#reverb10: One Word

[This entry is the first for #reverb10, an online initiative to reflect on the year and manifest what’s next. Today’s prompt is to encapsulate 2010 in one word, and tell what I hope will be the word that captures 2011.]


Encapsulating 2010 in just one word is harder work than one would expect. It is not as simple (for me) as, say, choosing one event that occurred or remembering one action. It is more about what concept most applied over that time.

For almost all of 2010, I have had a sense, more prominent sometimes than others, that something terrible is going to happen.

I can imagine a whole host of things that might happen to make this come to pass, but the most likely would be something happening to my mother.

I have a contentious relationship with her, to the point where we have not spoken in over two years. She is very sick, in a medical and possibly a mental sense, but is unwilling to give up the vices that helped to make her and are mostly responsible for keeping her that way. She has alienated nearly everyone in her life with her actions, yet is unwilling to accept the blame where it belongs to her.

When the sense of impending dread struck me earlier this year, I was in the midst of a stretch where she called and left me rambling, highly charged voicemail messages. Sometimes sobbing, sometimes enraged, sometimes probably both, she said all manner of things to me, the spectrum from the sweetest motherly “you’ll always be my baby boy” to the spiteful, rueful “you are the reason I am like this.”

My initial reaction was not, as one would expect of most people, to feel bad for her, or to take what she said (good or bad) to heart. No, my reaction was cynical anger.

So when that sense of impending doom came over me, and I connected it logically to my mom, I was struck by another emotion, seemingly contradictory: relief. If something horrible did happen, then at least she would be able to rest.

Thus far, nothing has happened that would fulfill that sense of doom, either to her or to anyone else in my life. As such, the feeling has not gone away, merely ebbed and flowed with my moods. It has dominated much of my life in 2010, even though (as is my wont) I have not spoken about it much.

I am of two minds. On one hand, I hope that nothing does happen, that everyone stays safe. On the other, if something did occur and that sense was assuaged, I would be able to relax some, maybe sleep. I would like that.

For 2011, I hope to all that I can encapsulate it with the word “rest”. As previously mentioned, due at least in part to my primal certainty that something is going to go awry, I have developed a fairly impressive ability to stay awake until four or five in the morning regardless of how tired I am and how late I was up the night before, only to then, one random day, crash completely and sleep for 12 or 16 hours without the possibility of being roused.

It is, as they say, not the greatest thing in the world.

I want so much to be able to rest, to feel at ease. Instead, it’s getting worse over time; the current tendency to be up past five in the morning when I have to leave for work at eight evolved from lying awake in bed until two or three.

I’m not sure what my life will bring in 2011 just yet, although I am confident in change. I just hope that change is for the better, and allows me the relaxation that I selfishly believe I have earned.

The only thing in that regard is to let or make what will happen happen and accept the consequences.


  1. sonya

    You know, it’s really oddly timed that you post something like this. Just last night on my way home from class, I had a feeling like that stronger than ever before. Normally I’m not one for doom and gloom, but I had to pull my car over from crying and this crazy tightness in my chest to call my ex to make sure he would tell the girls that I loved them. I really was expecting to be hit at some point during that drive home. I wish I had more words for you on what you’re dealing (and have dealt) with your mother, but I just wanted to express how sorry I was that you’re going through all of that combined. One night of that impending feeling was completely overwhelming for me, so I can’t imagine a year’s worth. Wishing you an amazing 2011. I’ll save my next 11:11 for you.

    xo. s.

  2. Katie

    The pessimist in me wants to say “Yeah, I spent the last year in the same sort of permanent state of mind. Doom is coming. Then it did.”

    But the optimist, or moreso the fan of the universe that I am wants to say that if you expect doom, you’ll get doom. If you expect awesome and great things, you’ll get them.

    Regardless if your personal views on this, I definitely hope your 2011 is filled with nothing but awesome. I look forward to seeing what else your 2010 has brought, as well as what you want your 2011 to bring over the next month. 🙂