It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Ironically, A Tale of Two Cities (from whence cometh today's post title) is one of the few Dickens novels I didn't like and didn't bother to finish... but it's a handy quote to use as I think about the best and worst of 2008. In the true spirit of ending posts on a positive note, I'll start with...

The worst of 2008

Depression - this one is obvious, and it's a mixed bag. Jumbled together with this, in the spaghetti bowl that is my psyche, is the ongoing and often exhausting work of recognising and dealing with the effects of long-term abuse. The depression itself was in fact a symptom of not dealing with all those things... and wow, depression is not fun. June to August was a bad time for me and I'm sure it wasn't helped by the fact that it was winter. Winter is NOT my favourite part of living in Melbourne!

House hunting - I spent Nov/Dec 2007 and January/early February 2008 looking for a new rental home. It was a horribly degrading, tiring experience. I spent a lot of time traipsing around on stinking hot days looking at house after house. Real estate agents generally open rental properties once only, for a 15 minute inspection. If you don't come to the inspection you are not allowed to apply for it. If you DO come to the inspection, you are one of 50 or 60 people looking at the place. If the place is even remotely habitable and you decide to apply, you are then one of 50 or 60 people applying for the place. Of those, there are probably 20 or so candidates who fit whatever criteria the landlord and owner have in their heads. After that, it's just a game. The real estate agent might shortlist you, or they might not. Once they have a shortlist (usually 3 or 4 candidates) they take it to the owner and the owner chooses one. Their choice is based on... whatever they feel like, it seems. In some ways I was at an advantage because I have neither children nor pets, but also I was working part time and that was a definite disadvantage. I didn't apply for any place I couldn't afford but there's no doubt that someone earning $60K seems much more attractive to landlords than someone earning ~$37K. And regardless of how clean, polite, rich etc potential tenants might be, many real estate agents treat renters like scum. Sadly, the rental market is so tight that we are at the estate agents' collective mercies so it's not like we can rebel against the treatment. So yeah... house-hunting was a definite low start to the year.

Counselling - this item will appear on both lists, but for the 'worst of' list I am referring to counselling sessions with my previous counsellor. It wasn't all bad, but there came a point where I realised she had gone beyond the point of not helping and was making things worse. I feel it's no coincidence that my depression continued to get worse while I was seeing her (as she repeatedly told me I wasn't depressed and just needed to force myself to do things) and then started to improve once I stopped seeing her and found a new counsellor who was better suited to helping me. The period where I was becoming more and more depressed and was getting more and more frustrated with my counsellor was a very difficult part of 2008.

And now on to...

The best of 2008

Depression - no, really! Obviously the depression itself was horrible, but reaching that low point was the catalyst that enabled me to seek help and start to face up to things in my past... and that's the beginning of getting better.

Counselling - sometimes I hate it, but for the most part it's been so very helpful to me (once I'd changed counsellors). I'm on the road to healing and wholeness, and that's a great thing.

My home - after the nightmare that was house-hunting, I was offered this place. It's not brand new and it's not glamorous, but it fulfilled every single item on my wish list/prayer list in terms of size, features, suburb, storage space etc AND it was $50pw cheaper than every comparable place. My home has been a haven to me and I'm very happy here.

My job - I am the Office Manager in a medium-sized Anglican church. "Office Manager" is a bit misleading since no one else works in the office except me, but there you go, that's my title. My job also involves acting as PA to the minister. I work 4 days per week, ostensibly 28 hours although it's usually more. I have an organised mind... okay, borderline OCD... so this is a perfect job for me. More than that, though, I simply love working in a church. Well, I love working in that church. The other staff (minister, assistant minister, children's and families worker and one volunteer who comes in once a week) are all great; and the parishioners for the most part have been simply wonderful - loving, welcoming, helpful and fun. It's not a high-paying job, nor it is high-stress or high-powered, but I've had those high-everything jobs and they didn't make me happy. This job does, and that makes a very big difference to my general enjoyment of life.

My home group/Bible study group -The people in this group are simply a gift from God. They've been a wonderful support as well as being heaps of fun. I continue to be enormously grateful for their love, their prayers, their wisdom and their humour.

Blogging - more specifically, meeting new bloggy friends. You know who you are. Getting to know you a little bit and interacting on your blogs and via e-mail has been a real high point for me. It's also made me blog more... that's a high point for me but I can't guarantee it's a high point for anyone else!

God - no matter what else is going on in my life and no matter how I feel, God is good. He is infinitely loving, faithful and downright awesome... and He loves me.

So that's my year. There have been ups and downs but that's what makes us who we are so I wouldn't change any of them. Okay, except maybe the horrible house hunting experience... anyway I'm looking forward to what 2009 will bring.


Givinya De Elba said...

That was a lovely post, and I'm tempted to use the idea. There are only a few hours left in 2008 though, and I'm planning to spend them sleeping instead of writing. Ah, doh, left it too late.

Dee from Downunder said...

A great post, sounds like 2008 has ended pretty good in ways for you, wishing you all the best in 2009!

Hippomanic Jen said...

2008 in review. What a good idea. I'm glad that you can see both the good and the bad in it.

I'm really glad you've found some help for your depression and the 'help's helped' (Yes, The West Wing reference was intended)

I'm so with you on the real estate agents treating you like Scum as soon as they realise that you're not in the market to buy.

Yeppoon was alright (small country town and one of the property managers was from my church) but in the bigger centres they just don't care. I know that their job is the meat in the sandwich between tenants and landlords, but WHY do they have to presume I am scum because I haven't got a spare $40,000 for a house deposit (probably more down your way).

Femina said...

While reading your comment I have West Wing playing in the background (what? I'm NOT addicted! I'm an enthusiast!) and I'm nearly up to my all-time favourite ep, "Noel", where Josh gets counselling for PTSD... spooky. (And at the rate I'm going through the discs while on holidays, I should be up to "the help's helped" in a matter of days...)

Real estate agents don't HAVE to treat renters like scum, but some agents are on a power trip. I consider myself fortunate that my estate agent is professional and clearly ready to protect the owner but she's NOT mean. We have a comfortably distant relationship... I never hear from her unless it's 100% necessary, and then she's polite and friendly. I'm sure she knows I'm in her power but she doesn't treat me that way.

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