The [man] in the mirror

//I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change//

‘Tis the season for reflection as we enter the New Year, and I’m not one to avoid a little over-the-shoulder analysis.

2016 was a brutal and beautiful year. It was a year marked by passion, courage, change, growth, and friendship. It was also a year marked by loss, pain, lies, fear, and betrayal. 2016 may have been one of the most pivotal years of self-evolution for me.

Why? Perhaps because of:

  • Two major job transitions, complete with painful disillusionment and the heavy impact of standing up for what was right over what was best for my career path.
  • The death of a close family friend, with dark and sorrowful ripple effects of grief on everyone close to me.
  • Severe financial difficulty, leaving me struggling to stay afloat and far short of my goals for debt payoff this year.
  • Challenging health issues that made functioning as a mother and an employee exhausting, and resulted in some serious struggles with anxiety and fear.
  • The loss of a dear friend, after some deceitful and poor ethical decisions on their part left me in the position of bearing difficult news to others they had impacted with their selfishness.
  • Two roommate transitions, which repeatedly drained my savings account and left me scrambling to survive as a single mother.
  • Three weeks of a miserable and exhausting fight with a lice infestation at my son’s school and outrageously high payments to a professional company to facilitate removal, once again draining my small savings account.
  • One brutal betrayal of my closest female friend, resulting in the end of a lifeline for me and many weeks of grieving for a very deep loss.
  • Unnerving news about my health to finish off the year, leaving me uncertain of what’s to come for me in 2017.

Without a doubt, this has been a heavy year. But the silver lining lies simply in the fact that I am not who I was when this year began.

I am a little less vulnerable, a little more stable. A little less unsure, a little more secure. I am a lot less afraid, and a lot more confident in my ability to navigate the darkest of days with the relentlessly altruistic tenacity that’s defined the course of my life. 

This year I’ve learned an incredibly painful and valuable lesson: That the only thing in my control… is me. My emotions, my reactions, my thoughts, and my choices–these are the only things I can control. The rest is not up to me, the rest shouldn’t sway me–I am responsible for and secure in one reality: My own power to decide what I will make of myself.

The question has become not “why me?” or “how could this happen?” but “what will i do?” “how will i react?”. More and more, I’ve found peace in resorting to the overwhelmingly stabilizing epiphany of my own self-control. 

I am not who I was when this year began. Loss, pain, lies, fear, and betrayal have shaped me… in the best ways. I’ve become self-aware, community-driven, future-focused, and kinder, more thoughtful, more empathic, more understanding, more patient because of this year. Because of these struggles, because of the sudden realization that I am in control of nothing and no one but me. Because of this pain, because of this awareness, I am different. And for that, I am grateful. 

I pray that 2017 is a better year, for me and many others. I pray for less loss, less fear, less pain, less betrayal. I pray for more financial security, more ability to give to others, more time with my son, more stability. I pray for the strength to get through my boyfriend’s deployment with consistency and without fear, I pray to master new realities about myself and the world, I pray to meet people exactly where they are at and help them there. I pray for greater love, greater joy, greater inner peace, greater patience and kindness. But at the end of the day, I know I can give these things, create these things, BE these things, regardless of what others choose to do, regardless of the difficulty and stress that comes my way, because the only thing I can control, is ME. 

//I’ve been a victim of a selfish kind of love
It’s time that I realize
That there are some with no home, not a nickel to loan
Could it be really me, pretending that they’re not alone?

A willow deeply scarred, somebody’s broken heart
And a washed-out dream
They follow the pattern of the wind ya’ see
‘Cause they got no place to be
That’s why I’m starting with me

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change//

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