A Messy Masterpiece

By Deb Schiefer

The end of the year brings a cascade of memories for so many people. With the accessibility and connection social media provides, we often find ourselves digitally surrounded by a waterfall of snapshots from seemingly picture-perfect lives.  
For so many, that perfection passes by mostly unregistered as we celebrate the closing of a beautiful year. I’ll readily admit that most years, I’m that person. Most years, I love this season when friends and family share the highs and best memories. There’s warmth and togetherness. Most years, it feels like sharing the joy.  
Oh, but those other years. The desert years in the middle of lush rain forest. It’s been a hard year to feel the Christmas spirit, let alone prepare myself for what feels like an onslaught of everyone else’s perfection.  

This year, I’ve felt myself drowning. This year, I’ve found myself grasping at any lifeline far more often than I care to admit. I’ve survived so much in my life. I thought I’d healed so much. How can I be back here, again, after so long? 
I started to type it all out. Share it all. But here I am, just not ready to talk. I’m not there, yet. Trusting the world isn’t my strength. It never has been. I’ll share this corner, that bit, a scrap here, and a piece there, but to share it all? To share the rawest wounds? Trust can be so, so difficult.  
That isn’t the point, though.  
What I really want to say? We’re at the end of the year and so many of our friends and family will share their best moments. They’ll rehash the highest of highs to commemorate the most beautiful parts of 2021. We all want to end the year strong and well.  
But that isn’t always reality and I cannot be the only one staring down the highlight reels of the people I love while wondering when or if I’ll ever be able to share my highlights without struggling to remember if I even had enough of them to merit celebrating. 

At the end of a year of crisis, difficulties, trauma, and hurt, the last thing we need is to layer on shame and self-loathing because our year end doesn’t look like the snapshots our loved ones are sharing. What we do need is to remember that these snapshots being shared everywhere we turn are just that – snapshots.  
No one has lived a perfect year. Those posts filling each social media newsfeed are the shiniest, happiest, best moments each person lived in 2021. Maybe they’re sharing their best moments to hold dear their favorite memories. But maybe? Just maybe… Some of the people sharing are sharing from a place of desperation. Desperation to be like everyone else. Desperation to feel normal. Desperation to feel happy. Desperation to just feel.  
And for those of you who, like me, have given up trying to piece together a memory reel from the less-than-handful of highlights we’ve been given and are ready to just close the door on 2021, hesitant to hope for a better year in 2022? Friends, we’re normal, too. It is okay to not be okay.  
And eventually… Eventually, we’ll look back on this shattered year and remember that broken crayons still create beautiful works of art.  

We’ll easily remember that a lump of clay must be worked and smashed and worked and smashed before it can be molded into something unique.  
We’ll see the parallels between our own life and the piece of coal that’s been pressed on all sides into the strongest diamond.  
We’ll embrace the fire that purified our spirits like refined gold.   
Today… Today, we survive. Today, we keep breathing. Today, we find our way to continue and we cling to that hesitant hope that it will get better because it always does.  

Today, we don’t have to find the silver lining or bury ourselves in toxic positivity. Today, we close the door on a difficult year.  
And if we need to? We unplug from social media for a few days while the rest of the world gets the highlight reels out of their system, knowing we really aren’t alone. On the other side of this screen, there’s a woman just like you and her main focus is surviving.  
And that’s okay.  
We’re okay. 
Find your fight – DS

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