It’s that time of year again! We see them all over the place, those pesky little New Year’s resolutions. What will it be this year? Lose weight, stop eating fast food, make more money, quit the job you hate, get rid of the lover you hate, find the love of your life? Or how about no resolution at all? That might be easier.
I have to admit up until my mid-twenties I picked all of the above. It wasn’t until 2007 that I started to make real New Year’s resolutions that I stuck with. Ultimately, those resolutions have not only saved my life, but they have made me the woman I am today.
Right before Christmas in 2006 the man that I loved more than I loved myself walked out of my life with half of my belongings and my entire heart. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been such a tragedy if I hadn’t already lost two of my dear friends to suicide. And to make matters worse, he wasn’t the first man that I loved who stomped all over my heart and walked away without a proper goodbye. Was this what life was all about? People you love either shoot themselves or pretend to love you and then turn around and rip your guts right out? They just leave your life forever with no goodbye or explanation.
I thought so and because of that I decided that I too wanted to take my own life. I walked to the edge of my balcony and right before the second foot came off of the ground, my little dog Flash licked my toe and I fell back on the balcony. I laid on the ground and he crawled onto my chest licking the tears off of my face. I screamed and cried myself to sleep on that balcony like an infant in a crib.
Ultimately I peeled myself up and went over to my bed. I stayed there for about a week and somehow I finally found the strength to get up. I looked in the mirror and didn’t even recognize myself. The stress had taken over my body. My face was covered with acne, my trichotillomania had gotten completely out of control and I had ripped so much hair out, the entire back of my head was bald. My eyes were almost swollen shut from crying so hard. I missed my friends and despite our trainwreck of a relationship, I missed the man that I loved.
However, as much as I missed all of them, there was no way I was going to leave my little buddy Flash. So what was I going to do? On New Year’s Eve that year I stayed in and decided to put a plan in place for 2007. I had been writing a one woman show for many years, but it wasn’t completed because I couldn’t figure out the message I was trying to send. But, now I had it. NOTHING is worth killing yourself over!
New Year’s resolution 2007- stay alive! Do whatever it takes to stay alive. I went back over to that mirror and made a promise to myself. I was going to finish that show and tell everyone that life was worth living, but if I was going to do that, I needed to figure out how to keep myself alive as well because when my life ends, I want to walk away as a hero, not a hypocrite.
From 2007 to 2011 I stuck with the same resolution and year after year and it worked. Just stay alive. Some days I would write pages and pages of stories for the show and others I would lie on the floor and cry. Nonetheless, I managed to stay alive. I didn’t doing anything extraordinary either. No electric shock therapy, no anti-depressants, no straight jackets, nothing. I got up everyday, looked at myself in the mirror, took a deep breath, exhaled and said, “Stay alive Rizzi.” I went to work, exercised, ate healthy, worked with a psychologist, and came home to work on the script for the show. Oh, and I should also mention I created a voice for Flash. Okay, so maybe that’s a little extraordinary, but I am trying to stay alive here people, don’t judge me!
As the day would come to an end, I would crawl into bed and Flash would snuggle up to me and say, “I love you mom. You’re smart, beautiful, funny and one badass woman! Please don’t kill yourself.” Before I knew it, it was New Year’s Eve 2011 and all of the acne was gone. I had gotten my trichotillomania under control and my script was completed. What was my 2012 resolution going to be? Well, I knew I wanted to get on the stage and finally perform this show I had been working on, but I wanted to do something bigger than that. I wanted to give back to the people who had helped me over the years. That year I decided I was going to live by a quote from Maya Angelou. “Just do right.”
“Do right” I did. In 2012 I got on the stage and performed my one-woman show for the first time. I decided I would give all of the proceeds to two of the charities that had helped me in loving memory of my two friends that had passed away. After my friend Katie died, I started to have awful nightmares. It was always the same. Someone was trying to hurt Flash and I would be running and screaming trying to save him. Just as he was about to die, I would wake up hyperventilating. I know it was because I blamed myself for not saving her.
Throughout 2012 I continued to “do right” for suicide prevention and the more I did it, the more the dreams started to change. They didn’t go away, but at the end of the dream, I would actually save Flash from harms way. When I woke up, my heart would be beating fast, but I wasn’t as overwhelmed. So I decided to keep the same resolution for the next few years. Instead of focusing on my own pain, I would try to be the best person I could be and do everything I could to prevent another suicide from happening.
Last night, as I laid in bed and watched the clock tick down to 2017, I thought about my next step. I am still alive, I am doing right, and my show is gaining momentum by the day. So what should my 2017 resolution be? Maybe it was because I was tired, but I couldn’t think of anything. So I got up, grabbed my laptop and watched a few inspirational videos with Maya Angelou. I stumbled across the video above and it brought me back to my 2007 and 2012 resolutions.
She couldn’t have said it better when she said, “Maybe the hardest part is, if you teach, you have to live by your teachings.” From 2007 up until today, it has been one of my greatest struggles. To love life as much as I stand up and teach/talk about it. Life is tough, there is no doubt about it, but no matter what, I will continue to stand by and teach that nothing is worth killing yourself over.
She then goes onto say, “Right may not be expedient, it may not be profitable, but it will satisfy your soul.” Well 2012 up until today has proven that to be correct. The problem with suicidal thoughts is, once they enter your head, they never go away. All you can do it silence them. For me, I find the quickest way to do that is to “do right.” So that’s exactly what I do on my worst days. I find someone who is having a bad day and I do something kind for them. It gets rid of those thoughts faster than any anti-depressant ever could.
However with all that being said, it was her words at the very end of the video that opened my eyes and helped me set my 2017 resolution. “I think if your name is mentioned and people say-oh hell, oh damn- you’re doing something wrong. If your name is mentioned and people say- she’s so sweet, he’s so nice, oh God bless her- there you go.”
I am not saying my 2017 resolution is to get people to say I am sweet because I realized a long time ago it’s not worth it. When I was labeled as sweet, I was a doormat. Of course people thought I was sweet because they treated me like pure shit and I took it. Before they would walk away they would say, “You’re so sweet!”
What I am saying this that I want to live 2017 like it’s my last year on Earth- and no I am not planning on it being my last year on Earth so don’t worry- 2007 resolution is still in effect-stay alive. I am just saying in 2017 I am going to do everything I can to live a life that would make people say, “Jeannette Rizzi not only lived life, but she loved it. She laughed, she loved, and she stood up for what was right. She touched the lives of many and even managed to save a few. She was loyal to those who she loved and she didn’t take shit from the ones who crossed her. All and all, she spent every single day embracing the life she was given and she enjoyed every second of it. Jeannette Rizzi was a force of nature!”
Onward and upward in 2017…writing the story of my life along the way.