New Me for ’23

Posted on January 23, 2023


Happy New Year!

I wish you good health and good times in the new year.

“If you want to know the truth, I don’t know what I think about it. I’m sorry I told so many people about it. All I know about it is, I sort of miss everybody I told about. It’s funny. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”

–J.D. Salinger

The new year came in like a lion for me: December brought the heart-breaking news of the deaths of 3 loved ones; then came a Relapsing Polychondritis flare-up that made me feel like I was dying and required steroids to quell; then came a few days of painful aftermath from going off the steroids. Three weeks in, I’ve stabilized and feel pretty good, though a little weak. I’m glad to be able to write today.

I’ve been frustrated by the fact that I’ve been unable to post, since I gave my word that I’d post weekly the last time I did, but that is the reality of Life With Chronic Disease. I just didn’t have the energy, mentally or physically, to write. I was in survival mode.

My friend, Kari, told me about Spoon Theory last year. I find it a very useful metaphor for the way I’ve been navigating life since a car crash in 1991 that resulted in brain and spinal injuries sidelined me from life for a year and affected my health ever since. It has helped me to think about and prioritize what I want to spend my limited energies on in life.

2022 was a year in which I spent a LOT of time focused on relationships. Losing my sisters, Karen and Sheree, to cancer in 2020, I have often felt like Holden Caulfield in A Catcher in the Rye, cycling through feeling like I was disappearing, like I was shot and my guts were pouring out, grieving being abandoned or betrayed by people I loved and trusted, and missing everybody. I reached out to loved ones to make sure they know that I love them and want to have authentic, caring relationships with them and that if there were issues that we needed to address to achieve that, I was here for it, because I love them. I want folks I love to know that when I have spoons to spend, I want to spend them sharing time and activities we enjoy together.

I’ve learned important lessons about living and loving and letting go in 2022. With my 59th birthday days away, I am thinking about “a new me for 2023.” It’s not about striving for a beach body, success, or recognition.

My goal for 2023 is to Just Be. Me.

Since discovering my Autism, I’ve come to understand my physical and physiological responses to experiences in a new way. I can now recognize signs of anxiety which I’d been blind to previously, and I can stop and ask myself if I “have the spoon to spend” on something that causes me anxiety and will require masking.

I now recognize that if I have to mask, or if my identity/feelings/experiences have been minimized/invalidated/ignored/attacked/ condemned by someone previously, I need to avoid or minimize contact with them for the sake of my health. Auto-immune disease flare-ups are thought to be tied to trauma, and aside from losing loved ones to death, being rejected, disrespected, and dishonored by people I love is definitely the #1 emotional trauma to bring on a flare for me. I’ve carried some emotional wounds for my entire life, but I’ve only recently begun to feel them and understand the role that FEAR has played in my most significant relationships. I have lived in fear for my whole life: fear of my dad, my siblings, my romantic partners, and my children. I was afraid of their disapproval, their anger, their violence, and their rejection. However, I know that relationships take work, and I’m willing to do the work. I’ve tried my best to show them love, acceptance, support, and loyalty. In fact, I nearly wore myself out loving folks who cannot or will not see or appreciate me and who do not value a relationship with me. That’s something I won’t be doing in 2023.

I learned to sing “Find Yourself” by Lukas Nelson, and the song really helps me hold onto my understanding of these relationship difficulties, especially the refrain, “I know the love that I deserve.” It has become an emotional anchor for me, a way to remind myself to not spend my spoons on unrequited love, because life is short, and spoons are in short supply.

Another anchor that keeps me grounded is mortality. I can no longer count the number of relatives who haven’t reached age 70. During my time of being trapped at home with my recent flare-up, I completed the purge of The Archive. I realize that I don’t have the spoons for anything related to my education career. I hung onto some things because I thought I might like to write about them, but I realize that it’s never going to happen, so I let go. The Archive holds personal–not professional–items now. I feel lighter. ms. eddy is dead, and I killed her. That part of my life is over, and that’s that.

I also purged the library, the kitchen, the closets, etc. during the time I was trapped indoors. Thinking about my family history, I realize that I may be in the final five-ten years of my life. As I picked up each book, item of clothing, or other object, I asked, “If I’m in my final five years of life, am I going to read/use/enjoy this?” and “When I die, is this something I need to bother my loved ones to deal with?”

Mostly, the answer is no. Now the garage is half-full of items for a spring sale.

1982: Tim and me,
before baby made 3!

Another reason I’m downsizing belongings is because I hope to move. As age 59 approaches, I realize that I have NEVER lived somewhere in my adult life because I WANTED to live there. Since I gave birth 40 years ago to my first child, my life has been centered around being a parent and poverty. I have lived where I have lived because I needed to support my family, stay within an hour’s drive of my children’s father, and it’s what I could afford.

In a few months, I will have the opportunity to search for a home of my dreams–a home within 10 miles of a lake I love. I don’t know if I’ll be able to accomplish this in 2023, but it’s something I’ll be working on… Wish me luck! When I do move, I’ll be glad I got rid of all the extra stuff.

As I write, snow is falling outside the window, and I’m wondering if we’ll get enough to Snowshoe. I hope so, but I doubt it. I’ll probably have to settle for walkin’ in a winter wonderland. That’s okay, too. A lot of the lakes have thawed; a paddle in the kayak is an option, too.

Later today, I’ll be jamming with another musician–the first jam of the new year!

Because life is short and spoons are in short supply, I know I want to spend as much time as possible outdoors in the natural world and/or playing music. These are the things that allow me to be me and bring me great joy. Sharing these things with people I love make them even better.

It’s a new year; I walk on, a little older, a little wiser, a lot curious, and full of love and appreciation for my life and All My Relations.

Thanks for reading. Be well, friend.

lisa eddy (she/her) is a writer, outdoor educator, and musician.