The Year of the ___. How Would You Name Your Year?

The Chinese have the idea. Name a year. BUT, they name the year before the year even starts. For example, I was born in the Year of the Dog; this year, 2016, is the Year of the Monkey.

As I look back, I find that I have given names to certain years, but I have usually named them after the year is over.

Several different times I have named my year the “Year From Hell.” Sometimes, the “year” hasn’t started on January 1, but started just before the chaos began. Sometimes it carried over the calendar new year back to the original month.

Take 1986 for example.

My year started when my husband (at the time) and I decided that we needed to move to a different home. It took us until August, or so, to find a house that we thought would work for us. Or rather I should say, it was the house he thought would work for us. I agreed, not because I liked it, but because the chaos that had invaded my life in late June and was still escalating had my mind in far too many directions. (This is the same house I am trying to sell right now.)

In late June, my grandma fell and cracked hip. She didn’t go to the emergency room, just the doctor’s office, which meant that she would not be able to be placed in a nursing home while it healed. She moved in with my parents. Right after that, my father was diagnosed with the flu.

On July 4, my youngest son was born. Since that is Independence Day in the USA with a big celebration, the hospital was on a skeleton staff. Thank goodness it wasn’t my first; especially when I heard the nurse ask the doctor if he thought he could handle delivering two women at once.

On or about July 6, because my father wasn’t getting any better, my mom took my dad back to the doctor. He was hospitalized for tests which changed the diagnosis from flu to a cranial aneurysm that was hemorrhaging. Over the next 5 months, Dad went through 5 surgeries.

We put house up for sale somewhere in the month of August. In August as well, my newborn son ran a high enough fever (104) for long enough that the doctor had him hospitalized for tests to determine what might be causing the fever. We moved into our new house on October 31, Halloween and found ourselves besieged with over 50 trick-or-treaters.

Then, since I was going back to work as a teacher in January, I had to find a new sitter. When second semester rolled around in January, I was ready to go back to teaching. If all that chaos was what it was like to be a stay-at-home mom, I needed the sanity of the workplace.

Another “Year From Hell”

started in May of 1997 and continued through maybe May of 1998. It was the year of deceit. I had finished my master’s degree program in May, but rather than greeted with “Congratulations” by my previous husband, I got “Glad that’s over.” By July, he had retreated from most of the family – even to the point of being irritated at being expected to grill out for his youngest son’s birthday party. Eventually it came out that he was having an affair. We are divorced. He married the woman, but at my oldest son’s wedding, a few of our friends and relatives told me that while my ex had traded down, I had traded up.

Why am I telling you my “Years From Hell?”

To help you realize that everyone has some kind of hurdle in their lives. “We are never dealt anything we cannot handle.” (That was a saying on one of the posters in the school secretary’s office.) If we believe that saying, we are better able to deal with all life’s ups and downs.

I had several people tell me that they thought I needed to see a counselor. My reply was always that I either didn’t have the money or that I didn’t have the time. The truth was that I had neither.

The truth was that I developed ways to cope.

  1. I walked. Yes, I had two young children at home. During my divorce “Year From Hell,” that meant that I walked up and down the driveway in front of my house. I needed to be in ear-shout of my kids.
  2. I wrote. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. Sometimes it was the same sentence or word over and over again. During my 1986 “Year From Hell” I stashed them into a file box with everything else I had or was writing. During my divorce “Year From Hell” I finally took the pages I had written with an angry hand and tore them to pieces. A few nights later, I took the pieces and a match and an old kettle out to the yard after the boys were asleep and I burned the angry words I had written.
  3. I won’t deny it, I drank for a while. But usually it was only one or two drinks. After all I had two kids and I had to get up for work the next morning.
  4. I talked to friends.
  5. I made sure to focus on my children and my work – the two things that brought me joy.
  6. AND, YES, I cried.

You may be going through your “Year From Hell” right now. Things may seem hopeless, but even though it may only be a tiny pin prick in the distance, there is a light at the end of your “Year From Hell” tunnel. Focus on that pin prick and watch that light get a little bigger each day. And remember, “We are never dealt anything we cannot handle.”

And maybe this song by Rodney Atkins might help.


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