2021: Another Year

31st Dec 2021

I write these because they're fun to look back on myself in years to come. They're a rambling mess not meant for public consumption really, but if you really feel like you want to know about what happened in my 2021 feel free.

Last years retrospective ended like this:

"Covid, depression, arseholes and societal inequalities don't give a toss about the Gregorian calendar, so they'll all still be here tomorrow. Luckily, so will the people we choose to have in our lives, and so will the reasons to get up and do positive things. Tomorrow I'll probably be nursing too much of a hangover to do many positive things, but bring on January 2nd."

It turns out that those things definitely didn't give a toss about the Gregorian calendar, but 2021 for me and my two favourite people feels like it's been a lot better than 2020. Here's some stuff that happened for us and some thoughts.

Eleanor

Thinking back over another year of this kids life make me reflect on how hard all the kids have had it compared to normal lately. I don't know about all of them, but the ones I do know of have dealt with this dumpster fire of a year with incredible strength. As a society of adults we keep throwing shit at them and they keep just jumping over it.

Eleanor's 4th birthday was in January, which meant it was in lockdown. Lots of her friends turned up for a virtual party with a Disney princess and some games, and it felt weirdly "normal". Everyone seemed to have a great time, and it was way better than the alternative of just hanging out with Mummy and Daddy!

She also started school this year – what a year to be starting... 28 out of 30 of her nursery classmates transitioned into school with her, so that helped. That bunch of kids are awesome, it's so good to see them all forming their friendships and learning together. Eleanor seems to love school so far, and hopefully we can keep that going through 2022 and beyond.

Other family shit

The biggest thing I knew I needed to try to work out this year was the depression that I'd not long worked out I had. I'm pretty naive, but not enough to know that I could "fix" it with any one thing. I was already physically active, I already had lots of other things to keep me entertained, and I had most of the boxes ticked on the "you should be happy" list. So what was triggering such a massive downer in me? I don't think it's as simple as being one thing or person, but "luckily" for me there was a pretty good candidate who was doing everything he could to actively act against his sons needs. The last few years of being a Father, and knowing things like "if my child begs me to avoid a subject with me, I'll do it because for it to get to that point it must have been bubbling for a while" made it super obvious that the way mine has treated me forever has been with an incredible selfishness and lack of respect. Sure, he's done a lot of good stuff as a Dad, but that man only wants whatever suits him – even if it means making the lives of the people closest to him worse.

The whole Covid and political situation shit was already getting me close to making the hardest decision of my life, so getting a letter from a lawyer threatening legal action for me planning to sell something that was mine was the straw that broke the camels back. I gifted him what was mine, and cut ties. I truly wish it could have been a different way, but that would have needed him to be willing to try something, anything to make it happen, and at every turn he just dug in deeper to choosing his need to have everyone agree with him over his want to have a relationship with his son or granddaughter.

It's been really fucking hard, but it's been better than it was before, and I'm definitely feeling some signs of that fog lifting.

Colin and holidays

Colin the Campervan is another thing ticked off the "things you should buy in a pandemic" list. He's the reason I was selling what was mine in that last section, but we went ahead with the purchase anyway. We had a couple of quality holidays in him as a family, including a great trip to the Jurassic Coast with The Browns, which have been great. It came to us half finished too, which gave me some extra fun of finishing it off. It's mostly there now, a few little tweaks to go and it'll be ready for lots of trips around the UK and Europe over the coming years.

Home improvements

"Let's add a bit onto the back of the house", we said, "it'll be fun", we said. Early in the year we decided to go ahead with a version of what we'd wanted to do with the house since we'd bought it, and we decided on it early enough that it'd be easily done by summer – maybe even by Hayley's birthday in June. That'd be great for a "relatively normal" summer – a big folding door onto a patio for barbecues with family and friends.

Well we got the extra bit of house, and it's lovely, but it did drag on till October... Still not opened those doors onto the patio properly! Big "first world problem" vibes. Builders being here constantly have had an extra side effect though, Freddie the dog just couldn't cope with it. Animal behaviourists, books, lots of training and everything else we could do weren't enough to help him to realise we didn't need constant protection. Unfortunately we're currently spending our last few days with him until he goes off to his new owners, who have a life setup that's more suited to Freddie and his needs. That's logically great news, but still heartbreaking for us.

With that side note done, other home improvements were very much on the "things to tick off in a pandemic" list – I built a workshop in the space vacated by the thing I'd been definitely only looking after, maintaining and improving for 6 years. It's an awesome space now for me to go and half finish stuff that is only twice as expensive as buying it from a shop. Also built a gym, which is a great way to stop yourself from having gym memberships while also having a perfect space to store spiders.

GOING SOBER

Despite everything else going on this year, and the fact that this is one of the last ones to happen, this is almost definitely the biggest one for me personally. I wrote about it in more depth here, but at that point I was only an accidental couple of days through. Today is day 41 and I'm glad that it doesn't feel like something that I'm ever going back on. I've gotten through a few occasions now, including Christmas, that I'd usually never imagine not drinking at. I could hardly imagine getting through a Wednesday without drinking, so that feels like a real achievement. I can't wait to hit milestones like day 100 and day 365.

People ask whether I feel any different, and it's weird that I don't really feel anything big as a difference. But if I really think about it, there's been lots of little improvements – I feel like I sleep better; like I'm learning to think before I speak a little more often; I'm more productive (even if that's on hobby stuff).

Interesting that part of that bit I quoted earlier was "Tomorrow I'll probably be nursing too much of a hangover to do many positive things, but bring on January 2nd". I'm weirdly looking forward to going through a new years eve night sober tonight. OK it'll "just" be me and Hayley with Eleanor tucked up in bed, but those are my favourite people to be around, so it sounds pretty perfect to me. I'll probably just overdo the "HOOTENANNY" calls instead of the alcohol consumption. Bring on January 1st.

Resolutions

I don't really do these, but I do tend to wish at this point of the year that I had written them last year to see whether I did or not. So here goes, just to look back on next year and compare:

  • Continue not drinking
    • Writing this sort of goes against the way I'm doing sobriety, because the aim is just to wake up every day and decide not to drink for that day only, but let's put it down
  • Be more present
    • One side effect of not drinking, and dealing with that internally, has been that I've definitely retreated into myself a lot at home. I do a lot of concentrating on not drinking, and keeping myself busy with stuff, and that stuff hasn't always been the right stuff. I need to put more of that concentrating into my family
  • Run more than 2021
    • I've run 2,100km in 2021 so far, which is around 300km more than last year but not quite where I wanted to be. I'd like to get out today to put another few on that, but either way I want to smash that next year. The aim is 3,000km, with 3,200km being a nice extra as that's 2,000 miles.
    • I'll give myself a pass on some of those kilometers if I do better at the other fitness that I should be doing around the running. If I end up at 2,500km but I've averaged at least one "other" workout per week through the year then I'll be happy with that

There's this years ramble wrapped up. If you've read this far: why? But also thanks. I hope that your 2022 is better than your 2021, even if 2021 was great.

© Jason Dilworth 2022
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