Early in 2010, I had a conversation with my awesome friend Millie that went approximately as follows:
Me: My life sucks.
Millie: Wait, I know why!
Me: Because I’m a fuckup?
Millie: No, your Saturn Return is coming!
At which point sane, sensible Millie demanded my birthdate and birthplace, wandered off to do some unknown calculations, and informed me that I was currently IN it. August ’09 to November ’10, evidently.
I do not believe in such things. But here was this concept, this perfect concept, being handed to me. Just after I had begun turning my life upside down, was still in the process of further upheaval, trying to fix everything that I’d broken and being completely terrified to do so – here was this THING, telling me that not only was I SUPPOSED to be fucking everything up right now, but that by November I would come out the other side intact. Even the timeline roughly matched up to the way things were happening. I liked it. I liked it a lot.
And I almost can’t deny that there was something to it.
I went through a lot this year. Without going into details, it was as if I had spent years in an isolated cave, poked my head out sometime in late 2009, and had to assimilate to a world I didn’t know, was ill-equipped to survive, and was expected to already know everything about. I didn’t know how to be an adult. I didn’t know how to live. So I had to fake it. I got a Real Job, I moved to my own apartment in Toronto, I crossed some items off my list of Things I Need To Experience. But I never really knew what I was doing. And I was ready for it to be done. A carnival ride that was making me ill and dizzy; I just wanted to get off. But it was just life. Everybody can handle it. I had to learn how. And I was assured, ridiculously, that by November I’d have it all sorted out.
It was comforting. I started making a playlist of songs about struggle and rebirth. I thought that perhaps when November hit, I would get a tattoo, some sort of symbol, a commemoration of “I survived my Saturn Return.” But the thing is… I’m not sure whether I did survive it.
So I look back, and think about where I was at the end of that arbitrary time period that Millie had laid out for me so many months back. There was no doubt that I had hit some level of stability. My job was secure; I’d just passed a performance review with flying colours. My apartment had settled into more of a home than a constant work-in-progress. I had finally extricated myself from a very strange pseudo-relationship and was feeling much more relaxed once out of it, if perhaps a bit lonely. NaNoWriMo season had come, and so I had a temporary social life handed to me on a silver platter; being busy meant I wasn’t alone, and rarely had time to think.
What was I expecting? The life-upheaval was finished. Wasn’t that all that was supposed to happen? I foolishly thought that maybe by the end of it I would have a real life, a normal life, the way that everybody else my age did. I thought I’d have learned to be an adult, that I’d have a circle of true friends to support me, that I’d be fit to try dating again, that I’d have some answers on what I wanted to do with my life. But I got stability. I got a life that is acceptable on paper, that doesn’t require disclaimers when I meet a stranger at a party and have to explain what I do and who I am. That I don’t have to be ashamed of. Was that enough?
I’m so tired. I feel drained and broken, even more so than I was before. I learned a lot of difficult lessons. That things will not just fall into my lap, that I am not special. That I will not be loved and wanted as the person I currently am, and that if I ever fall in love, it may destroy me. That my behaviour is directly responsible for the way people treat me, react to me, like or dislike me. That I have a lot of work to do on myself, a lot to learn, and a lot of mistakes still left to make and recover from. It isn’t over. Maybe it isn’t ever over.
There won’t be a tattoo, my playlist was never finished, no cutesy symbol will mark the end of this process. Maybe if I asked Millie to double-check her calculations, she’d find that August-to-November was an error. Would that make a difference to me? It’s just a construct, with a tidy end date to look forward to. Now it’s finished and things have happened, and things have still yet to happen. 2010 is coming to a close – another arbitrary timeline – and I’m trying not to carry anything into 2011 that needs to be left behind. Evidently I still draw comfort from arbitrary timelines. And that’s okay. Whatever works for me, right?
I feel hopeful. And that’s a big deal, for me. I have a post-it stuck to my fridge that says “I WANT TO GET BETTER”. And I do. I’m still here, and I’m a mess, but I’m going to keep fighting, and someday I’m going to be happy.