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Resolutions by Laura Witt

At the beginning of this year, I decided that I was going to try to manage my expectations, but still set some New Year's resolutions. I didn't tell people about any of them, because, you know, accountability sucks. And no one needs to share in my failures. I am growing a ton, and with a velocity that I could not have predicted, but I still keep myself safe. I guess we all do.

As I approach the end of January, I am starting to think that I need to be honest with somebody and admit that I have set a few goals this year. I am not yet sure who that will be, but I know that I will know by the time I am done talking to myself. I often wonder how much I know that something may end up in the right hands when I am writing. Like, obviously, I know that if I send someone an email, it is for them. But what is it that causes me to continue to write to an unknown audience? I am starting to realize that it is just that I am a part of the audience no matter what. I doubt that Donald Trump received many letters that expressed joy and hope that January 6th was a true bottom for our country, and that only that flagrant and open a display of the ugliness we humans can become could ever provide a platform for healing, and that this uncovering can now allow us to take the first step toward recovering our country: realizing that this shit has become unmanageable, and that we are powerless over our hatred and division. I also know that writing that was so much more about me than him. Because I cried for hours and then felt the rush of real relief that comes with knowing that that hope can blossom. Kinda like that fan letter I wrote to Kanye West a long time ago.

Then again, maybe it is just my ego, and I need to get comfortable with being a basic bitch who journals a lot. Hmmm. I'm wondering now if some of my "resolutions" might be in conflict with one another. I guess they might be, but I am getting more accustomed to surviving contradiction. Anyway, this year's list is an offering of hopes for 2021 are not so much resolutions like the ones that I have made in the past, but more like promises to myself. Maybe that is why I don't feel the need to post them on Facebook so that all of my friends call me out if I end up gaining weight, or relapsing, or not finishing my novel for the 14th year in a row. This is really the first year that I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation, other than myself. But people matter too, otherwise, I would never have gotten through my fifth step and found out just how amazing it is. The freedom I felt from actually telling my most horrifying truths to someone else was a bit unexpected. And if you had told me even a year ago that I would willingly bear my soft underbelly to someone who has never taken a pastoral oath and isn't being paid in 50-minute increments to hang out with me, I would have provided a ready correction. Though I am not a criminal, I have always chosen to share my deepest flaws only when I knew that the listener would protect my anonymity because it was pretty much statutorily required. But, then again, I was only yesterday years old when I finally got the courage to tell a boy that I actually like him, so maybe it is just that I am only now getting comfortable with vulnerability. Anyway, reader, none of these are concise, as they have been in my head since January 1st, which means they have morphed and grown, so I will annotate my list enough to clarify my intention for each resolution.

  1. I will make my recovery my #1. This has to include not drinking alcohol at all, maintaining relationships with my sober community, and continuing to work the steps in all of my affairs. I won't hate myself if I relapse. And I won't fucking relapse.

  2. I will prioritize my integrity, not my ego. I will disappoint others before I disappoint myself. I will remember that I would rather look silly or awkward than feel like I am not living and speaking my truth. I can only do this correctly and in alignment with my higher self if I am doing #1 as well.

  3. I will write a thing every week and let another human read it. It doesn't have to be a novel. It doesn't have to be something that I am paid to write. It doesn't get to be administrative in nature. It is okay to edit and it is okay to not edit. It has to actually be given to a human. While I don't need to know that they will read it, there should be a reasonable expectation that they will. Taylor Swift is not reasonable. Donnie Walhberg is a stretch.

  4. I will read at least 26 books (not 52, but still mathematically pleasing!) and make sure to write myself enough of a note that I can revisit the moment when I closed the cover for the final time. It doesn't have to go on goodreads, but it should. I will engage more with my book club communities, and stop being afraid to sound like an English teacher.

  5. I will not isolate and I will work to maintain my human connections. I will let myself be open to getting hurt instead of assuming that that is a burden that others must bear effortlessly. I will not be a doormat when I know that my feelings are not being considered, but I will still invite people to do things with me instead of assuming that everyone I know has something better to do.

  6. I will challenge myself intellectually, but I will not force my career. This is not the year. I will not feel like I am a failure if I spend all year being a realtor and not something more impressive. I will be the best mother that my children could possibly have, and I will wait and listen to the universe. I will win 2021 even if I do not publish a book or build a best-of-zillow team. I will trust the cheesy thing I say at the end of church every time that god's love will meet all my needs, while still remembering that my needs and my wants are not the same. Same for the kids.

  7. I will spend time each day living in my body. I will stop hating the shape or size that I currently am, but will instead work to integrate myself. This could mean riding a bike or going for a walk, doing a few squats in the never-ending pursuit of an actual ass, or simply dancing around the house for a bit or taking a really hot shower. This will definitely include having long-deferred shoulder surgery and going to the dentist better.

  8. I will eat at least one new food that I have never tasted each month. There are bonus points if at least three of the kids will eat it with me.

  9. I will add the following words to my no-no list: but, actually, honestly, never, always, try, broken, should. (Corollary: I will not judge people who use words that I do not like. I will remember that not everyone is a linguist, and chances are, many people do not have no-no lists.)

So that is what I am promising myself this year. It is interesting, I didn't actually know how many there were until I tossed on some formatting and found that there were nine resolutions. That is a really unsatisfying number. There were not 9 commandments. A.A. does not have 9 steps. I do not like that nine very much. I also notice that they all begin with "I will..." which has a nice sort of uniformity to it, but it looks like lazy writing. While I think that intentional repetition can be really gorgeous when it is done well and used sparingly, I find that when I get repetitive it is usually because I am multitasking sloppily, which I am doing right now as I listen in on church.

Rereading my own resolutions, words that I mindlessly wrote about 20 minutes ago, I find that they have an odd cadence that reminds me of the wedding vows I said to my husband when I was only 21 years old. I made promises to him about the woman that I would become and the life that we would have. I said a lot about how I would honor him and treat him. When Father Bernie asked me if I would promise those things, I said "I will." The thing is, though, I really didn't know myself at all when I made those promises. I started out my adulthood by making promises to someone else about who I would become. In retrospect, I can't help but realize that I have never really made any such agreement to love or cherish myself. No wonder it felt so scary to face life alone; I thought my job was to take care of his needs and (because it was so ordained) he would take care of mine. I still remember most of Proverbs 31, but it really rankles me now. Being an alcoholic doesn't exclude me from the kingdom, so we're already off to a bad start, but If I met that vision of a godly wife today, I sure as hell wouldn't want to be her. I wouldn't even want to hang out with her, because I can guarantee I wouldn't get along with her husband. So, I guess this new year is a real restart for me. I'm leaving my resolutions as they are. Maybe it is just because the song in the background right now feels like a spiritual experience unto itself, but the only audience I care about this time is me. I need to start not only keeping the promises that I make to myself, but being willing to make them to myself in the first place. I am not alone, because though I stopped paying attention when the minister announced this year's motto and I didn't like it one little bit, hearing these undeniably powerful women sing "I am open to my good right now" feels a lot like where I really am right now. I'm back in church with a Spirit that is huge and wonderful, and this time I have promises to myself, and I know that I am finally surrounded with people that will help me keep them. Just like those people that showed up at church all those years ago and promised to help me and my ex-husband keep our vows to one another. These days, the right people show up for me at the right time. And this time, my vows have practically written themselves.

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