I wrote a review of 2017 last year…and I really enjoyed having the summary to look back on and read, so I’m doing it again this year.

I ended 2017 with a wish for more love and kindness for myself. I succeeded in many ways but the universe has a funny way of testing your resolve and boy did it ever!

Here it is in list form:

1.We tried for a dog a second time. It was a decision made a bit on a whim and because of circumstances, he arrived a week later. The anxiety and panic didn’t start as quickly as the first time, but it did nonetheless. It ended with another family nearby taking him and all in all, I’m very happy for them and I know he’s loved. Of course it was heartbreak and pain all over again for my family.

2. The following months were difficult. I felt abandoned by the friends who knew most intimately what had happened with the dog. Although I understood why they needed a break, it left me feeling rejected and sad. However, their actions ended up giving me the greatest gift of 2018 and I have nothing but gratitude for the way things played out. I had to accept and love myself in order to move on. I could look outward for as much reassurance and acceptance as I wanted, but I still would have felt empty. That’s the thing about love – if you don’t feel deserving of it, it doesn’t matter how many people tell you they love you or in how many creative ways they do it – if you don’t believe it, you never feel it. I wanted an easy way out of my pain — for people to tell me that I’m not a terrible person and that they don’t hate me or that I’m still worthy of love even though I can’t have a dog — it may have helped me walk through this dark path now, but in the end it would have given me a fickle sense of comfort. Having to find my own way through that wilderness was tough work, but I am so glad I did. I found a way to accept and forgive myself and it gave me the greatest sense of peace and love for myself that I’ve experienced.

3. I continued with trauma counselling and got to work on this issue of caring for another being that was much deeper than I had originally believed. That work has brought more healing and peace to my life and I am so grateful for Lifespan Integration.

4. Just as I was coming out of my dark place, Bitty started to be really unwell. To this day only a couple people knew what was happening with her…I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it. Spring break was a nightmare and though things appeared well enough on the outside, as a family we were quite shaken up. I literally think about those days and shake. To some people who didn’t even know what was happening, saying it brought me to my knees may seem dramatic, but that is literally where I spent my time, many days. We have since moved past those scary days, but being a mommy means not easily forgetting the times when you didn’t know if your child would be dead within a few years or 10 or what kind of life they would have if things didn’t turn around. You don’t easily forget and that’s why there’s tears running down my face even now, when I think back to that time.

5. Itty goes to Quebec! By herself! What an experience. For her. For us. It was a monumental moment in her evolution and in ours as well. One of my biggest triggers has been feeling helpless when someone I love needs me. I thought her being thousands of kilometers away would be very hard for me, but I was just fine. I didn’t stress that she might need me and when she did call crying and in pain, I was calm despite being helpless to offer her much more than words of love and comfort. She came back even more confident and self-assured. She had this knowledge about who she was and what she could accomplish that we didn’t anticipate seeing in a child her age. We were so proud to hear about how she handled the freedom and independence and all the amazing memories she made.

6. And then June happened. What a terrible way to end Itty’s elementary school years. What occurred makes me sick to my stomach to think about. Suffice to say, when you have a problem with someone and you tell everyone but refuse to have a one on one conversation with the person involved, then at a party call that person 54 times and leave 2 nasty voicemails — yeah, that’s harassment and bullying…there are no nice words for this crap. If you have them, let me know. And unfortunately it’s not the kids fault…they’ve seen grown ups in theirs lives handle conflict this way, it’s the only way they know how to deal with issues. Sad all around.
We tried multiple times to resolve the issue and were repeatedly met with a “no thanks”. Itty spent many months in tears — confused, heartbroken, betrayed…and shocked. We approached the situation with as much understanding and compassion as we could, but at some point you have to just say fuck it and get on with life. It helped to have families reach out to us and numerous kids reach out to Itty, to offer support and confirmation of what we already knew. They told her they tried to stop the one girl, they told her they witnessed what the two girls did to Itty and that it was very wrong, some even shared that they had experienced the same kind of harassment and bullying from this group. Parents expressed their shock that the parents of the girls involved denied that their child had done anything wrong. They had been witnessing that type of behaviour for a long time and were surprised that the parents weren’t already aware. All of the support and kind words have helped immensely and we thank you for bravely sharing what you knew, heard and saw. We know that fear is what keeps people quiet. Fear of being attacked, fear of being shunned. Which brings me to the fact that we are insanely, immeasurably proud of Itty. She had two options at the time — choose self respect and self love (say to these girls, I will not apologize yet again) or social acceptance (apologize for the 11th, 15th or 25th time…Itty wasn’t sure how many more it would take to have them forgive her for something she did not do). She had the maturity, confidence and wherewithal to face complete social annihilation in order to choose herself. She knew enough to understand that love and respect were not being served. So she got up, walked away and stuck to what she knew was right in her heart. As parents, there’s nothing more we could ask of our teen…it gives us faith that when she’s challenged once again to choose her values and morals over what’s cheap and easy, she’ll hopefully, once again chose loving herself instead of appeasing the drama queens and mean girls of this world.

7. The rest of the summer was spent camping and enjoying family time. We made our first trip to Oregon which was beautiful. We stayed right on the beach at Rockaway Beach. Being beach bums for a week was glorious. We also spent a beautiful 9 days in Tofino. Crystal Cove Beach Resort is an amazing place and they made our trip so memorable.

8. Early on in the summer we also reconnected with my adoptive family. Hubs ran into my brother at Costco and we started chatting. We’ve met at our home a few times, talked over text and started to rekindle some sort of relationship. Considering the challenges we’ve faced in the past, I’ve been going very slow and cautiously. At this point I’m not sure what will happen or if a relationship is even advisable, but the door has been cracked open. With it comes all the uncertainty and heartbreak of a tumultuous past relationship. We’ll see what happens. No promises at this point.

9. Itty started highschool and Bitty grade 3. Despite the constant hurtful behaviour of some, Itty has held her head high and done her best to keep moving forward. Glares, eyerolls and whispers aren’t enough to break Itty’s spirit who continues to amaze us with her integrity and kindness. However as a mother, wow…some days it’s just pure rage at the unfairness of it all. My heartbreaks for Itty who has much more on her plate than a 13 year old should. I have to constantly remind myself of my own values and beliefs and remember that these tests are an opportunity to love myself more than to hate others and to teach Itty the same. But the truth is, she’s been the teacher and I the student in this scenario. There have been good and bad days, but I’m proud of the polite respect and kindness we’ve been able to express even when we’ve been met with far less.

10. Bitty was very excited to get her doctor’s sister as her teacher and she’s been enjoying the school year so far. Favorite moments so far have been knitting in class and the christmas concert. What also surprised us is how much Bitty has loved soccer. In previous years it was either bribing her to go or her not wanting to play at all. This year she begs for soccer practices and is supremely pissed at me for keeping her home when she’s been sick. Looks like she’s following in her big sister’s footsteps.

11. Itty was named PE Student of the Month in October and Captain of her Div 1 U14 team. We are so proud and excited for her! Both accomplishments have been a highlight for her.

12. We got a motorhome! We sold our travel trailer and replaced it with a beautiful A-Class RV. We are absolutely over the moon excited for the family roadtrips and adventures we’ll go on. Every trip we took this summer, hubby kept saying, “If only we were in a RV right now…” To which I kept replying, “We can’t afford one. Stop it!” But the universe must have heard him because we got lucky with this A-Class…we couldn’t afford it had it not happened the way it did and we feel insanely lucky that things worked out. The RV has been a dream of hubby and I for years and to see this one come true is a pinch yourself moment! We are hoping for some trips down south and perhaps up north this coming year!

13. Hubby had some exciting positive changes happen at work. They will allow him to be in a more senior, managerial position from time to time. It’s brought a renewed energy and excitement to his work and he’s pretty happy about that. We’re all really proud of him, too.

I started this year with the hope of loving myself and therefore being able to spread love to others. I know what my intentions were, who I am and what I deserve. This year has distilled those facts from my essence, even further. The moments when I’ve been angry and hurt, trying make sense of what occurred, I had to look back at where I got confused about those things.

I’ve thought a lot about why I allowed people so fully into my life when I knew that our beliefs didn’t align. Talking badly about someone you’re supposedly very close to, behind their back with no intention of telling this person what’s going on – it chaffed me so many times. I put some distance between us, but not enough. When they told me they were cold, cruel and unforgiving, that I just hadn’t seen it – why didn’t I believe them? Why when I saw evidence of this, did I not take a step back and wish them well? I let people into my life, made them a part of my family, loved them unconditionally and all the proof was there that I shouldn’t have offered so much of myself to them. We were at different places in our lives and I disregarded that for connection, for a false sense of family….that’s a piece of myself that obviously still needs to heal. It’s no one else’s fault, but my own. We’re all just struggling along the best we can…we only feel hurt by others when we know better but don’t do what is right for ourselves. I knew better but ignored that gut feeling.

In the end, despite all the pain and heartache, there’s no reason to regret love…it’s hard when you’re kicking yourself for ignoring the signs that say, THIS WAY FOR DESTRUCTION, but being loving, open and understanding with the wrong people is nothing to be ashamed of. Love requires vulnerability and uncertainty. There are no guarantees and no matter how good or kind you try to be, you are not going to make everyone happy. It’s just the way it is. Do it anyway.

Words of wisdom that have carried me through this year of ups and downs:

Thank you 2018 for showing all of us that we could stand alone and still thrive. We won’t take our own power and strength for granted again.

For 2019, my wish is to never forget that despite my shortcomings and weaknesses, I am worthy of love and belonging. The people I allow into my life will be on a similar spiritual path. Who choose understanding over anger, who love themselves enough to tell you what’s up, who are patient and kind, even when it’s hard. That’s what I’m looking for in meaningful close relationships going forward and this time, I won’t settle.

And one last reminder to myself – you are more than enough, all by your damn self. Other people, friends, family, accomplishments — they don’t define you. Just as you are today, that is more than fucking enough. Don’t forget again.

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