You say Goodbye, I say Hello
December 25, 2009 6:34 PM   Subscribe

The aughts were the worst decade (I hope) of my life. How can I say "fuck you" to them and welcome the next 10 years?

The short explanation is actually pretty much it. Between 2000 and 2009, my marriage ended, I filed for bankruptcy, I lost my house, I suffered from an almost continuous case of depression, I tried to kill myself, I ended up on a psych ward -- that's a good summary. The last time I remember feeling truly happy was in the year 2000 and the best thing I can thing I can say about 2009 (and this is really, really big) is that nothing bad happened and I had a lot of a good days. I'm not sure I made it above .500 but I sense an upward trend. I'd like to perform a ritual - not on New Year's Eve because I'm going to a party, which is what normal people do on New Year's Even and I'd like to start the decade doing what normal people do - but sometime between now and then that really expresses to this fucking decade my anger that it happened at all and also honors 2009 for maybe being a turning point and definitely welcomes the good times that are sure to come in the 2010s, I really, really, hope.
posted by anonymous to Religion & Philosophy (31 answers total) 69 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a big fan of setting things on fire. Just in general, but especially to dismiss relics of a bad time.

I have also always found it cleansing to... well, clean, and I mean REALLY CLEAN, my room/house. If I were in your situation I'd clean my house to spotlessness, and make a big pile of the things I wanted to get rid of (for either emotional or practical reasons). Then I'd probably donate 95% of it, and save a few choice things for a bonfire. (Obviously no plastic, etc etc.)

I might then write down some things on paper- bad things that happened, negative thoughts, etc- and toss them into the fire.

Then I'd go sit in my newly cleansed home. I'd make some hot chocolate, read a book, and just enjoy being calm and alone.

Hell, I might actually do this, now...
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:48 PM on December 25, 2009 [33 favorites]

Make 10 posters, each for one year from 2000 to 2009. When the ball is dropping on NYE, during the last 10 seconds rip each poster up (maybe have a friend pass them to you). When it's officially new years have this song queued up and make sure the volume is cranked.

You've made it, it only gets better from here.
posted by pwally at 6:53 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I too am a big fan of the burnination. For me, it was a bit easier -- there were certain key things (letters, journals, a book or two) that really symbolized a lot of the doomed/failed aspects of a particular part of my life. Setting up a nice fire in a bucket and watching them turn to ash was a nice marker.
posted by verb at 6:59 PM on December 25, 2009

When you have a block of 2-3 free days, pull an all-nighter. Watch the sun come up after spending the night cleaning or burning things or getting drunk or whatever. Then, when you literally can't stay awake anymore, pass out in bed. When you wake up 12 hours later, you'll feel like a new (wo)man.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:08 PM on December 25, 2009 [5 favorites]

Burning is pretty destructive, if that's what you are going for.

For a slightly different approach: take a long New Year's Day walk/hike, in the middle of the woods if you can, and preferably to a hilltop/mountain/waterfall/dramatic natural setting. You can do this a few days before or after New Year's of course.

Any kind of vigorous physical activity in nature feels cathartic to me.

It'd be great if you could end this with a hot tub or sauna.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:35 PM on December 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

The last time I remember feeling truly happy was in the year 2000...

I haven't had it as rough as you, but I share your sentiment. I plan on doing the polar bear swim this year, although it is in February where I am, as kind of a ritual cleansing from this decade.
posted by 517 at 7:37 PM on December 25, 2009

First thing New Year's Day, take a long, hot bath. Scrub yourself all over. Then stand up and shower off.

Happy New Year.
posted by dilettante at 7:38 PM on December 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 7:39 PM on December 25, 2009

From a question posted last year, I found a great ritual that I'll repeat this year. I'll do it on New Year's Eve, but the night before or after works great, too. First, clean house. Keep a notepad handy and write down all regrets you have from the year, or in your case maybe the negative things that happened. Tear them off in little strips. Then open a glass of wine, take a long hot bath (the scrub is a great addition). Time the bath so that you're finished right around midnight. At midnight, light a candle. Read the regrets one at a time and burn the strips immediately afterword. Visualize them disappearing from your life as they go up in smoke. Use whichever of the above suggestions that appeal to you. I'm not the kind of person who usually does things like this, but it really REALLY helped me last year and I'm doing it every year from now on. Good luck! Leave all that negativity behind and start the new year feeling light and free and open to the possibilities!
posted by raisingsand at 7:48 PM on December 25, 2009 [12 favorites]

damn.... how many of us feel this way?

fuck that decade!

In the spring I'm going to fire up the Harley, hit Route 66 and head west...

or... in answer to your question... find a direction and ride... leave it behind!

merry xmas..
posted by HuronBob at 7:52 PM on December 25, 2009

I like the burning and smudging suggestions, but my first thought was a bit more cerebral in nature. How about writing down each year & the shitty things that happened, and then in the corresponding year a decade later, write down positive things you will do that directly oppose the negative stuff? For example, if you declared bankruptcy in 2003, by 2013 you will have saved x amount of money or set up a CD/401K/IRA/Annuity/Money Market account, and then, do it. This may be difficult with some things, but not impossible. It just might take a bit more creativity to come up with counteractions to the less concrete negative things of the past decade.

I also think doing this is in combination with the more active rituals people have suggested might be the most helpful. Combining destruction with construction is a way to render the past powerless, while endowing the future with possibility and hope. Best of luck, and may your teens be a gazillions time better than your zeroes (or as a friend likes to call them, "the uh-ohs").
posted by katemcd at 7:56 PM on December 25, 2009 [5 favorites]

What a garbage decade it truly was. Nthing the suggestions to burn the negative crap that's been bogging you down. I'm torching a ton of shit come the 31st.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:02 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you don't want to burn, you can bury.

Take ten items that represent the bad things that happened (or ten pieces of paper with signifigant events written on them) and at 11:59 go out and bury them in your yard. Dig a deep hole, pile them in and shovel on the dirt. Stomp on the grave. Good bye to all that.

And if you want to add your own little arcane ritual you can turn around three times, spit over your shoulder, wish on a star, and/or piss on the grave. Whatever. It is the ritual that you need, the closure.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:10 PM on December 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

And if you don't want to burn or bury, you can plant. How about a tree that starts growing now, the moment that things all turned around?
posted by MsMolly at 8:43 PM on December 25, 2009 [13 favorites]

I'm starting a new hobby - indoor rock climbing.

Physical exertion. New friends. A place to be every week that isn't therapy. A bad ass skill. Might even be directly and obviously useful, but if not, I'll get a self esteem boost.

I'm keeping my good friends, reconnecting with some, continuing therapy, and maintaining my belief that I deserve to be happy, healthy, and loved.

If you don't want a new hobby, I fully support the suggestion to take a nice long walk, but with the addition of a destination a nice meal, a hot tub, or a bench with a great view.

Congrats on making it through a crappy time. We're here for you.
posted by bilabial at 9:08 PM on December 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

I agree with the burning. This was a pretty crap decade for me as well, on balance.
posted by barc0001 at 9:34 PM on December 25, 2009

There's at least two sides to a good turning point ritual.
1. Letting go/cleansing yourself of the negative shit
2. Focusing on the positive you would like to bring into your life.

An optional 1.5 is going over the things you currently do feel grateful about, in positive terms (so no 'things haven't been as'/"weren't" eg "things haven't been as shit").

Ideas for 1.
Burnination. A traditional and very good one. Suggestion, do it in something genuinely fireproof, I managed to crack a thick bowl when trying to burn some scraps of paper with a candle.

A big bowl of salt water, that you swirl and verbally spew all the shit that's gone on into it, and let the salt water cleanse it (it's traditional/a metaphor for tears/the ocean etc), then when you've really let it out (as many times as you need to, shout if you need to!) physically splash/sprinkle yourself with the water and feel yourself relaxing, letting go of it all.

Ideas for 2.
Write the blessings you would like to give yourself.
Place a flower or a tealight candle in the bowl for each wish you would like to give yourself.

Some notes on how to phrase the wishes:
Focus on the positive, eg instead of "I don't have anymore crazy romantic partners", try "I feel relaxed, secure and loved in my romantic relationships, and am able to let them go if the time has come"

Actually, for each blessing/area of your life, try coming up with at least 3 adjectives that describe how you would like to be feeling in your new situation.

Eg I have a *fulfilling* job where I feel *useful*, *appreciated* - financially & emotionally, and have *plenty of time for the rest of my life*.

Instead of 'I have a nice home/house'. My home feels *spacious*, *nurturing* and *beautiful*. Or my home feels *interesting*, *social*, and *efficient*.
You are getting into the specifics of what would feel good to you, not to someone else.

Instead of "I am fit" - My level of fitness allows me to feel *strong*, *confident* and *attractive*, or "flexible, outgoing, and healthy".

If you have a drum/instrument, or some music you like, or singing, or like dancing, put it up loud and belt it out, or rock out to it as if the strength of your 'rocking out' is directly related to how much you want these things to happen, or that your rocking out is directly affecting how those goals/wishes will happen. Doesn't matter how silly it is, if it's something that you can really rock out to, that's what you should go for.
Let it build to a crescendo, and when you feel the time is right, just let it suddenly fade away, or stop.

Alternately, let off a bunch of fireworks, also seems to work very well symbolically.

Why the last bit? This seems to be a pretty effective psychological pattern to set new goals, and really get your subconscious on board with what you want to achieve. It's basically found in celebrations and religious rituals throughout the world, and people getting over things, so, it must be something that works for us as humans.

So, go for it and good luck!
posted by Elysum at 10:10 PM on December 25, 2009 [12 favorites]

Scapegoat! I'll be yours if you be mine. It was a shitful decade for me too involving failure, despair, heartbreak, addiction, recovery, re-lapse, incarceration, relocation and humiliation. Some light at the end of the tunnel now.

If you write it all down (the LONG version I mean) you can send it to me and know I will read every word, never tell a soul, burn it and then you and I will never communicate again. Quid pro quo. They are just words - they cant hurt me and mine cant hurt you. I'm not superstitious - it's called disambiguation. In this case reciprocated if you take the offer. Or find someone else... there is still time.

Pvt me.
posted by evil_esto at 10:41 PM on December 25, 2009 [8 favorites]

'disambiguation' there should read 'splitting the good from the bad'.

One of these days I'll get a handle on Ctrl C/Cntrl V and be unstoppable.
posted by evil_esto at 10:53 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I nth burning. Huge bonfire? But some other things have come to mind:

- a good long sauna (preferably Russian-style)
- go to a sweat lodge
- get a very long massage (healingness of being touched)
- bikram yoga
- go for a naked run (in private, ie. in the dark) or hell, even go streaking
- pick an Ostara ritual (pagan celebration for spring, but who cares?) and perform it by yourself
- find some wiccans / pagans who can help you choose and perform a healing / rebirth ritual
- go to confession - if you are religious or if you once were
- go to an open stage poetry or music night and read/sing something about the horrible decade. Get it out there and get rid of it, and don't worry whether the performance and / or the art come off as lame because that's not what it's about
- fast
- smash a whole bunch of stuff. Glasses, plates, etc. Put on crazy music and toast yourself with shots as you do it
- tear down a wall with a big sledgehammer, should either of those things be in your possession
posted by kitcat at 11:35 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

say "fuck you" to them and welcome the next 10 years

That's actually it, really.

Find something emblematic of the last 10 years and destroy it--burn, smash, whatever. While you're destroying it, say "fuck you, last 10 years, I'm done with you."

Then create something that you want to symbolise the next ten years. A song, a poem, a drawing, whatever. Say hello to it.

But, and this is the important thing, you need to say goodbye to the past and deny its control of you while recognising that it will continue to influence you--and that state of affairs is okay.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:54 PM on December 25, 2009 [4 favorites]

Oh, and the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram can also be wonderfully cleansing. Depends on your belief structure, ymmv, etc. Google the phrase for more info.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:56 PM on December 25, 2009 [3 favorites]

Damn, gang; we should get together and have a giant Burn The Decade party. I'll bring cupcakes.
posted by dejah420 at 12:21 AM on December 26, 2009 [4 favorites]

Make a change to your physical appearance to mark the new decade. Shave your head? Shave your junk? (It can be subtle or private, doesn't need to be showy.) Dye your hair? Get a tattoo? New glasses? New earring(s)? Whatever. Every time you notice your new self, remember that this is the new you.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:49 AM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]

Starting a New Life, by Van Morrison, should get you in the mood. It always gets me in the mood.

(Click on "Play song from" after you click the google search link.)
posted by thejoshu at 8:09 AM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

Cleaning and purging your place are great ideas. I do this on 12/31 every year.

This might sound really fatuous, but I'd also suggest some redecorating. If the place looks the same, it'll just remind you of things you want to forget. The man who helped make my life hell in the '00s has never seen my place as it is today. There's no "he sat there and said..." or the like.
posted by jgirl at 9:44 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another vote for a bonfire. A friend did that after a long, ugly lawsuit nearly bankrupted him. He had a burning party, and we all brought things (or symbols of things) we wanted to get rid of. He burned documents from the trial, other people burned diaries or photos. I think the party / community aspect helped as far. And then people got a little too into it and started burning random things they happened to have with them like a Taco Bell burrito that had been sitting on a dashboard for too long.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:45 AM on December 26, 2009

If you want to say "fuck you", I'd say do just that. Go somewhere remote and open, like a lake or a mountain top, far away from people, and at the top of your lungs, shout "FUCK YOU" to everything that fucked you over.

Also, stop hoping for better times. Life doesn't always give you what you hope for. Instead, make a commitment to fight for a better life, and do whatever is in your power to improve your life. If you don't do it yourself, nobody else will.
posted by ryochiji at 1:07 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Burning is pretty destructive

Yes, but it is also cleansing. Even Mother Nature uses fire to start over. I've heard forests are healthier when they burn every once in awhile.

So yeah, have your little effigy of the last decade, but I think you should also take the advice and do something positive too. I like the housecleaning idea. That way when you wake up hung over on New Year's Day at least the house will look good.

Burn the old attitudes, clean up your home, and then welcome the New Year.
posted by TooFewShoes at 1:11 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

There is an old superstition that says that you should begin the new year as you mean to live it: to pay your bills and clean your house prior to the dawning of the new year because otherwise you'll be in debt and a mess all year. I am not superstitious, but it does sound like a good idea to tidy up those loose ends: clean and reorganize the house; get rid of or at least put away things that have sad associations; pick up the drycleaning; take back the overdue library books. And do some forward-looking things like buying a new planner and researching those courses or the vacation you want to take, or signing up for a gym or online dating. Then when New Year's Day begins, you'll be all ready to go.
posted by orange swan at 6:23 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

I did these courses they made a huge difference. Run it by your shrink first. Private message me if you have any questions.
posted by empty vessel at 5:39 PM on January 7, 2010

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