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VIII. An Afterword

(Written on 31 December 2015)

As I say goodbye to the year that was…

And so today is the day when we turn the final page of our book on this year, we shut the book tight, and we lean back and say, “Holy crap, what a ride that was!”, or “Never again!,” or “I’m the luckiest person on Earth right now.”

No matter your sentiments, there are no more pages to write in this limited annual journal of 365 leaves. And so it is with knowing that, that we put our year to one side and reflect, celebrate our achievements, forgive ourselves for our misjudgments, forgive others for theirs, say goodbye to those who have left us, and hold a little tighter on to those who are still with us.

Life holds no promises. There are no five year guarantees. When life knocks us down we can choose to fall down the tunnel, spinning and spiralling out of control until finally we think we have hit rock bottom, only to have another cavern open up and swallow us in deeper. Or we can dust ourselves off, pick ourselves up, straighten our collars, and put that shoe that flew across the room back on. And we can give ourselves a hearty pat on the back and say, “Well done you! You made it! You might be tattered and your edges might be frayed, and like the Velveteen Rabbit your insides may be falling out and the threads holding your eyes in might be somewhat loose, but hey, you’re still here.”

And do you know what that means? It’s means that you’ve still got work to do. The world needs you. Because each day you wake up and go into the world, you have the opportunity to change someone’s life. Just as there are souls out there waiting to change yours.

2015 was not an easy year for many. Remember that we are living in the Age of Enlightenment, and that means that we are waking up. Sometimes it is in the act of awakening that we experience the most pain. But it’s all good, because that pain is moulding us into the greatest version of ourselves, and often that pain – as raw as it is – can be channelled as a healing tool towards someone who has just recently entered that abyss.

Had my 2015 been offered to me on a silver platter on the first day of the New Year, and had the lessons been hidden from me, I would have brushed the platter aside and sent it crashing to the floor. Had I seen the lessons, the gifts that were going to be revealed to me (admittedly through many hours of alternating screaming and sobbing and desperation), I would have graciously accepted the journey that lay ahead of me.

In hindsight however, it was probably better that I didn’t know.

Early in the year, while completing this book, I discovered truths about the person to whom I had given my life for eight years, the man I would have walked into a fire for if it meant that he would live, and my world was turned on its head. Disbelief, anger, hurt, betrayal, there was not one of these words that I did not experience in its full magnitude. I was crushed with the weight of eight years of expectation. My fault, I know that now, but the trajectory of that course of my life had already determined itself and I found myself backed up against a wall, just waiting to die.

Which I wanted to. Many times. A bridge over a highway. A dark street where nobody would know. A truck driving the other way. That packet of pills. But somewhere deep in my soul I knew that giving up was not an option. Life could – and would – still go on, except that this time, I would be writing the terms and conditions. For me.

And so I picked up the shattered pieces. I said my goodbyes. I wrote the final chapter of my book. And I left.

And then the unthinkable happened. My business. My eighteen year old baby was crumbling. An aggressive cancer was eating through its core and I was watching it fall apart right in front of me. The ship was off course, its hull filling with water, and there were no life boats on board.

There were lawyers. Oh how I hate lawyers. I naiively thought the business could be saved. I held on so tightly that my fingertips turned white and blood emerged from the fissures that tore open in my flesh. My life became a blur of spiralling shattered hopes and dreams.

And then there were the hollow, yet hopeful, eyes, of my staff, many of whom had given their lives to the company, who were not going to take home salaries that month.

And the debt. I had signed my life away for the business. My credit cards were maxed. I had no way of repaying even a cent. I knew I was done for.

Life clouded over and I could hear the menacing thunder in the distance.

And then came the question from a friend, “How are you going to put food on the table?”

A single mother, two teenagers to support, not to mention three kitties. He was right, how was I going to put food on the table?

One thing I’ve learned in the past couple of years, and this year in particular, is that no matter how independent you are, and I speak for myself here, it’s who you know that matters the most. It’s the relationships you’ve built with other people that are the foundations for any new beginning. And if you’re able to be vulnerable – to truly reach out and admit that “Fuck it (if you’ll excuse the French), I’m in trouble and I can’t do this any more on my own…”, that’s when every angel in the Universe is sent down to make things right.

And so, one by one, the angels appeared. This friend, the one who had asked me how I was going to put food on the table, was an entrepreneur and saw a way. He would make it happen. So, in the blink of an eye, a new business was formed. Some of my colleagues literally fell to their knees as they were told that their salaries had been paid.

A friend offered her home to me. Another helped me go into debt rescue. Others offered me financial assistance, even though I knew that many were struggling themselves.

And my children. My beautiful, precious children, who hugged me and cried with me and told me, with unwavering hope in their eyes, that everything would be okay, as long as we were together. That everything would be okay in the end.

Because if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

But when nobody was looking, or asking, in truth I felt as if I was letting the whole world down. I sobbed my heart out driving to the office. I sobbed it out driving back home again. How would I ever repay the debts? I would lie awake at night wondering when that big hole was going to open up again. I wondered how long I could keep things up. I wondered whether I could keep my sanity in check. How I wished sometimes that my mind would just wander off and never return.

But it stayed.

Because I still had work to do.

And so, as I type this out on New Year’s Eve, I will admit that my eyes are not dry and that my heart still aches; but there is one thing that I know for sure, and that’s that my soul is on fire. It’s alive for the first time in years. I feel as if I have taken a flaming sword and cut through everything that was holding me back from being the authentic me.

I’ve learned that sometimes you need to lose everything to find yourself again.

It is going to be a bit tough for the next while while I sort my life out. But it’s okay. I will make things right with everyone. I will not be an ostrich with my head in the sand. Not any more.

So as we say goodbye to the year that was, I would like to take a moment to raise my hands to the big man upstairs, to the Universe, to the angels, and most importantly to each and every soul who has touched my life this year, and say thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It’s been the scariest rollercoaster ride ever, but hey, that’s life. Sometimes it’s great, and sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it’s just downright terrible. But what counts the most, no matter what part of the rollercoaster you’re on (and remember that life is just one long rollercoaster), it’s the people who are sitting beside you and in front of you and behind you, all screaming, or crying, or laughing with you. And some of them are holding your hand. Or wiping the tears from your eyes. Or kissing your forehead. Or grabbing you by the shoulders and shaking you to wake up.

It is with excitement, or, perhaps, even a certain amount of trepidation, that I look down at the the blank book that will be opened tomorrow and whose pages I am yet to fill. What will this new year bring? Love? Luck? Adventure? Peace perhaps? I vote for all of these, and then some. It is now time to celebrate this beautiful gift called life. It’s time to make another dent in the Universe.

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