It is the first day of the year and of course I want to wish you a Happy New Year. Happiness, the feeling of joy and contentment, is my hope for you in the coming year. But, we both know that it’s just not that easy or realistic to imagine a year with nothing but happiness.
There will be struggles. Some big and some small. Some that tear your soul right out of your body, and some that just graze the skin and heal quickly. What I wish for you is that you not beat yourself up about the small ones. Believe it or not, they matter to you and, because you are my friend, they matter to me too. It’s not petty or ungrateful to feel the smaller struggles, even if someone you know has a bigger struggle. You can rant about them, laugh about them, be sarcastic about them. Whatever it takes. And I’ll be right there with you.
And for the big struggles, the soul crushing ones, I wish for you that you somehow find the strength to ask for help. Help with what you are feeling, help for what you need done, help for what you don’t even know you need. You’re not a burden. You’re my friend.
And here’s the truth. You don’t even have to know what you need or specifically how you feel to come to me, or any of your friends. Come broken. Come confused. Come uncertain. Come without answers. I probably won’t have answers either, but what I can do, every single time, is share the burden with you. We can figure it out together. And if not, we can sit together with the weight of the thing until it feels less frightening. We will drink wine or coffee or iced tea. We might cry. We will most likely laugh. We will go through the spectrum of emotions together. Believe it or not, sharing your struggles is my favorite part of being your friend.
There will be disappointments. You will disappoint yourself. Others will disappoint you. This year, in general, will not be all that you hope and wish and dream of. My wish for you is that you don’t try to avoid it or imagine you have the monopoly on it. Disappointment is like cellulite. Everyone has it, no one likes it, and everyone tries to hide it.
When you disappoint yourself, be kind to you. Remember that the only person who hears your inner monologue about yourself is you. I wish that this year brings an end to your critical inner voice and the beginning of you saying nice, positive, kind things to yourself. You are so kind to everyone you know. God, you are. To your kids, your spouse, your friends, and, hell, me. Turn some of that giving, loving, kindness inward and see yourself the way I see you. You don’t disappoint me. I love your face. I love every single blemish and wrinkle and chicken pox scar. I love your smile. I see you as this total sum of your personality, your strengths, your struggles, your fears, and your passions. And you are beautiful to me. Let me be your mirror this year. Let me reflect back to you what you look like.
When others disappoint you, my wish for you is that you remember that they are struggling too in ways you may never quite understand or know about. Even in the most cut-throat board game ever invented, Monopoly, you can get out of jail free. So keep a stack of those cards around and offer them silently to those you love and are worthy of a pass on letting you down, like me! And if they aren’t worthy, may this be the year you let them go.
As for disappointments in life – love, career, and dreams – my wish for you is twofold. First, remember that you are not alone. Even the most seemingly perfect couples, families and those with the most enviable jobs, careers, financial situations, and love lives, experience the same sadness and disappointment as you. And, second, to experience disappointment, rejection, failure and heartbreak you have done the most important thing about life. You have put yourself out there, out of your comfort zone, and the result is sometimes not the one you hope for. Believe me, I know. So, when disappointment comes to you, don’t ever for one minute, think that you have to keep it to yourself, be stoic or embarrassed. I’m your friend. I celebrate your wins and your losses. I promise I will never greet your real pain with some dime store quote of bullshit gratitude. I’ll let you just feel what you feel for as long as you need. No judgment.
There will be health problems and loss. I know that each year, well each day really, brings so many of you real and scary health issues. Some of you will face a continued challenge of your own health. Some will stand helplessly by and suffer through your child’s health problems. Others will see your parents lose their battles with the dreaded combination of age and declining health. Some of you, my friends, will unthinkably face another year, another day, another hour where you are without your child who has left this life way too soon.
To each of you a “happy” new year seems like a tough wish to send. So, instead I wish you courage. Courage to get up in the morning and find some way to exist in your feelings of uncertainty, fear, and heart searing loss. Courage to find hope in the future and warmth in memories. Courage to let others in and help you get through it. Life can be cruel and unfair and what you are going through is so hard. I’m here for you, even if what you need is to not talk about it. I’m excellent with distraction and spouting my sarcastic bullshit about my life to give you even just a momentary reprieve from the heaviness on your heart. And I can tap dance. And I will, if that’s what you need.
It’s no secret that friendships are among the most incredible gifts that life has to offer. With all of the struggles, disappointments, and losses, our friendships sustain us. They offer us a place of respite, a place where we can be ourselves fully and be truly loved and accepted. I know this because you are my friends. Because everything I wrote in this letter to you is what you have taught me. Because I am the one who has struggled, big and small, been disappointed by life and myself and others. Because I am unkind to myself and see myself harshly. I have experienced loss. And you have been there for me. You have offered me a mirror to see myself the way you see me. You have listened. You have made me laugh. You have wiped my tears. You haven’t tapped danced, because that’s my thing, and you know I like to have my thing! But, man through it all we’ve had a ton of fun too.
So, Happy New Year, my friends. No matter what this year brings to you, I will be there for you. And I know you will do the same. Thank you for being my sanity, my safe place, my belly laughs, my reality check, and for being my happy.