Shame. One word to sum up my life thus far and the one word that motivated every life decision whether it was choosing a boyfriend, food consumption or what trend suited my lifestyle, shame was the motivating factor in all my decisions.
This shame was not present at birth but acquired through years of physical, psychological and emotional abuse at the hands of a mother who herself most likely felt a great deal of shame in her own life. My inheritance of this unseen mortal made gene ruled me blindly leading me down a path not quite fitting in with my life plans. In my haste to combat this destructive emotion I searched for a comrade whose time honored tradition encouraged one to commit to wrestle with and conquer the ails of self destruction. Furthermore, according to many equally troubled friends, this comrade was the definitive anecdote to self-improvement and so began my alliance with the New Years Resolution!
My twenty something year old self sounded the horn of audaciousness signaling a new take no prisoners attitude to forge ahead into territories of steadfast declarations with the sole purpose to satisfy my overwhelming desire to be fixed, to be better, to be changed in three hundred and sixty four days. Armed with a freshly purchased ornate diary and black ball point pen my arsenal of New Years resolutions were permanently etched in full view and ready for execution:
1. Going to be free
2. Try out for theater academy.
3. Fall in love
4. Lose weight
5. Be famous
6. Be happy
You see, my thinking was this simple act would transform me into somebody else like that episode from Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone about the ugly duckling girl who lived in a society where at a certain age one is required to become a completely different person possessing beauty, conformity and a happy worry free life just by sipping cups of instant smile.
“Change me!" My mantra absolute and what I thought to be a winning formula powering me through to my twenties until one New Years eve when I hit a road bump that landed me in a hot bath, alone, inconsolable, suicidal and desperately desiring that “happy”, not any ordinary “happy” but Disney “happy” :
1. A wealthy dashing, drop dead good-looking prince charming
2. Sweep me away to his castle
3.Love me, have babies with me
4. We’d live happily ever after
This list did work for my friends who were married, starting families, and were enjoying some monetary success so I soldiered on.
Years and years worth of resolutions to move me toward some semblance of this Disney “happy” went unmet eventually earning the whole New Year’s eve tradition banishment to an island far away from my minds grasp.
New Year’s eve day no longer served as a symbol of renewed beginnings of magic and hope for the coming year but a reminder of the drudgery of days awaiting me with more problems, heartache, and misery. The magic of living had worn out its welcome as the cohorts of shame, bitterness, anger and resentment took hold once again. These companeros darkened my life; replacing the proverbial rose-colored glasses with blackened shades, armor plated skin, and lots of staring into the abyss. My sunny world of dashing princes descended to the throne of Beelzebub, a prickly world of solemn and Gomorra ripened with nascent odorous sulfuric doom.
During these years I spat out many obligatory, hollow and predictable resolutions under the pressure of friends, colleagues and family members. None of them were kept and the majority of them I don’t even remember. For me, life had lost its magic and I was just marking time.
One morning life or time caught up with me on March 30, 1993. As I was crossing the street, an eighteen-wheeler tractor-trailer truck hit me. Doctors referred to this event as a near death accident and were struck quite dumb in regards to my survival. This event forced me to heal myself through my broken mangled body.
As I struggled to walk again it was my brain that worked overtime reawakening my muscles reflexes, functioning of limbs, unlocking memories, passions, enthusiasms I thought long dead. It appeared that my brain used this pastiche of human connectivity to reconnect me to life. Sometime after midnight on January 1, 1994 the words “I want to walk again”, slipped from my lips… sometime after midnight….there it was, the New Years resolution sans the words “happy”, “prince charming”, “castle”.
Since then my resolutions have been wonky and sometimes reverted back to the wishes of that damaged five year old but changing ever changing devoid of socially cultural make-believe references but rooted in present life experiences.
Approaching fifty years of age, the resolution, I feel, is not so much about quelling the war within oneself but perhaps a verbal post it note to remind oneself of the reasons for one’s purpose in this life.
This year my New Years resolutions are not just relegated to the year but to life. Resolutions, I feel, that will encourage the short-term goals of being fit and perhaps meeting that companion whom I can share this life. Manageable resolutions that will allow me to laugh at myself and allow for mistakes and mishaps, simply put resolutions that are not so resolute. My 2011 New Years Resolutions for life:
1. Call a cease-fire to shame as I wave my white flag to embrace peace of mind
2. Laugh, Listen, Love, and Accept
3. Sever the societal connection to my identity
4. Walk in life experiences
5. Be grateful for the hardships and good times for those are the seeds that enrich my humanity making for a magical life in this wondrous universe.
6. Leave “happy’ to Disney