The alarm on my phone rang, and I reached across the bedside table. I gripped the phone lazily and fumbled around until I found the correct button to turn it off. I had been awake for over an hour, but couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed. I sighed. I grabbed a box of tissues and sat up and blew my nose. I could feel my sinuses were swollen, and I hacked up a cough. A plastic bag sat next to my bed, filled with tissues from the night before. I stuffed the tissues into the bag and laid back down.
It was January 1, 2023.
As I laid still on my bed, I looked out my window. Sunlight trickled across my bed and throughout my room. I closed my eyes and wished I could fall asleep. A desire to sleep the rest of the day was overpowering. I coughed some more and blew my nose again.
Throughout 2022, I focused on healing. I went to therapy to deal with anxiety, depression, and trauma. I work out and I stepped up my running. I believed I was on the right track and my 5-year plan of stepping into the rest of my life was looking prosperous. Just when things were looking up and up, the end of 2023 shook up everything I’ve been working on.
First, I lost two friends in one week after Thanksgiving. One from suicide and another from complications after a surgery. They both caused great guilt. Not that there was anything I could have done. Even so, I felt guilty. A variety of crisis hit my life; personally and spiritually. Chaos erupted inside of me. Also, physically, I was a mess. At the beginning of December, I caught bronchitis. A week later, I contracted Covid. Add to that, a bad back.
I was also coming down from a high. For Christmas, my family and extended family went on a cruise during the holiday. It was nice to be with extended family and visit with those I love that I only see once or twice a year. We arrived home on the 30th.
And there I was, curled up under blankets with an exposed head on my pillow. Staring out the window. A fury of emotions bellowing inside my body that was tired, had a cold, and depressed.
I let my family know that I was not feeling up to going to church that day. The house was quiet except for the occasional pitter patter and knocking down of objects from my over-active cat. I wiped my eyes, blew my nose some more, and continued to stare out the window. I saw little hope for 2023.
When people I know are going through a rough time, I refrain from telling them, “It’s going to be okay.” I don’t like saying that because there’s really no way of knowing if things are going to be okay. That statement isn’t being honest. We say it because we want the other person to feel better. Truth is, there’s no way of knowing if things are going to be okay. We can pray, we can hope, we can try to improve our lives, but there’s no way to know for sure.
Music from a nearby church entered through my window and bounced around my walls. I prayed and longed for hope. I blew my nose again. I coughed some more. My eyes closed, and then opened, then closed, and opened again. No rest came.
Are you depressed yet?
That’s not my intent.
After a last attempt at falling back asleep, I slid my pajamaed legs off the bed. I hunched over and looked at the floor, cracking my toes. I arched my back and popped my spine and hips. I stood up and walked out of the room. Music from the church continued to make its way into my home. In the kitchen, I ground coffee and turned on the coffee pot. I watched the coffee maker drip. From there, I made a little breakfast and sat alone at my table. I could still hear the music.
Throughout the day, I went about life. We ate pork and sauerkraut as a family, played games, watched TV, and I cleaned. All along, my mind bounced back and forth from the present to feeling hopeless. Soon, the day was over and I put my kids to bed.
At the end of January 1, I was back in bed, staring out the window. There was no light trickling through. No music was being played. I was alone again with my thoughts.
And then, January 2nd rolled around.
Then January 3rd.
Problems were still there. Feeling of hopelessness came and went. Then came. Then went. Then…
Will 2023 be okay? Nobody knows for sure. The only way to really know is to get through it. 2023 has the potential to be great. It also has the potential to really suck. The best way for me to get through it is to focus on the potential. Not to dwell on all the things that could go wrong. And to be consistent. Be busy. Be active. The longer I’m inactive, the more time my mind can go to all the places that bring me down.
If you’re reading this, chances are you might be in the same place. The world might look daunting with upheaval at every corner. You’re not alone. Moving forward is key. When you can’t lift your head, be active. When your mind goes dark, seek help and talk to people. For me, organizing helps. When I want to stay in bed and doom scroll on my phone, I organize a closet, a shelf, or my kids’ drawers. When I’m done, I feel like I accomplished something and a space doesn’t feel chaotic. Prayer and meditation also helps. It makes me feel as though there’s a bigger picture. One that’s outside myself and my current space. My therapist is also a key part of my mental health journey. She helps me see things I’m pushing down and away that need to be addressed to move forward.
There are moments in life when everything seems bad. There are also moments when life is wonderful. 2023 will be a moment. Is a moment. And then 2024 will happen and it could be great. Then, 2025 will happen and maybe it will be good or maybe it will be bad. We don’t know. I do know that I don’t want to miss out on the potential greatness. Nor do I want to be so wrapped up in the bad now that it could blot out the good future.
My goal is to end 2023 with fortitude. I can’t predict the future. Nobody can. But I can work on myself. That way, when life sucks (and at times it probably will), I can take it head on. I don’t know if I’ll be happier at the end of the year, but with the tools I have in place, I will be stronger. There is hope in that.
And maybe, just maybe, 2023 might be glorious.