Well. That sucked.
I think we can all agree that 2020 was a surprise. Not in the good way, either. But in ways we’d rather forget and should probably get therapy for.
That said, if you’re reading that, you made it. It might have been close. You might have come through with a few scars and bruises.
But here you stand.
For me 2020 takes the gold and silver medal for some of the worst things I’ve been through and that is actually saying something. Devastating changes within my family, cancelling my wedding twice, serious mental health issues, struggling to settle fully in a new country (still) and… then the pandemic arrived taking family from us too soon. Plus, that’s skipping over the chasms of darkness that seemed to surround me at certain points.
However, if you’ll forgive me, f**k that.
I’ve seen, read and even said how gawd awful 2020 was. See above.
I have receipts.
I can back that up.
But that feels like giving 2020 one last stab at me. So, no. I think not.
Lets take another look at 2020 and why, if you let yourself, there are still some things to be thankful for.
So far, I’ve avoided COVID-19, depression and the other pitfalls this year threw at us. Good job!
I’ve been lucky to be in a job which has continued throughout the pandemic. Whilst others have been furloughed or become unemployed, I’ve stayed employed. It’s helped.
Whilst my family shattered this year, it’s not gone. It’s changed.
For the first time in my life I have a relationship with my sister. We wondered through life this far at a distance but now no more. I am getting to know the person I grew up with and she’s awesome. Having a strong, deep connection with her makes me feel so lucky, grateful and confident for the future. I didn’t realise what I was missing, now I do and I am proud to be the baby brother.
The changing dynamic with my Mum has also been tough, but I think we’re stronger and, once we can actually see each other, closer than we ever were. I’ve missed her around me this year, I look forward to seeing my Mum soon.
And my future-in-laws? Just when I think I’ve seen the best of them, they show me a deeper kindness, a vaster love. My only regret is that, with how awesome they are, I can never make a “in-laws” joke, without be a horrendous liar.
I’ve also started to build a deeper friendship with my partner’s grandfather. He speaks a little English and I a little Dutch. But I am so pleased that I can call him my friend and see him most weeks. It’s often a highlight to have him around.
Putting down roots in a new country is hard, but this year, despite the pandemic, I’ve been really lucky.
This year, I’ve added several new friends to the phone book, two of whom have become especially important to me. Random connections who turned into people that matter to me.
I’ve also rekindled a friendship which had all but petered out over twenty-years ago. A long-term friend in my youth, lost to the chaos of growing up, is now back. I’ve missed his wit, insight and company. I’m glad he’s back. Though my whiskey collection is not doing well in the face of weekly Skype calls. Just don’t tell him, I’ll never hear the last of it.
My mental health.
This year has seen me realise, work on and begin to change the issues I have let drag on me for too long. It’s a road, one which is often like crawling over broken glass, but one which I’m not scared of anymore.
I ended 2020 stronger, clearer and more focused than I started it. Growth is good.
Much of this year was a wasteland for my writing. I was, as I outline above, a little busy.
But with NaNoWriMo in November, I decided to make a choice. Once and for all, do I have what it takes to be a writer? Can I produce a book? For three years I’ve been beset by insecurity, doubt, confusion… it was time to see whether I had a book in me, or I was just dreaming.
Yesterday, 8th of January, after 69 days (with only one day off) and over 100,000 words, my first manuscript is complete. Though it’s still many edits from complete, it’s done. I can now say, with certainty, I have written a novel. All it took was discipline, just like everyone said. Who knew?
Whether anyone wants to read it or not remains to be seen. But so far, so good.
This one needs a medal.
My fiancee has been by my side through this whole year. Fighting her own battles, supporting me and always there. Through the planning and cancelling of two weddings. Through loss, sadness and heartbreak.
It’s not been easy. It’s not always been fun.
Even now, I sit in my writing chair, she is opposite me, playing on the XBox as I am wrapped up in my writing. She’s never complained about me locking myself away in this bubble of creativity. I appreciate that, I wouldn’t have written the book without her patience.
But I feel very lucky to be her partner. It’s a rare person who will see you consumed in flames and hold your hands whilst you burn. She didn’t hesitate. If 2020 can be called a success, it’s one which I will always view as a testament to the strength and quality of my future wife.
Thank-you, my love.
Good memories behind and better ones ahead.
So. I am thankful for 2020.
It showed me the value and quality in those around me and in myself.
It showed me I am a writer.
2020 will always be a scar of sadness and loss. But within that, there were bright spots.
Now, tell me, what are the things you’re thankful for from 2020? It doesn’t need to have changed the world, sometimes just keeping the dark back for a day is enough.