Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. – Carl Bard
When I was in my twenties (I’m in my forties now) I had a revelation of the person I had become and I didn’t like it. I had allowed situations and circumstances to shape my character. I allowed past hurts and disappointments to rule my emotions. I was not happy with myself or the life I had created. So I embarked on a year of intense personal growth and I like to think that my marriage was saved because of it. Almost twenty years on, we are still going strong. That’s not to say that we haven’t had problems, but I can honestly say that I love him more today than I did when we married. But we wouldn’t have the strong marriage we do today if I hadn’t chosen to change.
I’m a big believer in branding, and not just for corporations. When big business develop a brand, every decision they make must serve the brand. Anything that weakens the brand is tossed out and only things that build and strengthen the brand are allowed to survive. I took this same approach with my personal life. I sat down and looked hard at myself and decided who I wanted to be as a person and what I needed to do to become that person. I worked really hard to ensure that my thoughts, actions, behaviours, responses and reactions worked together to help me build the person I wanted to be.
It wasn’t easy and sometimes I wanted to just give up. People around me didn’t seem to be working on their behaviour, others felt that it was okay to be mean and rude and treat me like crap and sometimes I just wanted to forget everything and lash out at them. But I wanted a better life and I knew that to achieve said better life, I needed to change. For myself. To make me happy.
I honestly believe that if I hadn’t made the changes to my life and my behaviour all those years ago, my marriage wouldn’t be where it is today. In that year of personal growth I made firm decisions about who I wanted to be and the type of person I wanted to become. It was one of the toughest years of my life as I wrestled with my demons, but I came out victorious.
Looking back over 2015 I realise that dealing with depression, anxiety and grief has caused me to regress somewhat. Not entirely, but enough to know that I am not happy with who I am right now.
Don’t get me wrong, my marriage isn’t in trouble and I’m not suddenly an awful person, but I have lost some hard fought for ground and I want it back. My therapist tells me that when our stress tanks are full, our brains revert to our ‘caveman’ or ‘toddler’ brain and for me that means that all those lessons I learned are no longer automatic for me.
It’s understandable with the year that my family and I have just come through. I would have to say that it has been the single hardest year of my life. I have suffered more panic and anxiety attacks than ever before, I was diagnosed with depression and have been grieving the loss of a close family member. On top of that I’ve had to come to terms with being diagnosed with a chronic illness which has impacted every area of my life. So to sum it all up, yeah, 2015 was crap.
It is very easy to want to give up. I am unashamedly an introvert and my instincts tell me to lock myself away and never venture out into the light of day, but that is not practical and it won’t solve anything.
The very first lesson I learnt in my year of self discovery was that I have a choice. I get to choose my behaviour, I get to choose how I am going to react to any given situation. It was quite an eye-opener when I finally understood that I don’t need to just let life happen to me, but that I can actively participate in it. That I have choices and don’t need to sit around and wait for things to come to me. I was practically giddy with the knowledge.
I lost sight of that this last year. Having a panic attack tends to make you feel that you have no control, no choice. One of my goals this year is to take back control and to once again give myself a choice.
I want my life back and I am determined to embark on that journey this year. I know it won’t be easy, but I also know that when I look back I will be thankful for doing it. I also hope that maybe some of the things I learn will help someone else. As the quote above says, I can’t go back and start again, but I can start from today to ensure I have a brand new ending.