A new year begins today. The winter sun hits the glass of the patio door and fills the room with light and warmth. My feet are extended into the rays of sunshine spreading across the carpet. I wiggle my toes, feeling them warmed in the filtered winter sunlight. The remainder of my second cup of coffee has grown cold; I continue to sip it, content with the exceptional flavor which is undiminished by the cooling. I am smiling.

New beginnings are quite variable, every experience, each perspective, just a bit different from another. I am not the woman I was on the first day of 2015. That woman was stressed to a breaking point, yet again, mistreated in one relationship, insecure in another, restlessly contemplating where a third might take her, given the difficult circumstances generally.

The path ahead wasn't obvious sometimes.

The path ahead wasn’t obvious.

It was a complicated year. An abusive relationship was creating roadblocks to progress in therapy through behaviors that seemed willful or deliberate at times – it would prove irrelevant whether they were deliberate; the outcome was damaging. The future of my relationship with my traveling partner seemed insecure, and despair crept into my experience a number of times. I felt frustrated, held back, and uncertain where my path would lead me, but committed to continuing the journey. I continued to practice new practices that were definitely doing good things for my resilience, improving my ability to maintain a neutral, honest, and healthy perspective, and helping me manage stress. I wasn’t sure it would be enough to thrive on…and I wasn’t sure that the positive changes I could see developing would be enough, soon enough, to hold on to what I valued most in life – or love.

When 2015 began, I was struggling with attachment, afraid to let go and just be. I struggled with blaming myself for things going on that weren’t about me at all, and I struggled with feeling responsible for making a relationship work, in which it had become clear the other didn’t actually want things to work and was not invested in building a functional relationship with me. Accepting that was painful (rejection hurts) and it was hard to just breathe and let it go without ‘closure’, or honest communication, or even basic civility. The pain diminished in the instant I remembered that the character and behavior of that other human being is no reflection on me whatsoever; she is her own human being, and all the consequences of her choices are entirely her own (as mine belong entirely to me).  That was an important lesson and turning point.

It has been a year full of important lessons in taking care of myself, in emotional self-sufficiency, and in learning to love well, and without unhealthy attachment – with the result that my relationship with my traveling partner has grown and deepened wonderfully, and I am so much more able to love well, generally, and to listen deeply. I ended the other, abusive, relationship (keeping a promise I made to myself long ago), and I declined to pursue a relationship with characteristics suggesting high risk in a number of areas of life in which I’m not inclined to compromise. I’ve stopped trying to meet needs for connection and intimacy through sex, with result that sex is improved; I have sex only in relationships in which there is already intimacy and connection. 2015 taught me a lot about who I am, and what I really need to thrive. In 2015, I learned a lot about ‘enough’, and began investing in lasting contentment, instead of chasing more/better.

2016 begins well. I could stop there. I have, a number of times already. No map. I don’t really know where this new year will take me, what I may learn, gain, or lose. I don’t know what’s up ahead on this journey, and I am feeling tranquil and unconcerned about that – making it hard to write, honestly. 🙂

Today, though, is a good one for contemplation. I will take time to consider the year-to-come, to wonder, to dream, to plan, to question – it’s the questioning that is perhaps most relevant to where I may find myself a year from today. I’ll think it over, and  make some notes; I find it helpful to look back with some context. I’ll write in my private journal, and send myself an email ‘from the past’, as I did last year – it was a special moment this morning when I got that email from myself. Being able to read my own stern warning to end an abusive relationship with the comfortable knowledge that it was done months ago was validating; I am learning to take better care of myself, and my heart.

The view of 2015 is very different from this perspective. The path ahead seems a bit more clear, now.

The view of 2016; the path ahead seems a bit more clear, now.

Today is a good day to take care of me. Today is a good day to begin again. Today is a good day to be my own cartographer, on this journey of my own making. Happy New Year! Are you ready? Let’s change the world!