because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

Monday, 30 December 2013

2013, and leaning into happiness

In 2013 I re-established a relationship with my father, and it has altered my life.

I’ve never written about the dynamic I have with dad -- not on this blog, not anywhere. It’s tricky. I want to be honest on this space, to feed my truth, because that’s why I’m here. I write it out, and hope somebody puts up a hand to say, “Oh hey! Me too!” and then we can all feel a bit less alone.

But there are some things it just isn’t fair to blog about, no matter how much it might help me to “talk”. I can’t tell somebody else’s story, and this was a tale so intrinsically bound to somebody else’s that I’ve simply not mentioned it. I couldn’t.

I still won’t write about it. Not really. I want to reach out to others who are on uneven footing with their parents and risk losing one of the most special parts of their lives if they don’t find the courage to change something, both within themselves, and in their relationships. I can’t get into the nitty gritty of it, though, because it’s not past perfect, yet. We’re present continuous, still marching forward, still working, still defining.

With the most special relationships in our lives, maybe we always are.

Dad and I have always loved each other, very much so, but for a solid decade, pretty much, we didn’t like one another. I accepted it as fact. Thought it was just the way we were gonna be. But a series of events led me finally pick up the phone and make myself more vulnerable than I have ever been as we both agreed it wasn’t what we really wanted. I cried a lot, both to him and other people. Thought about cutting him out completely. Realised I wanted my love to be bigger than my hate.

In simplified hindsight, I can see how the privilege of reconciliation altered several other relationships in my life, not least of which was with myself. Talking through what I needed from him, as my dad, articulating what has hurt and why I have hurt him, was like looking in a magnifying mirror at my most ugly parts. I needed to change.

I thought the “me and dad thing” was a small part of my life, and, because it was distasteful and inconvenient to me, I kept it in the dark. Shedding even the tiniest bit of light on the issue, though, even in that very first awkward conversation we had, lit up my insides, until I was consumed with a desire for compassion. Affection. Love. And I don’t mean to receive those things: I mean to give ‘em. It hit me that I had to be the kindness I wanted to see, and the motivation to prove it spread like wildfire through my bones.

I reduced my social circle quite dramatically this year, focusing on quality relationships over quantity. It’s easy to put on The Laura Show, keep people at arm’s length so they taste just enough wit to be charmed, without risking seeing the bits of my story that are broken, but getting closer to my dad showed me how I want to also be closer to my mother, my brother, my best friends. It takes work to maintain relationships. Commitment. Recognising and acting on that has been the biggest achievement of my year, of my twenties. I have become more human.

My new year’s resolution is to do more of what feels good, and less of what doesn’t. Fixing whatever the heck was up with my dad was difficult, frustrating, embarrassing, but more than that? It felt incredible. In 2014 I want to lean into love, find more ways to demonstrate it, care for others more, value them more. If it feels good, I want more of it, and that’s why my keyword for the year is “abundance”. An overspill of joy, of laughter, of connection. Too much is enough.

The second half of 2013 saw me happier than I have ever been, and that’s because I pursued pleasure. Looking after myself means I am a better daughter, sister, friend, housemate and colleague because I’m happy. The screensaver on my phone says “Act enthusiastic and you’ll be enthusiastic”. I’d add to that and say a loving life makes you feel more loveable. And that’s a nice way to feel. Be the energy you want to receive in the world. It’s working for me.

I’m still not the person I’m becoming, but the process has become the purpose. They say the journey has to feel like you want the destination to, and 2013 taught me that a content life, a whole life, a happy life, isn’t in the end goal. It’s the determined, loving, everyday.

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