Congratulations, you’ve survived another year!

With our waistlines slightly fuller and our wallets less so, we’re now approaching the twilight zone between Christmas and new year where we struggle to recall what day it actually is. The festivities are in half swing, but the leftovers are still edible and there are toys that still need assembling. There are gifts still yet to be given and parties still to attend, but perhaps the biggest party is the one we’re all waiting for, the end of year party, good old New Years Eve.

Ah, news year eve! The night where a large proportion of the population will get dressed up to the nines, only to be crammed into a sweaty club and pay way over the odds for the privilege, probably ending the night shivering their tits off standing in a taxi queue.

Not all of us though, some of us will be choosing the safer option of a house party, some of us will be snuggled up on the sofa with our families, and some of us will be working. This year, if our childcare arrangements allow, me and Ross are going on a little road trip. Nowhere fancy, just somewhere in West Wales. We’re going to jump in the van, bring a few bottles along and park up somewhere with a decent view of the fireworks, and that’s fine by me.

In fact I honestly wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to celebrate New Year, but as I get older I just want to celebrate it, in my own way. I was once part of the majority that saw the occasion as nothing more than an excuse for a piss up, but a new year drawing in actually really means something to me now.

This time last year, I had three months left before my baby boy was born. I remember driving up to Bristol so my boyfriend could pick up his van from a garage. At this point in our relationship things were awful. My mental health went rapidly downhill whilst I was pregnant, it was meant to be the happiest time of my life but it was far from it. I remember sitting in the car watching him unload his work and suddenly bursting into tears. When he asked me why I was crying I said, ‘Because, I’m alive’.

In the past I had always been such a busy person, very independent and very headstrong, but now come to think of it, I was also oblivious to a lot that was going on around me. I was only weeks into a new job when I found out I was expecting, I was also halfway through the 2nd year of my degree. I was so sick carrying this baby, both physically and mentally, and as the weeks progressed I was forced to give up both work, and university for my health’s sake. So let’s just say I had a lot more time on my hands, a lot less to occupy me and with that came some harsh revelations about my relationship. Towards the end of my pregnancy I had to make a decision, whether I was going to fight for us or let it go.

The year that followed was a blur. All my days seemed to roll into one long nightmare that didn’t want to end. I was blessed with the most beautiful, precious and against all odds, healthy baby boy. I was luckier than a lot of people but unfortunately depression doesn’t give a shit about gratitude. You can have so much to be thankful for and still believe in your head that life is the worst possible option. I turned into a completely different person. Anger consumed me to an unhealthy level and turned me into the most vicious, vile person you could imagine.

I remember one occasion a woman accused me of hitting her car with my car door. Well, let’s just say she wasn’t expecting the onslaught of insults and screaming I threw her way. And not because I’m an arsehole, although I did act like one, but because I was at breaking point, and all it took was one wrong look, one comment, for me to explode. The only love I believed in was the love I had from my children, and if it wasn’t for them, if it wasn’t for Max relying on me so much – it might have been a different story, or rather I might not have been telling this one right now.

I’ve suffered on and off with my mental health over the years but this was probably one of the most challenging, deepest and darkest bouts of depression I’d ever experienced. I actually don’t remember a lot about 2017, the person I was died and a right miserable bitch had been resurrected. In fact the only pivotal moments I remember truly experiencing were that of life and death, the birth of my son and the death of my nan. Everything else in between was a blur.

There was a point during that time that I truly believed nothing would ever get better. I promised myself I wouldn’t love again, I promised myself I wouldn’t trust again and I built a wall around my emotions that Trump would be proud of. Break ups aren’t easy no matter the circumstance but break ups with a new born baby in the mix tend to be a bit trickier. From the moment Max was born, Ross was overwhelmed with love and pride, you couldn’t shut him up about Max and how much he loved him. The way he looked at me from that moment was completely different, it was just a shame the way I looked at him was also different, but not because of the joy of childbirth.

Since that day he has fought, and since that day I have pushed and pushed, but as much as we tried to sabotage the scraps of relationship we had left, we eventually realised that we’re stuck with each other. We’re stuck with each other because we love each other, and some would argue that we don’t. I mean how can two people hurt one another so badly and call it love? That’s not love, that’s a joke surely? I used to think the same, I used to be super jealous of those power couples. You know the ones, everyone knows a pair like it. They’ve been together since they were teenagers, they have never been with anyone else, no drama in their relationship, no cheating and no lies. Or so we choose to believe.

I used to believe that unless I had a love like that, the love I received would never be as valid. But that’s bullshit. Love isn’t a one size fits all experience, and it’s not easy, but true love is not about perfection. Love is being pissed off he left the milk out but still hoping he gets home safe from work. Love is pushing each other to your absolute limits but still caring for each other regardless. Love comes in all different shapes, sizes and scenarios, but it comes without a script. It’s fine to go through the milestones you know, engagement followed by marriage, followed by kids and maybe a mortgage. But you know what is also fine? loving (and living) in a way that the world doesn’t pressure you into. The messy love, the love that doesn’t fit, and the love that you’ve had to fight for is the love worth having.

So as we approach this new year I can luckily say, I feel in a much better place than before. Don’t get me wrong me and Ross still argue and our relationship is far from perfect. As I’m writing this we’ve had a row, the only thing getting us to talk to each other again being the fact Max did a huge poo all over his leg and he needed me to grab the wet wipes. Glamorous I know…

But that’s the thing, I’m not glamorous, and neither is my life. I don’t need a big fancy party or exciting plans to enable me to look forward to the next 12 months. The most important thing for me is, that I survived. My relationship, eventually, survived. I’m alive, I’m breathing and everything since that experience has become more beautiful than ever.

Now that depression has loosened its grip, I am able to look at what I have around me and be thankful for it. Three insanely beautiful and bright children, a boyfriend who loves me albeit he might not show it conventionally and friends that have stuck by my side when I really haven’t deserved it. I’m luckier than most.

The only thing left to do now is make my New Years resolutions. Previous years I’ve vowed to drink more water and eat more healthily, you know the usual boring nonsense we believe we need to promise ourself for a fulfilling life. This year is different though. I don’t want to promise myself anything trivial, I don’t want to set myself up for failure like I usually do year upon year. I want more from life.

It got me thinking, what is a resolution? What does it even mean? I searched the definition of resolution in google and it came up with two answers. The first;

‘A firm decision to do or not do something’ and the second;

‘The quality of being determined, or resolute’.

I decided I preferred the latter definition, and so this year my only promise to myself is to be determined, in whatever I do. Determined to keep fighting, and living my imperfect life to the fullest. So, if you’re reading this congratulations!! You’ve survived another year on this bonkers planet and you’ve made it to 2018. Trust me when I say, that’s an achievement in itself, especially if, like me, you’ve had to fight to get this far.

So, whatever you’re doing when the clock strikes twelve and whatever you choose to do from that moment on, do it with determination. Do it because you want to, not because you think you should and don’t waste a single day of the next 365 you’ve been given.

Happy New Year Everyone – I hope it’s a good one.

With love, Laura xoxo

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