Out with the old

It’s hard to know how to start this – it feels strange, like reaching out to someone you fell out of love with after giving them the silent treatment. But it’s not you I fell out with, it’s me. The truth is the past year has been so overwhelming. Pandemic aside, since the beginning of 2020 things have been hectic – all these milestones got ticked off in such quick succession that it was hard to catch my breath and that feeling hasn’t stopped since.

I’d been looking forward to turning 30 ever since I can remember – my 20’s were never going to be my time to shine, not when I was trying to get over those lovely nuggets of childhood trauma…but 30? 30 is when things would start to make sense. 30 was where all the hard work would start to pay off – and that was true but wow, I didn’t expect it to all happen at once. In so many ways this year has been amazing but in others…well we all know don’t we? I felt like I was almost keeping it together during the first half of lockdown and then bam, black lives matter. Bam, trauma everywhere. Bam, unconscious bias training required left right and centre. Bam, presenting a doc going around the world. Bam, government says we should be back to work but crowds are scary now. Then finally, Bam, my back went. Like I couldn’t walk for a month kind of went. And with my back went all my resources – everything that had been holding me together.

For anyone currently with a bad lower back – this is a good neutral position. Flat on your back with cushions under your knees.

It’s been a tough few months – but one of the hardest things has been not feeling able to talk about how tough it all is. I prefer to share when I have a positive spin to put at the end of something. I’ve consciously removed negative people from my life who always want to focus on problems rather than solutions. I’ve fought really hard to train myself into finding silver linings and I’m a naturally optimistic person. The problem is the last few months that silver lining has been really hard to find and within that, I’ve found it really hard to find myself and that is a scary place to be.

Even now, the only reason I can write about this is that I’m starting to feel slightly more steady – in the midst of it I couldn’t see any light, and the guilt I felt because of that was overwhelming. Last time I was this low all the people who I thought would help me back up were nowhere to be found. Some of that was down to those I turned to and some of that was down to me being a performer. No one will ever truly know how I am unless I tell them because I can act like I’m the happiest person in the world at the drop of a hat. That is my coping mechanism. It struck me most when I was on a group zoom with my mum who had been talking me down from a panic attack 2 hours beforehand. After she said ‘Had we not spoken earlier, I wouldn’t have known anything was wrong on that call because you can act perfectly for others. Your energy goes into being what others need, when really that energy should be spent on being what you need first.’

That really stuck with me. Slowly I started telling people the truth when they asked how I was instead of feeling like I always had to manage them and their feelings and it was scary. It’s scary writing this right now and I’m not entirely sure why I am…except, it was only by telling the truth that I allowed people to be there for me. I didn’t expect anything, I a handful of people I thought were trustworthy and the gestures that came back made me feel so full of gratitude and love.

Beautiful bouquets from Bloom and Wild, a family visit from my wonderful clan of nutters, a gorgeous yellow rose from Blossoming Gifts, some gorgeous smells and words of wisdom from my Auntie, a perfectly crafted care package from my Booty Bass crew, an authentically spectacular carbonara cooked for me with homemade limoncello to boot, trips to nearby coasts and dinners with friends. I went from feeling totally alone to being fully held which helped me to accept this time of physical and emotional transition.

I don’t drive (learning) so it can be really easy to feel trapped. That feeling may well pop up again with lockdown number 2 – but at least I now know that there are people who’ll be there when I’m not at my best. People who will still love me when I’m at my worst. It’s something I have to keep reminding myself of for reasons I’m not going to go into now (baby steps) but it is something I wish we told each other more. A friend said to me yesterday after helping me go and get a 2nd hand TV for my PlayStation2 (Crash Bandicoot for winter, don’t @ me) ‘People will want to be here for you even when you don’t have anything to give them’.

That was a ‘huh’ moment and has provided me with much food for thought. It sounds simple but I really needed to hear it. If anyone out there is feeling unsteady or unsure of themselves, I’m right there with you. Keep reaching out to people, even when you talk yourself into thinking they’re too busy to deal with you/your drama. I’ve started seeing it as often someone else’s drama can be a good distraction, so really I’m helping?! 😂 If you’re not quite at people yet, that’s also fine. Or if you have the capacity, check-in on the friend who always seems to be ok, because they might not be.

Right now I’m seeing this time as a total transition – I think we all are. Out with the old things that no longer serve us, in with the new – whatever that may be – accepting that the past has got us to where we are today but that now is an opportunity to put elements down without shame. Easier said than done a lot of the time but it’s a process – one that takes time. Here are a few of the things that have helped me start getting back to me:

Meditation

Meditation for Black Women | Self-Love & Healing by Alyssa G. Mullings

Self Acceptance

The Therapy Edit

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The Therapy Edit Podcast by Anna Mathur

Self Love

Plants – all the plantssss 🌿

All other tips or links to things that have been making you feel good/centred/loved – please share, I’d love to put them in my box of Healing 💖

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