A Year In Review And Happy New Year To You
Well, my dear friends it is officially the New Year. I know I haven’t written in a while. I have been focusing on school and the job hunt and I spent the last week being around friends and family and putting all work and writing on hold. But, alas, we begin again. I am more than ready to bid adieu to 2012, but not before acknowledging all that is was in its difficulty, growth and strength. And in particular, after writing this post, it became clear to me that if I had to sum up this year in one word it would be: friendship. The things that are so difficult about the year scream out so glaringly to me that it took writing out the synopsis of this year for me to see just how filled with love and friendship if truly was.
I begin with my Facebook status message from today (if you already read it on FB then scroll down past the three paragraphs in italics).
2012 was a year unlike any other. It was a difficult year. A growth year. I have never learned more about who I am and who I want to continue to become than I did this year. I began that process in the year before, but it was only in 2012 that I began to articulate myself. I can literally say that in this year my world view has changed tremendously, from a view of the world motivated by fear and shame to a view of the world motivated by openness. This year has proved very difficult in many ways, but also very beautiful. In particular when I look at the level of love I am surrounded by, I am humbled. I feel honored to have beautiful, loving and incredible family and friends. There have been losses, struggles, torn relationships and unrealized dreams but there has also been tremendous growth, a move across the country and reunited relationships.
In the year 2012, the thing I am the most proud of is Adam and I making it through the “dark night of the soul” as a friend’s recent blog called it. We made it through that dark period where we had to reevaluate where we stood in each other’s lives, where we stood in our own lives and if we could overcome our past and move towards a shared future. We made it through some bad places together and came out of it better for it, stronger and together. I most especially have gratitude for the friends and family who held us up through that. From the friends who lived far away but called and Facebook messaged to check in on us to the new VT friends who were just starting to get to know us and stepped up to be there for us offering tea, a listening ear and time with friends to Adam’s parents who went above and beyond in every way they could to our closest friends who literally helped to hold us up when we were convinced we would fall apart and who have become our family to my mom who put aside our laundry-list of differences to be a listening ear while Adam and I struggled through.
So, 2012 ended on a gratitude note, and that gratitude will carry over into 2013. But, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t totally excited for a new year, a fresh start. I am more than ready for it. My heart is open 2013. I believe you will be a year of great love, friendship, family, prosperity and opportunity. I am ready for you and I am more than ready to say goodbye to 2012.
Before I officially say goodbye to 2012 I wanted to look back at the year. I found myself wanting to have this deep cry at midnight last night, a sort of farewell cry to the labyrinth of emotions that the year was. I have always wanted to do one of those newsletters in my Christmas cards that give the highlights and major events of the year. I know sometimes people hate being sent those newsletters but I love them. I love reading about people’s lives. Well, this year we didn’t send out any Christmas cards. But, I wanted the opportunity, if for no other reason than to reflect on and synthesize the events myself, to recap my year.
2012 began in an interesting place. It began on the heels of a lot of recent self-discovery. I had begun the practice of transformational breathing and it highly impacted the way I saw myself and my world. Through it, I experienced God as a female presence (which I had never really allowed myself to do) I found immense joy, found a place of forgiveness for my father and saw myself in the light of love. The year began on rocky ground for my mother and I, as I had just told her that my religious and faith views had changed and that I had many questions for that which used to be so certain for me. I had just graduated from an entrepreneurial program in December of 2011 and Adam and I had recently started a small business celebrating Health and Wellness, Creativity and a fusion of eastern and western spiritual themes, a few months before the New Year. I found myself spending a lot of time at my favorite coffee shop in town, in my favorite red chair. It was my safe place, my place to write and to meet up with friends. I had been developing a friendship with two incredible women whom I would meet at the coffee shop frequently. Both women helped me become more myself and both women inspired me. I had never had a friend like either of them. My friend Mary mentored me and taught me about holistic wellness and inspired me to claim who I was and follow my happiness. Her own story inspired me. Kim and I started a friendship over writing. We would share our newest work and provide feedback and soon we met regularly not just to share our writing, but to share stories about our lives, especially to share our stories of parenting. Both women were there for me as I worked through the emotional process of writing my memoir. We knew we had been considering moving to Vermont by this time and we had also considered moving to Madison, WI. We had an offer on the table to consider buying a yoga studio turned health and wellness center in Madison. We knew we weren’t in a place where we could take something like that on, and so in January we said Namaste to the current owner and declined. But, it set into motion many conversations about where it was we were headed if it wasn’t there. Adam opened an art show at a local gallery and I turned 26. Running with the emotion I had after writing a chapter about him, I sent an email to my first love (whom I had rekindled a friendship with) and told him that our friendship no longer had a place in my life. That was certainly not my first unilateral decision made out of emotion and I can’t even say it was the last one made in 2012.
February was a peaceful month. I began teaching classes to small groups on writing, health and wellness and eastern and western religion. I realized how much I loved to teach. This was the first month that I allowed for the possibility that my singing voice was not as awful as I had believed and I began recording music with Adam (though I still haven’t let anyone else hear it).
In March the first round of edits on my book were done. It would need more edits, but I had officially written Santa Claus And Circumcision And Other Things That Keep Me Up At Night.
We made the decision to move to Vermont, believing that we could be the best versions of ourselves there.
Perhaps it was that we were leaving the state in a month, but an odd boldness took over Adam and I and we finally stopped talking about being polyamorous and started acting on it. We had been talking about being polyamorous for over a year but we had never pursued any partners. In that month, we had experiences with our first partners. We learned a great deal about ourselves and about what we were looking for in our romantic life and in life in general.
April was also the month that I lost my relationship with my friend of 24 years (though it will always be my hope that we will reconcile) and gained an incredible friendship with a new unexpected friend.
By April, I had spent months having snippets of conversations with the man on the other side of the counter at my favorite coffee shop. I had become a regular there. Somewhere over random conversations and me sitting there for hours at a time working on my book, Brandon became my friend. Through Brandon, I met his wife, Heather, who also became a great friend. There was sadness in realizing I had just made great new friends only to have to move away shortly after. I had spent the last two years not really meeting many people or making many friends. Then, as we were leaving the state, here were these two great like-minded people that had been right under our noses. We continued our friendship across the distance. Brandon has become one of the people that I care about most. He has amazed me in his ability to be there for me; they both have. He is one of those friends who you can talk to about anything, who will sit and analyze things with you and make you see the world differently and calls you on your shit but loves you through it. In particular, later in the year when Adam and I went through a difficult time, Brandon and Heather were two of the people who supported me and checked in on me most.
May 1st was our first full day in our home in Vermont. We spent our first night with two of the people I love most in the world, our friends John and Michael. They have become our family. Vermont felt like home right away because they were here. John and I grew up together and had not lived in the same city since high school. We had all kept in touch and even over distance maintained our great friendship. The year ahead would be a tough one, but the four of us would do better leaning on each other. John had been pushing me to get Facebook for years and I always refused. But, moving across the country sounded like a good reason to join Facebook. I figured it would be a great way to stay in touch with my loved ones in the Midwest. I went from someone who never used social media to a person who realized social media could be a platform. It was in my first month in Vermont that I used Facebook to come out as bisexual and as polyamorous. I also used the distance and my new found perspective on life as an opportunity to see if there was a chance to reunite with my father. And, on May 15th, my dad responded to my email. He talked to his granddaughter for the first time later that year and we began to rebuild our relationship.
In June I began this blog and started trying to write more regularly. I had tried to stay with a blog before. But, this time I wasn’t so afraid. Being one who always wants acceptance and approval from others and is a bit of a control freak, maintaining a blog, especially one that can be so intimate at times, has been a challenge. But, it has been totally worth it. I also joined an LGBTQ social organization that John and Michael introduced me to and began to make incredible new friends. I soon joined their steering committee and have been enjoying working with them since. It has been an incredible way to meet amazing new people in VT. In June we also made some unlikely friends. I met a traveling hippy couple in town and in our new found spirit of openness; I invited them to our house for food and showers. They ended up staying with us on and off over the next few months and we grew into fast friends. They had openness to the world and a capacity for love that I have rarely encountered. They had lived a way of life that was new to me. Their stories challenged me and pushed me to grow. They were incredibly kind to us and to Aimee. They treated us like family. They had this incredible connection to others and to the earth and their ability to live outside of conventional means fascinated me. And, a few months later, just as unexpectedly as they had entered our life, they left our life. Perhaps our paths will meet again, perhaps not. But, never- the- less, their friendship changed Adam and I both for the better.
During this month my mom and my aunt came to visit. It was particularly meaningful to me that my mom, with whom I had been struggling, came to visit so quickly. It did my heart good.
July was quite the month. I was fired from The Salvation Army and during the week that followed and the media interviews and the petition I started, my mother-in-law visited. Her visit couldn’t have come at a better time. She was there for us during this unexpected experience and helped be a calming force. While she was here, she got to see her son in drag for the first time and see the people we were here and why we wanted to move to Vermont. Aimee began preschool this month and Adam and I had to pause for a moment and realize how big our little girl had become. I also joined the Pride committee. It was an incredible way to give back to a community that had been giving me so much. It was also a great way to make new friends and to plan an incredible event.
In august, my mom’s sister, my aunt Nancy died. We had been estranged for many years, and only the year before had we begun to reunite. As is the case with the death of loved ones, her death came with realizations about the frailty of life and the frailty of relationships. Through her death, my mom and I began to start mending our relationship.
September was a challenging month for us. Adam quit his job for mental health reasons and we found ourselves without either of our incomes. Adam and I hit an ugly place in our relationship and decided to file for divorce. We had been talking for almost two years about getting a Great Pyrenees. And, in the middle of all of this chaos, our beautiful dog Max came unexpectedly into our lives. His timing was oddly perfect. He provided a calming force in our home and proved to be an incredible companion for us. Adam left for Minnesota to seek help at the end of the month and Max helped Aimee and I cope. Before Adam left, we celebrated the Pride festival together as a family. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work by many amazing people and a beautiful event. We knew after that weekend that we would always be a family; we just didn’t know how that looked anymore. Shortly after meeting them on a committee, my new friend Claire and my new friend Meg and I planned a women’s event together that we hosted at the end of September. The day of the event also happened to be the day that Adam and I officially announced our separation. Claire and Meg and Cori ( Claire’s wife whom I had only briefly met before that day), all stopped in the middle of setting up the event and reached out to me. They could have walked the other way and not dealt with my relationship troubles and I wouldn’t have blamed them; I was a new friend. But, instead those three women showed me incredible friendship over the next few months and all reached out to me and checked in on me.
Adam came back from Minnesota in October. We originally thought the distance made the most sense for us, but soon found that we didn’t want to be without each other. Even though we were separated, we wanted to live close to each other for us and for Aimee. During this month Adam and I had to really look at one of the major factors that was leading to our stress and our divorce: money. And so, after much thought and conversation, we decided to file for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy put our divorce on hold, which proved to be an incredible blessing because it bought us some time to decide if divorce was really what we wanted. We shared an awesome Halloween together with our new friends Claire and Cori. It was the first year Aimee picked our costume theme. We went as Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Aimee was Mr. Popper (the book version not the movie version) and Adam, Max and I were her penguins. Also in October, I joined another amazing committee for an incredible local LGBTQ organization working on development projects and community events and again met great new people and got to know some new friends even more.
The presidential election this past year was the first time I ever voted the way I wanted to. In previous elections I had always voted the way I felt pressured to by my family or by religion. Or, I didn’t vote because I was afraid to upset people with my vote. Casting my vote this year was a big step for me in autonomy. This was also the month that I realized just how much I love doing development work and event planning for Nonprofits. I began to reexamine my career goals and to look at my previous career experiences through this lens. On our way to pick up Aimee from school one night in November, we got into a car accident. I had to go to the ER, and as I was getting lifted into the ambulance with Adam watching, I realized that I wanted to work our relationship out. That our relationship had been through so much that it deserved another chance. We ended up being totally physically fine, but emotionally, it was a heart changing experience. Our friend, Heather also came from the Midwest to visit us in November. It was our first visit from a Midwest friend in Vermont and it was so wonderful for us to get to have her meet some of our friends here and to see some of the reasons we love Vermont, especially the farmer’s market.
December was a very difficult month financially, but it was filled with celebration and family and friends and with us learning our new normal. I took the LSAT this month as one of the possible paths I am exploring in my career and education life. Aimee had become this incredibly big girl over the course of this year and all of a sudden, she was this great conversationalist and one day in December she wrote her name, my name and Adam’s name. Adam and I, knowing that we want a polyamorous life, began online dating as a way to make new friends and potential poly partners. Claire and Cori took us tree hunting for our Christmas tree, which was touching for us. We had gone to the same tree cutting place every year since Aimee was born. They helped us start a new tradition. Then, they hosted us for Christmas Eve and in addition to nourishing our hearts with their friendship and with how great they are with Aimee, they nourished our stomachs with awesome southern food. Before they left for the holidays we were able to have a Vermont family Christmas with John and Michael. It was a beautiful time for just the five of us. We have always considered them family but I looked around that room and realized how incredibly important my little Vermont family had become for me. December was a month of friendship. Knowing that we were not able to go home for the holidays, our friends Randy and John took us in for Christmas Day dinner at their home. Their gesture really filled us with holiday joy. Right before the end of the month I had the opportunity to really reconnect with an old friend. We have talked a few times since we moved out to Vermont, but I haven’t seen my friend Mark in almost six years. We have talked on the phone on occasion over the years, but, thanks to Facebook ( I never thought I would thank Facebook for anything, but John was right it is great), we have the opportunity to sit up and chat. Other than Adam, Mark was by far the most influential person in my college experience and one of the dearest friends I have ever known. It was wonderful to end my year with rejuvenating our friendship.
My New Year’s Eve was a simple one. We had planned to go to a small gathering with friends, but first we went to pick up John and Michael from the airport as they had just flown back home. By the time we got them home, we were all beat (especially Miss Aimee). But, it was perfect for me to be around my Vermont family on the last day of 2012. We were all in agreement that 2012 could go. I looked at the four of them and I knew that they were my people. They had helped me get through 2012 and some of the most beautiful and hideous moments of the year had been spent with them by my side. This morning when we woke up, Adam, Aimee and I opened the door and said good bye to 2012 and breathed in the new 2013 air. We stood by the door with Max and in unison said “welcome in 2013.”