I was a little scared of 2016, for entirely superstitious reasons that make no sense. The worst two years of my life to date have been 1996 and 2006, during both of which I had brushes with death that were less like brushes and more like full-blown fights.
2015 was a good year, following an awful one in 2013 and a half-half one in 2014, so my brain naturally decided to tell me that this meant 2016 had to be completely awful. And the year did get off to a bit of a stressful start, it’s true. But over the past couple of days I’ve realised that I have a lot of causes for celebration this year.
This realisation came about when I was messaging a friend who’s coming for an impromptu visit this weekend. I started a sentence with “I was thinking about having a party to celebrate…” and then I realised that there were quite a lot of things I wanted to celebrate.
1. My divorce finally came through
I’m free! Free to NOT GET MARRIED AGAIN.
Having now been through the process of getting a divorce, I can honestly say that I have no idea how people get through it if they have any kind of complications. Mine was, to all intents and purposes, really quite straightforward. My ex and I both agreed to the divorce, there was no third party involved, we had no assets to divide, and we had no children.
Yet still it took ages, and it’s surprisingly emotionally taxing even when you’re absolutely certain it’s the right thing to do. So when it was all over, I felt like I wanted to celebrate.
2. I’m ten years older than doctors ever thought I would be
In summer 2006 I was given three weeks to live. It was a horrible time and I’m not going to go into detail, but suffice to say it was very difficult.
Once I’d fought through it all anyway and defied medical science, things were still touch and go for a while. Visits to the specialist at the hospital once a week, decreasing to once a fortnight, then once a month. Being signed off work for what felt like ages. The occasional sudden downturn in health once I’d started working again, which resulted in having to take at least two months off each time and usually ending up back in the care of the hospital again.
It’s still something that affects me from time to time. If I start to get ill, I have to be really careful. And about two weeks ago, I did get ill. I had to spend the first week pretty much entirely in bed sleeping, and the second week not really leaving the house, and now I’m feeling a bit more energetic but still nowhere near my usual self.
However, while I was thinking how frustrating this all was the other day, it struck me that the very reason I’m getting annoyed is a good sign in itself. It’s been two weeks since I could go for a nice long walk. Two weeks since I could have a long conversation with someone. Two weeks since I could work a full, normal working day.
But in the past, that would have been two months before I could even get out of bed and leave the hospital. This progress is something to be celebrated, not counted as an annoyance!
I don’t normally celebrate my birthday, but this year I feel like it’s a significant enough one to count.
3. It’s looking like work on my flat will actually be finished
Without wanting to jinx it, things are nearly done. As I write this, there is a man up a stepladder in my kitchen, plastering the walls. The floors that fell in last year have all been replaced, as have the walls that fell down (I’m not joking. Oh how I wish I were joking).
The bathroom has been completely renewed. I have a study filled with books. The living room needs some cosmetic attention, but nothing that can’t be done fairly easily.
4. I have reached my fifth investigatorversary
Shut up, that is a word.
When I first started training to be a private investigator, there was a little voice in my head that was convinced I couldn’t do it. This was occasionally joined by the external voices of other people, who were worried that I was pursuing a career path that would ultimately not go well.
But I’m here! I’ve made it! Five years in, I’m still making a living from a range of different workstreams, because that’s how I like it. But none of them are things I hate, and investigation is one of the major ones.
So there are a lot of reasons to celebrate this year. And I think I might actually do that. Because it’s really easy to get annoyed with the day to day things in life, and forget just how far we’ve come.