It was a strange Irish Christmas for me as the long recovery from my surgery in November and two rounds of antibiotics curtailed my socialising at what can be a hectic time of year.
It was important to get out and hook up with old friends, though, and to realise, no matter what’s going on in our lives, we all have so much in common in terms of our desire to be happy and free from suffering.
I had some fantastic nights out, despite health and job worries. And I gained fresh insights into how alcohol can play too much of a role in Irish life as I went through the entire holiday period without a drop to drink.
Meeting up with old friends can be emotional at this time of year. Now in our 40s, it doesn’t take long to reconnect and find the spark with people you once drank too much with or shared crazy adventures with back in your teens or early 20s.
Self-pity tends to evaporate, too, when you realise that dear friends can be going through troubles of their own in their lives.
The singles are still looking for partners, some of those who have been married a long time confide that their marriages are a sham or they are only staying together for the sake of the children. People who seem to have it all can confide that they are desperately unhappy.
|Walking the Camino ... one of the highlights of 2014 for me|
You wonder if it’s better to be lonely, or more precisely alone, than trapped in a loveless union.
I spent New Year’s Eve in bed, worn down by strong antibioticis and worries over why my shoulder is taking so long to heal. Even though I had been invited to parties at the houses of two old, dear friends. I know I should have made the effort, but it’s important not to be too hard on yourself in the ‘down’ times.
But it was good to get out and about, to meet people who have played a big part in my life at varying stages.
Whereas I can tend to look at redundancy as a negative thing, people who have known me for years were full of enthusiasm about the possibilities inherent in an uncertain future and the adventures that hopefully lie ahead.
In my 20s, I thought that life would be a lot less complicated by the time I reached my 40s. I realise now that it doesn’t matter what age you are, you have to face the same fears, emotions, demons, and frustrations at any stage. It’s how you deal with the drama that counts.
It was great to dance to Kila in Monroe’s and to meet friends home from the USA, UK, and Australia who have built new lives far from home. For us 40-something Galway people, emigration has always been part of our lives.
It was great to sit in a pub and chat with one of my best friends, who lives in America, as we only meet up for one night in the year. We see so little of each other, and yet we connect in an instant thanks to many years of friendship.
It was great to see so many ‘oldies’ dancing in the Blue Note as DJ Foz blasted out the old 1980s indie tunes (The Cult, The Smiths, The Clash) that you never get to hear when you go out any more.
Most importantly, it was great to share the honesty of people who were willing to open up about what’s wrong, and right, in their lives.
After entering the holiday season with a dose of self-pity (newly redundant, with an injury, and unsure about the future) I realised that virtually everyone I know has some sort of ‘issue’ to deal with right now in their lives – be it the loss of a job, frustration with a job, tension, or unhappiness in a marriage.
Thanks to everyone who shared their truth with me over the holidays, and those who dragged me out of my own little negative world. Ultimately, every single one of us just wants to be happy – simply sharing our fears with total honesty can do wonders at times.
Happy New Year 2015.