Today is (thankfully) the last day that I am 32 years old and I am ending this year of my life with such absolute peace, joy and gratitude in my heart. I really am. It’s been a hell of a journey getting to this point, but in recent weeks I have suddenly realized that there’s a stillness and a peace in my mind and in my heart that I’m not familiar with, that can only be explained as a divine gift–and I’m elated to begin a new chapter, a new year in my life this way. For the first time in a long while, maybe ever, I feel like I can breathe.

32 has taught me many things about myself and about life. Here’s just a few of the things that I’ve learned this year:

Time, is the biggest and toughest one. There’s never enough. You can’t have any more. When it’s gone, you can never have it back. It’s finite, and there are no second chances–no do-overs. Along with time, however I’m learning more about forgiveness. We all know to forgive others, but this year I had to learn to forgive myself. I’ve been notoriously terrible at hiding behind busyness and not being intentional at making time for the people and things that truly should have come first in my life and it took the events of this year to give me the biggest wake up call of my life and make me realize that these years are flying by, and there are precious moments that I’m missing that I will never get back. I’ve been much more intentional about my time lately–and I’ve had to stop beating myself up about the past. Forgiving yourself is critical to moving forward.

Then, there is the truth. Which, although it can sometimes really (REALLY) suck…the truth will, indeed, set you free–just like the Bible says. There are things that I needed to learn about myself this year that I didn’t like very much initially but have helped me grow. For example, I’m a hardcore control freak which can manifest itself in crazy nitpicky and naggy behaviors as well as yelling and generally being mean to those closest to me when I’m super stressed–and for no good reason. Mostly, because I have huge issues with anxiety and didn’t have good coping mechanisms in place. I’m a work in progress, but things have improved. In losing my own mom, this year I realized how important having a good and stable mom is, and I really had to acknowledge that I haven’t been a part of my oldest child’s life at all since he was very young (and only minimally back then) and give his dad and stepmother the credit they deserve–and I’ve intentionally become a more attentive, more involved and better mom to my two younger kiddos as a result of mistakes made and missed opportunities with my oldest child. The truth is, I needed help with managing my stress and anxiety, I’ve had to let go of control and I’ve been a less than perfect and often selfish mother. I’m thankful to have had the chance to learn and work on these things.

Next, Codependency…ah, the topic of codependency. Codependency is generally defined as, “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction.” Codependent relationships can take many forms, and have, in my life. In my personal life, from childhood, codependent behaviors were ingrained in who I grew to become due to my mom’s mental illness issues–I grew up feeling the need to take care of her and keep her happy, to make her proud and not upset her in any way. Certain aspects of my codependent traits are a part of my personality and they’re not ALL bad–wanting to make people laugh and be happy, helping others, being concerned about others’ well-being. Being a Nurse, my career is built around helping and “fixing” others. It is what I love, what I feel is my calling, and what supports my family. The issue is that subconsciously, codependency crept into my romantic relationships throughout the years and presented itself most vividly in my relationship that ended this year, leaving me in a state of utter depletion financially, emotionally, mentally etc. I’ve come to learn through a combination of studying the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (my former fiance is an alcoholic/addict) as well as my own journey through Celebrate Recovery that I have struggles and victories with Codependency and enabling behaviors. Thankfully, this year I’ve learned the steps, listened to speakers and their stories, spoken and listened in groups and done a whole lot of work on myself to get to the root of some of my thought processes and behavior patterns. I will likely always battle some degree of codependent thought patterns, but it doesn’t have to have such a big part in my life if I do the work, and I’m so thankful that it’s come to the forefront this year. Maybe someday when I’m ready I will be able to have a healthy relationship.

Lastly, I’ve learned that when you go through tragic and truly life altering circumstances, when you truly surrender your heart and life to Jesus–open your hands, and drop to your knees in surrender and admit that you can’t handle it anymore…. He will step in and lead you through it. Be prepared though, because you will change. I’m still me, but things look different now. Things feel different now. Things are processed emotionally and mentally differently now. At the risk of sounding trite, He has taken my mess and turned it into my message. He has taken some of the most soul crushing loss and pain and stress and devestation and turned it into peace. I truly praise no other name but Jesus for this past year and give Him alone the glory for every victory, for every day I was able to wake up and move forward, for every choice I was able to make correctly, for every single moment that I was able to hold it together when everything inside was falling apart–it was all Him. It’s still all Him. And I see Him in my amazing (did I say AMAZING?!) friends and family and colleagues and loved ones near and far who were there day in and day out through crying spells and yelling spells and mood swings and innapropriate humor and silence…and who just listened. Or sat with me and didn’t talk. I’m such a blessed gal.

Is there still some pain? Yes.

Unfortunately, the presence of joy and calm doesn’t negate the pain. I will always feel the ache of my mom’s absence in my life. Many days, I’m okay….but I miss her terribly at times like now, knowing that she won’t be calling me at midnight for the first birthday in my adult life. She was everything to me, and I will honor her memory with everything I do and know that I make her proud. As far as W goes, I pray for him every day…that he’s clean/sober, that he’s happy and successful and that he’s laughing that great laugh of his and having fun in life the way we used to do before life got so messed up for us. If he’s reading this, I want him to know that I will always love him, his cats are super snuggly and happy and well cared for and that if I ever have a chance, I have a 9th step for him.

Please join me in welcoming the next year of my life. I eagerly anticipate the lessons and blessings that 33 brings for me. Thanks for reading and God Bless you all!

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