Saturday, January 1, 2011

To begin again. 2:13 a.m., January 1, 2011.

“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” ~Bill Vaughan

Dear Diary,

I just got home from a little celebration to welcome this new year. A million people have gathered in Times Square tonight to celebrate the Earth’s orbit around the sun. Around the world, almost everyone on the planet is merrymaking. It’s the biggest party there is.

A year ago tonight, my husband, son and I were at a public event. I remember that night well. It was the first New Year’s Eve after my suicide attempt, and even though my attempt had happened earlier in the year, I was still quite depressed.

At first, being surrounded by children with balloons and adults with hats and noisemakers just seemed kind of irritating. But at some point, as I was watching people dance, I felt something inside me shift. Maybe, I thought, this could be a new beginning. Maybe there was hope after all.

If there is one word to sum up the emotion of a New Year’s celebration, it’s optimism. For one night, the vast majority of human beings join together as if to say, “We can begin again, and we can do it better this time around.” If you think about it, there would be no other reason to celebrate a particular passage of time. The point is that things are new and fresh, and there is opportunity and hope. Like the birth of a baby, the beginning of a New Year symbolizes possibilities.

Part of that optimism is reflected in the concept of the New Year’s resolution. When my son was 7 or so, I explained New Year’s resolutions to him, let him think for a while, and then asked, “So what is your resolution going to be this year?” “To learn more about roly-poly bugs,” he announced. For a 7-year-old, learning about a bug just might be considered self-improvement.

Actually, he kept his resolution, which is more than can be said for most adults who vow to quit smoking or start exercising. But part of the importance of a resolution is simply recognizing an area of one’s life that needs to be changed. That’s a big chunk of the battle.

This year, I resolve to do one thing: to continue to recover. I’ve already come a long way from that big celebration a year ago, and my “support group” on Facebook is a huge reason for that. I’ve taken other actions as well – getting proactive about my career options, reaching out to be closer to old friends and to make new ones, and finding a new therapist. Despite dark clouds of economic doom, despite some legitimate fears of what the future will bring, I still feel more optimistic tonight than I did one year ago when I first felt that tiny wave of hope.

Tonight, I’m hopeful that I’ll continue on my upward trajectory of healing. I’m hopeful that my loved ones will have a safe and happy year. And I’m hopeful that the dear friends I’ve met in the SAS group, some who have become like family to me, will continue to make a decision each day to stay in this world.

It’s the first day of a new year. We can begin again, and we can do it better this time around.



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