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HAPPY NEW YEAR 2023!

Lessons 2022 Taught me.

By Cathy (Christine Acheini) Ben-Ameh Published about a year ago 8 min read
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#vanaportrait

2022 was a trip! It was a lot of things, from physical, mental, and emotional recovery to discoveries and rediscoveries through people (old and new), music, podcasts, and talents (some of which I didn’t even realize I had). 2022 was a year of telling myself the truth—really telling myself the truth despite the high volume of what everyone else perceives it to be, especially through social media. And in this year, I learned to be more compassionate with myself as I have tried to be with everybody else because somehow, we have all been pulled into a space of trying so hard to be perceived as “good people” that we forget that unless our souls prosper, most of life is meaningless anyways.

This is the year I can boldly say, “I have been marvelously helped by God!” and it can only get better.

For clarity of thought, I divided my experiences and lessons into the months of the year. Here goes.

JANUARY.

On New Year’s Day, I felt no excitement and honestly had nothing to look forward to except that I had four more cycles of chemotherapy to complete. It was wonderful to receive the news by the second week of the year that the treatment was working and most of the cancer was gone. A huge part of me started to wake up and want to dream again, believing that all the prayers of my family and friends were being answered, and thus was quite inspired to take my prayer life seriously again.

A few weeks before the end of 2021, I connected with an amazing charity called THE SWAN SONG PROJECT, which held sessions at the MAGGIE’S CENTRE at the amazing St. James University Teaching Hospital where I was being treated. The Founder is this amazing guy called Ben Buddy Slack, who, together with me, wrote a song for my daddy who transitioned in March 2021. You can read about that experience and listen to the song titled “Memories” here.

Ben taught me how being kind to others can, in fact, end up being kindness to ourselves. The Zoom and in-person meetings we had, the candid conversations about life and grief, and the encouragement he and the rest of his team provided me over the last year have inspired me to do the best I can for others who come my way.

FEBRUARY.

After a couple of years of living alone in my own space, I was forced to move out when I got ill in July 2021 to stay with family for about six months, and honestly, it was mostly one of the worst decisions I have ever made in my adult life. I learned that, as much as gratitude ideally must be shared when favors are given, gratitude expected implies the desire and need to control others. I learned that when I am in the position to help anyone or give to them in any capacity, I must do so with an open mind of release, the genuine desire to set them free from the chains and limitations of why they needed my help in the first place, and refuse to cling to the limited reward of their gratitude for something I have given them that someone else could have (or not) if I hadn’t come along. I learned that speaking ill of other people is a greater reflection of who I am than the person I am trying to get others to dislike along with me. And I learned that it does not matter how long it takes; we will all reap what we sow.

On a more positive note, I began writing for an amazing online girls' magazine called YES GURL based in London, through which I met some incredible people such as Smooth Talking (who also walks it on her Fashion Fridays), Angie Greaves of Smooth Radio, and rising influencer, Jasmine Jonas, BAFTA Award-winning costume designer, PC Williams and the sultry, very talented Ayoni. You can check them out HERE.

On this blog you are reading now, I also encountered the phenomenal writers Buki Papillion, Itoro Bassey, budding Ghanian writer, Grace Eklu, my big brother, who is a game-changing songwriter and worship leader, McAnthony Ben-Ameh, The amazing painter Heather Strazza and the budding world changer, Kevlar.

On another music blog called Naija Daily Feeds (9jadailyfeeds.com.ng), I interviewed great talents like Fiokee, Abiola Daramola, Danny Tom, Femi Leye, Spaceship Boi, Msugh Anom, and Pheelz. You can read all about these amazing people by just clicking on their names.

I moved to a new shared house and met new people from different walks and stages of life. I learned the importance of silence, not expressing desperation even when I feel it the most, how jealous I must be of my personal space, and that every relationship (no matter what kind) that has a beginning must have an end. Nothing lasts forever.

MARCH.

I have resigned myself to the fact that March will always be a difficult month for my family. I was still counting the days back to the last conversations on audio and WhatsApp I had with my dad, and it will always feel like yesterday since he went away. I still have our WhatsApp conversation thread pinned and have a hard time changing my phone just because that’s how I need things to continue to be, at least for now.

I finished my chemo treatments and caught COVID, which delayed my radiotherapy. I had my PICC line taken out and enjoyed my first proper, uninhibited shower in a long time.

I started adding more engagements to my social calendar, and down the line I realized how silly this was because I had forgotten the need to give myself time to heal and caved into the pressure of “levelling up.

APRIL.

This was spent mostly in radiotherapy. But it also marked the initial end of my cancer treatment.

I also attempted to venture back into the world of broadcast when I did a small feature with Arise News on "The Rise of Sexual Assault cases in The US"

And as I glided through MAY and JUNE where I did my first 21-day water fast (which felt completely pointless at the end), the regret of resuming life and getting very physically and mentally active too soon grew imminent. During this time, I reconnected with an old bestie from boarding school in Nigeria. She swept me off my feet and made a lot of promises, which I thoroughly drank up. And then she pulled the new rug she placed me on out from under me. I learned to be grateful for being swept off my feet and not to become too comfortable with the kind and generous gestures of others, lest I move beyond the point of gratitude into the point of further expectation, which can be misinterpreted as or grow into ingratitude.

During this time, I also learned that therapy is usually pointless and is basically just being fed back all the truths we are afraid to tell ourselves. I will try not to ever convince my future husband to go to couple therapy because I don’t think it works. When we have a rough patch, we will just pray and work through it.

JULY.

I had two of my teeth extracted. One was a baby tooth that refused to fall out and be replaced by an adult tooth, which could have been the story of some of my life. Anyways, with it gone, certain parts of my life in this era had to end as well. I moved away cities again.

AUGUST.

I let loose and attended my friend’s wedding in Bedford. It was the first social outing in a very long time. I had a really good time.

The only lesson I learned was that love is a very beautiful thing, and I am certain I want and need more of it in my life, to give and receive it. Future hubby, if you can read this wherever you are, “wink wink."

SEPTEMBER.

The month started with another hospital admission. And generally, was very quietly spent writing, getting to know my guitar again, and becoming more confident on social media. "Never say Never" was the lesson I learned this month.

OCTOBER

My birthday month! My twin and I virtually spent this one together, which was a first in our adult years (we are both quite individualistic in character and very different). As a twin, there is that constant nagging at the back of your mind that you are two people, and only this year I learned from my brother that it is a stupid notion only planted by unnecessary insecurities to send me on a constant guilt trip. It turns out he has never felt like that and has thoroughly enjoyed being his own person all along. Ha-ha.

I attempted my second 21-day water fast. It felt great, even though I still didn’t lose that much weight. I don’t think I will be doing it again.

I was so loved on my birthday and got the most thoughtful presents. I think pink is my new favourite colour.

I carved my first Jack-o’-lantern and decided that Halloween really isn’t my cup of tea.

NOVEMBER.

Like many people in this world, I also struggle with depression and anxiety. It is not a passing fad. I have been admitted to the hospital for it. And this month, there were several moments where the walls of life literally caved in, and I thought I might have to be admitted again. A lot of what I had been waiting for and crossing my fingers for had not even returned an update, and I began to feel stuck once more.

The key lesson I learned was that in this life, we can’t wait for everything to be perfect to be happy and have a great time. I choose to be happy and enjoy every moment of life, regardless of whatever hurdles and challenges come my way.

DECEMBER.

The month started on a very high note. I had my first proper job interview since I started applying for work in July. It went so well! However I was informed I was not chosen for the position.

This month I am learning how to handle rejection and respect its role in stirring me away from what is not meant to be a part of the book of my destiny. The line between what we deserve and what life and nature entitle us to is thin, and we cannot accept no for an answer there.

2022 took me down memory lane a lot and I enjoyed revisiting my favourite books, songs, movies anywhere I could find them online. I really got into listening to podcasts too. There is something listening to other people talk without the added pressure of needing to say anything back.

Something tells me 2023 will be so much better. It is this hope that keeps me going—that voice inside my head that whispers, “It’s going to get better. Everything will be okay.”

In the end, the question we should try to ask ourselves is this-

“How can I live my best life, as if I have only five years left to live?” My friend reading this, live intentionally and live your truth with all the strength God can give you, and don’t be afraid to ask Him for help whenever you need it.

It can only better.

Happy New year 2023!

healingsuccesshappiness
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About the Creator

Cathy (Christine Acheini) Ben-Ameh

Bio:

Cathy Ben-Ameh has published two books; "The Impact of Music Streaming on The Music Industry: Case study-Spotify" and "'13- A Chapbook of 13 Short Poems". https://linktr.ee/cathybenameh

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