Illustration: Copyright Male Ehul
I went to bed with a terrible migraine on December 28th and I didn’t fall asleep till around 4 am. I woke up the next day, my birthday, feeling pretty sick. By the time the 31st rolled around, I hadn’t slept for four nights, I had a lot of pain in my neck from a mattress and pillow that were not up to my body’s (picky) standards, and I had an upper respiratory infection. For the first time in my adult life –and maybe even since I was a little kid– I was not awake to welcome in the new year.
The next day, my boyfriend started feeling sick and he woke up late that night shivering uncontrollably and with a very high fever, which had him be delirious for the following 24 hours. We basically didn’t leave the house that week until we no longer had a choice, because we were flying back home.
I could not understand, for the life of me, why our timing had been so bad with getting sick. It was the last week of the year, we were both on vacation and looking forward to doing some sightseeing and spending time with my family. Per usual, I had my end-of-year rituals ready to go and was excited for them, like I always am. However, this year all of my plans were turned completely upside down, and I hated it.
During our first week back home, we both took the time to really be with ourselves. We sought out what our bodies and minds needed. We tended to our spiritual and emotional bodies. And I, especially, set out on a quest to reframe my end-of-year experience, because the stories I was telling myself about it were utterly disempowering.
You see, 2019 was quite the unexpected year for me. My grandfather passed away; he and I were very close. I was laid off from the company for which I worked for nearly all of my twenties. I found another kick-ass job soon after and was also laid off due to an unforeseen financial hurdle four months later. Once again, I found a job rather quickly, for which I’m very grateful. Finally, my boyfriend and I were asked to move out of our previous apartment, and so we embarked on a two-month-long apartment hunt in San Francisco, something I don’t wish on anyone.
We’re very happy with our new place and I’m also really, really happy at my new job. These changes, with the exception of my grandfather’s death, ended up being extremely positive, but while I was going through them, I had to confront and deal with something that I prefer to ignore: my anxiety. It usually gets shoved under the rug, and I do my best to pass it off with an arrogant “Please. I’ve got it all under control.”
Um, nope. No. I. Don’t. That’s a lie.
Here’s an example: I nearly gave myself a panic attack when I decided to decline a job opportunity that one of my former managers helped me get. The thought of saying no to him threw me for a loop. It was wild. I could feel myself starting to hyperventilate as I was crying, while also logically acknowledging that my reaction was completely over-the-top and ridiculous. Yet, there was so much momentum going that I couldn’t stop it, and it took me quite a while to calm down.
This was but one aspect of the anxiety that I had been dragging with me, and trying to ignore, the whole year. There was the financial anxiety of being unemployed, even if it was brief, as well as the anxiety that came with having to find a new place to live and needing to re-create stability from scratch. Oh, and dealing with death, of course, because no matter how much we prepare for it, we’re never ready.
Fast forward to the end of December and of course I got sick. Why wouldn’t I? It makes perfect sense. What I bottle up has to find a way to come out eventually, whether as a constant drip or as a full-blown explosion.
Looking back on the last week of 2019, what I now see is that I was purging what had been trapped and hiding inside my body, mind, and soul. I was finally stable. I was with family. I felt loved and taken care of; therefore, as I began to unwind, my body and mind started shedding the many fight-or-flight layers within which it had been operating, slowly sucking and spitting out the venom. Once I got physically better, I finally felt reconnected with my soul –my inner voice and intuition– and it’s been so, so good ever since.
Going through this stuff sucked, but it allowed for some serious growth and, now that I’m past it, I feel very grounded.
My boyfriend and I sat down to complete 2019 and create 2020. It’s one of my favorite end-of-year activities that I had to post-pone, and I’m happy we made the time for it as soon as we were able. When I consciously choose a new perspective, I see that last year was a miracle. I can even be with my grandfather’s passing, because he is no longer suffering.
For this year, what I’m creating is a Return to Self. My possibility is of being at ease, in alignment, centered, and grounded. Anything that sits outside of this will not have a place in my life.
It’s been a beautiful four weeks thus far. If 2020 comes at me with as many surprises as did 2019, I know I will have to deal with and confront my anxiety again, and I will have to continue practicing letting go of the stories that don’t serve me and, instead, filtering each situation through a new lens. Yet, that’s that work that I’m here to do. As long as I seek my own alignment first, I know the rest will gracefully fall into place.
Full illustration below, copyright Male Ehul . Used with permission.