I don’t make New Year’s resolutions any more. I see them as a recipe for failure. When my husband first died I bought a plaque that said, “Have An Adequate Day.” It made me laugh – but I also felt it was something I could live up to. I don’t like setting expectations for myself that I might not meet. A lot of life coaches would disagree with me on this. I find it works better to have a gratitude list and a forgiveness list.
The gratitude list contains the things I am grateful for that happened last year. It forces me to look at the good things that happen to me instead of just employing my excellent skill set for self pity. The forgiveness list contains things that I would like to accomplish but haven’t yet. They are kind of upside down resolutions. I forgive myself for not achieving goals I might have with the hope that perhaps I will achieve them the next year. But if I don’t – they just go back on the forgiveness list. There is no judgement list.
Living without my husband is hurtful in so many ways that I try not to hurt myself any more than I already am. That means accepting myself where I am. When I can’t do that – I usually talk to someone who will tell me that they love me. I have a friend I met on a grief site that has the uncanny ability to e-mail me and tell me how special I am and how much she loves me just when the dark place has grabbed hold of me and I am thinking that nobody loves me and I am worthless. Her e-mail shatters the dark place and lets the light back in.
I am grateful for family and friends. I am grateful for all of you who are with me on this strange and unwanted journey. I am grateful I seem to be gifted in some way to bring comfort to those who are suffering.
I am grateful for many more things. Good plays, good TV shows. A good joke, a bad pun. A good political discussion. I try to look outward every day to see what is outside me that I am grateful for instead of inward at my grief and my pain. Those questions. What else? Who else? I must keep asking it so my gratitude list grows every longer.
On my forgiveness list? Still haven’t written the book – still haven’t given myself a healthy fit body. All those moments staring at nothing. All the frozen moments, the unappreciated wishing I was with my husband moments. I would like to be healthier – I would feel better and have more energy. I would like to write a book – maybe. Would I like to have a new relationship? – that one is still firmly in the I don’t know place.
I don’t know what the new year will bring. I know it won’t bring my husband back to me. I will have to keep finding ways to live with that. I hope, though, that the balance will continue to shift so I continue to have more productive moments and more happy moments. I hope that the pain will continue to gentle down and I will feel less vulnerable, less irritated by life.
Each day brings me closer to my husband – but it is up to me not to wish those days away but to live them.
Perhaps that is what I would like for all of us this new year – to not wish our days and nights away – but to live them fully. To hold on if we want – and let go if we want. To let love raise us above the pain so that we see things ever in new ways. Not a new year – but a new day – one at a time. A day in which we delight in things past – but also in things present.
Jan Warner (Abridged)