Sunday, 1 January 2012

Any New Year's Resolutions?

No. Not a single damn one.

I don't make New Year's Resolutions. I think it's a fallacy to think that just because the number in the date has changed, you'll magically suddenly find yourself with the resolve and the determination to achieve goals you set yourself. If you have that resolve and determination in you, you don't need a New Year. You don't need to make a resolution. You are the one person who can change your life. Not a date.

On a more practical note, I don't think the New Year is a time at all conducive to keeping resolutions. The first day you're unlikely to have slept well, for maybe a couple of days your routine will be way-off normal, you're likely to be busy with social arrangements, and everything will soon change once you return to work/school/uni, etc. Moreover, it is entirely socially acceptable to break your New Year's resolutions. In fact, we accept that practically no one follows them through. Making a New Year's resolution frequently therefore turns into a half-hearted promise that you keep making to yourself, in fact lacking any of the resolve to follow through.

As for me, the last time I made a New Year's resolution was in 2007. On the 1st January, I resolved to stop self-harming, which I had been trying to do for a couple of months with minimal success. By 3rd January I was insanely triggered and I slipped up. The feelings that triggered me, combined with an additional crushing load of guilt and failure from 'breaking my New Year's resolution', and the despair that no matter what I resolved I'd never be strong enough to stop, sent me into a serious spiral of depression and I ended up cutting and cutting and cutting. I cut so badly on my upper arm that I had to bandage it with a sanitary pad to control the bleeding. The scar is still obvious. By the end I was crying so hard I couldn't breathe, and lashing at my body with a short metal chain, which I'd stolen from my brother's jeans and used to hit my back, sides, and legs with, during really bad self-harming. I hurt myself because I had failed and the more I hurt myself the more crushing the failure felt and the more pathetic I knew I was, and so the more I hurt myself. When it was over, I sat numbly on the floor of my bedroom, and looked at myself, and hated myself, and hated what I had become, and that was where I found my resolve.

Thereafter, every time I was triggered, I remembered that horrifying afternoon. I still keep the chain, to remind myself why I must never ever go back to letting myself do that sort of thing to myself again. So I forced myself not to cut. And it was, probably, the hardest thing I've ever done. And it fucked me up for a long time. I got my first proper bouts of insomnia. Nightmares reared their ugly heads again: I'd dream over and over again that I'd hurt myself, and wake up convinced there were cuts on my body. My scars ached. Some days, cutting was all I thought about, and I forgot to eat or wash or take care of myself at all. I didn't have a period for eight months. I lost two stone. I completely stopped brushing my teeth, and only rarely remembered to shower. It was grim. But I did it. I have not self-harmed once since that day on the 3rd of January 2007. Now, this isn't to say all my self-destructive tendencies have vanished. I still have to work through a lot of issues surrounding the emotional self-harm I've been inflicting on myself all my life. And, as I've mentioned a couple of times in blogs already, I still get triggered. I still get the urges to cut. I still have to stop myself. But I do stop myself. And that is because I am absolutely determined never to go back to what I was that day. It is not because I made a New Year's resolution.

If you want to change yourself... change yourself, no matter what day of the year it is.

All that aside, obviously if New Year's resolutions work for you and are important to you achieving your goals, then that's fantastic, and I wish everyone who makes them the best of strength and determination in keeping them.

And although I've come across as pretty cynical of calendar dates as instruments of change, there is no denying that we divide up our lives into seconds, mintutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, and decades, and of course they have significance.

As of today, 1st January 2012, I am entering my second decade of life. In three months I will turn 20.

By the time I do that, I want to be a 'normal' weight. I have spent all my teenage years 'fat', and it has been - to put it simply - no fun at all. I've already made the resolution to sort this out once and for all, and I'm well on my way, but I suppose it deserves marking that 2012 will be the year in which I stop being overweight. 2012 will be the year that I reach a weight that makes me happy with the way I look. 2012 will be the year that I grow my own self-confidence. 2012 will be the year that I bury self-hatred and self-doubt beneath determination and achievement and self-belief.

2012 will be a good year.

I know this, because I'm going to make it so.

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