I have always had a habit of needing to know all the answers. I suppose 10 years of working as a newspaper reporter will do that to you.

During my career, the desire to understand why people did the things they did was a skill that served me well. My stories often made the front page and won a dozen or so awards over the years. But now that I’m out of the news biz, the need to know everything is only making me crazy.

Life, unlike newspapers, rarely offers answers.

That is why this is going to be the year that I stop trying to understand everything, especially other people.

My obsession for reasoning says more about me than it does anyone else. I always thought that if I could just figure out why other people did the things they did, then the pain of their actions would make sense. If there were a reason for the suffering, maybe the suffering would be bearable.

Turns out, that’s not how it works.

After my marriage ended, I spent more than a year trying to figure out what went wrong. How could something so awful happen to my little family? Why did we have to hurt? The questions crept into every aspect of my life, every minute of my day. I relived it all, looking for reasons.

It haunted me.

Then I realized that even if I could figure out the answers, they wouldn’t make me feel any better. Reason could never undo what happened. So I let it go.

Lately, I find myself doing the same thing, only this time it is about someone in my family who said something hurtful. Why did that person want to hurt me? How could someone who loved me say such mean things?

The answers to those questions, if they even existed, probably wouldn’t bring the peace or reasoning I expect them to.

So this is the year that I practice letting it go — not because I don’t care about the people in my family, but because I care about myself as much as I care about them.

No one needs a new page on the calendar to start thinking new thoughts. Every day is a chance to start fresh. This time is as good as any.

So let’s not call them New Year’s resolutions. Let’s call them promises, to ourselves and to each other.

I promise to let go of the need to understand, to be more patient with my daughter, Angie, and to write for at least 15 minutes a day.

My friend Linda, a mother of two whose divorce was finalized three months ago, promises this will be the year that she surrenders the past, lets go of her fear and “takes action to ensure that this is going to be a year of big changes that move my life forward in a positive direction after feeling stuck for so long.”

And Candice, who is married with two children ages 3 years and 8 months, promises to make no promises.

“This year, I am deciding to not make any changes to myself, simply because in doing so I am accepting myself and things as they are, in this moment,” she said. “So rather than deciding to go to the gym more often, eat less fatty food, save my money or embark on some other traditional resolution, I am choosing to love myself with the same unconditional love that naturally pours from my heart for my babies.”

I also asked Angie if she would like to make a resolution. Her answer came quickly and easily.

“Sure, I am going to eat more candy and watch more television shows,” she said. “And I’m going to clean my room every day so I can get chocolate.”

Thinking perhaps my cheeky monkey missed the rationale behind making resolutions, I explained how some people like to make plans or think thoughts that would make their lives happier in the year to come.

“OK, then I think we should give each other hugs more often,” she said. “And we should give each other more toys, too, because toys are awesome.”

Now that is one answer I definitely needed to know.

Wendy Fontaine’s Party of Two column appears every other week. Her email address is [email protected] or follow Party of Two on Facebook.


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