It's the new year. A time for reflection and new goals. Although really it’s just another day and time is a construct.
But alas, it is now 2024, and I can’t help but reflect on where I was a year ago, where I am now, and where I might be in a year.
A year ago, days for it became 2023, I remember crying because of the anxiety I had about 2023 being as hard as 2022 had been. 2022 was my first year of estrangement (I cut my family out at the end of 2021) and it was harder than I could have imagined. I faced challenges I never expected, experienced intense grief, and had to relearn what seemed like almost everything I thought I knew. I felt the ripple effects of estrangement in other relationships, struggled with finances, moved more times than I had the emotional bandwidth for, and faced my internal struggles in very real ways. 2022 was insanely hard, but it also was the first time that I felt like those hard times would end. I removed myself from an abusive family and I got to choose how I wanted to proceed. I felt hope underneath all that pain.
As 2023 rang in, I was scared and unsure of how the new year would go. But, time always moves forward, and there is beauty in that.
2023 brought the end of a long term relationship that was not serving me. I quit a job I hated. And, I moved. Again. These were all ripple effects of estrangement. By the spring of 2023, it felt like I had restarted once again, and had to build from nothing. But that wasn’t true. I had taken all of the lessons I had learned, the tools I had acquired, and I moved forward.
2023 became a year of great change, great challenge, and great progress. I found a job I enjoy, I live in a place I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon, I am building new friendships, and I am thinking about what I want for my future. This seems to be the first time in my life that I have been able to think long-term because I am not constantly stuck in survival mode.
2023 was not easy, and my synopsis above is oversimplified. I really struggled with financial security, grieved a relationship with a partner, and felt lonely quite often, but it was also a time of positive change. Even positive change is hard. I am still grieving, still unlearning, and still navigating what type of life I want to have.
As 2023 comes to an end, I feel more hopeful for the future. As I have gained stability in my life after estrangement, new questions arise for me that didn’t have space to pop up before. I didn’t have the capacity to explore deeper parts of myself or my values before estrangement because I was just trying to make it through. I’ve started wondering more about my gender identity, what it means for me to be queer, and other parts of myself that I wasn’t aware of before. I have the space to explore my values around how I spend my time, my outlook on the world, and what I think it might all mean. It’s a little terrifying feeling like I am still at the beginning of these journeys that others may have had more time to explore already, but I also feel like the journeys I have had in the past have prepared me to face these new ones.
I’m excited for what 2024 brings because I see how far I have come and how much I still can uncover. My past has been a challenge, and the future will have its challenges too, but it has given me the confidence to know I can handle it.
Whether or not you feel ready for the new year, I hope you spend some time reflecting on how far you’ve come. If setting new year's resolutions isn’t for you, I hope you still have dreams that you are chasing. You deserve big dreams, lots of love, and new opportunities. You are worthy of those things.
Remember, it might be a new year, but it is just another day. Another day of moving forward, healing, harnessing hope, appreciating what you’ve overcome, holding space for the pain, and finding joy in the passage of time.
From all of us at Together Estranged, we are proud of you, we are here for you, and we look forward to another year with you in our community.
Article by Em, Together Estranged Newsletter Coordinator
***Disclaimer: Em is not a certified mental health professional. This article is written as peer-to-peer support for the Together Estranged Community. If you are having a psychiatric emergency, please seek professional help.