New Year Fear

By Marissa Marangoni

I am afraid of the new year.

Given my tenuous history with the holiday, that makes sense. I have spent several New Year’s Eves and the next day throwing up. And only once was that from too many shots of 99 Apples (yeah, I know how that sounds. I was 21. That’s my excuse.)

I think, maybe, I’ve always been a bit afraid of the new year.

Not too long ago, I wouldn’t have told you that — I would have told you that my lack of enthusiasm for the turn of the year was due to the lack of action that happens when 11:59 PM changes to 12:00 AM. 

I remember staying up late and watching the ball drop on TV for the first time. Nothing actually happened. The ball didn’t fall like I’d imagined it would — it slowly and mechanically descended down a pole as people yelled numbers, then kissed each other and threw confetti all over the street that someone would have to pick up the next day. My life did not feel new or different when the countdown ended. It felt exactly the same as it did the day before, and it continued on exactly the same as it did the day before that. People partied in NYC, ringing in the new year in their light-up 1990-something glasses, and I watched, thinking about how disappointing this holiday was while my mom read a magazine on the couch, my brother ate candy, and my dad went to bed. 

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My lack of excitement about the new year has always, in my mind, been about the fact that nothing actually changes, including people. They make their resolutions and then they don’t follow through. While I don’t think I ever exempted myself from this category of humans, I never bothered making resolutions of my own to actually put me in it either. Looking back, I don’t think it was because I didn’t want to, it was just because I knew myself pretty well and knew that making a resolution was just setting myself up for failure.

The things I would have made resolutions about were things I knew I would not do, like using my planner every day or making and following a life schedule or dressing well more often or even just being on time to things. I never bothered making resolutions about that stuff that I wanted to do because I tried to do them regularly, and I did not succeed and a new year wasn’t going to change that. I was afraid of failure — and I did it a lot, and I didn’t want to do it when it came to something that was heralded as monumental and life-changing.

The first time I made resolutions — ever — was last year. For 2020. The only reason I was able to make them was that I went through ADHD coaching that changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. One of the things I learned was that I could try to change the things I’d been trying to change all of my life — and I could succeed in making those changes, just not in the way I thought I had to.

What does this have to do with parenting? Well, if I hadn’t had J, I wouldn’t have gone after a diagnosis for myself. And had I not done that, I wouldn’t have joined the coaching group, and I definitely wouldn’t have made resolutions.

For 2020, my resolutions were this: build and feel. That’s it. I wanted to build my business bigger and better, and I wanted to try to let people see me feel feelings instead of looking like a robot. That first resolution hasn’t really gone as I had hoped, but that’s to be expected with the whole pandemic and all. I didn’t go under, and I did spend some time learning some skills that I actually needed to learn, so that is building bigger and better in a way, just not in the way I had planned. 

As for the feelings, I think I am actually doing OK here. Without going into a lot of detail, I have a tendency to quiet how I feel and live my emotions only in my head because, at some point, they were too much for other people, so I shut them off. And what a year to turn them back on. What. A. Year.

Anyway, staring down 2021 makes me kind of scared because, in addition to those resolutions for 2020, I had some goals that I did not meet. And while I blame it on COVID, I mostly actually blame it on myself for not “getting it together” enough to do things like put J and I on a daily schedule and actually follow it, finish writing this pesky novel draft that has been plaguing me for far too long now or keeping up with making weekly posts on my Medium account. I didn’t do those things. I could have done those things, but I didn’t do those things because I couldn’t figure out how to function from March until about August, and once we got to September, it felt too late to try. 

This morning, I was telling J to hurry up and get his shoes on so we could take the dogs on a walk. After I repeated the order three or four times, he looked up at me with a camera in his hands, his shoes sitting by his feet — one of which was sockless — and said, “I’m just not a fast guy. I’m just slow doing things.” 

This was one of those classic parenting moments, where you’re irritated and angry and then you immediately regret being that way because your kid says “Mom!” for the 800th time in a row and then instead of asking you for a snack when you snap and yell “WHAT!” he says, “I love you.” 

J wasn’t apologetic about being slow, but he was upset because I’d told him to do something that he says he isn’t built to do. Already, he is better at accepting who he is than I am and not feeling bad about it. He says things that I would have never said when I was little and still struggle to say now. J feels his feelings right out there in the open, wrestles with his shoes while telling me how he’s going to put his camera around his neck and wear his winter gloves with the fingers so he can push the buttons better, and then he tells me, “This is my best day ever, Mom. We made snow globes.” 

I’m afraid of 2021 because I might make resolutions that I don’t keep because the pandemic may get in the way. Because my depression might kick my ass again. Because my anxiety might steal my sleep. And maybe that’s fine. But I think I’m going to make resolutions that even COVID can’t kill. I’m going to say the word “hurry” less and tell people when I have my best days ever.  I’m going to make more snow globes.

Marissa is the co-author of Urine Luck, but sometimes she writes about things other than bathrooms. Marissa has been writing for the Devil Strip since August of 2015.

Photo: Marissa Marangoni

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