Dear 2014,

These whole 12 months we have spent together have resulted in so much self growth that while you were not at all a walk through the park, I don’t hate you. I think you may have even been one of those years that you love because of how shitty you were to me. You were shitty and mean to teach me a lesson and I listened. That’s I think one of the problems with time and years. You always do your best to get us to learn something but often times we simply won’t listen either because of pigheadedness, a fear of change, or ignorance. But this year I listened to you. But not at first.

Those first four to six months were hell. You made sure of it. You made sure I hated myself and everything about myself. You made me strip myself down to nothing but a shriveled up vile thing that I wouldn’t touch with a 3 foot long pole. You kicked me to the ground and you spit in my face and you made sure I hated myself for the wrong reasons and you made sure that I was black and blue and that I cried. I started this year with a bad relationship with food and myself and my family and I started the year scared and afraid. And you were tough on me. Downright abusive. I started this year as slightly bad person and receded into a disgusting excuse of a human being who didn’t really know what it meant to be miserable and was probably in a lot of ways an ingrate when it came to things. And then after that you made sure I knew what consequences to actions were. You made sure I was ashamed of what I did to myself because it wasn’t a valid response. What I did wasn’t the appropriate punishment, it were an overreaction. My responses to myself and those around me were those of a person who I never, ever want to be or meet or have in my life, let alone myself.

2014, you made me into the kind of person I knew I didn’t want to be. You made sure that I knew that person existed inside of me. You showed me how ugly I could be (and I’m sure there is a me who is even uglier than that, and I’m not sure how much I look forward to the year that brings her out) and how much I didn’t want to be them. You showed me exactly what I needed to see in order to start to get a picture of who I want to be. And it’s still a very foggy image 2014, but this is why I can’t hate you. You showed me exactly what I needed to see to at least get the hint of an idea of where I want to be.

And were there feelings I had that were validated? Yes, of course. I know for a fact now that feelings I have towards Chloe and a good amount of the feelings I have towards my parents are 100% validated and true. Like how my mom is totally incapable of listening or dealing with things and how my dad tends to overreact and get worried easily so then I end up having to comfort him instead of the other way around. My parents are not perfect. They probably won’t be able to give me what I need emotionally ever. But what you helped show me is that it’s also my fault for not being able to find a way to communicate with them what I need.

The most important lesson I think you taught me 2014, was acceptance.

I’m okay with the fact that my mom won’t ever be able to be a good mom simply because she makes a (whether conscious or unconscious I don’t know) decision to not deal with hard and complicated things. I’m okay with knowing that there will inevitably come a day when I explode in her face out of frustration and pent-up rage over how she does this. In fact, I look forward to that day when I work up the courage and sense of security I need to be able to feel like I can do that and get away with it and be heard. I am okay with the fact though that the day is not today and likely won’t come for a while and that things will remain to how they are now. Slightly strained and stressful but not terrible like they have been.

I’m okay with the fact that my dad worries. Is it sometimes uncomfortable and upsetting that I feel like I have to protect him from things or that I feel like I have to worry about him? Yes. But there’s not much I can do about it except learn to not let it bother me. Which is a good lesson to learn with people in general; that you can’t control how they react to events and things that you do and you shouldn’t feel responsible for making sure they’re always okay 100% of the time. He is my dad and he should be the one comforting me, not the other way around.

But 2014, this is just a lesson you are leaving for 2015 to try to finish teaching me. And we will just have to see how well I will listen. You’ve already started teaching me a lesson on communicating and being a little braver and knowing that it’s okay to do things for yourself even if it doesn’t benefit the other person. I know because I feel totally validated and calm about leaving a letter for Chloe that basically says “because of your past behaviors of claiming to be a victim all the time and always making up excuses for why you can’t do something and my general ill feelings towards said behavior, anything I do will be because I want it done and will be done on my time and not at your request. I will no longer be accommodating to your needs/wishes/wants.”

She’s 21 years old with no real job (she refuses to get one unless it fits her criteria and hasn’t ever worked a job longer than 3 months) and is still totally financially dependent on our parents and she has the opportunity to go to college but won’t take it. She sits on the couch all day watching TV and her income is random babysitting jobs. And she always likes to complain about how hard her life is and spent the last 6 months complaining about the bathroom being filthy but wouldn’t clean it herself and expected me and Emily to do it because it “wasn’t her mess”. After I finally cleaned it last night and she didn’t even mention it or say anything I’m finally fucking done and 2014 I have you to thank for giving me the courage and “I literally give no shits” attitude regarding Chloe and how she takes that letter.

2014, you started the year off brutally. And you were kind enough to give me a small break in August and September. Thank you for that. But thank you also for the ironic train wreck that you made these last four months of doctors appointments and of hospital visits and internet research and missed school and this new full plate of things I have to navigate. Thank you for your wonderful sense of ironic and dry, sadistic humor. You are both truly an evil and beautiful, good year. A sheep in devil’s clothing. A wonderful mix of things that were needed and probably not exactly necessary but thrown in to make interesting and fun (for you).

Getting diagnosed with a very rare and chronic autoimmune disease this November is I think ironically the second best thing that has happened to me as far as personal growth goes. Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (or Wegeners disease) is I think the event that made this year what it was. Good. Wholly good for the better going on forward. If I hadn’t been diagnosed with this I don’t know if any of your abuse would have been worth it. I don’t think I would have figured out what you were trying to tell me. This last month of trying to figure out how juggle suddenly being on low dose of steroids and knowing that I have to do chemo once a month for the next 3-6 months to get my body to not make my blood vessels inflamed and back into remission has been interesting.

I wasn’t worried once during the process of figuring out why I had a low-grade fever that wouldn’t go away or why I was having arthritic symptoms or a cough that lasted two weeks and slight chest pain. When Infectious Disease blood work was all negative (aside from high inflammation markers, what led us to the Rhematology department in the first place) I was just curious to find out what the hell was happening. During this whole process at no point was I scared. In fact when they finally diagnosed me with my autoimmune disease I made jokes and I laughed about it. I said “Hey, at least it’s not cancer!” I made (and continue to make light) of the fact that I am literally one in a million because of this disease. I named my IV stand Paul because why not? I spent Thanksgiving week in the hospital and the whole time I wasn’t upset or worried or anything. I was just a big thing of “What the actual hell? Really? Well. Alright.”

I looked on the bright side. Because it just felt… silly. Really? All this horrible shit happens this year and now I have an autoimmune disease I get to carry around with me my whole life AND go through treatment for the next 6 months? Well shit. 2014 you have been a roller coaster of intense emotion and ridiculousness. You threw this last curve ball at me and didn’t stop there. On top of this, because of my medication, you’re ending the year by throwing me on a low sodium diet and making me get acne, an increased appetite, a puffier face and weight gain. All because of medication. All things that at the beginning of the year would have. Ended. My. World. It would have ruined me for good.

2014 the secret gift you had was timing. The biggest problem I have with this list of side effects is a puffier face and acne, and acne can be controlled (with dedication, another lesson/trait I will be trying to obtain during 2015).

2014 you are leaving in a good place. You came in with your fists up and swung at me hard and didn’t stop. And then you let me breathe. You let me start to heal. And then you showed me how utterly stupid and ridiculous and fast paced life can be. How quickly things can turn from bad to worse or from whatever to what the fucking hell. One second you hate X and the next it’s the thing you could honestly care less about. If anything the thing I’m most bitter with you over is this whole sodium thing because really? If I eat just a pinch too much you’re going to make me retain water and puff up like a marshmallow for the next 3-4 days and be on bed rest? Well fine. I guess if that’s my only complaint though I should be feeling pretty lucky. Not to mention my side effects are all temporary but that doesn’t mean the next 6 months of medication and side effects isn’t going to be challenging and annoying in its own right. That’s inevitable.

You are leaving me in a place determined. Even the salt thing has a sneaky benefit you’ve left me. It’s giving me the motivation I need to change my diet to something healthier (something I’ve wanted to do for the last two years but didn’t because it’s hard and I didn’t know the first thing about cooking and my mom is the chef/shopper so she’s been in charge anyway). A paleo and added salt free diet is going to be damn hard on a tight schedule of making time for school and homework and making fulfilling meals (specifically lunch) every week that keep this dumbfuck appetite happy but I’m going to do it. Because 2014 you have left me determined. Determined the be that foggy image of a person who I can kind of barely see now. Because you showed me first who I didn’t want to ever be so I could see who I need to be to be happy.

And the image is certainly not at all clear. I can barely make out the shapes but I have an idea. And an idea can easily blossom into a phrase, and then a sentence, and then a paragraph, and before you know it it has evolved into something beautiful and big and full. Something more complete and whole than you ever thought it could or would be.

Thank you 2014. It was a very unexpected delight to have you.

~My Foggy Idea of Who I Want to Be~

  • Determined
  • Good at Managing Time/Not Procrastinating
  • Good at Prioritizing
  • Can Focus Easily on a Specific Task
  • Always does her Best and Knows it
  • Able to Communicate Effectively
  • Fearless (for the most part)
  • Confident
  • Happy
  • Positive
  • Kind
  • Mind of Her Own

~2015 Resolutions~

  1. Do yoga regularly (for your own well-being and your shitty joints)
  2. Eat less sugar, grains, dairy, and salt (but remember it’s okay to treat yourself)
  3. Throw yourself into Japanese and Science at school.
  4. Keep your sleep schedule healthy.
  5. Save your money for a car.
  6. Speak your mind (especially when it comes to Chloe).
  7. Keep important spaces clean (your room, bathroom, kitchen, bonus room)
  8. Become an excellent cook.
  9. Make sure you have time to relax and get still get important tasks done.
  10. Be kind.

2015, I’m ready. And I’m going to try to listen to what you have to tell me but I make no promises. I am human and incredibly stubborn compared to the average person, but I promise I will try. Because I want to change, and your younger sister did a wonderful job showing me that. I look forward to seeing the ridiculous things you throw at me and the ways you will try to teach me. Though may I ask we lay off of the punches? There are still a few bruises from 2014 that need some time to heal.

-Naomi

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