2016 was a helluva whaddayagonnado kinda year. Bernie rose and then had the election stolen from him by corporate Democrats. Trump won, ushering in an age of all out fascism. Brock Turner got a slap on the wrist for rape. Various police got absolutely nothing for murdering people of color. Aleppo. Standing rock protestors getting limbs ripped off for peacefully protesting. Global warming it is now unavoidably obvious is going to kill us all off pretty soon.
On a more personal front (hey, stick with me here. this post will take a positive turn soon. I swear), my autistic legally blind son got horribly bullied in our school district. My other son’s anxiety reached an all time high and his tics escalated to a whole new dimension. My marriage disintegrated, culminating in separation. I had a post-pregnancy hormonally induced mental health episode. My cousin died from mental health problems. A dear kind friend died from overdose. I found out some other beautiful friends from high school are on heroin (and therefore, will die soon enough. opiates are what they are). I broke off with my family. Is that enough, people? You want more? Oh yeah, our four year old still isn’t potty trained…
But here’s the thing:
Millions of people voted for, donated to, fought for a Jewish democratic socialist who demanded universal health care, maternity leave, a $15 minimum wage and a kinder approach to Palestine. If you’d told me in 2015 that would happen, I’d have told you that you were nuts. And even though Bernie didn’t win, he’s still out there fighting like hell. And people listen.
For the first time ever, we actually talked about rape and the disgustingly low conviction rates and sentence lengths, as a nation. Some people even said “rape”. Do you realize how huge that is? (Most of the headlines still used euphemistic bullshit and called it “sex” but, hey, it’s movement).
Indigenous activists and their allies won. Won. The people who have endured the most, who have had the most stolen from them, who have suffered the most violence, in this nation won. Did you expect that? I didn’t. They worked and sacrificed and prayed and endured and… won.
Pennsylvania (my home state) legalized medical marijuana despite the ill informed Pennsylvania medical society opposing it. I did not expect this. It’s huge.
My legally blind son with autism started at a new school (not in our district) where he is thriving. He went to an amazing therapeutic summer camp. He’s made more progress at his new school than he’s made in the past few years combined.
My son with anxiety got a great psychiatrist and got comfortable at his school and is doing a ton better. (and he doesn’t make his “boop” tic unless things are really stressful now. Boop!)
My most recent episode combined with other events from this year caused me to truly shift the way I approach my mental health. I’m now committed to doing every single little thing I need to do to keep myself healthy. No matter what. I’m working through issues I thought were un-workable. I’m feeling more optimistic than I have since I was five. About myself, my kids, my marriage.
I worked through my lack of enthusiasm for Catholicism and have started a whole new kind of Catholicism in our home. I’m reconnecting with the mystical.
My son sang beautifully in his school musical. I had one of the happiest days of my life taking my daughter to the Nutcracker. My son with autism can now get his head wet in the pool without melting down (after 8 weeks of twice daily swim classes at his awesome therapeutic summer camp). My baby turned one and still has the chubbiest most delectable thighs you’ve ever seen. He calls me Mama and loves the water like a fish.
I prescribed suboxone to a lot of patients who hopefully will not die from opiates as a result. I started at a new urgent care where I actually have time to talk to my patients. I had a paper on intimate partner violence published in American Family Physician and got invited to speak at some medical education events.
I’m not going to sugar coat things. I’ve got nothing to say to you about Trump or this country’s refusal to face the racist police violence plaguing us. Global warming’s not looking good either. But, as Howard Zinn said, pessimism is illogical. Amazing things you didn’t see coming happen all the time. Look how many in 2016 alone? And, as my old pastor used to say, God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.
Happy holidays, everyone. Here’s to finding out what 2017 holds for us.