Good Riddance

There are no words to describe how glad I am to see the back of 2017. The shittiest year of my life, since 1993 when my Dad was diagnosed terminal, subsequently dying 2 days before my 22nd birthday. 

I'll be honest; at some points this year I sat and said to myself "Why am I even bothering any more?" Not my style at all - the things I've gone through in my life, the things I've dealt with, and never once before, through all of it, had I ever even considered the possibility of not wanting to continue. This past year though? On more than one occasion the thought entered my head - oh, I quickly knocked it back out again; giving up would be quitting, allowing all those who have done their worse to me over the years the opportunity to congratulate themselves at being a part of my downfall. They do not deserve the crusty scrapings from inside my belly button, so I'd never give them the satisfaction. Each day I remain on this planet, is another day I am able to stick 2 fingers up at them, while shouting "Fuck you; you did your best and it wasn't good enough" 

Besides, as life went tit's up and pear shaped back when my oldest childhood friendships ended a few years back, I realised what a good thing it was; what a massive difference it made no longer having such toxic people in my life. I vowed then that I was taking back control. I decided I would not allow people to treat me in any way that was negative, mean spirited, or one sided. Since then, my confidence has grown (about time) and I've begun looking at things in a different way. I remind myself daily how lucky I am, how much I have to be grateful for. I have so much in my life, more than some people could ever dream about. I have a roof over my head, a comfy bed to sleep in, food in my belly (too much food). Ok, so since the middle of October we've had no gas, therefore no central heating or hob for cooking, we have been blessed with neighbours and friends who have loaned us electric ones. We use them sparingly (have you seen how much they cost to run?) but at least we have them. Every night when I climb into my cold bed, I give thanks I am doing so with a warm quilt and blanket to pull over me, with a soft pillow to put my head on. How many people as I settle down for the night, snug as a bug are trying to keep themselves warm and dry in a shop doorway somewhere? Under a railway bridge. While I sleep safely, soundly, they can only afford to doze, for they never know if they are going to make it through the night without being attacked by someone (something). Damn right I'm a lucky person. A really lucky person.

That doesn't mean I've not still had a crap year. It's not been bad in a material way; I have money still on my overdraft so am not ending the year totally broke - at one point I believed I might be. I have been blown away by the kindness shown to Mum and I while we've been dealing with all we've been through. People I would never have believed thought as much of me as they do - sadly, I've also discovered that those I always believed to be selfish, thoughtless, only out-for-themselves types, are in fact everything I thought they were. Those very people, who I have been there for whenever they needed me, who I have put myself out for, helped out with my last pound when they've needed it, even though it mean I went without; those people were in fact, selfish, thoughtless, up-themselves arses who dropped me the second I was no longer of us to them (when they could get nothing more from me) or when I finally stood up for myself against them. For years I towed the line, cowed down, did what they wanted, when they wanted, often paying for it at the same time. I took all the abuse dished at me (apparently it was all done in a "fun" way, yet they were the only ones laughing). I went out of my way to smile, be happy, try to lift their spirits when they were down, for them to trample all over me when I didn't behave in the exact way they believed I should. The minute I dared to stand up for myself, they Ghosted me. At first I felt bad, as though I should apologise, before I realised I've spent a whole friendship being the one to say "sorry" even when I'd done nothing wrong (just to keep the peace) yet not once did they ever own up to anything, or take responsibility for it. I thought I'd feel lonely because of it, not having people to go out with any more, go and do things with. I don't. If anything I feel relieved. I no longer have to walk on eggshells, think about anything I say and how I'm going to say it so it doesn't come across as anything other than what it is. I no longer have to fear my face "giving a look" when it's really just staring off into space - I obviously have a "resting bitch face". I no longer have to worry I'm talking too loud, walking too loud (yes, both of these are things I have had grief about). I don't have to worry my camera makes too much of a noise when the shutter clicks (yes, really!!) or that my zip makes too much noise on my rucksack. Ok, so I need to try and make some new friends (proper ones who don't want anything from me, other than my time) and that's not going to be easy (I seem to attract the wrong types and end up making an even bigger mistake by trusting them) but it can be done; I know that. I just need to stop believing everyone is like me. I've always believed you should put other people first, make sure they are ok, are having a good time; I still believe that, however, I also know that now I need to put myself and my own feelings forward too. You see, while I was putting myself out for everyone else, making sure they were happy, I was inadvertently making myself more and more unhappy, for the very people I was with never once gave a thought to my happiness. I will try not to make that mistake again.

I did also witness the most amazing light show the night of the perseids meteor shower. I am not sure if I will ever see anything like it again - I shall look out for it this year, just-in-case.

However, even all of the above didn't make it such a bad year. What did, what almost broke me, what pushed me to the edge of beyond (and almost never back again) were the death's of both my fur babies. One would have been (was) hard enough, but to lose both of them? That's when I knew just how fucking cruel life is - as if I didn't know a long time before. 

My cat, in May, I can understand. She was 20 (although we always had a deal she'd make it 22). Even so, it didn't make it any easier. I'd had her since she was just a few weeks old. That cat had been through so much with me - break-ups, heart breaks, job losses, new jobs, starting up my own business, the deaths of people I loved. Whatever was going on in my life, she was there. She was poorly for a few weeks before she died - not enough to be put-to-sleep poorly, but we were keeping an eye on her just-in-case. It would have been hard to make the call, yet it was one I was ready to make. Her time had come. Thankfully (again, there was some light in the dark) she took that decision out of my hands, and while curled up on my lap one Monday evening, she took her last breath (ish - she actually made a noise as if she was going to be sick, so I whizzed her out to her litter tray (easier to clean from there than my PJ's) she was dead by the time I got there). My heart was beyond broken. I cried far more than I believed it was possible to cry.  4 months later I realised I'd not even known what it was to cry. 

One Saturday afternoon on her usual woodland walk, my dog decided to plod. Most unusual for her, but she was looking a bit bloated so I assumed she'd eaten cat shit and just needed to empty herself out. Sunday she seemed a little brighter, yet by the time dinner came around and she turned up her nose at a piece of crackling and some veggies - she loves her veggies on a Sunday - I knew something was wrong. At 9am Monday morning, she was in the vet's. The next 7 weeks were an absolute whirlwind of trips back and forth to our vets and a specialist vet. Over £7500 later, having been told she had pneumonia, no cancer, not pneumonia, definitely cancer but they weren't sure, I was left with 2 options; a £6000 operation which would solve the immediate problem she was suffering, and would then tell us for definite if it was cancer, or not. This would consist of massive heart surgery, a weeks stay in the vets, 4 weeks of doing nothing at home. If not cancer then she may have another 3/5 years. If it was cancer she'd have intensive chemo every 3 weeks and live for another 6 months - if lucky. The 2nd was to take her home, make her last few weeks as good as possible and then have her murdered. Apparently the odds on it being cancer were 99%. Not the greatest options in the world; even worse odds. I chose what I thought was best for her; I bought her home. I am never going to know if it was the right thing to do, I am always going to question if I did the right thing. I've asked myself many times since that day (Wednesday 25th October) and each time I have to tell myself I did the right thing. I made the right chioce. I could have sold my car (even though I need it) to find the £6500 but I just couldn't bring myself to put her through it all, on an "off-chance". She was a bouncy dog; being restrained for a week at the vets, then having to be caged and kept quiet for 4 weeks at home would have been pure torture for her (and us). I couldn't have done that to her. She deserved better. In a perfect world she'd have got better - in a literal way too, however, we don't live in a perfect world, there is no such thing as a God who looks after us all - animals included (I'd choose the devil every time even if there was such a thing, because at least you always know where you stand with the devil - a god is meant to be good; I see no good in the world). Even worse was when I had to make the call I never wanted to make, will never make again. The time had come to get a vet to murder her. I'm not going to go into details but it was the most harrowing experience of my life. I would never wish such a thing on anyone (well, anyone with a heart - I am sure there are many people who wouldn't even give it a second thought). To have to make the call just 3 days before Christmas made it even worse. My heart didn't just break; it shattered. I will never own another pet again - aside from the budgie. The total bills for all the vets was £8500. The insurance paid out £5000. I am grateful for that; they didn't need to pay anything. I've been lucky enough to beg and borrow the rest (for now, I still have the bill to come in for her murder). It's made me realise how lucky we are to have the NHS. I think maybe it's time to start one for animals. Every owner should be made to pay something towards it. Maybe it could be added to the cost of animal foods so that everyone does actually pay.

Everyone makes resolutions, says "next year will be the best". None of us stick to resolutions and none of us can guarantee how good next year is going to be, however, I am going to try to make sure I look for the light in every patch of darkness. I can't promise I'll stick to it, all I can say is I will try my hardest. As for resolutions I'm not making any. I've set myself a list of challenges, things I'd like to achieve before I find myself sitting here this time next year. If I achieve them; great. If I don't, then it's not meant to be and I can try again the next year.

One thing I will not be doing is giving up. Failure is not an option, quitting is something I will never do.

Another thing I will definitely not be doing so much is hanging around facebook. Jeez, what a miserable bunch of up-their-own-arses there are on there these days. The perfect place for the narcissists and "woe-is-me" brigade. It has taught me who my friends are though. I've been amazed at how many people I thought were just acquaintances have proved to be so much more, while people I think of as great friends probably don't even know my dog is dead - that's how much they've bothered to see how things are. I get we all have our own lives to live, but if I know a friend is having a hard time I will message them regularly to see how things are. I guess they just get caught up in their own bubbles and it's all about them. How it should be in one way, yet maybe that's why there is so much sorrow in the world. Maybe we need to start showing some compassion to others.

My biggest fear going into a new year? It's not for me, but for my Mum. While I've struggled this year she's found it even harder, the death of the dog hitting far harder than even I believed it would (and I expected it to hurt). I think 72 years of hurt, pain, and all the other crap life has thrown at her have hit her all at once. I am going to have to keep an extra eye on her next year, and make sure I try to do at much as I can with her, while at the same time backing off too, or else she will use me even more as a crutch than she currently does. I have to begin distancing myself from her a little for being around so much for her is not really doing her any good. However, I shall continue to do all I can to find the money to get her out to the US to finally meet her family. In fact, I shall be pushing harder than ever for it, to the point I might border on obsessional :)