2016 was a journey.
I spent most of the year walking trails filled with sadness and fear, with an unsurmountable mountain of anxiety always looming ahead. I carried a heavy pack, stuffed and bursting at the seams with grief due to the loss of my grandparents, the loss of my first pregnancy, and the loss of the trust in myself, my body, and life itself. I spent countless hours in therapy, many in a hospital due to dehydration (the inability to keep down food or liquids for the first half of my pregnancy was to blame), and much of my time on the couch, curled into a ball, crippled with fear.
Although I was overjoyed to be expecting our first child, there were many times where I lost sight of that joy as I stumbled along the path, in the thickest of fogs, to the month of August (when I was due to give birth), and what felt like the end of my life’s journey. I was filled with such doubt. Doubt that I would survive, doubt that my baby would survive, doubt that my body could do something — anything — right in regards to bringing a person into the world, doubt that I would ever feel like myself again, doubt that I would ever escape from the lightless world I inhabited alone.
It took 41 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy, 36 hours of labor, and 45 minutes of pushing before I emerged from the darkness on the night of September 1st. In an instant I had no more doubt, and in that moment, I felt no more grief. I faced and overcame my biggest fear, and once I did, I was filled with an unrivaled sense of relief. The skies cleared, the sun rose once more — there was never a night so bright.
During 2016, most of my dreams involved me running. Sometimes I would be running into nothingness, or running away from a bear on the side of a dark and narrow highway, or around the high school track in Bethesda, MD. Sometimes I’d be running in Radburn Park, or up the stairs of the Empire State Building, or down the street we lived on in Georgia. I was always running, and seemingly always running away from something. Maybe I was running from fear. Maybe I was running from the life I knew so well into unfamiliar territory. But maybe I wasn’t running from anything at all. Perhaps I was running toward a better life, or toward a new self, or toward the light — this light that now fills my life — I was so desperate to find in the midst of my despair.<
This year was a struggle, but when I squint through the fog, the never ending darkness, the confusion, the fear, the heavy sadness — I can see that there is so much beauty, and so much to be grateful for.
2016 brought me to my beautiful daughter, the most magnificent human I have ever met. It brought me to motherhood, a deeper purpose in my life, and the filling of a hole in my heart I wasn’t aware existed. It showed me that I am capable of doing hard things, and taught me to have faith that the destination can be great even if the journey is perilous. 2016 allowed me to grow as a person, gave me a renewed appreciation for life, taught me that there are some things that I just cannot control, and that it’s possible to go on without it. I confronted my deepest fears, and learned that just because I haven’t done something before doesn’t mean that I cannot. I discovered the ability to embrace change even when it’s chaotic and terrifying, knowing that it allows for growth.
I’m starting the new year with a calm spirit and excitement for the future. I know that I am up for any adventure, and that I can navigate any obstacle. I know that although everything in this life is a wild unknown — I’ve got this. I’m holding fast to a trust in life, and the knowledge that whatever happens this year will lead me to where I am meant to be.
Here’s to a new year, a new start, and new opportunities. Here’s to growth, and lessons learned, and change. Here’s to facing fear, and having trust, and climbing our mountains to whatever summits await us.