Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 In Review ... & ... 2016 Goals

2015 was a hard year.  On the global scale, we faced Greece defaulting on its debt, the Paris bombings, China's stock market crash, and of course the Syrian refugee crisis.  Nationally we experienced turmoil as well. There were droughts, mass shootings, and church bombings.  The SCOTUS decision on same sex marriage and the #blacklivesmatter movement sparked controversy and debate nationwide.  Within the church, we saw sexual abuse cover ups, church discipline of victims, and organizations fleecing money from their members.  2015 was a year of turmoil, when as a nation we collectively reeled from one shock wave after another, often not having time to even recover in between them.

For me, personally, it was  hard year as well.  I started it in therapy, seeking to understand and make sense of the events in my past.  There was online drama, when the leader of an online support group I was in turned out to be a self promoting opportunist who took people's money in exchange for a 'safe' space which really wasn't safe at all.  There was also drama closer to home.  I realized that someone very close to me is a narcissist, and the implications of that are still making it difficult for me to breathe when I think about them.  In fact, if I were to dub 2015 anything, I'd call it the Year of the Narcissist, because this is the year I saw very clearly the narcissist(s) in my life, and identified my reaction to them and their impact on me.  This is probably because of how I started the year - through therapy, I finally got perspective on my life.  I think that as I got healthy, I began to more clearly see the dysfunctional dynamics of relationships I have been a part of for years, and in some cases, for my entire life.

So.  Like many on my Facebook timeline, I am limping out of 2015, glad to face a shiny new year, a year whose pages are unwritten and is therefore resplendent with possibility.  I know that in 2016, things will happen that are out of my control.  I cannot determine to have a drama free or completely peaceful and restful year - that's just not how life works.  But, I can determine to, as my yoga instructor does at the beginning of each class, set an intention, an intention that will guide me and which I can come back to when life's shock waves come.

My intention for 2016:  Kindness

Kindness toward myself.

  • This means being intentional about self care strategies I have collected.  Yoga helps tremendously to heal my body (I have degenerative discs from all the physical labor on the island), and also to center my mind, enabling me to let go of things that don't serve me and live in the moment.  Self care also means (and this is going to sound silly to a lot of you but it's TRUE) to make sure I tend to my physical needs like bathing and going to the bathroom.  I will sometimes wait for an hour to use the restroom, even when it's in the next room.  This is, I think, a holdover from having to use the ocean as a toilet growing up, but regardless of the reason ... self care means using it when I need to go!  
  • Being kind to myself also means advocating for myself, and not serving as the shame eater or the Holder Of All Negativity in a relationship.  
  • Being kind to myself means telling myself, "Girl, you are enough."  It means giving myself the same latitude and love that I give others.  It means allowing myself to have needs.
Kindness toward my family.
  • Scott and I push ourselves hard.  Neither of us are that good at taking care of ourselves, which means when we push hard, our kids have to go along for the ride. This is not fair to them.  This year I want to keep our little family unit in the forefront of my focus, so that when the shock waves of life come, here in this house we have calm.  
  • Being kind to my family also means being intentional about family time.  I want to take day trips to the mountains.  I want to cut paper snowflakes and tape them on the windows. I want to have Minecraft marathons. 
  • Being kind to my family means stepping out of 'survival mode' and living in each moment to its fullness, with them.
Kindness toward the world
  • I'm not really sure quite yet how to balance this with healthy boundaries.  I have tended in the past to give all of myself when I saw a need.  This came to the detriment of myself, and my family.  I simply don't have the time or energy to give myself to every person who wants / needs a piece of me. So I think, this year, being kind to the 'world' will mean being aware of those around me who have needs, while also being aware of my personal boundaries, and giving when I can.
  • Being kind to the world also means not narrowly defining the people around me.  My therapist pointed out to me that I tend to use labels.  A lot.  In fact, I did it at the beginning of this post.  Labeling helps me because it clarifies to me what I'm seeing.  It enables me to define behavior patterns and predict future behaviors.  It helps me to counteract the gaslighting, especially when interacting with narcissists.  However, labeling also is dangerous because it limits my perspective on a person.  It narrowly defines the person ONLY as that label, and ignores the nuance that is humanity.  So, this year, kindness towards the world means being mindful of people's experiences and perceptions, it means taking into account the whole person, instead of seeing them through a black and white, right and wrong, fundamentalist lens.