Writing this with all of the feels from dropping the kids off at school, after remote learning for six months (reads 60 years!)
We were met with a familiar friend this morning…. all of us.
We each dealt with it in a different way, we used some tools, got the shits with some tools, talked about our feelings, then ignored them and then shifted through them. We did all of this in the space of about 30 minutes.
There was laughter, tears and negotiation (honestly, mainly me at 5 am, processing, negotiating, clearing and strategising.)
When it comes down to it, the three of us whole heartedly felt that the biggest challenge was not the actual thing that we were doing, but the ANTICIPATION that can derail us.
What is interesting about that, is that the most damage is done when we are in a “safe”place. At home before we leave, in the car on the way or clinging to the car door willing it to somehow be stuck so that we can not get out.
We are bullshitting ourselves and making up stories.
Part of MY old friend anxiety includes all of the things that I have done wrong in my life……
Its a common, long list of trivial things that loop around in my head. They whisper in my ear about all of the things that I am failing at. The things that I “should” have done differently or the ones that I am currently f#$%ing up. They are bitchy, mean and total bullshit, but it doesn’t seem like that at the time, so down the hole I go.
I have to notice that it is happening, before I can move through and then use it to fuel my next step. I know this and yet, it can still catch me off guard. You see, I have been telling myself these stories all of my life and I know that it is a default setting. The difference now, compared to when these thoughts were much more debilitating (not that you would have known that mind you…) are how quickly I can shift them.
Lets take this morning as an example.
5am was interesting, I spent some time checking in with myself and with what I felt that the kids needed from me, to get through the morning.
I allowed the tightness in my chest, the dizziness of overwhelm and the familiar grip of panic try to take hold. The stories about how I could have done remote learning better, renovated better, worked better or been a better wife, mother, daughter…. you get the gist.
As I relaxed into it (that sounds like an oxymoron, right!) and just when I felt like I wanted to push it back down, it dissipated.
The old me would have clung onto it, distracted myself and pushed through, that creates its own problem though. It would have just bubbled up, spilled out and created some kind of weird behaviour. (Like walking past a fellow early walker who says “Good Morning” and I reply “Good Thanks”)
Keeping it in LOOKS like you have your shit together, but really you are barely holding onto it. Its like living two lives…. the one that the world perceives you to be and who you REALLY are.
It is an absolute crazy state of affairs that we feel it is a sign of weakness to put your hand up and let someone know that you are not ok. That you feel weird, have mixed emotions or are in a strange state of mental paralysis. This actually often, in my experience, makes it worse. WE ALL HAVE MENTAL HEALTH! PERIOD! Yes, Im shouty! It simply depends where you are on the spectrum at any time of the day (sometimes several times a day!)
Our current living situation just puts this under the microscope even more. The coronacoaster has us high fiving ourselves for growing a vegetable, promptly followed by the fact that we don’t know what to do with the random abundance of celery/broad beans/radishes. We are cleaning out cupboards and pantries in a way that we haven’t been able to before, followed by a passive aggressive feeling if someone puts something back in the wrong spot. We feel incredibly lucky to be in beautiful homes, warm beds, have plenty of food and time with our precious family! Then, we feel like arseholes because we feel stuck, frustrated and angry, our faces covered, community members pointing out when someone does something wrong and it feels like the finger is being pointed at us from other states.
It is like two worlds and at first, I wasn’t sure if I was simply going a little bonkers from all of the paint fumes in my house or if others felt the same.
Turns out, others are feeling the same.
Most of Victoria is feeling frustrated, exhausted and frankly pretty flat. What is even stranger to us is that many kids went back to school today, we should be excited/happy/celebrating. (Im so sorry year 8-10s, our hearts are with you, it will be your turn soon!) However there are a vast number of people who feel lost, useless and just plain weird.
You are not alone!!!
When our heads get like this, we don’t look after ourselves properly. We eat like crap (insert COVID bandaid here- hot chips, fried food, baked goods, sweet foods, all the popcorn)
We resort to poor practises (raises hand to confirm that it has been a few days since I have done any mindfulness practises and I KNOW that it makes me feel better.) We stop moving (ahem, currently binge watching a teenage vampire series lol….) when we know movement will help shift us forward. (Ok, Im not watching it during the day, just so that we are clear, its when the kids are in bed.)
We manage to consistently derail ourselves and then dig a deeper hole to fester in it.
It doesn’t work out to well!
Sometimes we have to absolutely hit rock bottom to ignite a feeling so uncomfortable that it makes us want a change.
The changes are not always easy, but my goodness they are worth it.
This is not about willpower, it is about knowing-
Knowing that these consistent feelings are not who you are, but a state you are in.
Knowing that we can take steps to make that change when you are ready for it.
Knowing that all you really need to do is acknowledge what YOU need and take steps to get there. Knowing that there is never a quick fix. (That my friend is dopamine, she makes you feel like it is a quick fix, but frankly it doesn’t last.)
Knowing that support is available and it is finally time to ask for it. (I wish I had discovered this one sooner!)
So I guess what I want to leave you with is that it is ok to feel the feelings, to notice when you feel off balance. The key is to be aware when it happens and use it as a sign that you actually need something.
For me, it is a sign that my foundational health is off, my expectations for the hour/day/month/2020 are unrealistic. That is not to say that the goal is unrealistic, its about not changing the goal posts every five minutes or overestimating what can actually be achieved in the time frame you have given yourself. It is said that we over estimate achievements in a 12 month period and drastically underestimate what we can achieve in 5 years. Lets be really open about this for a moment, if you are smashing out and overachieving in that 12 month period, where in your life are you falling under?
Thats not to mention unrealistic expectations during a pandemic.
Hands up who thought they would break out of lockdown with some kind of incredible new skill, creation or renovation. Hands up who purchased litres of decking oil, but the weather got in the way…. Oh, just me….
When it comes down to it, we can listen to our own self limiting bullshit or we can create a whole new story. One where we rescue ourselves from ourselves. Because it is YOU that you have been waiting for all along.