I have tried to start this one several times, the first attempt taking place around 11:50 PM on Tuesday. The reason it’s proving so difficult is that there’s a lot to say about 2013, and also not very much.
Good things have happened in the last year. I made a tremendous amount of headway in therapy towards overcoming my past. I made a number of very good friends, two of whom I’m house sitting for this December and the first few weeks of January. For better or worse, I reconnected with my family. We saw enormous gains in marriage equality and LGBT rights in the United States, particularly in my home state of Minnesota. I finally decided to make a change and pursue graduate study in music composition.
A lot pretty bad things have happened too. In March I broke up with my boyfriend of nine months as it had been clear to me for some time that we had vastly divergent goals in life and just weren’t right for each other. I got laid off at the end of June from my temp job where I’d been for fifteen months, and spent the next five months looking for work. Even this last job wrapped up a week and a half early. I applied to three different graduate schools, in the process waking every single demon of self-doubt, self-loathing, and depression that’s plagued me over the years. Then a few weeks ago I got a rejection letter from one of those schools.
Last week, for fun, I decided to do a Tarot reading for myself as an exercise in unconscious self-examination. Mind you, I don’t believe in mysticism. I view Tarot almost as an analytical tool, like an ink blot test, the random layout of cards in certain positions telling the “Seeker” a story that they can draw a message from, like we do with any other media.
Using the “Tree of Life” spread (so called because the position and significance of the cards follows a symbol from the Kabbalah), these are the cards I drew:
1. The High Priestess
2. Five of Swords, reversed
3. Knight of Swords
4. Ten of Cups
5. Seven of Pentacles, reversed
6. Ace of Swords
7. Four of Wands
8. King of Pentacles, reversed
9. The Fool, reversed
10. Strength, reversed
A friend of mine did a quick interpretation and had a few insights. Without going into too much detail, the main thrust of what he had to say was that there’s been quite a bit of misfortune lately, and those dark times aren’t entirely over yet, but that there’s still time to avert disaster. “You’ve suffered enough setbacks that it’s not letting you make the most of your talents,” he said, “a lot of wasted energy and lack of focus.” Basically, I need to change how I’m doing and thinking about a lot of things—in other words, adapt or continue in the same patterns that lead nowhere good.
The past couple of months I have been pretty withdrawn, at times almost hermetical. Aside from a few gatherings or going to work, I’ve taken to shutting myself away from the world and from people. Mostly this is because, as an introvert, other human beings exhaust me, especially in large numbers. But there’s also a darker reason. Part of it was being unemployed for so long; of sending in application after application and either hearing nothing or getting rejection notes. Then there’s the mountain of rejections I’ve had with my music, and feeling a total failure in that department. There’s also my love life, which has been a virtual wasteland.
I tend to internalize all of these things, interpreting the underlying proverbial message of the universe into pithy statements such as: You’re A Failure. You’re A Massive Disappointment. Nobody Wants You.
So I tend to shut myself away, terrified that people are going to see through me to the failure underneath. Whenever I do venture out, I interpret glances or lack of interaction as evidence of judgement, that even my friends think I’m not worth their time, that they’re all thinking what a horrible disappointment I am.
On New Years Eve, I see status updates from friends on Facebook and Twitter, going to parties and celebrating the coming year, often with significant others. There were several parties I could have gone to, but I couldn’t bring myself to go out. I didn’t want to be reminded yet again that I’m single, lonely, seemingly incapable of connecting with others. The roads were shitty, it was about eight degrees below zero, and I’d have to shut the dogs I’m looking after up in their room. So I stayed home, watched Spirited Away, wishing that such stories of being whisked away to some other world to discover one’s secret inner strength were possible. But they’re not.
It is this kind of thinking that needs to change in the coming year. It’s difficult when so many of the signs seem to point to what I fear is true being the case, but negative thinking tends to beget negative outcomes. For good or ill, we often write self-fulfilling prophesies.
I also need to be more social in the coming year. I’m always surprised, and even feel a little dubious, whenever someone says that I’ve been missed. “You can’t really miss me,” I think. “What is there to miss?”
Mostly, I just feel like a poor excuse for an adult, and with that comes a deep sense of shame. I spent so much time developing my musical talents that I neglected to develop other abilities, like self-discipline, learning to relate and talk to others, etc. etc. Maybe these expectations are mere fictions and most people feel a similar lacking within themselves.
2013 was one of the saddest and loneliest years that I can remember, and I certainly don’t want a repeat of it. It’s going to take a major change in thinking to make course corrections, but it’s also probably going to require community and the assistance of friends.