I am among millions of people who was thrilled to see 2017 go bye bye. It was not a year that I will ever look back on and think, “Gee, I wish I could live that over again!”
Yet, even knowing this, I still find myself from time to time going back anyway: in my dreams, subconscious thoughts, or just through visceral blooms of pain,
disappointment, and heartbreak.
However, it has occurred to me recently that every time I think of the struggle of those 12, soul-crushing months, I do go back and live it again, even though I claim it’s the last thing I want to do.
So, how do we really recover and move forward from a bad year? I think the key is to become fully aware of what we focus on. By being in the now, we can stop ourselves in our muddy tracks, and shift internally to a positive, fresh path that changes our brain’s patterning, allowing us to breathe more deeply and access natural joy.
For instance, if I am reliving the memory of losing my sister Gloria, who died of lung cancer in 2017, then reviewing that mental “snapshot” creates sorrow, detonating unhappiness, exploding into more unhappiness. Thus 2017 trails behind every step I take, even as I try to slip away from it.
Politics and other horrific events of 2017 have affected us all, challenged our faith, stirred our anger, and threatened our connection to positivity.
However, it’s possible to catch ourselves in those thought processes and say, “No, I will not drag this negativity into today!”
I understand that many of us struggle with depression. For some, it’s a biochemical reality deep inside our bodies. Fortunately, there are therapeutic measures to help us cope. And on top of that we have the power to stay aware, replacing difficult thoughts with affirming ones.
Many examples come to mind: A close friend watched her parents’ brand new home burn to the ground one Christmas eve. The entire family stood across the street watching the house and everything in it, including newly purchased Christmas gifts, succumb to raging flames.
The trauma felt unbearable, until my friend’s 4-year-old niece yanked on her dress and said, “Aunt Kelli, I know it’s sad that grandma and grandpa lost their home, and all the presents are burned, but isn’t it exciting though!”
The whole family laughed at her childlike innocence and later huddled together in a motel, celebrating that they’d all gotten out alive, where they upwrapped the real Christmas gift of life: They still had each other.
For me, my sister’s death in 2017 was without a doubt the most painful thing I have ever experienced. And I have gone through the stages of grief, anger and despair. But as I move forward into the new year, I make a daily effort to reach for the sweet memories of having Gloria as my sister, so they can take the place of any pain that tries to rise up.
I still laugh when I think of the day I was looking for an outfit in Macy’s. I was hurting physically, and there were no benches or chairs to sit on, so I sprawled in the middle of the floor in women’s formal dresses.
My phone rang in my purse, and it was Gloria. My hearing aides are synced with my iPhone, so as we chatted, it looked like I was talking to myself. She was telling me something excitedly, and I was sharing in her excitement and laughing.