I’ve never been fond of Januarys. As a kid, it meant that Christmas and all its glory was over for a whole monotonous year. As a teacher, January was seemingly endless. As a parent and adult, again, January means recovering from Christmas, cleaning up, reorganizing, getting back into routine, and other similar drudgery.
With this negative view of the opening of each year, I’ve never been keen on resolutions. Seems to be just another thing to have to keep track of while recovering from the depression of the holidays’ end. Exercising more? Well, there will already be too many people at the gym. I hate the crowds. Spending less? I already shop at thrift stores and use coupons. I can only recycle coffee filters so many times. Being nicer? Enh…niceness is relative.
But this past year, 2013, for some odd reason, I had an epiphany of the annual promise to self. I determined to gain resolution rather than make resolutions. Aging and parenting have caused me to analyze relationships and to develop a more critical view of what is important. Honesty and transparency are non-negotiables. Common beliefs are nice, but are negotiable. And so on my personal list of relational qualifications goes.
I realized during the holiday season of 2012 that I was faking it with some people, and I didn’t like the way that made me feel, didn’t like the precedent it set for the future with those people, and didn’t like the example it set for my children. While on the other hand, I knew there were better friendships that had fallen apart over the years, and I was curious it they would survive restoration. And so, I decided that I would begin the path to resolution, not to end on December 31, 2013, but to become a lifestyle.
I didn’t know how to go about this process, admittedly. But I figured the wide avenue of Facebook was one to stroll down for familiar faces. In the spring of 2013, I messaged several old friends with a friendly hello, a proverbial fleece left out in the evening dew. I had to be patient to see what the responses would be, as this was part of the resolving…not my interfering. I received one friendly reply back within a few days. It resulted in letting bygones be bygones and the exchange of scooter for one of our children. All in all, a positive experience. Chalk one up for resolution.
Still no word back from the other message sent, but I concluded that meant ‘not interested in reconnecting’, so I accepted that and chalked up one reconciliation.
Spring brought the unexpected rekindling of a flaming old relationship. Attempting to make resolve with this person was arduous…not simply amorous as he desired. This one was the penultimate challenge…the Mount Everest of peace-making. I deeply wanted to find peaceful conclusion with this person, to be reassured of so many parts of myself that he had made me question. What began in April stretched into the summer and then, as always before, he disappeared. He was gone for his own undetermined amount of time, and I was disappointed. But after a while, I began to realize that I had indeed gotten what I wanted from this short-lived interaction. I knew answers that I hadn’t known before. He was the same, I had changed. He hadn’t grown up, I had. That’s all I needed. Bam. Resolved. Victory.
The late summer and early fall brought resolutions similar to that one. Realizing that certain relationships were not what I had hoped, but what I knew it my gut they truly were. Friends who couldn’t exactly be trusted or couldn’t exactly be honest. Conversations that were always exaggerated or always a little bit false. Shadowy elements of relationships that had given me the willies were finally dark enough for me to shine the light on them. And sure enough, they were what I expected. A little shifty, a little awkward, a little not right. Again, I was disappointed, but no longer disillusioned. I didn’t have to feel like I was a suspicious friend anymore. I could just resolve not to have those relations anymore. Awkward, yes. Healthy, definitely.
Then, out of the blue, a got a reply back from that other Facebook message I sent in the spring. It had just been found; it had gone to the ‘other’ folder where non-friend messages go. ‘Happy to hear from you’, ‘want to catch up’, ‘how’s life going?’ etc. ‘Oh, and by the way, that picture you gave me from that hockey game…I never told you how much that meant to me, but it really did…’ Wow. That hockey game was fourteen years ago. Someone still remembers something that I did fourteen years ago? Fondly? That was the height of my screwed up era! That was the middle of the era that the aforementioned twisted old flame. And I did something right then? Well, what do you know? Maybe I wasn’t so screwed up after all. I’ll take that win for resolution.
So there I was three-quarters of the way through 2013, amazed at what a simple decision had done. Resolution had brought revelation, over and over again. Broken friendships could be mended. Old flames could be extinguished. Shady friends could be left in the shade. And the old records that had been playing over and over in my head, could be broken; their songs were outdated. In revisiting the past with my present knowledge, I could identify what was beneficial for my future growth and what needed to be left behind.
These successes with reconciliation prepared me for the final quarter of the year-the holiday season. I pressed forward with my inner challenge and reached out to an estranged family member. Ironically, we met on January 1, 2014, not in the Year of the Resolution but still in the era of my peace-making. It was a good visit. Time will tell if we stay connected, but I did my part and will continue to do so because it is the right thing to do.
Overall, I’d say, resolution wins in any year. I’ve regained some valuable friendships that I thought were lost, I’ve begun to reconnect with some distant family members, and I’ve learned the truth about myself.
Bring it on, January. Maybe this will be the year I resolve my issues with you.