2008 was not a good year for me. Yes, I published my suspense thriller Dead Witness and received excellent reviews, but the year was dark and depressing from the get go. I keep a journal, and after looking back at most of January and February, I quit reading. It was too depressing to continue. I never quite got over 2007. We lost a loved one at the end of 2006, and consequently 2007 is mostly a blur. I entered 2008 with no direction. Survival instincts took over and most of the year was spent just coping.
At the end of February, I was stricken with that terrible flu sweeping across the country. It took the wind out of my sails for most of March too. April, I honestly don't remember. I could go back to my journal to find out, but why? Summer came and went. Our youngest was deployed to Afghanistan at the end of September. Winter rushed forward. My husband and I didn't even put up a Christmas tree. Our hearts weren't into the season or the celebrations. Is it any wonder that I couldn't wait for the year to finish?
I'm grateful I'm still here though. I'm grateful that readers contacted me to say they loved Dead Witness. But gratitude isn't enough. When did I stop believing I deserved to be happy? If you've ever been in the thralls of depression, you know your reasoning stops working after a time. You recognize that you're depressed, but the tools necessary to help aren't readily available. Logic and motivation and yearning are flimsy.
It begins with the desire for change. I want to be happy again. I also understood that first I need to believe I deserve to be happy again. That's a lot to ask for when you're in a dark place.
So it started with a desire and grew to a necessity. I am going to learn how to love myself again. It doesn't matter that I don't know what to do next. That is what's so thrilling. Since I made this declaration New Year's Day, a life-changing decision, the pieces have been falling into place. In less than a week.
I very seldom watch Oprah because there are too many commercials. I sit down with every intention of watching, but then these commercials keep interrupting and before long I'm off doing something else.
Only Monday, I sat down and stayed put.
Has anybody been following Oprah?
Over the years, she and I have experienced similar stages in our lives. Except when she turned 50 and thought it was a wonderful age. I thought she was nuts. But that was then.
I'm definitely with her now on this self-love mission. And as corny as that sounds, if you're not happy with your life, if things seem downright shitty, rest assured it's something to do with imbalance. As Oprah explains it: to be happy means to have all aspects of your life in balance: relationship, career and spirituality. And don't forget: fun. The secret is to believe you're worth it and to love yourself enough to be happy. I'm finally getting that. If I want a successful career, I need to be fulfilled and to have fun at the same time. If I'm not, then it's my love of self that determines the changes necessary to turn it into fun.
To wake up everyday with the motivation to make my life better, I need to love myself enough to see cookies and ice-cream and cake for what they are: poison. If I love myself, then seeing sugar as something that is cutting my life short makes sense and is very simple to do.
I went to bed thinking about this last night, and guess what I dreamed? I was sitting in a room surrounded by tables of glazed donuts, cookies, squares, chocolates and some fabulous whipped dessert... and suddenly I saw them for what they were. It was both exciting and freeing. I don't know exactly how this self-love stuff works yet. But if you'll come along, maybe I can help you while I'm helping myself. Couldn't hurt. And besides, I haven't been this excited in a long long time.
See you tomorrow.