How am I gonna be an optimist about this New Year?

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And the walls kept tumbling down
In the city that we love
Grey clouds roll over the hills
Bringing darkness from above
-Bastille, Pompeii

Ever since the end of 2011, I don’t get excited for the New Year anymore. There’s not much excitement to be had as a matter of fact. Life for the past three years has been genuinely miserable starting with losing my mother unexpectedly in 2011, facing my own mortality at age 29 after a PE in 2012 and ending with this past year a constant struggle for finding work, health and happiness. It seems like no matter what I do, I’m damned. There, I said it. Out in the open, nothing to hide here. It seems like every year for the past three years, I wish one year out, welcome the next one in with the slightest bit of hope, only to have that hope dashed within a few months. Goodbye 2013 – I’m adding you to the growing list of failures and I won’t miss you anymore than I missed your predecessors. It’s crossed my mind that the best years of my life have come and gone. Memories to be had of happy, healthy, safe and predictable days gone by. Days when my mother was here to talk to and laugh with; days when I didn’t have to worry about things like INR and ‘what if that’s a blood clot;’ days when I had a reliable job; days when every last thing wasn’t a crisis and every last penny didn’t count.

I can’t explain why bad things seem to happen to certain people – repeatedly without avail. I know I’ve had more than what I feel is my fair share thrown my way these past few years, and I know I’m not the only one who can say that. We all have problems; we all have days, weeks, months or years that we wish never happened, right? So why is it some people seem to wade through the crap and come out shining on the other side while others keep trudging day in and day out without even a moment’s rest? I might be one of those people who has given up on answering that question. It has been said we are only given what we can handle in our lifetime, so, my next question is, when have I handled all that I can handle? No answer there, either. The mysteries of this world and possibly the next elude me.

From time to time over the years I have found myself pondering the thought, “It could get worse.” And then, it inevitably does. I stopped saying that. I stopped asking “What’s next?” I stopped asking, “When will it end?” and “You’re kidding, right?” I don’t want the answers anyway, but to proclaim a resounding “Why me?!” to the Heavens is therapeutic now and then – even if an answer doesn’t descend back down.

To say I’ve given up is an understatement. I have given up so many times it’s not even funny anymore. Sometimes, I feel like I am waiting for the next bad thing to happen – wondering what misfortune will befall me. I’ve lost friends over it as a matter of fact. Those once-in-a-friendship-crisis friends that are there for you when one thing goes wrong, but shake their heads and run the other way when it when it happens two, three, four and five times. “It must be Karma,” they say. “You bring it on yourself,” they whisper. You’re not surprised when you never hear from them again outside of the social niceties.

By now you’re probably wondering, “What’s wrong with her?” It’s New Year’s Day and this post is about as uncelebratory as one can get, right? Well, you wouldn’t be wrong. Blame it on constant tiredness, a grumbling tummy or the fact that I am secretly dreading another year of my life, I won’t judge. I can’t judge you. Not only because chronic illness, fatigue, grief and loss make us act irrationally at times as what I am convinced can only be a desperate act of self preservation, but because I know many of you have stood and will stand exactly where I am now. Pondering the “Why me?” “When will it end?” and “How will I ever get through this again?”

I’m not making any promises, resolutions or suggestions even that 2014 will be any better than the last three years. I’ve played that game and frankly, I don’t have high hopes for this year. I would be kidding myself big time if I thought it stood a chance.

“How am I gonna be an optimist about this?”
-Bastille, Pompeii

I recently took a vacation to Vegas and learned to play Blackjack (to some extent, let’s not get carried away). It was exciting when I played a few hands and won some chips. I must have known what I was doing when I said “Hit” or passed with a slight of the hand. I made a profit, even, and kept the streak going for a few more hands. Then, in one instant, the card was dealt and I was left with less that what I started with. Just like that, I was out of the game. I played another hand or two for fun and left the table to occupy a slot machine. .

Did I win big in Vegas? No. Did I gamble all my money away? Of course not. But, I did learn something that I am going to carry with me into 2014. It doesn’t matter how I play the cards, I can’t possibly know the card that will be dealt. It is what it is. You win some, you lose some. Nothing short of clairvoyance would have changed my bet. I gave it my all, I thought it out, I made the best decision I could with the hand I held – and I still lost the bet.

Nothing short of seeing the future, will change what I do tomorrow, next week, next month or this whole year. I can’t possibly know what cards will  be dealt to me. I could make every right decision, strive for every goal, try my hardest, set out with the best intentions and still fall flat on my face in the end. It is what it is. In the game of life, I most certainly am not the one who deals the cards.

But I am the one who plays them. And because of that, I will make every right decision, strive for every goal, try my hardest, set out with the best intentions (and maybe wish upon a star while I’m at it) that someday, somehow, in someway, something will work out. The cards will be dealt and I’ll come out on top again (okay, I’ll take breaking even, just so we’re clear). So the blackjack tables didn’t work out this time, I’ll throw a quarter in the slots and give it a go. After that, there’s always pennies.

Beyond a doubt that 2014 will go my way? Not a chance. Optimism that maybe something positive will come out of it? I am trying my hardest. Determination to fight every step along the way? Absolutely.

I’m still in the game. The chips are on the table and I’m just waiting for the next card to turn over. Whether it be good, bad; better or worse than ever – I’ll play my hand and try again until maybe someday, the odds fall in my favor.

Your card is coming too. Keep playing until you win big.

There is hope for healing and you are not alone,