On New Year's Eve of 2012, I received an email from a friend. I was feeling unsocial, uncomfortable in my own skin, and anxious. Her message ended up becoming a mantra of sorts for my year: Wishing you Poetry and Stars.
And, looking back on the year I had in 2013, it was filled with poetry and stars, just not in the way I expected.
One thing I tried to do in 2013 was to write. And I did, almost daily. I kept a running tab, wrote entries filled with whatever I was thinking about that day. Some months I wrote every day, and other months I wrote only a few times per week. But looking back on those entries, on the music I listened to in 2013, on the mementos I kept pinned to my wall and on shelves in containers, I get to see how far I've come in the last year, how I've changed, how I've grown.
This is my sentimental reflection on 2013, a goodbye echoing out as I ready myself for a new hello.
January began with hope, the desire to be better. It began with metaphors and stories and wishful thinking, the way January usually begins. I thought a lot about redemption, about the meaning of home, and struggled with finding peace within myself.
January was a month filled with hope and the promise of new beginnings. I was blissfully happy, learning to find myself in the world.
February began with thoughts of love and the transformation into a lion hearted girl. I was still wistful, happy in a way I couldn't quite understand. By the final day in February, my world began to crack. I didn't know then it was in preparation for the break that would upend my life.
March was grief, and brokenness. It was falling to the floor screaming and standing beside a grave with no explanation, only anguish. It was everything I didn't know how to understand, and everything I never wanted to have to learn. It was discovering the meaning of strength, daily. It was a time when my heart was broken, shattered into a million pieces I didn't know how to fix.
Looking back, I barely remember April. The days seem to run together, one moment fading into the next, none of them feeling real. I was still broken. I craved darkness, silence, solitude. I was restless, and angry. I tried to write through my pain, most of the words leaving my body bereft, inconsolable, and fierce. I watched too much television in an attempt to ignore the world that miraculously kept turning in despite of my brokenness.
May felt like another round of bad luck, like the blackness had swallowed me whole. The wound I had been trying to heal in April felt split open again, and I was bleeding all over the floor. I cried more in the first part of May then I remember doing before: in a parking lot, on the kitchen floor, in a doctor's office where suddenly the roles were reversed, and too often, in my own bed, crying myself to sleep. I held onto hope like if I curled my fingers around it tight enough, then it couldn't be broken. I went inward, taking stock of my life, bracing myself for the pieces of my world that kept falling in.
June was for rituals, for clinging to ceremonies. I was desperately searching for a way to be full again. I did a lot of yoga, ate well, and searched for people who were bravely walking through brokenness. Words weren't as easy to come by, and if I sat in the silence for too long I started to feel the voices in my head begin to take over. I chased sanity as if it was something I could grab, locking my fingers around it and holding it tight.
The discomfort I felt inside my own body grew heavier. I slept in hotel rooms and thought about death, and life, and living. My body felt broken, my mind felt broken, my heart felt broken. As many strings as I pulled, hoping to hold my life together, it kept unraveling. I felt like a stranger in my own skin. I had a restless mind and a restless heart, and I didn't know how to sit with myself and not run away from the pain, in some way or another.
August was for lusting after life, trying to swallow it whole. I tried stupid things and not so stupid things and did what made me happy. Maybe it was covering some deeper issue I still had, maybe it was well done denial, but I felt alive for the first time in months. I felt like the world was begging to be noticed and I vowed to take advantage of every moment.
September welcomed new things. It began with a desire to be brave, to experience life, and ended in quiet reflection. I was introduced to a world that challenged me, intrigued me and mystified me (and still does.) It was my first introduction to some amazing people. I wrestled with myself, asking a lot of questions, some that didn't have answers.
The broken heart was analyzed as more losses fell, reminding me of the grief that had draped itself over my life. It was death, and letting go. It was also welcoming new life, stretching to make room to accommodate it all. It was driving down back roads and listening to loud music and falling in and out of love daily.
November was for fiction, for distractions. It was poetry in dark closets and too many hours spent staring at the wall. It was the month when I turned another year older, which was both exciting and something I dreaded in the same moment. I was stuck in my head too much, as I always am. The world felt like it was moving too fast for me to keep up. I felt helpless to stop the spinning of my own mind. It was also a month of gathering stories, memorizing faces, collecting moments.
December was the apology I never knew how to write. It was days upon days lived in a perpetual state of fear, of panic, of grief. It was losing my mind slowly. I didn't try to understand it all. I went through the motions. I didn't write, didn't let my mind run away with the endless possibilities that were churning inside of my skull. I didn't let the brokenness of the month, and of all the months that have come before it, catch up with me.
2013 was a year of firsts, a year of being completely broken open. As a whole it was probably filled with more tears than any other year, more grief, more moments I didn't know how to comprehend. I told my secrets to the stars and wrote poetry on the side of coffee cups and crawled my way up out of the grief.
I'm coming out of 2013 not at all the same person who walked into it. I've been forever changed by the things that happened this year. I questioned my whole life, and am on a quest for answers. I cried, screamed, felt and wrote my way through this year. Because sometimes that's the only way you can do it.
I carry more anger now, am more jaded, more scarred. The world doesn't make sense to me anymore, not in the way it used to.
But, despite all the grief I carry with me from this past year, it was also full of good things. I felt the world inside of myself, and started (As I always am) making peace with it. While I lost people, I also met some amazing people, people who make me laugh and fill me with hope and encourage me to be a better person, to "write with blood" and to experience life. I had moments when I felt truly alive. I fell in love with people, with things, with the world despite it's brokenness.
"You'll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips. Airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs, but people more than anything else. You will need other people and you will need to be that other person to someone else, a living, breathing, screaming invitation to believe in better things"
"Sometimes its the smallest things that save us: the weather growing cold, a child's smile, and a cup of excellent coffee."