Tracey Emin: My Life in a Column

This New Year's Eve, I may just forgo the sleeping pill and go out and celebrate
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The Independent Online

Farewell to 2005, one of the strangest years I've ever had - difficult beyond belief. But I've learnt so much. Full of highs and lows, at times crashing dangerously out of control. An intense year, from extreme bouts of loneliness to the unbreakable desire to just want to be alone. One moment feeling totally estranged, the next completely surrounded by the best, most loyal, most loving friends in the world.

A rollercoaster of a year. Mini nervous breakdown, culminating in me forgetting where I lived. An amazing show at White Cube, flying off to Venice with Jo and Ronnie Wood, vast amounts of projectile vomit alone in LA. Bobbing down the Rhine, failing my driving test, passing my driving test, giving a speech at Buckingham Palace on behalf of the NSPCC. Being kissed by a giant Scotsman, bombing down the motorway at 90mph, buying a place by the sea, passing out in one of London's better restaurants, being a guest at Elton and David's wedding and wearing one of the most fantastic Westwood dresses ever to be seen. An attempt to give up drinking which led to the biggest bout of binge-drinking known to man. Cracking New York with my best show yet, the first time in my life where I truly sunk into the work.

I'm 42. I've been making art for over 20 years, and at long last I finally cracked the code. I got inside of what I do and why I do it. As an artist that's so important. It's equal to faith. The world is full of so much shit. There's a very fine line between what's necessary and what isn't. As the artist I must know what's what - I must be 100 per cent responsible for the things I put into this world.

The release of my book, Strangeland, and my grand book-signing tour of the British Isles - the crowds in Manchester and the easyJet fears. The deaths of friends and loved ones, and overcoming fear. I know so many who have had a really difficult time.

Roll on 2006. The Year of the Dog. Woof, woof! I can't wait. I just have that feeling that something truly wonderful will happen. But all wonderful things take hard work.

Resolutions for 2006:

1. Swim every day - start putting my head under the water.

2. Cycle at least 20 miles a week.

3. Practice driving.

4. Play with Docket at least 10 minutes every day.

5. Read much more.

6. Do the gardening once a month (get a tree surgeon).

7. Stop cruising the men's swimming trunks in the pool.

8. Raise lots more funds for the Terrence Higgins Trust.

9. Eat every day.

10. Use the electric toothbrush.

11. Be kinder to my friends.

12. Try to stop drinking.

13. Stop getting so drunk.

14. Double my income again.

15. Be more open to love.

16. Stop being afraid.

That's today's list. Tomorrow's list could be so different, with the exception of 14, 15 and 16 - they stay the same.

Lost love

I hate New Year's Eve, the times in my life I've sung "Auld Lang Syne" staring into the eyes of someone I know doesn't give a toss about me.

The last few years I have spent it alone - phone off, sleeping pill, me and Docket curled up asleep, wishing the old year away.

One of the worst things that ever happened to me on New Year's Day was when my boyfriend, who I'd lived with for years, got up out of bed, got dressed very quietly and started to creep down the stairs. When I asked him where he was going he said he was hungry, so I asked him to make me a cup of tea. I didn't see him for a week - in fact it was his way of finally leaving me. The New Year's Eve thing was meant to be one last attempt.

Every day I was with my boyfriend - every morning that I woke up, every night I went to bed for six years (five and a half years - six months was stalking) - my biggest fear would be that he would leave me. No other man existed for me - I was so in love, it was so all-consuming, all so suffocating - when I was away from him I would be in actual physical pain. His reason for leaving was "space", which translates to: "I'm seriously unfaithful, I feel so guilty, I can't stand myself."

So I did what he wanted of me, I did as he asked, I gave him space - 15,000 miles of it. I went to Australia for three months. Of course he missed me. He missed me like a shadow, that's what I'd become. When I flew back I cried non-stop from Sydney to Singapore - my fear of coming home to nothing had become greater than the fear of loss. I never believed I would recover, my heart felt so physically damaged.

New start

That was three years ago, and now Mat is one of my closest, dearest friends. He knows me inside out, back to front. At least once a week we go to the steam baths together and pretend to be Romans - I talk about my new shield, he tells me about Roman sandals. We can be as puerile as hell, and one thing that's incredible is that if I'm ill, he's always there to help. Bodily fluids? Who cares? We're way over that. He is my unconditional friend and I love him dearly, in a far better way than I ever did before.

This New Year's Eve Mat is getting married. Three years ago that sentence would have killed me. People keep asking me if I'm going to the wedding. I roll my eyes and say yes. Like I'm going to jump on a plane on New Year's Eve to watch my ex-boyfriend get married. "Tough as nails, that's our Trace." But the truth is, I could never go. I'd just be too emotional, genuine tears of happiness.

I like Mat's future wife very much. When he started seeing her I said I hadn't lost a boyfriend, I had gained a friend. Mat's new-found happiness, his show of commitment, gives me hope that there is love out there for everybody - even me. So maybe this New Year I will forgo the sleeping pill, not stay in alone. I may just go out and celebrate. On the stroke of midnight I will raise my glass. Not once, but twice. To me, for overcoming love's loss, and to Mat and Lou Lou. Happy 2006.

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