I’m always surprised when I bump into one of you, just going about my business, always surprised when you recognise me, come and say hello. It’s just me, why on earth would you be interested in anything I have to say? And yet you constantly come back and remind me to speak up, to speak clearly. Don’t be quiet, you remind me. You have a voice.
Here we are at the end of this year, my last post before I take a month’s break and the rest of the country goes on holiday, a post in which I try to sum up the latest stage of the wild roller coaster ride that has been my blogging life.
It has in fact been a year of letting go.
This has been in some ways the very best and the hardest of years: A year in which I achieved a triumph few writers ever achieve; a year in which penury and rootlessness also featured prominently. A year in which I finally set down roots deep in a town I have grown to love deeply, passionately.
Those of you who have followed this blog from the outset have always expressed amazement that my life has taken so many twists and turns. To you I would say you don’t know the half of it. So much of my life is withheld from you all. You don’t see too many photos of my children and that’s the way I like it. You don’t know my extended family at all and that’s the way we all like it.
Like all of you, I have my own grand themes that run through my life: triumph and joy, soul-destroying tragedy, illness, failure, heartbreak, ostracism and whooping hollering joy, love, happy dances and small victories. These large themes have dominated most of the last decade of my life as I’ve slowly unravelled all the cords and links and binds that kept me small and afraid. It’s been a monumental transition and not at all easy. What a life.
But mostly this year, while it didn’t go away completely, the white noise of upheaval and failure has abated. The tide turned when I finally gave voice to my anger and told the critics to shut the hell up. I stood up and spoke up, even though my voice was very shaky. It was a post that garnered more comments, both here and elsewhere than at any times since that awful newspaper story of two years ago. It gave me enormous comfort to know I was not always on my own, no matter the circumstances. Very quietly, the creeping realisation came to me that this was it, and while it isn’t a perfect life, it is the life I have chosen for myself.
I’ve taken a few backward steps since then, not because I failed but because I needed to get a little more closely aligned to what I really want from life. While on the surface it looks disastrous – living with yet another housemate, still paying down debt, no extras or extravagances – my life is now quietly optimistic, even if my ambitions are still yet to come to fruition. I have optimism and strength but most of all I have self-belief.
At long last, I’m no longer at war with myself.
This year has given me the gift of friendship, from establishing networks and forming business contacts to genuine girlie nights out and blogger gatherings, dinner parties with friends and even some honest to goodness old-fashioned dates.
And in the midst of it all is the town itself. I always knew Melbourne was the right place for me to live, but I never knew quite how much it resonated with me until this year. It’s provided the background from which I could at long last find my tribe. And yes, that means talking, thinking, left-leaning, feminist, coffee-swilling, food-obsessed, creative types. At long last I feel I belong, that I’m not an outsider.
From this assurance has grown the ability and self-belief to express myself in ways I could only dream of a few years ago. I’m a better cook and writer than I was when I began, but somehow I’ve become a shinier, smarter, more forgiving version of myself at the same time.
Next year sees a new blog design, some new business ventures and adventures and a gentle changing of a few habits and behaviours. Now that the changes I’ve sought are so close to hand, I’m as nervous as hell, but I don’t have any reason to stop. I constantly ask myself not if, but when.
At long last, that cruel decade is over and life is calling. But first, I’m going to have a couple of quiet G & Ts.
Have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones and if you are lucky enough to get one, enjoy your holidays.
I’ll be back here, bright-eyed and ready for work, on Monday 21st January.
It might be sporadic, but I will be around.