It's been six years to the day since my father passed away, and it's also the night before Christmas Eve, a time of reflection and contemplation on what the year has meant and what I've learned. I can confidently say that I made more progress in 2009 than I ever have before.
I forged connections that weren't necessarily new, but ones that needed to be strengthened and made permanent. That goes for both blood family and chosen family. I officially came out of my shell socially, musically, and emotionally. I stopped hiding from who I am, and I stopped running from those who love me as I am.
It took me a long time to get here, but I wouldn't speed that process up for anything in the world. It had to go down exactly as it did. And all the pain, all the loss, it was all worth it to exist in this moment. I'm grateful and I'm understanding of the process now. I won't question that process anymore, and I won't try to convince myself that I'm the one in control. Some things... no, most things... can't be forced. Coaxed? Sure. Coerced? Maybe. But never forced. :)
I'm unfortunately ending the year hearing some third-party comments from a certain family member whose name I won't mention. Some really offensive judgmental sh*t that crosses the line and makes me feel like neither of us ever saw each other in vivid daylight. Because I have respected and even emulated this person. And they see me as a failure, as a human being who is defective because I'm not doing "the normal thing" in any way shape or form (the normal 9 to 5 versus my own business, which by the way has been very successful).
Well kids, listen up. Normal is overrated. Realistic is overrated. I have never done anything the normal way, and yet I somehow always survive, and I always respect myself at the end of the day. I know I'm not the only one with relatives breathing down my back about how I "should" be doing things. We have to resist that. There is more to life than conformity and normalcy. And beyond that, if you have a DREAM, that has to come first. You know in your heart if you're doing the right thing or if you're wasting your time. And you've got to follow what's intrinsically in your heart. That can't be questioned.
I have come to a place in my life where I finally don't care what other people think. Yes it can sting, but I won't change my methods to please any critic. I'm not the perpetually angry artist with a middle finger to the world. Don't ever think that. I'm an optimist and a lover. But I was also a caterer for much of my life--catering to those whose approval I thought I needed more than air and water. It turns out I don't.
I still love those people, judgmental or not, whether or not they have ever attempted to see the real me. I have an unconquerable respect for other human beings, so if I loved you once I love you now. But I don't lay myself down to get kicked time and time again anymore. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt once. Maybe even twice if I'm feeling extra generous.
But lately my love is more of an arms-length type of thing, keeping a safe distance but still extending my heart even if it's sometimes invisibly. I guess that's the true definition of forgiveness. Respecting yourself enough to keep your distance, but loving the other person enough not to hate them for what they have done to you.
(UPDATED 4/21/2013: Re-reading all of these similar themed blog posts made me realize how long this was going on and how much it was really affecting me. I'm not nearly as generous with that "I still love them" at this point... I really don't. Some people are just cruel and heartless, unfortunately, and I have come to accept it and move on!)
Well, there is plenty to do before our little Christmas Eve get together tomorrow, so I should go. But I hope you have a beautiful holiday... even if it's a little melancholy, even if you're missing somebody... there is beauty in all of that, and if you can find it, you are miles ahead of most of the world. Write about it, sing about it, talk about it with your loved ones. You don't have to be an artist to get those things out. Just speak. Just open up. Here's hoping that none of you are spending the holidays alone, and if you are, then at least think of me. 'Cause I am grateful for YOU. Thank you for all the love and support over so many years. See you in 2010...