It’s weird, but it’s much easier to remember the negative anniversaries over the positive ones — which is an irony in itself, since the go-to phrase is “happy anniversary”. Not everyone is so lucky. Some people are routinely surrounded by unhappy anniversaries.
It’s not an active choice. Even if there are good anniversaries in your life, it’s the bad ones that take hold. For some anniversaries, every year I find myself with overwhelming anxiety in the weeks preceding, and every year, like an idiot, I wonder why. And then the day comes, and it all starts to make perfect sense… Sure, I could stop being overdramatic about these anniversaries and choose to let them fall from my memory (I know I’m being dramatic because my anxiety tells me that’s what people think of me!).
But you know, there are some moments that you need to accept that this is something you have been impacted by, and whether you like it or not, it has affected your decisions.
My reaction is still valid. That’s what my therapist said.
She also told me that if I’m going to hold a negative anniversary in my mind so firmly, then I’ve got to start coupling it with positive decisions, with affirmations of how far I’ve come, or reminders of other things that I can focus on in my life that deserve credit. I don’t want to cave in on myself every time a specific date pops up. So what can I do to give myself structure?
Yesterday was one of those dates, and I decided that enough was enough. Well… I guess there have been lots of moments when I’ve thought enough is enough, but this time I’m ready to be proactive about it.
So this anniversary, I choose to find something to be happy about. And while my brain likes to look around and say, “I can’t see anything to be happy about,” my heart knows now to plant things so that it can tell my brain to shut up. If you have something negative inside of you that nags, that weighs you down, then you need to start carrying balloons with you. Pick-me-ups. Sometimes those balloons are things you already have, but sometimes you’ve got to create them, to counteract.
Like game nights, and spending time with friends. Whatever you find enjoyable, and can make happen, make it happen. I’m learning to value those who reach out to me, and let go of anxieties I can’t control, so a lot of my balloons end up being social activities, but there are plenty of other things that can work. It’s a long, ridiculous process, but it’s necessary. Because what else are you supposed to say, if you can’t say “happy anniversary”?