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The Year of No

Originally published January 10th, 2023.


Hello old friend, did you miss me? I can’t say with certainty that I missed you - elements of you sure but the labor and guilt-inducing shame that comes from setting blogging goals and then watching them rush past you in the mad dash that is life? Not so much.


Truth be told, I’ve been tired, well we all have I’m sure. I approached the last few years as an opportunity to say yes to almost everything in hopes of drowning out the dread that encompasses this time of our lives. All my saying yes meant bending myself into positions that were palatable to others and disastrous for me—trying to carve out spaces at tables that I thought could feed me only to be left starving and questioning my sanity.


I reached the last quarter of 2022 and spent a lot of time crying and debating the validity of my existence. If you’ve been around a while you know about my shadow mistress. She and I dance together often, after years in this body I can usually spin her into submission but last year she pulled out footwork that left me stumbling on the dance floor as I attempted to lead us through the muck.


Where is my place in the world? Is it here? Is it there? Why am I fighting to be heard amongst individuals and groups that have shown they have a vested interest in not understanding me? Are they worth the pain they cause? And who am I outside of what I give to everyone else?


When I stopped fighting, stopped trying to lead my shadow mistress, and instead followed her down the rabbit hole I found that I already knew all the answers. The footwork wasn’t foreign I was merely getting in my own way because the answers to my questions scared me.


Is my place here? Nope. Is it there? Also, nope. It’s wherever I am when I feel at peace and celebrated. It could be here, there, anywhere, and nowhere. I was fighting because I was still trying to prove that my life has value and worth and that it matters. Still wanting to prove I’m enough even though I know damn well that my value isn’t tied to anyone but myself. Somehow I had lost my way, wrapped in scarcity, stuck in a trauma cycle of simply trying to keep myself and my offspring alive as a pandemic raged on around us. I was hearing the notes of the music but not the rhythm. She wanted me to see the rhythm that went with my blues. I can give myself grace for losing my footing, it happens, and my shadow mistress is always there to remind me that death is a viable answer should I want it. It’s up to me to decide whether I want the dance to end or not.


I opted to keep dancing on my own terms. To find the rhythm that vibes with my blues. As the music faded into something I recognized and my mistress gave up control I was left with one lingering thought, this has to be the year I say no.


No to the people, places, things, and organizations that require more energy than they give back.


No to anything that doesn’t spark joy - with some caveats because having a place to sleep, food to eat, and running water spark joy but the actions needed to achieve those things aren’t always agents of joy.


No to apologies that aren’t accompanied by changed actions.


No to pretending that life is back to normal, it’s not and it never will be again.


No to last-minute plans that feel more like obligations than adventures.


Just fucking no.


If what’s presented to me isn’t worth the compromise required of me the answer is going to be no. My mistress knows her place when I remember that my number one job is to protect my mental health and that isn’t always easy or comfortable, but it’s necessary. That’s been made abundantly clear to me.


The last few years have been long and trying, as we move into whatever will transpire this year and beyond ask yourself this, if it doesn’t feed you -either physically or spiritually-, excite you, please you, or pay you then why are you doing it? If you can’t give yourself an honest authentic answer that isn’t tied to obligation then it’s time to consider your options and forge a new path.


Find the rhythm that blends with your blues instead of trying to make someone else’s melody the song of your life.


Until next time remember, if it’s not an enthusiastic yes then it’s a hell fucking no and you should go ahead and say that.


Copyright(c) 2023 Rayven Holmes

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