This time three years ago was my last New Years out on the town. A teeny size eight I slipped on my favourite dress and sky scraper heels. My eyes were smoky and my hair was done with a swoosh of product through the funky style I was rocking at the time. Looking at photos I can honestly say I don’t recognise myself. I looked a million dollars, and a million miles from the way I look today.
I remember that night so clearly. I remember people complimenting me. Women liked my dress, my hair, my heels. Men buoyed with drink liked the way my dress sat just below the crease of my ass, showing off the only pair of tights I had on hand at short notice of a night out. You know the type? They look like stockings… I remember the smiles, the selfies and the shots. Kissing a stranger at midnight. Singing along to the music.
Fast forward to tonight and my New Year was spent very differently. Tonight I had a take out for my tea. I showered and then I watched a film in bed. Sounds boring right?? Wrong. For me, it was absolutely perfect.
To understand why, you might need to look a little deeper into my New Year three years ago. My night out was last minute because a friend convinced me to leave my doldrums and head to town. She was worried about me being alone. When I say alone, I don’t just mean for New Year. I mean totally and utterly. I was estranged from my entire biological family. The person who had been stringing me along for the entire year had also chosen this time to cut me loose. My daughter was staying at her dads and I had little in the way of close friendships. Well, except for one. One who convinced me to get out and feel better. My body was a size eight because the intense stress I was under had caused a flare up of a condition which makes my body completely unable to process food. Weight was dropping off me at an alarming rate. My funky hair? I had that done after a close family member passed away. I don’t know why. I just needed to do something, and chopping all my hair off was it.
So I went. I slapped on the makeup, painted on my smile and toddled off up to town.
I remember that night so clearly because I was in a place I’d been frequenting for over ten years. Surrounded by faces I recognised and many I knew well. I was smiling and singing and playing along. But I had never ever felt more alone and miserable in my life. Never.
Just after midnight I had a lift pick me up and fetch me home. I took one last ‘happy’ picture before bed, then I cried myself to sleep. My makeup staining the pillow with a blurry reminder of my pathetic (to me) existence.
The next day, as I languished in bed watching the hours tick by, I decided I had to make some changes. 2013, and the years leading up to it, had seriously brought me to my knees. Now was time to get back up.
I decided to start putting myself first, and saying no to people. If they only wanted me around because of what I could do for them then why did I want them in my life? The same went for men. No more men who thought they were doing me a favour by spending time with me. No more men who treat me badly. No more being used. I would rather be single and happy than in love with the wrong person.
For the first time ever, I stuck to my New Years resolutions. I fought hard for myself. I put myself first. I ‘found’ myself, and my smile, again. Not long after I found my husband. The man who had been right under my nose all along. I always knew he’d treat me well, and that we had a connection; but I pushed him away. I see now that it was because I was afraid. Afraid of falling too hard and getting hurt. Afraid that he’d realise he deserved better. Afraid of losing him before we even tried.
But try we did, in late February of 2014 we started dating. At Easter we were engaged. Our wedding was September first. Some thought it was too fast, but we knew it was right. I knew it was right. Why wait?
So here I am. In my bed. Writing this blog. On one of the biggest party nights of the year. Gone is the size eight body and funky hairdo. Gone are the sky high heels and skimpy dresses. The makeup very rarely adorns my face. But what I have instead is so much better.
I have peace, in my life and in myself. I have a daughter with a step daddy who adores her. A step son whom I feel lucky to have in my life every single day. My sweet baby boy, who lights up the room with his smile. I have my husband, my partner, my best friend and my soulmate all rolled into one. We get on each other’s nerves, we argue and we grump. But we tell each other we love each other more times than I can count in a day. We are there for each other through thick and thin. We love each other. I have a love in my life. The love of my life. I have made and kept a select few real friends who treat me well and I endeavour to do the same for them. Finally, possibly most surprising of all to the me of 2013, I have worked hard on rebuilding a relationship with someone very important to me. They have worked hard too and we seem to be doing great. That too makes me happy.
So you can keep your parties, your nights out, your drink and dance. That’s not what matters. It might entertain a person, but ultimately happiness isn’t what you find in a bar. Happiness is being content in your own skin. Happiness is love. Be it for yourself, or for others. Happiness always starts with love.
So, if you have one New Years resolution that you plan on keeping, let it be to love yourself. Because if you love yourself, others really will follow. The right ones will remain even during the times that love for yourself is a little bit lost, and they’ll love you that little bit extra.
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!