The New Year is at my door. The time for a little self-reflection has come. So, just as we in the South put our crazies on the front porch rather than hide them in the attic, I’m putting my mistakes of the last year on my front porch for the entire world to see. I’m going to put them out there, own them completely, and then I will let them rot in the sun.
Over the last 10 years, my husband and I have led a challenging life, like many military families have. Too often we have been separated for long periods. Too often we have started over in a new, strange town, leaving good friends and good jobs behind. After our most recent move, our seventh Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move, I didn’t feel at home anywhere, even in my own skin. My life seemed too connected, too dependent, even dictated, by my husband’s career. I found myself alone in a strange town while my husband’s job took him out of the country for weeks at a time. In the past, I have made it through many months-long and yearlong deployments and was able to keep the loneliness at bay, but this time I couldn’t. The loneliness consumed me. At times during the last year, the loneliness was so strong I felt it suffocating me. That is until two critical events happened.
The first event was the night 2 individuals tried to break into my house in South Carolina while Jay was standing on a tarmac in Kuwait. I felt pride that I was able to chase the would-be robbers away. But stronger than pride was the intense anger I felt immediately after the attempt. The anger came from my loneliness. After the police left that night, I sat on my couch unable to sleep, barely able to calm my breathing or stop crying. I realized that I did not feel comfortable calling any of the people I had met in my new town. I didn’t even know my neighbors’ names. I was furious that I let my loneliness paralyze me, not only that night on my couch but before that night. I realized that I had cut myself off from seeking joy in my new town. Before that night, I had decided that there was no one in this new town that could truly become my friend, and with my husband out of the country, I allowed myself to be left alone. I had made no real attempt to improve my lonely existence in South Carolina. Rather than risk rejection, I declined invitations from new acquaintances. I drove home to Alabama as often as possible. I ignored social opportunities. I insisted that I should be specifically invited to an event rather than inquire about the details. I am not sure when my ego began to require a gold-plated, engraved evite, but sitting on my couch that night, I realized the problem wasn’t the new people I had met, this new town, or my husband’s job. The problem was with me.
The second event came a couple of days later. My sister called one afternoon. Kellie was facing her own set of challenges. I knew she needed comforting, but instead I sat back down on the couch and fell apart. I couldn’t think of anything or anyone but my own loneliness. What Kellie told me changed everything for me. She told me to do something for myself. She suggested that I start a blog, one that I could reveal all the challenges I, and I am sure others out there, face. “You have to get this out, Jodie,” Kellie told me. “You’re a creative person, and you should do something with that!”
That conversation led me to my computer. I sat down, researched the blogosphere (because I knew nothing about it), and created The Queendom. I created a world that I can control, a world that is all mine, a world that is not dictated by the Army or any of the challenges that go along with being married to the military. I created a space that I feel comfortable in, no matter where I physically write. I created a space that requires me to reach out to others rather than hide on my couch. Creating something just for me healed me and chased the loneliness away. Creating The Queendom turned 2012 from a year of disappointment and uncertainty into a year of self-discovery and hope.
So, my New Year’s wish for you is in two parts. First, own your mistakes of the last year. Put them on your front porch for the world to see and then leave them behind. Let them rot in the sun. Then create something just for you. Do something in 2013 that is just for you, no one else. Maybe you would like to run a marathon, spend more time with your children, create a space in your home just for you, audition for a play, plant a garden. Just do something that is all yours: new, shiny, and free of the mistakes of last year.
Happy New Year!
“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
– Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables