Friday, December 23, 2016

Lyn Battersby rethinks the 2016 Blues


Or why my year was better than yours.

Hello, Blogness, my old friend.

Yes, I Facebook more than is ideal for any one person, so instinct tells me to post this there, and yet, I'm a purist, so I'm doing my 2016 Year in Review here. Hopefully people will read it. Hopefully, I only offend the right people.

1. What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?

I finished my Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing. It has been a long, long, looooong haul, but I got there and in the end I'm totally proud of my efforts and the marks I received. I remained a person of Distinctions and High Distinctions which still makes me blink in wonder.

I made a Uni nemesis. He was a superior older white male who gaslighted (gaslit?) me on line. Idiot. 

2. Did you achieve your goals for the year, and will you make more for next year?

I wanted to attend the Temple twice and I did. I wanted to sew two garments - I did not. I wanted to read 12 novels from our shelves and I did. I wanted to stay below 56kg, but depression and my ankle injury saw me sail above 60kg. I de-cluttered 50 things from the house rather than 52. I emptied 10 boxes of books rather than 3. I completed all Uni units but I did not finish and send Treckie Travers. So, I achieved some and failed others, and yet, my year saw me attain more than I ever thought possible. I won an internship. I educated my son well enough that he'll slide into High School without an issue. I helped my husband cope with a depression that had me fearing for his long-term mental health. 

I will make goals for next year and they're bound to revolve around the Grad Dip Ed that I'll be starting in 3 weeks.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My cousin Katriona's daughter gave birth to a baby boy.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

David Bowie. Admit it, we all feel close to him.

My cousins, Sue's, son took his own life. My heart aches for Sue and her family. I know what depression does to people

5. What countries did you visit?

They say the past is a different country and it's a country I constantly revisit. This coming year I hope to look forward rather than back. 

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

My brother. But I think that ship has sailed. As I said, it's time to look forward and my brother and I keep using our shared past to damage each other.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 

25 November. The day I finished my degree. It was so important to me to acquire a higher education and now I have. Onwards and upwards.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Uni, obviously, but also getting Connor back into the formal education system. He's happy to be back at school and is looking forward to starting high school with his friends. I was worried that he'd be behind, but he's not and I'm proud of that. Between bad health and bullying he's been homeschooled on and off for 5 years now, but that's over and we can all move on.

In a year where my brother decided he no longer wanted to be part of my life, I'm so happy to reconnect with my France family (my Mum's side of the family). These are my blood relations. We share DNA. They are my first and best memories and I have missed them like crazy. I hope 2017 brings actual meet ups with my Aunty and cousins because they are really important to me.

Having said that, I'm grateful for my Kiely family. We may not share DNA, but they have been there throughout the best and worst years of my life. Lee and I will be spending the 27th with the Kielys and I can't wait.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not noticing just how badly my husband was drowning in work-related depression until it was almost too late. Fortunately, it wasn't too late and we managed to get help. 

Looking after my weight. I see the photo of me with my family that was taken at last night's Bookapalooza and I just want to cry with shame. I am horrified by how big i am now after working so hard to lose it last year.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? 

14 months ago I had a bad fall that ripped apart two ligaments in my left ankle. Thanks to conflicting opinions within the medical profession I have never regained any real control over that foot. I can walk 12,000 steps one day without issue, then need the aid of a walking stick the next. I am so angry about this injury, angry at the doctors, at the specialists, at the step that caused me to trip and, naturally, angry at myself. 

So very angry.

I also suffered depression and anxiety, but Pristiq helped me find myself again.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Pristiq. The recliner couches. Our gorgeous Christmas Tree. It's so prettiful.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

My husband, for owning up to his battle, fighting back and coming out on top.

Erin for constantly doing her best and getting the marks she deserves.

My 15 year old nephew for coming out and including us in the conversation.

Connor for remaining positive in the face of sever opposition and oppression.

Cassie for recognising a problem and escaping with her children into safety. She has showed remarkable maturity this year and I'm so very proud of her.

Me, cos, you know, uni. 

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

A certain person at Lee's work who sparked a depression so devastating that I thought my husband would never recover.

People who would post about depression on-line, and then tell my husband that he had nothing to be depressed about. They suck. 

14. Where did most of your money go?

Credit card debt, mortgage refinancing, and these amazing recliners.

Erin's and Connor's school purchases (I nearly cried)

Oh, and an amazing 50s-inspired dress Lee bought me last week to wear to my graduation that's coming up in February.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I won the Irene Searcy Award for Best Essay of 2015. It was so unexpected.

Beginning Temple preparation. I've had a few setbacks, but now it's happening. I love my spiritual family.

My 50s-inspired dress, complete with very full petticoat.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?

In a year where the planet lost a lot of talent, to me the biggest loss was Leonard Cohen. This man seemed to put out his best work just before he died and I mourn his loss greatly.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: i. happier or sadder? ii. thinner or fatter? iii. richer or poorer?

Weirdly, despite being fatter and poorer, I'm definitely happier. I'm in a good place thanks to my Uni marks, Lee's Magrit launch, Erin and Connor's amazing school year, Cassie's solid home life and Lee's recovery. 

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Spent more time with Lee. This year we've spent less time together thanks to work pressures, uni, schooling and various other intrusions (including Facebook). Fortunately, we have Wednesday nights together without the children. We ignore our phones, go out for dinner, chat and decompress. We talk of our love and we discuss immediate and long term plans. It's very special and I'm grateful to Lee's former in-laws for taking the kids.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Worrying about my weight. And yet, I still do. I have issues.

20. How will you spend Christmas?

We wake up, open presents with the kids, have breakfast, drop the kids at their grandparents and then spend the day together in front of the TV with platters of food. This year I'll be going to church in the morning because the day happens to coincide with the Sabbath.

21. Who did you meet for the first time?

Blake's girlfriend, Jasmine. We went away in January, leaving Blake in charge of our empty house. When we came back we found a girl in residence. She is now a regular feature of our family and we love her. She's cute, she's funny and she just fits.

22. Did you fall in love in 2016?

Check the answer to this question from 2016. And 15. And 14. And, yep, all the others. I love Lee Battersby. I fall in love with him over and over and I still feel my heart flutter when we come together after even a minor separation. 

23. What was your favourite TV program?

Stranger Things, easily, by a long shot. But Jane the Virgin was my standout guilty pleasure. 

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

Every year I hedge around this question, but this year I'm naming and shaming. He may be the father of my grandchildren but I hate my daughter's ex-partner, Ashley. He terrorised and terrified my daughter to the point where she had to grab her kids and flee. He is a despicable low-life and I cannot stand him.

25. What was the best book you read?

Graham Greene's Brighton Rock. I felt a complete sense of desolation at leaving Pinky's world behind.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Leonard Cohen. I mean, I enjoyed him before, but this year, oh my goodness, he rose to the top of my jam-list. I love his work, particularly Nevermind and You Want it Darker.

27. What was your favourite film of this year?

Dr Strange.
Dr Strange.
Flip a coin. We watched them both multiple times.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 47. I sat an exam (for which I received an HD) then Lee took me out to lunch.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Exercising. I miss running, I miss stepping, I miss the feel of my body moving through space. I miss the feeling of power and speed and being inside my own headspace.

Also, meeting up occasionally with my Triffitt kids in Fremantle. I love dealing with my adult children. They're really great people.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

"This doesn't fit anymore. Better add it to the pile." The pile is depressingly high.

"I must Jamberry my nails!" Fortunately, I didn't get too fat for nail wraps.

20 years as a Jehovah's Witness, but in the end I embrace the Christmas spirit - on my nails.

31. What kept you sane?

Making lists and sticking to them. It was a year for being organised. It was also a year for forgiving myself when the list fell apart due to other considerations.

32. What political issue stirred you the most?

Lionel Shriver and cultural appropriation. As a writer I want to feel free to write anything without other presuming to tell me what I can and can't use. As a person with a conscience, I feel certain cultures are not mine to reap. And yet, as a writer, I want to subvert this. I am a woman, an ex-Jehovah's Witness, a rape survivor, a Mormon, a survivor of poverty, a survivor of spousal abuse. I am the 'Other". I am not privileged, so who amongst you can judge me.

33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.

The sins of the mothers visit themselves upon the children. My daughter is facing a situation that my mother, my grandmother, my Aunty and myself all faced. We all lost. I hope she wins. 

34. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

My ex-husband told me (just before we separated) that I wasn't smart enough for university. So, this year I have constantly had the words "Steal My Sunshine" in my mind.

And you know you can't become
If you only say what you should have done
So I missed a million miles of fun.

-Steal My Sunshine by Len.

See, I didn't just say I wanted to do it, I did it. And it was hard. And fun. And amazing. And I did it with Distinctions and High Distinctions. I had offers of internships (2), I won awards (2), I was offered Honours and Grad Dip Ed.
And my ex-husband was wrong. I'm totes smart.