The last day of the twenty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining has not yet fully dawned. The fifteen-year-old Christmas tree lights the eastern window of the living room, glowing red, green, blue, white against the dark square of lingering night. Two other sentient beings still sleep, my son and our silly epileptic dog.
I awakened at four as usual. I forced my brain to stay quiet and stole an hour of sleep between five and six. Now I drink re-warmed coffee and sit at the lovely secretary in my dining room, thinking of the day, the weekend, next week. A new year.
The third year of my effort to embrace joy and abandon complaint begins tomorrow. I launched this journey on the heels of my mother-in-law’s death. Combined with my desire to live complaint-free, I also strove to stop using prescription pain medication to quell neurological pain after forty-five years. What a challenge this has been! Sometimes I can’t stop laughing. I collapse into one of my many rocking chairs overcome with giddiness. What was I thinking! Give up grumbling and narcotics at the same time! Crazy! I went cold turkey on the drugs with my doctor’s help and have not resumed their use. Complaining? Not so easy to let go of that!
Two years ago, I realized that my own attitude held me back and left me shuddering in darkness. I lived with inner turmoil. I craved peace. I strove to right a life spinning with no navigator, no controller, no defined orbit. I wanted to keep the people to whom I clung in love beside me. I wanted to attract others towards me.
I’ve been at it for two years.
In that time, I’ve experienced more loss than I frankly had prepared myself to bear but I bore it anyway. The friends who had helped me raise my child flocked around me, shouldering my grief, standing in the way of my despair, damping down the nightmares. I found ways to help others as a form of distraction. The good that I did for others pales in comparison to the calm which I gained from seeing the need of others and having a tiny hand their lives. It helped. It took me outside of myself.
I still have stark, immutable moments of intolerance. I’ve never been skilled at offering correction to people who err. I cannot abide my own mistakes and this inability extends to the mistakes of those around me. I see what happens: I ask someone to achieve an end; they fail; I snap; I do it myself and mutter under my breath. I apologize. They forgive.
I understand this cycle; and I strive to break it. But it persists, posing my greatest challenge in the coming year.
I will learn. I will change. I choose change.
To those to whom I have spoken sharply I can only say: Please endure; I understand your frustration and I strive to meet your need to feel valued. I have the same need.
A wise but somewhat embittered man frequently tells me: If you can’t be a good example, be a horrible warning. I have been both, sometimes simultaneously. I find a way to laugh at myself, if only privately, if only silently.
Some months ago, I gave voice to a thought: Should I continue this blog? Should I rename it? Should I let it slip away, forgotten on the virtual page, abandoned? Should the increasingly misnamed year end?
My only answer: I have not yet attained my goal of living without complaining, and so, I must keep writing, keep striving, keep trying.
So: tomorrow begins the new year. My Year Without Complaining.
Happy New Year’s Eve to anyone who reads this blog, whether by design or chance. Tomorrow holds much promise for all of us. We can reach within ourselves and find the peace waiting in our hearts. We can let go of misery and embrace joyfulness.
Today is the last day of the twenty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.