But this year...I do not want another year like this one. I have good friends, I am financially head-above-water, I have navigated most challenges, and I have improved myself in some ways. But I expended a lot of energy keeping things from falling apart.
And I spent most of the year standing a little outside myself: for an introvert, this is a brutal thing.
Ironically, some friends/family/acquaintances perceive this as a strengthening of my character or resolve. Yeah, I'm good at talking with others, and I've learned to say things with conviction despite my personal belief that nothing in the world is certain. Just because I'm good at it doesn't mean I like it, but currently I have little space for not being that sort of person. So I live in that veneer, while exhaustion and neglect eats at who I really am.
Work never stopped demanding things this year. There were so many issues raised, followed by battles fought and lost. The battles won were very few. When current-boss took over the team, she asked us for input on what we needed; my request was 'hope': hope that someday we would be given the time/space/resources to fix all the things we knew were now horribly wrong. She's a good boss, but she's as hamstrung as the rest of us, and 'hope' is still a long way off.
So I have some tasks to complete in the next six months, to allow me to quit. Well, yes, I could quit right now, but not without nontrivial interruption in my lifestyle - which would be fine if it were just me, but it isn't: it would upset Mom, throw housemate into the street, and disrupt the lifestyle to which the cats have become accustomed. None of these are trivial concerns for me.
The sad thing is: I like the work I'm doing. I just hate that I can't do it right. I actually cannot get approval to do it right.
And I like the 4 weeks of vacation, plus a week of personal leave. But this year I did 237 hours of overtime (unpaid, as always); more than last year, and more than the 210 hours of vacation. And I could have filled twice as many hours with things that really should have been done.
Work has taught me what a migraine aura looks like. And I have learned to dissipate the stresses of work well enough to avoid seeing any major migraine auras in the last 4 months or so. But the auras should not have happened, and the dissipation should not have been necessary.
In non-work reflections:
I read more this year than last year, so that's a plus. Keep doing that.
I wrote less. Writing has always been there for me, and I know it will be there for me again. But I'd like to be there for it, more than I have been. There are good stories half-written, and still waiting. The writing flash drive is...somewhere in the house, but I can't find it, and what is alarming is that I haven't torn the house apart to find it even though it's been lost all year. My rule always was that if the house was on fire, I'd grab the cats and the flash drive and everything else could burn. Yes I have backups, but it's not the same.
Nearly all hobbies and interests were neglected: gardening, martial arts, sewing/crafting, cooking.... None were completely abandoned, but they were only attended to in stolen moments. This is partly due to being worn down by work, but the primary culprit is having a housemate - any housemate. Without being alone - completely alone - for a sizeable part of each day, I lose the ability to function well. There is so much for me to explore that I cannot access when with others, and the only way I have ever found to become better at being with others is to study the problem while being alone.
The last thing I want to do - after doing it all day at work - is have difficult conversations with someone whose feelings I care about. I've done it a little - I'll need to do it more.
Boardgaming is one hobby that was not totally neglected, since housemate and I share that one. There are some very fine games out there right now, and I did my part by introducing the family to more of them during the holiday gathering (sister is hooked on mini-Agricola now).
Maintenance activities - household and personal - improved slightly, owing to being out of the depression that started with the 2010 breakup (when I gained my very own arch-enemy). Further progress is hindered by the same things that caused me to neglect hobbies and interests.
My friend's anxiety/etc. has finally turned around, for which I am very grateful. I will always feel like I should have done more, even though the only avenue left would have been contacting her psychiatrist directly - possibly to beat the psych senseless because of all the warning signs that were ignored. I am so glad that the event that brought the turnaround did not cause harm to anyone.
In summary: I made it through the year without losing too much ground - no small accomplishment, considering - but that's about it. Skipping a year seems ridiculously wasteful, life-wise. I resolve to not do that again.