Earlier today someone asked a group of my friends what kind of year they had had. Overall it seems that most of us have had less than wonderful years, but what surprised me was the way several replied that the year had been unremittingly bad. In the end, I defied anyone to come up with a longer list of disasters than mine, in a challenge like the Notting Hill 'who gets the last brownie?' game. My list (which won) went something like this (chronologically):
- Started the year in bed and on crutches with a broken spine.
- Lost several major contracts as I was unfit and unable to meet deadlines.
- Had all my bank accounts emptied by a teenage friend that my daughter trusted with my card and PIN number to help with the shopping while I was laid up.
- Discovered I was suffering from osteoporosis, in my mid-thirties, with no reason to be found, so that I can only treat the symptom not the cause.
- Was caught up in the middle of a very bitter and messy divorce (Though not my own).
- Was shafted by a business client, who refused to pay their bills -- as we were desperate for cash after the theft we were forced to settle for 60% of the amount outstanding immediately, rather than wait six months to go to court.
- Had my daughter, then twelve, referred to Social Services as suicidal when she wrote a death-oriented story at school. The child's natural drama-queen tendencies nearly had her whisked off to a secure unit, until she spoke to a psychologist and a more experienced social worker, both of whom diagnosed a storm in a teacup.
- Had my best friend and first love die in a car crash.
- Was told by my lover that he was moving in with someone else.
- Was informed of the suicide of another long term friend.
- Had the house covered in obscene and insulting grafitti by the thief, because we'd dared to report her to the police.
- Was forced to sober up a very drunk daughter who decided to experiment with alcohol by drinking half a bottle of vodka -- given that she is 5 foot tall and built like Ally McBeal, a potentially lethal situation.
- Was unable to find a job to supplement my flagging business, which was doubly hit by my injury and the downturn in the economy, so spent the year broke.
- Barely saw my husband all year, as he's been working flat-out to keep us solvent.
- Spent most of the year trying to determine whether my relationship with my lover was just friends or more than that, with it changing on a weekly basis.
A rather grim catalogue, I'm sure you'll agree. But this node isn't to whine about it. Because, despite all that lot, I'm still here. I won't deny I've suffered from depression this year. I've had my suicidal moments.
But right now, I'm sitting in the sun, alive, able to walk (something I seriously doubted at the beginning of the year), able to laugh, and looking forward to Christmas, even if we can't afford flashy food, or expensive presents. I know that I have a family and friends who I love, even when they exasperate me, and who need and love me. I know that I have something to contribute. I know, somewhere deep inside me, that the world would be a poorer place if I'd decided to leave it.
And the same is true of you. Every single one of you.
So maybe it hasn't been that bad a year, after all.