Happy New Year! Although there may have been moments that felt like we would never make it through 2020, we did it. We made it. This has been a year of intense lows, and for others, some wonderful highs. In spite of the pain that 2020 inflicted upon us, we have found ways to persist and find our own strength in resiliency as individuals, in our communities, and in our world. There have been some lessons in finding joy in simplicity. Some of us have been forced to slow down in ways that many of us could not have ever imagined while at the same time some others have been thrown into a level of chaos that was equally as unthinkable a year ago. We have had to adjust, bend, reassess and reconfigure almost every aspect of our lives. We have had to fulfill roles that would have felt completely unimaginable 365 days ago (or should I say 366 – because of course 2020 was a leap year). We have borne the weight of loss and pain for ourselves, friends, family, and neighbors in such a way that feels so heavy that it is almost hard to believe that we have been able to survive the weight of it all. We have been faced with decisions that would have seemed so unrealistic had we not actually lived through them and here we are in January of 2021, as a changed human race.
I have spent the past year watching my community, my friends, family, and even my clients go through illness and loss that felt far too burdensome and overwhelming to bear. I have processed through the weight of 2020 with my colleagues, and the effect of that weight on our clients and ourselves simultaneously. I have explored the struggle with helping clients to work through that which felt impossible for them, while I too struggled with so much myself, and as we both tried to find peace and strength to overcome struggles that felt so insurmountable. Then, at the same time, I have watched others in my personal and professional life begin new relationships, get engaged, have to plan and replan COVID weddings that ended up absolutely beautiful, and others bring perfect new little babies into this world or new fur babies into their families. I have seen clients that have been in therapy for years and months make breakthroughs, find peace, begin to learn about themselves and their relationships, and blossom into their new selves while living, surviving, and thriving within the chaos. As I begin my New Year’s reflections, this juxtaposition of pain and progress, being torn down and rebuilt, living through loss and celebrating birth, has been one of the most beautiful parts of 2020 for me. When it all feels like too much for me to bear, I work to ground myself in this fact – that beauty can in fact reside in the beast of illness, loss, death, and hate.
So here we are, starting a new year. One of the most anticipated new years of our lifetimes. The newness of what January 1 brings us offers us a time to reflect, reassess, and look to what we want from what feels like a fresh start. While many can say it’s an arbitrary thing to only set goals on January 1, the idea of a blank calendar with so many possibilities can be refreshing. It offers us a way to brush off, wash off, and shut a door on things that have happened, and try to focus instead on what can be. That being said, as I reflect on the past 12 months, I can’t help but continue to think about where and who I was 12 months ago. 2020 felt like a special kind of blank slate – entering into the new “roaring 20s”. There was a lot of anticipation of what the 2020s would offer and how they would begin. As I reflect back, I cannot help but be somewhat in awe of the lessons I learned over the past 12 months, and in some ways how far from where I thought I would be that I have actually landed. I imagine that many of you are in the same boat as well and in so many ways, that is okay. Being able to set a goal, not meet it, but find some other area of growth in your life and see that as progress is truly a beautiful and refreshing thing. This shows our ability to bend and being able to bend, adjust our sails, and move forward in spite of everything, is one of the greatest strengths we can have. Usually, in a new year, I would try to offer the suggestion to look at past goals and see what has been accomplished, what has not, and why. As we enter 2021, let’s just accept that all bets were off this past year. Let’s celebrate whatever we accomplished whether we set that goal last year or not. Let’s look toward 2021 with the new lens of what we know now, and not try to fit the goals of any other year into the box of what we are still currently living through. While the idea of the new year and finally being able to say goodbye to 2020 feels so hopeful, we are still living in some chaos and let’s give ourselves the grace of accepting that. However, let’s also look at how our ability to adjust and bend has given us more than we could have imagined. Had we not been so flexible and had so much chaos not been thrown at us, we may not have picked up that new hobby, read that new book, started that program in school, or learned how to be more present in the place in which we are currently grounded. This is an important thing to focus on as we grow into 2021.
I have done a lot of reflecting this past year on how okay it is to not be okay. Additionally, I have reflected on the idea that it is also okay to find your joys where you can and embrace and celebrate them when it feels like others are hurting or are in pain and that this act is not selfish. I think that this is one of the greatest lessons that I have taken away from 2020 and I hope that you are able to do that too. I also want to thank everyone who has read or shared any of my posts from this first year of my blogging journey. I hope you found some laughs and some support. I hope that they helped to make you feel heard and maybe normalize or put words to the things that you may have been struggling with but could not explain and that they may have helped you get through some of the tough moments and strangeness of these past 12 months. It has been a challenge for me to face some of my vulnerabilities, has offered me a chance to process through and understand my own feelings, and has given me joy and purpose when I hear how helpful they have been for some people as well.
So, here’s to 2021. Let’s hope for change, let’s hope for growth, and let’s hope for a world filled with kindness, love and good health.
I have been practicing therapy for 15 years and have worked with countless individuals, families and couples. While I do not want to claim to be an "expert" on all things therapy or life (because I always believe that there is room to grow and learn) I have noticed throughout my time connecting with my clients that similar struggles and repetitive patterns present themselves that affect how clients experience and see life. I wanted to take this experience with my clients and the knowledge I have gained and share it here, so that maybe it can touch others lives the way it has helped my clients.