Coping, Bracing, Figuring

I’m feeling the call to write, and I’m not even clear on what the topic is or should be. All I know is that I have an urge to express, faster than my fingers can write on paper. That’s why I’m here today.

Lately, I’ve been..feeling a lot of feelings. And I now realise, there’s also a lot of feelings that I am not letting myself feel. Even right now, as I clicked in through to Google Docs to write this draft out on a fresh document, I felt a wave of anxiety rising, and my heartbeat quickening. Why? I’m not sure. I think what triggered it is seeing the parent folder titled ‘Transition 2020’, indicating that I expected to be done with this limbo phase last year. And now, it’s been more than a year. And the pandemic rages on. And I still am not clear as to when I’ll have more certainty in life. There, a slight twinge of pain in the chest at that thought. These are the kinds of feelings I’m not letting myself feel in my body. And so they circle and circle, like trapped birds, in the boundaried-off corner of my brain where they are forced to live. Maybe if I just let them loose, they’d find their way out. But it’s too painful. I’m not sure I can handle it.

That’s just it. I feel like I’m running out of that resilience. Do trampolines ever weaken? Can they be strengthened back if they do? I don’t know. I feel like a weak trampoline now. But I did not last year. Last year I was able to take so much in my stride. Now I feel like it’s been a lot and it’s been enough and I’m weary. From what I’ve learnt and read, this is normal for our brains. But somehow it is still difficult to digest because I cannot share this with others for fear of judgement or contempt. After all, as my inner guilt tells me, I have all the resources. I have the time. Where is my motivation? Why can’t I get myself to do the right things?

Because I attach meaning and stories to all of these tasks and behaviours. If I work out, I’m driven and focused and productive. If I miss the planned workout, I’m lazy and useless and will-never-get-up-to-anything. When in reality, it’s just a missed workout. Or it’s just one evening of exercise. Everything is going to happen tomorrow, it feels like. And once tomorrow becomes today, then the goal is still tomorrow. Something’s going to break open soon. I can feel it. That little ball of swirling bluish white light is picking up speed inside my chest – still trapped, still zooming in circles, but getting faster, more urgent. It’s going to break open soon enough. I can feel my shoulders braced for it. 

I think I should continue to honour my wish to speak to almost no one. I still want to be connected to my close people – the ones I consider close. The others – it’s ok to disconnect. I don’t need to add to the turmoil. Until my cup is fuller. (What if my cup is always going to be running low like this?) I also need to approach my scared self from a place of love and compassion. (What if I’m not capable of true compassion?) If I believe that all people deserve love and compassion, and we all need to be ok with each other’s imperfections, then I should be able to forgive myself for my own flaws. And chill the fuck out. But the “critical voice” is the loudest, and my inner voice is taking a nap for a bit. 

The big difference last year was that – I was able to start building these habits of self-compassion that allowed me to shut out the “Other” voices and find my own balance. Find my own ways to bring meaning to my days. And build a practice of presence within myself. It allowed me to build some distance between stimuli and my responses to them. And that made all the difference. I also responded to situations with a balanced mind, not out of emotional reactivity. I was gentle with myself, and so with others.

I guess I will get some respite from bringing back that self of mine. Rather, hugging her back to awakeness after sleep. I am not the sum of my moods and personality traits. I am so much more than that. I am the vastness of the ocean, not the waves that dance and storm its surface. And it will benefit me well to remember this. My potential, our potential as humans, is only capped by our fears and beliefs. May I find the courage to breathe in/breathe out to the depth of my infinite capacity to love, and endless potential to give. 

Sharing for anyone who may recognise themselves in this. Whenever afraid, and shrinking from the next step – I hope I am able to remember, I am one breath away from growth. I am, and so are you.


~M xx

Pilot: Why Are We Here?

Off to a profound start. This was one of many questions that were swimming in my mind in the years leading up to this supposedly-life changing break. What break?, you ask. Fair, I jumped in with no preamble.

After much deliberation, I decided to get off the treadmill that was my life as I knew it, for a few months, in the hope to rest, re-energise, change my worn-out shoes for a new pair, hydrate and get back on. For those of you not as keen on metaphors – I mean I decided to leave my job and uproot my life to take a long-ish break and change some things. Why? Because, I realised that somewhere along the way, my job and my life had taken a direction that didn’t sit right with me. I felt like I had fallen out of sync with my life, had more big questions than big answers in my mind, and felt exhausted on so many levels that I wasn’t really living. I had to change that if I didn’t want to live half a life anymore. And I did not.

I noodled on that thought for six months, and finally actually made the decision on February 10, 2020, per noodling. Gave notice at work as a Valentine’s Day present to myself, and left work a month later. Wait, isn’t that exactly when coronavirus put the world on pause?

Ah yes, you noticed. Yes, I thought I was working perfectly to a plan – but turns out I missed syncing schedules with the Universe’s plan. Rookie mistake. Turns out my Big Career Break coincided almost too perfectly with the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe and the UK. And basically everywhere. Lovely.

(I promise I’m not trying to make the pandemic about me, but it is relevant with regards to this blog’s existence. So bear with me, please.)

My goals for this time off were:

  • Re-energise and recover creative energy
  • Learn, have new experiences and broaden perspective
  • Improve physical, mental, spiritual health
  • Enjoy and really feel alive
  • Make progress on uncovering answers to life’s biggest questions

(Can you tell there is a somewhat morbid backstory? Yes there is, but that’s for another time.)

I had a wishlist of things I wanted to do during this time. Without going into details, they involved some travel, some new experiences, some family time, lots of time in museums and exhibitions, yoga courses and spiritual workshops. Almost all of which had to be struck off the list because of The Pandemic (yes, it deserves capitalisation). And the lockdown that followed. And so it felt like this journey was called off before the train even left the station. (I like metaphors okay, you’ll get used to it)

But I decided not to call it off. It only changed shape and form. I decided to keep going – the stars had aligned, my intuition told me it was the right thing to do even if I had no clarity on the immediate future even, there was never going to be a better time even if this timing was shit. I had kicked something off with a lot of resolve, and I had to see it through, no matter how it ended.

As crazy as it seems, that was over four months ago. 

And so – four months on, I’ve finally decided to stop giving in to all the nagging, whining emotions in my head (parent: fear) and instead make way for my slightly brighter compulsion to share (parent: curiosity). I’ve been feeling an itch to write and share, to provide solidarity to those in a similar boat, and feed the curiosity of those who aren’t. This is a story with a beginning, a long middle, an out-of-order prologue, and a yet-to-be-known end. At best, it’ll be funny and inspiring. At worst, it’ll be uncomfortable. Realistically, it’ll probably elicit a few chuckles and maybe a surprised “ah” and some contemplative “hmm”s. 

Follow along for those chuckles, “ah”s and “hmm”s. It’ll be fun. Maybe.

(Next Up – S1E01: “What Have You Been Doing Now That You Can’t Do Anything?”)