Updated: Feb 9
TW: mentions suicide, assault, and abusive relationships
New year, new… oh, shut the f*ck up.
At the beginning of each new year, those of us on social media see our timelines bombarded with the same old, “New Year, New Me” proclamations that last all of 90 days, before the truths of our natures settle in. By Q2, most of us realise that the “new us” we are trying to embrace either doesn’t exist, or that the work required to create this person is far too great in comparison to the comfort of staying the person we already are.
And there is nothing wrong with that.
Because, objectively speaking, what we are asking of ourselves is that over the course of a night, a week, or even a month, we completely change who we have been our entire lives.
A little example, pre-2019, I fell into the “New Year, New Me” trap and tried to be more of a person I never was. More patient, more affectionate, more focused. But that never worked for me because I didn’t understand the steps I needed to take in order to make it work. Even after years of various different forms of therapy, it was only during my pregnancy that I realised I couldn’t let go of my past self because I wouldn’t let go of my past self.
And, naturally, that included coming to terms with the abuse I endured growing up, and continued to accept in early adulthood. In mid-2020, at the height of the UK lockdowns, my hopelessness and loneliness allowed room for my brain to conjure up fears that my own child would experience the same upbringing that I did. And then it was clear, I had to do something that would change the way I perceived myself, my past, and my future.
I started this blog with the hope of reckoning with that part of me that I’d shoved to the very depths of my mind for decades, the part of me that accepted mistreatment, that sacrificed my own happiness in order to make others comfortable in my presence. And I spoke out about it.
At the end of last year, I opened up about a relationship I had been in with a man who, in every meaning of the word, was wrong for me. Why? Because we worked for the same company. He was a manager, and one of the popular ones at that. All of his friends, my colleagues, other managers, and, apparently, the entire Head Office, seemed to loooove him, and only extended that love to me because my man was smitten like a kitten.
p.s. I actually hate this saying, but this White man was incredibly open about his obsession with Black women, and made a point of mentioning it almost every single day during our year-long relationship.
On my Instagram stories, I mentioned this ex in response to a post about emotional manipulation in relationships (romantic or otherwise) and spoke lightly about how I’d felt trapped in that relationship because of how he and his friends treated me in the workplace. On four separate occasions, I’d tried to end our relationship, each time explaining that I was unhappy, we were unhappy, and after a sudden assault by someone I’d met on Tinder prior to our relationship starting, I really needed to be alone.
But each time I brought it up, I was met with the dreaded, “I’ll change… I’ll do better… I love you”. And, each time, I accepted it, because at some point in my life, I was taught that my own feelings don’t matter as long as someone needs something from me.
On attempt number 3, he’d promised that my leaving him would result in his suicide so I stayed a few more miserable months until I could take no more.
But then something really weird happened. A few days after I shared this to my stories, his friend, who I hadn’t spoken to since I left the company two years prior, decided to DM me in his defense. In his messages, he complained that by opening up and speaking on his abusive actions, my ex had gone into another emotional breakdown.
My attempts at having a conversation about this topic with this guy were met with contempt, instead, he continued to attack my character, blame me for causing more harm to my ex, and laughed at me for trying to further explain that the topic I was discussing was unhealthy relationships in general, using my (unnamed) ex as an example.
*Full conversation below*
You see, said ex was an alcoholic. Everybody knew it. People would often warn me of it in the beginning stages of our relationship. But I saw a change in him. His health was better when we were together. He had cut down on his drinking, his smoking, but in return he had become completely dependent on me to keep him clean. After our break-up, he fell right back into his self-destructive habits with added bouts of aggression and a new-found hyper-possessiveness that eventually led me to leaving the company months later.
It was that Goldberg type of love. You know, the one where someone spends months watching their object of desire and swooping in when we are at our lowest and most vulnerable. The only difference was that there were no murders taking place in the name of “love” (that I know of).
To me, this behaviour was unacceptable, and further showed me that breaking up with him was the right decision. I’d felt confident in myself for the first time in almost a year. So, two and a half years later as the opportunity arose, I took the chance to use my own experience to inspire others to leave their own toxic/abusive relationships.
But Fran’s* words were a serious knock to my self-esteem. I’d spent the first half of 2021 in a guilt-ridden depression ruminating over the pain my ex had gone through after our relationship was over. I hid from my social media, my blog, these safe spaces that I had created for myself to share my world with others in positions similar to mine. Instead, I posted random pieces of poetry, short stories, and reviews, to distract myself and my readers from the real reason I was even posting at all.
I was afraid. For the first time since I’d recognised that my vulnerability was, in fact, a strength to be shared and not something to be hidden. I was afraid of the backlash. Of the people who knew a version of me that had died with that relationship. That version of me that I’d worked so hard to understand and overcome for the betterment of my child. I was so scared that more people who felt they knew me based on someone else’s words would send more messages and remind me of how poorly I’d managed my own life for almost three full decades.
And maybe I was right to be scared. In hindsight, it is that time away from my blog that really allowed me to understand what exactly my purpose in this space was. I am a writer. I’m an artist, and I’m sensitive as shit. And the only way I know how to examine myself in all my torrential mayhem is to watch my mind destroy everything I love, and piece it all back together with words from my scattered brain.
Okay, that sounds dramatic. Writers, I know you know.
I like to think of it as the “Stark Complex” (coined by yours truly).
You know that scene in Iron Man 3 where Pepper finds out that Tony has been spending all his time building more machines to protect himself (and her) from the monsters he didn’t even know existed? You know, the one where he breaks down and reveals he’d been living in panic mode, and the only way he knew to overcome that was by doing what he did best, creating his suits?
That’s how I feel about words.
How can I make sense of my past trauma if I don’t write about it? Whether I share it or not, the process is still the same. Write it down, meditate on it, allow myself to move past it. Sharing then allows other people to access that same magic within themselves, and, before we know it, we are healing generational traumas together, so our children don’t have to.
2021 has been a year of questioning, debating, bargaining with myself on how best to deal with my past so that it doesn’t affect my future, or, more importantly, my son’s future.
I turned 30 this year. That’s 30 complete years on this planet of not knowing who I was or what I was doing. Tbh, I’m still figuring that out. So while I do, I have no choice but to rely on the thing that comes naturally to me, and those who don’t like it, don’t have to read it.
So, all of this to say that, going into 2022, I won’t hold back. How can I? My online presence is exactly that, MINE. An extension of myself that I am willingly sharing with whoever finds it. And as the person I am today continues to work hard to nurture the person I once was, you’d best believe I am sharing all of that mess, and all of that beauty, on the interwebs.
The ghosts of my past have all been blocked, deleted, or restricted from aspects of my life as I move towards emotional and mental liberation. But if any remain and find themselves upset about my content, I’d like to take the chance right now to say:
“This post is not for you.”
We all have a choice in what we consume. Getting angry about something that was neither for or about you is honestly a waste of your time, especially if you feel the need to DM a near stranger about mess you know nothing about without even an option for open and honest discussion.
We are raising vibrations in this space. Moving forward with our lives. A lot of that will inevitably include picking apart our past in order to understand the present. So you can choose to embark on this journey with me, or evil-eye it from afar. Either way, you can expect to see a lot more poems, stories, reviews, collaborations, and, of course, blog posts about the messiness of my overactive brain.
So, 2022, you will not meet a “New Me”. What you will have instead is the me that I have been working towards for the past 30 years. A culmination of love and pain and art and words that express my own reality, and reflect that of millions, maybe even billions, of people across the globe.
With each year that passes we get the opportunity to look back on ourselves and our lives and really interrogate the systems that led us to where we are now and where we want to go in the future.
Have you made any promises to your present self about changes for the future? Before doing that, have you looked at who you were and why you are who you are now? If not, it might be time to consider it. Because whether you set your resolutions based on the Gregorian timeline that begins in January and ends in December, your academic year, or by the day of your birth, time passes, and it is our duty to celebrate a new beginning by commemorating an ending. We at least owe ourselves that much, right?
*Fran gave me permission to share his DMs in his first message.