White skies stretched over London, this New Year’s Eve. No calming blue, no angry gray, no romantic hues of pink or orange.
A blank canvas, perhaps in anticipation for the bright, bold streaks of sparkling fireworks in just a matter of hours, to mark the end of one year and the beginning of the next.
2017, for me, was a year of learning. Of growth. Of risks.
I began 2017 in a hospital bed, shrouded in pale blue sheets and hooked up to an IV, drab, limp and lifeless. I suppose, really, I should have known the year would only get better for me from that moment. After all, when you’ve hit rock bottom, the only direction left for you to travel is upwards.
Without ladder, without an escape rope tossed down by a rescuer, with no shortcuts or secret passages, I dug my hands and heels into the walls of the hole I was in, and I climbed.
Within fifteen days, I moved into a new house. A house! What a novelty! I had an upstairs now, I had a garden! I was not haunted by memories of ‘him’ in every room, no photographs, no ghosts, no ‘us’. This was my space, my new beginning, the first decision I made on my own, for me.
That was one of the contributing factors, you see. When a relationship ends, of course there is pain, of course there is heartache. That is human. However, when that pain is combined with the grief of two deaths, with the physical ailments of anaemia and pneumonia, with the mental torment of anxiety and depression – it is not merely painful anymore. It is unbearable.
But, I bore it as best I could until I had to admit the inevitable; that I needed help. Personally, professionally, medically and mentally. And so, I packaged up my things into brown boxes and I moved. I laid myself bare to trained professionals, to my friends and to my family. I told them of every insecurity, every symptom, every struggle. I shed every tear I had left, I told them how I didn’t know how I would be happy again. Everything I could lament, I did.
I simply did not know how, or when, or even if, I could begin to let joy back into my life.
I did not know that I would fill my house slowly with silver velvet and new photographs and make it mine.
I did not know that I would guiltlessly cry with laughter and mirth in the audiences of comedy shows.
I did not know that I would date, (albeit disastrously. But then, even the worst date makes for a great anecdote.)
I did not know that I would have a new job by August, and that I would spend the later months more inspired than ever before, or that I would meet such wonderful new people, adding new threads to my life’s tapestry – each new personality a new colour, new texture, new additions with a story to tell and a lesson to teach.
I did not know that I would spend my 25th birthday in Las Vegas, the sprawling fantasia of lights and luck that filled my heart to bursting.
There was so much I achieved last year, so much I experienced, that I had simply no idea would come my way. I could not have predicted that with bloody hands and mud-streaked face, that I would have clawed and climbed my way out of the hole 2016 left me in, or that I’d be sitting proudly atop the edge on New Year’s Eve.
I do not know what 2018 will bring for me, but I welcome it. The unknown does not have to be daunting, or overwhelming, or to strike fear.
The unknown can be as inviting as a new chapter, a fresh dawn… a blank canvas.
Here’s to the unknown, and all the good that awaits.