Happy 2023

Dec 31, 2022

So here I am on the floor of my bathroom during an air raid getting bombed on New Year’s Eve. What a great time to write one of those end-of-year reviews. Shall we?

I never make wishes on New Year, but I do make New Year resolutions and more often than not I actually do keep them.

In 2022 my resolutions were to work hard on bettering my mental health (LOL!) and start working on actually feeling happy and fulfilled in my everyday life. Well, the first half did not happen FOR SURE: not only I have regressed way back in all of my struggles, but I’ve gained PTSD and lots of new fears and probably a disorder or two that I can’t even begin unpacking yet. I’ve spent this year in survival mode, I don’t even remember what “normal” life is, what’s it like to be dramatically searching for the meaning in life, set up some goals, have dreams and plans. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Bro, I don’t know where I see myself next week. Is this what “living in the moment” means? Because no, thank you. Anyway, I don’t remember “normal”, but I know this ain’t it. I also know that I am bottling up SO. MANY. THINGS! I can almost feel how when I open this metaphorical bottle to stuff yet another monster in there, this bottle is so full – stuff tries to escape from it, and there is not much bottling you can do. And when it spills - oh boy, that won’t be a fun day.

The second half, however, I sort of managed. I have a clear goal in my head, and to be honest with you, I did not so much discover it, as I was given it. In the first days of the war when (I don’t really wanna say it, but oh well, I’ve promised to be open and honest here: this blog is for me to look back on as much as it is for other people to have a look into a regular person’s life and feelings) I was suicidal to the point when I scared myself with the level of planning I put into it – our military addressed us and basically said: “Your one and ONLY task as a civilian is to survive; just shut the fuck up and survive at all cost.” I accepted it at cost value. Having a clear task, even if it is “just sit tight and live” was so important back then, it was a little straw you could grab onto while you’re drowning, watching your life crumble before your eyes and the only question you have is “What do I do?” Giving me that task worked, it worked so well! A bit later I had that revelation of being so loved and so treasured that I gained a level of respect for my own life that I don’t think I EVER had. My life was not a given anymore, I was no longer just another living organism brought into this world because this is how biology works, with no meaning or purpose. My life was a gift, a treasure. And I had to make it count. I started volunteering, spreading information, I started this blog, I started paying attention to what’s happening around me. I helped people, I received help, and I appreciated it. I switched to speaking Ukrainian in my everyday life, I helped take down an imperialistic monument, I started translating a book on Holodomor. Yes, despite everything, this year I feel fulfilled, and I am happy with how I used my time.

My second resolution was about art. I found an amazing teacher, I don’t think we would have met if it weren’t for the war. I switched from digital art to traditional, and – screw fake humbleness – I’ve made quite a progress!

There is a lot that happened this year. I don’t feel like repeating a whole blog. I am living through an actual genocide, and I have to defend myself against both the people who are committing it and the people who are defending my attackers. I have lost connection with some people, most of them – predictable and no regrets, some of them – unexpected and disappointing. But I have also met lots of new people and made lots of new friends. Just yesterday I was falling asleep to the thought that I don’t think I have ever been surrounded by so much love and care – and that includes you, my dear readers. Your undying support shaped my worldview during this time so much, and your help aided me so much in getting through this nightmare with much less stress. There are still moments when I feel lonely, angry, and desperate, but as time goes on these moments become less and less frequent.

I don’t know what next year brings. I don’t do New Year wishes, and therefore I don’t want to make predictions, either. All I know is that this year we have done something no one thought we could do. When the strongest leaders in the world told us “What’s the point of sending you help, you’ll fall in less than a week”; when my own “friends” told me “Just stay inside for a day or two until it blows over and you become part of russia” – I watched people stand before the russian tanks and try and push them back with their bare hands digging their heels into the ground, I watched unarmed people march at the soldiers in full gear, and I watched those soldiers retreat. I watched endless lines of volunteers at the military commissariat in my city, I watched endless lines of people with bags of supplies and donations on the other side of that commissariat. I watched hospitals put up signs “All our blood banks are completely full, we don’t need any new blood donors”, and I watched the biggest volunteer chain in the world being formed in just a few days. And then I saw the world say “Wow” and “Maybe, they have a chance” and “Maybe WE have a chance”, and I saw people recognize our strength and I saw them realize we have the same values, and I saw them remember similar struggles in their own history, and I saw them rush to help, and I heard crowds of people roar “Slava Ukraini” in lots of different languages with lots of different accents. And these will be the memories that I will be taking with me from this year. I’ll save them in a velvet box inside my mind and I will be taking them out when that bottle of horrors eventually breaks and wrecks me completely, so every time I have to deal with trauma I have them to help me through.

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