Here we are into the new year 2024! For the first time in many years, I can say the past year was quiet, stable, even uneventful. But thinking again – it was not really. I feel a sense of steadiness and stability, but at the same time, significant events shook my world.
Losing my grandmother and adopting a kitten
In the summer of 2023 my grandmother passed away at the age of 92. She was a true warrior, born long ago and having lived through diverse times, including World War II. She was like a beacon whose light has faded, but we will never forget her strong spirit. May she rest in peace.
A few days after her funeral, we adopted a stray kitten. My son and some boys from the neighbourhood found two kittens hiding in the tyre space of a car. They made a bed for them and kept them company. Unfortunately, before we realised their mother was gone, one of them died, perhaps due to hunger or thirst. I will never forget how upset my son was when I had to put the little body in a black bag and dispose of it. But because of this, we realised we would have to do something for the other one – we could not let it suffer the same fate.
I was feeling very emotional at the time. The kitten who lost its mother and sibling reminded me of myself, and it triggered my traumas. I saw the opportunity to take care of him as a chance to tend to my vulnerable parts. At first we thought we could not keep him and would have to find him a home. But we bonded so deeply that the thought of giving him away was heartbreaking. We decided to adopt him, and I am grateful for this healing experience. His life started with hardship and loss, but by grace, he is now part of our family.
Recommitting and reconstructing relationships
In October, my partner and I reached a turning point. We had to consider whether to separate or stay together. We both realised it would not be wise to tear down what we had built. This disturbance allowed us to appreciate each other more fully and recommit. Our relationship is challenging for us both as it triggers painful wounds in each of us. But we are becoming more aware and willing to heal the unhealthy dynamics. It is a choice we have to make every day.
As my relationship with myself changes, I continue to repair and reconstruct the significant relationships in my life. As I become more focused on who I am – my values, principles, priorities, and needs – I find it harder to tolerate behaviours that hurt me. I am establishing firmer boundaries and learning to stand up for myself. I am practising communicating non-violently and with integrity with my beliefs. I still strumble, but there is no other way to live a truthful and meaningful life.
Facing fears and challenging limitations
I also continue to challenge my fears and expand my comfort zone. The results are not as satisfactory as I wish, but I give myself credit for every effort. It takes time to outgrow old behaviours and create lasting changes. But thanks to brain neuroplasticity, building new neural pathways is entirely possible. To learn new ways of being, we only need to allow ourselves to make mistakes and be patient and compassionate during the process.
So, for the first time in many years, I can say that 2023 was stable despite what happened. I no longer feel at the mercy of strong emotions, overwhelmed by intense feelings. Instead, a sense of inner peace and calm is growing inside me. I have finally found a place of safety and rest within.
Reaching the surface and coming out of the abyss
When my friend and I moved to Ireland in our early twenties, we had this in-joke. An astrologer said about our adventure that “it will take us a few years to reach the surface”. It meant that starting life in a foreign country would be difficult and could take time to settle. In difficult moments, we reminded ourselves of this “prophecy” to help us look at the situation from another angle. It was our inside joke, and we laughed every time, no matter what challenge we faced.
After 15 years and restarting life in my home country, I can say I have reached the surface this past year. I am no longer drowning and struggling to stay afloat. I contain the inner resources to keep calm amidst life’s challenges and withstand the blows. I have reemerged from the abyss to see the light again. And for me, this is victory.0