Four years ago on New Year’s Eve, I moved into my new home. My ex-husband and I had separated five months before but had continued to live in the same house up until then as I looked for work and we tried to figure out how to do this whole thing (yep, lived in the same house as my ex for five months…good times). I found a place on Kijiji – a three bedroom house, the main floor of one side of a duplex – and as soon as I saw the ad, I knew it was the right place for the girls and I. I got the keys and began moving my things in on December 31st, 2012.
It was a difficult night but a good one. An important one, and it was so appropriate that I was beginning my new life with a new year. I took my wedding ring off at exactly midnight because I’m dramatic like that sometimes (Drama? I have a degree in it!). I vowed to myself that I would move forward and find my way and be strong.
Tonight, my plans got cancelled and I find myself home alone again on New Year’s Eve. But this time, it feels different. Four years ago, I was lonely. Tonight, I’m just alone, and happily so. Four years ago, I was terrified. Now, I have my fears but I am brave. I have made it this far and I’m still standing and sometimes, I even dance. Four years ago, I didn’t know who I was and I felt I couldn’t be whole on my own. Tonight, I am in the company of someone I love to be with, someone I have come to know and finally care for: Myself.
I know now that I am a good person. I know that I am stronger and more capable than I ever expected and than was probably ever expected of me. I know that I am a goofball and any man who doesn’t find me funny is not the man for me. I know that I am my favourite and truest self when my sister is home with me and we are laughing. I know I will beat you at Scrabble unless you’re my mother. I know my daughters think I hung the moon and I know that I am deserving of that love and honour.
I know that I can be alone on New Year’s Eve in my bed with my wine and my early 90s hip hop and my comfy leggings and I can be perfectly happy.
My counsellor often says to me, “And do you give yourself credit for that?” I have a tendency to view progress in my life as an act of fate, as the result of some good fortune and not, in fact, as a result of the hard work I have put into enacting the changes that have made that progress possible. I look back at these last four years and it could be said that not much has changed. I am in the same rented home. I have fewer dollars in my bank account and am in fact making less money than I was then. I am still single. But these are not failures. I have made a home for my children where they are warm and loved, a place I am always happy to come home to. And if my furnace breaks down, someone comes to fix it with no cost to me. That’s not too shabby. I left the job that paid well but was costing me my mental health, and I’m now in a job that doesn’t give me a lot in my bank account, but gives me confidence and a feeling that I’m doing something important. I’d still like to find love, but I no longer need to. There’s enough love in this home to last me a lifetime and alone is not lonely. Alone is dancing in your favourite dress lip synching to Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do It” and no man can make me feel better than that.
Four years, and sometimes the pain of it all is a breath away and sometimes the memories are like the scenes of a movie I saw once and can barely remember. The fact is that a lot has changed. I’m not the same person I was then. I am the woman excavated from her. Under all that fear and doubt was this woman who I am proud to be. Flawed and at times still flailing. Imperfect and at times beautifully impolite. But fierce and loving and talented and busting her ass to make this short life a good one.
2017. We’re properly in the 21st century now, kids. It’s the 21st century so let’s live like we understand how amazing that is. This is the future. We’ve made it. And we can make this year whatever we want it to be.
Four years from now, I hope I am as happy as I am tonight, whatever happiness is to me then. Whether I’m full to the brim after a year of incredible experiences with my daughters, or because of a job I love, or because I’ve written something that feels like the gorgeous truth, or because I’m in a relationship that celebrates the best of who we are together and alone. Or simply because I have a pretty dress to wear and Montell Jordan to play on my iPhone.
I wish you and yours this kind of happiness, too. Turn up the music and dance and celebrate how far you’ve come and the amazing things awaiting you. Happy New Year, dear friends. Here's to a great one.