Dear 2014: It’s Been Real

In my last blog post of the year, I can’t help but reflect on 2014. What a year… I’ll be honest, because it’s hard not to be, this year kind of sucked. I mean it wasn’t my worst year of all time (I’m not sure it even ranks) but it has been the worst year in a long time, definitely the worst year since I met my husband (to clarify, my husband is in no reason why this year has been so icky). It wasn’t that the worst things that could happen, happened this year – just that it was two things after two others (because most of this stuff was simultaneous) from January until, well, hopefully the loose ends of 2014 will be resolved within the first few weeks of January.

I don’t look at bad experiences as meaningless or terrible. I view them as tests or opportunities to learn, grow, overcome… etc. But sometimes the sheer volume of stuff at once makes you think they are also somewhat gratuitous.

Dear Whatever Doesnt Kill Me

In January two big things happened: first I was diagnosed with a bone marrow disorder, which is one of those complications you can get years after you have finished an intense chemo regimen (as in my case: 2009-2010) that required blood treatments at our local cancer enter every other week. The treatments weren’t about pumping poison in to me, but about taking substantial amounts of blood out of me, and giving me other things via IV (healthy stuff though) because of everything they were taking out of me. It’s not like giving blood, it’s an entire day thing and leaves me wiped for two to three days after IF I don’t have some kind of reaction or get sick. If I do, then add major aches and minor fever to the next few days. I seriously hate going, but as the year has passed, I find myself needing these treatments less and less. Right now it becomes a thing every six weeks, which is so much better than every other week. In my dreams, I only have to go two to four times a year, but honestly I will take whatever I can get.

Then the second thing was that my husband found himself suddenly unemployed. He had been with the company for a decade and they had grown into something else entirely. The district he had transferred to (as in across several states) was going through a lot of growing pains, emphasis on the pains, and most of the existing staff was given the boot in one way or another. I think this would have been easier to accept (both for my husband, and for me) if he had actually done something wrong. But in his case – the only lessons that could be learned were: “Don’t trust people.” or “Always look out for yourself, even at the expense of others.” or “Learn how to play the game [company politics] better, before you get played.” These were not lessons he was able to soak up, because he is one of those fundamentally good people. He is selfless and overextends himself to anyone, and he is too unassuming and sweet (and sometimes naïve in my opinion) to learn how to start politicking. And why should he, if he isn’t running for public office?

These two things kind of set the tone for the rest of the year – not because either of us wallowed, because neither of us did. But it just seemed to be one thing after another. The main water line to our house had a major leak, costing thousands of dollars in repair and water charges (for water we never actually used), and that was one of many financial blows and/or setbacks. Whoever says money doesn’t matter is rich or at least incredibly comfortable. I wish money didn’t matter, we don’t think it is the most important thing, but when you find yourself exhausting your reserves because of several financial blows beyond your control, and because certain contracts/jobs owe you roughly $6,000 and you’re trying hard to collect – money most certainly matters, and is really, very stressful. But this year was not just about money. We also had a number of personal blows and setbacks as well.

For me, the year was trying because nothing that happened was preventable and all of it was beyond our control. It is hard to learn from these kinds of situations, beyond how you react to them. And as far as that goes, I think we both reacted just fine. We didn’t wallow around, we didn’t scream and shout, we didn’t try to resist things that could not be undone. We stood firm at times, we scrambled to make other things work or how to make them work. We tried to turn the other cheek and just power through. In all honesty, Roy (my husband) is much better than turning the other cheek, and I am much better at powering through – so we make a good team, each picking up the slack where it is needed.

Personally and medically, we’ve kind of come up with a new routine, as we accept a new normal. Financially, we are hoping to find some resolution soon. Our reserves are nearly tapped out after everything and if we recovered all of the money owed to us from clients/employers we could take care of everything and put enough back in our reserves to feel secure. It’s one of those things we have proof of, but we’re also at the point now of needing to get legal, which sucks (and of course costs more money). I just keep hoping that receiving something formal from an attorney lights a fire under certain parties and we get those funds quickly, without any further escalation.

But there is that thing, what comes up must come down, and the reverse is also true. This was a bad year for us, but we didn’t waver – we weren’t fighting or at each other’s throats, buckling under the stress of it all. And maybe that’s the good. This was the first year since Roy and I have been together where everything seemed to come apart. And we’re still here. Roy has been unbelievably wonderful with everything life has thrown my way, and I have shown him the same support with the things thrown his way, particularly when it came to finding a new job. Roy could get any job, very quickly, and he did. But I wanted him to find what was right, the job that could make him happy, and I still do.

I’m a planner, but this year has been all about rolling with whatever, and that is something I know I can do, even if it isn’t my favorite thing to do. And I have been. And Roy, who is all about rolling with it, is getting kind of tired of the constant rolling. I know he wants to get back to knowing where he stands, and that hard work and helping others can be rewarding, instead of meaning something very different, like it has for the past year.

So, I wrote a letter to 2014.

Dear 2014,

Thank you for keeping it real and reminding us that being real is not always pleasant. We may think that you took it a little far; I’m sorry for the cliché, but you beat that poor horse dead, time and time again, but we understand that perhaps we just needed that many reminders. I promise we both understand the lessons you were trying to impart.

Thank you for so many tests. Some people may wonder what will happen to their relationships when they are tested, and you threw all of the tests at us at once. Medical, personal, financial, career – if we can handle all of that at one time, and never question where we stand with one another, or how we feel, and end up closer than ever – we know we’re good to go in the future… no matter what. But please understand that it is neither productive nor meaningful to keep teaching us this lesson time and time again. So, please hold off until we forget or lose sight of this (so you know, I’m thinking several years down the line, perhaps a few decades even).

Please know that when we think of you, we will be proud of this year and all of the things we experienced, but this does not mean you need to tell 2015 to keep it up. We are looking forward to a brand new year, one where we are allowed to rebuild, recoup and hopefully focus on our future, one that we both hope has a lot of little ones (all right, so Roy and I may differ on the exact number overall, but let us start with one or two – because we both agree on that).

Wishing you the best, and no offense, but we’re hoping that 2015 is just a tad kinder

Affectionately Yours,

Roy and Michael

I’m hopeful, and I am excited for 2015. Let it be a year that we can put everything we learned to good use, building something rather than trying to keep everything from falling down. See you all next year!


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