You will have to forgive me for being somewhat vague about what has happened, it's just not something I can share details about. In March, a family crisis started. It escalated to the point that for months I pretty much stopped doing anything positive for myself. Anything I needed fell by the wayside, and my only focus was surviving it all. At one point, I could barely eat and I lost weight as a result (I'm a stress-eater, so this is a rare thing.)
Sleeping, gone. Eating right (or at all some days), gone. Exercise, gone. Art, gone. Anything positive for myself, absolutely out of the question.
Part of this was an inability to focus correctly in the middle of the storm, because nothing matters at that moment. Not only did nothing else matter, but denying myself my own basic needs was almost like punishing myself. I wanted to punish myself, to be cruel in any way I could think of. It's not that I did anything wrong, it was that the whole situation wasn't anyone's fault... so it felt good to take my frustration out on the only person I could: me. I made it my fault, even if I knew it wasn't.
I don't handle being helpless very well, clearly. I also don't handle my world being flipped inside out with any real grace. I've spent more time crying in the shower or my closet than I will freely admit. But I will say it's amazing how just the right spot in your closet can feel like a safe haven.
Things are still not OK here, although they have improved since this past Spring and Summer, but they're slated to get a bit worse in the coming months... with hopefully some sunshine at the end of a long tunnel (but we have been promised that before.)
I have put together my yearly painting quilt for 2017:
I did very few serious paintings. Most of these are little "daily" paintings I finally started to work on in the Autumn. If I hadn't, there would only be about five paintings or so in it. Considering most of these are dailies, there are even fewer paintings than there should be overall if I was committed even to that.
2017 was about teaching me that I have no real control. Bad things happen, even when you had nothing to do with it. Bad things happen, even though you try to stop or fix things. Bad things happen, and it's not about fair. What happened in 2017 wasn't my fault, but I still had to deal with the fall-out. I realized that control and influence are an illusion, and that made me care little about anything outside of my family. I put my own needs outside of that circle as well.
What I have learned, not heard and acknowledged, but actually learned, is that I have to stop making myself LESS. When I put my wants to the side, that's fine, because the world doesn't revolve around me and people should learn to do that more often. However, when I put my NEEDS aside, it makes me less of a person. If I am less of a person, I am not capable of doing the job I need to do for those that I care about. By being less, I am offering less to those that need me.
I need to start being MORE.
When you are so busy surviving and taking your frustrations out on yourself, it's hard to stop that momentum and think about being good to yourself for a change. Kindness to yourself is hard. It's much easier to keep beating myself up because I can't take out my angst on anyone else, as that would be unfair. It is even daunting to maybe - maybe - consider the idea that I'm deserving of being treated better, just like everyone else.
It feels wrong, but I know it's the right thing to do. So, I'm trying to get myself back on the right path. I do not expect that 2018 will be a good year, but maybe I can be in a better place by the end of it.
So, here is my list. My resolutions, I suppose:
* Eat right, because it's not about weight anymore, my health is a problem now too.
* Exercise, because I am always better when I do. Also, health and pain benefits, so it's non-negotiable.
* Sleep, I'm really trying to manage this one but I don't have a lot of great strategies yet. Not eating after 6pm or 7pm helps me sleep better. I'm taking melatonin as well, but it's the anxiety that is ruining my sleep. As that anxiety is actually rooted to when something actually happens, there isn't a lot I can do about it.
* Art/Career, I'm making it a real point to make it into my studio in 2018. Today will be the first day of painting for 2018, because already life got in the way this new year (although I did get my business taxes filed, so... whatever, the boring stuff counts too!) I also know that I am now searching for my "opus". For me, I want to create a large series that will be well worth leaving behind me when I am gone. So, I am searching for that idea that inspires that in me. Once I have it, I will "train" towards it, until I'm ready to start. This is a years-long journey, but it's worth it. I have purpose again beyond the commissions and gallery shows. More on this later.
* Breath, I'm trying really hard to give myself time to breath (I hate yoga and meditation, it actually makes me angry... running is my zen. I'm that type. So, that's not what I mean.) I'm working on speaking to myself -on the inside- in the moment about how it's not all my responsibility and I cannot fix everything, and how that is OK even if it feels like it's not. It's the closest I can get to treating myself with kindness, beyond meeting my own basic needs right now.
My hope is that from these five things, I can grow other beneficial behaviors and results. This is my base I'm cobbling back together, and I am hopeful to see what I can build on top of it once it is stable.
I'm going to really try to make 2018 better than 2017 was. I'm fearful, because 2017 was so bad, but it's just one of those things, isn't it? The days will pass whether I want them to or not, at their own speed. It is good to meet tomorrow better than I did today, and next month better than this month, so that maybe - just maybe - I'll meet 2019 in a completely different place.