The Lost Year

I was asked recently to schedule a meeting with an employer to go over my goals for 2021, both professionally and personally, and I panicked that I was going to let him down. Can I tell him my goal for 2021 is to just keep making it through one day at a time, and putting one foot in front of the other? Can I tell him that despite being a goal-oriented person, I have failed all my attempts at any goals I’ve had over the last year and a half?

Spotify pulls at my sentimentality every year with their “Your Top Songs” list and it struck me that there were only a handful of songs that were different on my 2020 list from my 2019. Isolation, minor depression and boredom became my excuse to allow myself to grow stagnant. I lost the year in a lot of ways. The one thing that kept me going was hiking, spending time in the woods, and being surrounded by nature. I often got myself and the kids out of the house right before I was about to hit bottom.

2019 was an amazing year for me- I rode a high I don’t think I will return to again any time soon. I was working out often, getting faster and stronger. I was mediating regularly, eating healthy and connecting with the creative flow of the universe. I was writing poetry again for the first time in years. Everything seemed to happen like the life coach said it would- the universe showed up for me and I decided to take a huge leap of faith and leave my husband because I was not happy and I didn’t feel like he was a partner.

I should have just left then, for good. Best advice I didn’t take: guillotine over death by a thousand papercuts.

Instead, I dragged us through marital counseling. We went to group therapy with our children. I moved into the guest bedroom until our renter moved out of the first property we bought together, but we would still, often, act like a family unit. Christmas of 2019 seemed like it was no fun at all, and then along came 2020. The pandemic was hard on me for the reason it was hard on most mothers- I was alone with my children all the time. I still teach from home, they are home, and I kept us mostly isolated because I have Type 1 Diabetes and so does my youngest. Along for this ride was the separation, the fact neither of us kept our promises, and the ultimate realization around the holidays, 2020 that it was done and time to pull the plug on our marriage.

Something wonderful happened between the time I was asked to schedule the goals conversation and the actual conversation; thanks to being a teacher, I was offered, and took, the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination and I felt a giant sense of relief. Later came the mourning for the time I lost not growing. I decided that if 2020 was really a lost year for me, I should go back to what I had planned to do in 2020 when it was approaching- get a divorce, and backpack/hike a section of the Appalachian trail. Divorce, for me, is an opportunity for a renaissance of self. I have the freedom to transform more into the person I want to be, without the old expectations of who I was, or what I did. Most of my adult life has been about moving away from the unhealthy- smoking, food, not caring for my diabetes- to the healthy.

My children enjoy our hikes, so every other weekend I will get them out of the house and exploring the trails and parks near us, and then on the weekends I don’t have them, I will be able to hike longer, and faster routes. With a clear goal in mind, and a renewed sense of direction, I hope I can continue to find myself in the forest.

Photo Credit: Red Quinoa

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