Why I’ve Been Afraid of New Year’s Resolutions

AJ Wood
4 min readDec 21, 2021

In fear of the G-word

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

As a rule, I don’t set goals or make New Year’s resolutions. Since I was a little girl, I’ve wondered why I should bother. One way or the other, I knew I wouldn’t be able to achieve them, so why go through all the time and trouble? I didn’t realize it for a very long time, but I’ve spent my life afraid of the word “goal.”

I took this (as yet unknown) fear into my first marriage, and Ex Number One reveled in the strange joy of watching me struggle with it. I remember when my kids were in grade school, we had a lot of medical debt. Hey, kids get sick. And the year from hell had just begun, so I was sick a lot too. Our debt was much higher than I was comfortable with, so I spread all the bills out on the kitchen table and started to hatch a plan. I sorted everything by balance and required monthly payments. Then I divided our budgeted allowance by the number of bills we had. It made sense to pay off the lowest bill first. Then I’d add that amount to next highest bill, pay that off, and so on. Sticking to this plan, I figured I’d have all this paid off in a little over a year. I was stoked.

Ex Number One scowled as I outlined my idea. He fixed me with a withering glare which made me feel stupid for even suggesting it. Then he shrugged and said, “Whatever.” I proceeded without his help, and actually paid off the first two bills in five months. I was feeling very proud of myself.

Then money started disappearing from our bank account. Once in a great while Ex Number One would write “ATM withdrawal” into the register, but he refused to tell me what he’d used the cash for. One month’s bank statement revealed he had removed more than half his paycheck at the ATM. I was afraid to ask him why.

By the middle of the year, I considered myself very lucky to have enough money to cover basic bills, leaving nothing to execute my medical bill pay-off plan. Eventually I just gave it up, and we ended the year with more medical debt than when we started. And when Ex saw how disappointed I was, he “graciously” took over responsibility for the bills.

At the time, I didn’t have access to the physical evidence that my husband had deliberately set me up to fail. He hid most of it. And injured as I was, my brain wasn’t…

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AJ Wood

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