One of my two friends who lost her partner told me a while ago that she’d been thinking of the six-month mark as some sort of milestone. Once you hit six months, it’s supposed to get easier, right? The disaster that shattered your life will start to feel far away. Those days when you wake up, not yet fully aware, and try to turn toward him, finding, instead, an empty pillow—they’ll stop. The constant awareness that your life has, without your permission, changed trajectory completely, will fade. Time is supposed to heal us, right?
And so it was a devastating blow to her to realize that those things were still very much present when she woke up the morning after the six-month anniversary. And the morning after that.
I felt similarly about my 30th birthday. It was a milestone I’d been looking forward to for years. When I imagined 30, I imagined all the hard things about being in my twenties simply melting away.
I imagined that my business would be several years old, established, and not requiring all my time.
I imagined that my battles with depression would be 100% managed.
And most of all, I definitely did not imagine that I would be alone.
I guess that’s the thing about being human.
We like to pin our hopes on something.
We like certainty and understanding and expiration dates and for everything that have its reasons.
But life isn’t like that. It isn’t pass-fail. It doesn’t have exact timeframes for loss or change or struggle. Sometimes grief or pain or even shame sneak up on us. Sometimes they refuse to leave. Sometimes they last and last and last until we find ourselves curled into a corner fighting off a panic attack.
Instead, healing is a process without a timeframe. It is the proverbial two steps forward, one step back (and sometimes four steps back). Perhaps life does push us forward; time does heal us. Joy is never lost forever. Things do change.
But our timelines are all deeply personal and very different.
As 2014 fades in the rearview mirror and 2015 unfolds, with it comes the realization that each day is just another day. A new day with infinite possibilities, maybe. But not a day that automatically brings us change. No matter how many champagne toasts, ball drops, or New Year kisses it brings.
So in case your year didn’t start like you thought it would. In case you woke up New Year’s Day and had an epic fight with your lover. In case you discovered that the cancer wasn’t gone. In case you woke up still mired in grief, depression, anxiety, fear, or pain…this post is for you.
I just wanted to say me too.