As we near the end of 2022, I’ve been reflecting on all that this year has meant to me and what I want out of the year to come. I have quite a lot to share in this year in review, so let’s dive right into it.
Read my entire 2022 year in review below.
I start off the year with a hangover and The Philadelphia Story. This movie is a happy place for me, and I watch it when I’m feeling a little unsure about the state of my life. I vowed to do less of this ruminating in 2022 and yet here I am, stewing in my own toxic thoughts. I reset by the third day of the month and jot down what I’d like to move toward and away from.
- Move toward rest.
- Move away from numbing my feelings.
- Move toward saying less.
- Move away from chasing things.
This feels doable, I think to myself.
The rest of the month is filled with nothingness and it is nourishing. I begin acupuncture and change up my diet to incorporate more whole foods. I learn to make a proper omelet. My brain feels clearer but my body feels like it’s moving through molasses.
We dodge COVID and the kids are home for days on end. The days are long but I’m not keeping score.
I embrace balaclavas, overuse my label maker, take a mending class, make fires and dinners my kids do not eat, and forget I own a hairdryer. We clean out a large closet in the basement and move the Peloton in, along with some yoga mats and weights.
I bike. During a run-of-the-mill push through Ariana Grande’s Break Free, I surprise myself when I burst into tears. Maybe I am mourning the athlete I was as a teen or the distance runner I was in my twenties. Moving feels so good. Why did I let it go?
And then it snaps into place: I can start over. And this time, it doesn’t need to be for a medal or a number on the scale; it doesn’t need to be used as some kind of punishment for what I consumed the day before.
I add ”movement” to my list of things to move toward.
I wear color. I bring funky patterns into our peach room. I buy SKIMS and feel degraded by the shape of their underwear. I feel powerful in cat-eye sunglasses. I make fresh pasta and an olive oil cake for new friends. I am inspired by the decor in a 1950s copy of Goldilocks and The Three Bears. I wear my hair slick straight and clean every corner of the house. I learn the virtues of having frozen dumplings in your freezer.
Things thaw and my ankles see the sun. We decide to bring the Peloton upstairs and use it twice as much as we did in the basement. I watch Grey Gardens and fall in love with Little Edie in a way I hadn’t before the age of thirty-five. I start wearing scarves around my head.
Bright red lips are a big thing. I buy sandals, most of which I never wear and should have returned. I feel called to watch Cheers after comfort-watching Frasier. I begin the series A Court of Thorns and Roses and finish all of the books in ten days. We dine with friends and I like how I look in the color red. I watch Bridgerton season two and get swept into Anthony’s story. I take my kids to the Mall of America on (what feels like) the 10,000th day without childcare and spend the following week convinced we are all going to come down with norovirus.
I buy a ridiculously overpriced vintage cigarette holder. I book a weekend trip to Napa with my sister and two friends. I buy one too many sweater vests and wear one of them. I decide we will paint the basement this year.
I put myself on a spending freeze. Of all the new items I’ve purchased recently, very few have become pieces I grab on a daily basis. Why did I think I needed a pair of bright pink shoes with rhinestone bows? I still haven’t worn them. The spending freeze feels like being forced to go to a party you really had no interest in being at and realizing all your people are there. I feel lighter. I have more mental space. I’m not wondering where this or that will go. I feel like I gain so much more than a heftier wallet. I start to dig deeper into the why behind my spending.
I go on my first vacation in god knows how long. We stay in an amazing home in a remote part of Sonoma and I am thankful for my friends who thrive on planning. I learn to appreciate a California Cab after years of primarily drinking lighter European wines, and come back five pounds heavier because I ate my weight in cheese.
School’s out. Memorial Day arrives. We eat all of the things. The pool opens, and we’re ready for summer.
June is a shit show month. Joe is traveling for ten days, which turns into a two-week ordeal when he contracts COVID on his last day in London.
We’re at the pool daily. The kids eat Cheetos for dinner and I am made of Coors Light and Whispering Angel. I feel like garbage and the guilt is heavy. But then the kids tell me they are having the best summer ever and I snap out of it. Joe gets better and I make time to run in the mornings and see friends. I spruce up the front patio and start a book club with the women in my neighborhood. I learn the virtues of letting go when things don’t go as planned.
We spend the last weekend of June in Chicago with my parents and I revisit the places I loved to go as a kid.
It’s birthday month. We celebrate August turning six, as well as my sister, brother, and mother-in-law’s birthdays. We love the fourth of July. We are outside as much as we can be. I take tennis lessons and so do the kids. Joe is back to his healthy self and by the end of the month, we are freckled and bronzed and swimming without floaties and flying off the diving board. This is my favorite month of the year.
I cook corn chowder and all the things with zucchini and decide I want to plant an edible garden someday. We go up to Lutsen with Joe’s family.
I don’t remember when or why specifically, but in my body I know it is time to move on from antidepressants. The molasses feeling I had at the beginning of the year continued through the summer and I start to consider managing my mental health without medication. I’ve found movement again and have made huge strides in changing the way I deal with adversity.
With the guidance of a medical professional, I start slowly and don’t throw myself into the “new era, new me” mindset. Barely a thing changes on the outside, but on the inside, I can tell I’m shedding a skin and not looking back.
School starts and I feel my heart fall out of my chest as August becomes a kindergartener. We get used to new schedules and I continue to feel shifts in my internal world and feel less numb. We take a trip up to Lutsen with close friends and I am reminded how much I love to be by Lake Superior. It’s the simplest thing—just sitting by the lake can slow my heart down.
I feel the pull of change grow stronger and start to think about my upcoming birthday, thirty-nine, and how I want to feel in the last year of my thirties.
The busy season begins. We have birthdays and events and dinners and costumes to make. We host a marathon party and Joe takes off on his 300+ mile bike ride up north. I drive up north to celebrate his accomplishment with the other bikers and their partners. I learn the benefits of a cold plunge after a sauna and start making cold showers a part of caring for my mental health. I come to crave them. I cut my hair and feel like a new person.
I take my last dose of antidepressants and deal with withdrawal symptoms like brain zaps, nausea, dizzy spells, and euphoria. Mixed all together, it feels like I’m on a rollercoaster holding on for dear life.
I make Bennett a potato costume for Halloween, per her request. She wears it to one epic party, but by the time the real event of trick-or-treating on Halloween comes around, she’s got a fever. She wears Spider-Man PJs and one of my brightly-colored balaclavas instead. Eventually, all four of us get the flu. We are sick for three weeks.
I turn thirty-nine. It is the best birthday I’ve had in a long time. It’s special mostly because I find in myself there is a deep sense of appreciation for who I’ve become. This is not something that was modeled when I was growing up—in fact, self-beatdowns were seen as a sign of humbleness and at times praised. I’m thankful for all the ways I’ve shown up for myself, and I also feel a pull toward shedding what feels out of alignment with this sense of self-respect.
I feel more energized, confident, and focused. I am moving through life without that sticky, slow feeling that had previously lingered.
On Thanksgiving weekend, it becomes clear we need to move our second dog, Pearl, in with a family member in December. She’s eating anything she can find and we’re worried about her digestive system. Joe’s uncle lives on a farm and had to put his yellow lab down a few years ago; they are a perfect match. We cry and feel guilty until it becomes clear how happy and loved she is in her new home. In our bones, we know this is the right decision for everyone in our house, even Winnie, who is less stressed and more social now. I am reminded that making the hard decision is often the most important thing we do.
Just as I was starting to feel better, my second round of withdrawal symptoms hit. I am nauseated and having panic attacks. I rely on the tools I’ve learned through therapy and open myself up to whatever release or outlet the feelings need to take. It’s intense. Some of the responses I have to situations around parenthood startle me. I remind myself that I am not my thoughts or feelings—they’re just passing through.
Due to all of this, I scale back on my holiday commitments and try to take it as easy as possible through the holiday busyness. I think back to the year before, when I churned out three pork wellingtons and multiple dinner parties in the course of four weeks. I try not to judge my worth based on my productivity and trust that the extremes of my anxiety will start to wane.
I spend less, do less, and expect less from everyone around me. And the magic of Christmas is still there come December 25.
This week, I am starting to see glimmers of what my brain off SSRIs looks like. The waves don’t rock my world so hard. I am able to move through my day without needing a burst of energy or some kind of external motivation. I respect myself. I know I have the strength to feel whatever comes up. I put one foot in front of the other.
My Mantra for 2023
My mantra for 2023 is this: forward motion. It’s about always putting one foot in front of the other, even when things are hard, and giving myself support and grace along the way. I think this mindset is really helpful for people with perfectionism, or for anyone with a tendency to use a roadblock (even one that’s rather small) as a reason to stay idle.
I have big goals for 2023. But they’re only attainable if I keep going; if I keep showing up for myself even if I’m not feeling up to it that day. The glimmer of interest in movement I felt in February is ablaze today. It’s a beacon for when I’m feeling hopeless. It’s a practice I can commit to.
I learned in 2022 that it’s the tiny things we do every day that make up the majority of what life looks like. I hope that’s a lesson I’ll continue to exercise for the rest of my life.