intact. But, who's to say we ever really come out of anything truly intact?
As I've continued to have small lapses in my mental health over the years, it's clear to me that one thing from that horrible time in our lives has never left me; which is the feeling that everything that I hold near and dear to me can be swept away in a second. It's a reality that every single human being faces, every minute of the day.
But, as someone who finds uncertainty intolerable, the mere idea that the things I love can be taken away seems to stalk me everywhere I go. It sucks the blood out of the moments that I should be enjoying. It takes the relaxation out of the simplest things, because, I am always on the lookout for the disaster in the distance. My obsessive mind tells me that in order to be safe, I need to solve the unsolvable, become untouchable. Make my life so safe that nothing can harm me or those around me. My rational mind knows that this is an impossible task.
So what can I do other than move forward? Saying to myself, "I was vulnerable back then and I will be vulnerable again. Things will happen to me that I might feel will destroy me. I choose to open myself up to this vulnerability, because resisting it will only make it all the more daunting."
Perhaps, for all of us, there will be moments where we feel that we've lost our center and need to make our way back again, but not before we feel out the edges of our fear, become familiar with the most terrifying and threatening bits of our psyche.
In February, my husband and I will be going on our honeymoon in the Canary Islands. We will be hiking around volcanoes and past landslides. It will be the first time that we travel together. A moment to pause and admire the unfamiliar, to be brave and adventurous and most of all, to have fun!
I want to look out at the sea and raise a glass to shitty anniversaries. To know that although some of them still haunt us when we are tired and weary, they haven't made us less curious about the road ahead or less willing to face it together. I want the water to know that even if it were to rise up and meet us unexpectedly, we'd greet it holding hands.
Ready as we'll ever be.