I almost titled this post something different, but I figured since this is what the 2009 and 2010 recaps are named, I might as well keep the tradition going.
This is also the first year that our family isn't spending New Year's Eve in Myrtle Beach (because New Year's Day is on a Sunday, my grandma's timeshare ended today anyway, plus everyone is still grossly sick), so I didn't have this post written ahead of time and ready to go.
2011 was the first year that I hopped on the bandwagon and chose my One Word that was my goal for the year. My word? Peace. And while taking into consideration the fact that I am human and thus will be a work in progress until the day that I die, I truly believe that this year was a success. Even when things get rough and crazy, I feel a sense of peace that I have never had until this year.
A big area that this peace has affected is my relationship with Matt. I believe that it is because I made finding peace my goal that I was finally able to accept the truth about him and who he is in my life. I have reached the point where I can look at him as just my best friend, not the guy I'm in love with. He and I have come to an entirely new understanding of each other and what we both need and can expect from the amazing bond that we have. A huge prayer that has been answered this year is that I am finally secure in us. I no longer struggle with the enemy's taunting voice trying to convince me that he doesn't care about me or any of the horrible things I used to be so stressed about and scared of. I know he loves me, and we are stronger than ever before.
I think part of the reason that our relationship has become this solid is because for the first time in my entire 19 and a half years, I have other real friends that I know love me just the way that he does. While there are several friends that apply here, Ryann and Elizabeth are the two that stick out in my head. These two have helped to heal so much of the hurt in my past from being bullied and so much of my current hurt due to the lack of relationship with my blood sisters.
It still honestly kind of blows my mind that my best girl friend now is a gorgeous, popular athlete - the kind of girl it's taken me till now to quit feeling so intimidated by because of my past. I feel like I have known Ryann for my entire life, not even kidding, and we've basically only been friends for nine months. I trust this girl with my life, with every one of my secrets. She means so much to me. She's the kind of friend that I can already picture being a bridesmaid at my wedding one day. I can't wait to see how much stronger our relationship becomes in 2012.
Elizabeth is a huge role model for me. We have very similar stories in that we both have rough relationships with our families and struggle emotionally, and she gives me more guidance than I can ever explain in this one blog post. She is the biggest gift I received by stepping out of my comfort zone and joining my first Bible study. I learn so much from her every day.
Some of my greatest memories of this year, however, don't involve any of these three amazing people. They involve four people that I met on a warm February day at Campbell, and never could I have imagined what that one meeting would turn into throughout the rest of this year. I felt a little crazy at the time working so hard to get a ride 3 hours away to see them in Charlotte in April, but thanks to Amy, another dear friend I have come to really love this year, I was able to experience my first real concert and to further a relationship with Taylor, Callie, Bruno, and Phoebe. I got to have an even better night with them in Wilmington in June, and that was when I knew they were more than just a band I like to listen to; they're my friends. That was definitely the best birthday present I received this year. In between those three shows and their return to Campbell in October, these four crazy talented people came to be true friends. They have prayed for me, prayed for my mom, and let me into their trusted inner circle. I am honored to be a part of the dream team that helps them chase after their goals. I can't wait to see them again, and I look forward to the crazy ride they're going to take me on in this new year.
My relationship with my family is obviously another very affected area of my life. I have stopped trying to force relationships with people who clearly don't want relationships with me. I have accepted the fact that I can't fix people who don't want to be fixed. My mom and I are fine, we always have been, but I have quit making my sisters a priority when all that leads to is more tears and stress for me. I have struggled a lot this year with wondering if I even love Chelsea at all, but in the end, I know I have to because I am a Christian and that is what Jesus commands me to do. I have accepted the fact that even though I do love them, I just don't like them very much, and I'm okay with that. I will never give up hope on fixing those two relationships, but for now I'm focusing on taking care of myself and what I need. And what I need is to surround myself with people who take an interest in my life because they love me, not because they want to have ammunition to fire back at me later.
That brings me to my next (and last) point. I feel like a completely different person now compared to who I was a year ago. I have learned the right Someone to find my self-worth in. I have learned how to truly love myself and love the life God has given me. I have learned to focus on the blessings first and to be thankful for the dark times. God has begun to answer my prayer in which I asked that He show me the reason for all the health issues I have been dealt, so much so that I now look at my story with gratitude. I have a whole new level of confidence that has surprised me and shocked Matt. When I saw him on Christmas and told him the end of the Nick story, he said that when he read the initial text I'd sent him at the time it all happened, he couldn't believe that I actually stood up for myself. The me that was here a year ago never would have. I have finally realized the necessity of taking care of myself before worrying about other people, not in a selfish way, but in a self-love way. I finally go after what I need to do to make myself happy, instead of avoiding doing so because I'm scared it could upset someone else. There are so many lessons God has taught me this year. I could never list them all here.
2011 has been, without a doubt, the best year of my life. I've said it a dozen times before - I am happier now than I have ever been. I am grateful beyond measure to God for all the ways He has changed and shaped me this year. I am grateful for a year of no major health problems. I am grateful for the great memories, the unexpected blessings, and even the tough times because every single one of them has led me to where I am right now. I wouldn't change a thing. My prayer for 2012 is that it will be just as monumental and memorable.
I hope you all have a fantastic New Year's celebration. Thank you for your steadfast friendship and support. Here's to the crazy, God-breathed rollercoaster ride that awaits us in 2012. :)