Yesterday when I was blind I could anticipate the early warning signs. The shiver when you talk to me, the rigour in our smile.
Is there a better place to start? To pioneer a new technique in martial arts? For kissing without touching? Without waking up?
This house is like a fire when the sun sets, it knocks me to my knees. And days like these will be the death of me.
if there is one thing i’ve learned over the past three years, it’s how to make it through a day when i think i won’t make it through.
i woke up, that was the first thing that happened. it could be 5am (which it was today) or 10am and i really don’t care, because the feeling is, like, what’s the point in all this? that’s how a day like this starts. there is the inevitable rumble of angst in my solar plexus, the lump of stuck emotion just behind my sternum, and the all-encompassing exhaustion that makes every muscle feel like it won’t move, despite any effort my brain may wish to put forth (it doesn’t wish to put for any effort today either).
i lie under the duvet propped on a pillow and scan through social media. tweet something about being kind to yourself when you feel overwhelmed and immediately disregard my own advice by more scrolling. i really do know how to handle this now, and even still i’m scrolling for awhile. it’s okay to scroll sometimes. but i know i’ll need to do the work today. it’s a death day, and that – i’ve come to understand – is a growth day.
spiritual awakening is the single hardest thing a human soul can undertake. on days like this, i often start out wishing i had not undertaken this path of awakening. my 3D mind sneers at my soul wishing it had never incarnated here and now and my soul gently reminds her that she is here for a purpose. she is a wayshower, a lightbearer, a compassion-giver, a kind voice to others.
in order to help others, we have to help ourself first, my soul tells my mind later. but first, there is the basic act of being embodied, and on days like these, that is all of the work.
we as 21st century humans, generally speaking, are not very well embodied. or i am not. i am a very sentient being. i feel my emotions and i think my thoughts. all day long i live in my head, full of words and possibilities and ideas and regrets and fears and wonderings.
i’m not sure when i became disembodied. i think it was a combination of being born an empath – someone who can quite literally feel and experience what others feel, psychosomatically – and this was exacerbated by some aspects of my young life which conditioned me to constantly anticipate the needs of others, my mother in particular, and disregard myself. then there were the 12 years of evangelical christian schooling and churchgoing, which strongly reinforced a toxic patriarchal notion that my body was inherently evil and something that if left to its own devices would easily harm others (men) and something to hide, hate and ignore. so i did. i ignored her for a very long time. i learned to hate many parts of her. i learned to live with her stomach aches and her tense shoulders and learned to ignore her tender parts and her sexual power and her curves.
on days like these, i start by being embodied. this brings me out of my head and into the present moment. sometimes taking and really focusing on one or a few deep breaths is enough. sometimes movement is required. i focus my mind onto achieving the smallest of tasks.
a deep breath.
put two feet on the floor.
push feet into fuzzy slippers. feel the fuzziness. it’s cosy. it’s nice.
on days like these, maybe already this is plenty to achieve. eventually i can move onto another thing my body needs. to use the bathroom. stand in front of the sink. hold the toothbrush. open the toothpaste. take great care and awareness in drawing a line of white paste along the pink bristles. focus on the structure of the line of paste. focus on not spilling paste into the sink. steady the brush. spin the nob to release a flush of water from the tap, and gingerly lower the paste-and-brush under the stream, then lift the whole apparatus to my mouth.
three years ago two things happened: my stepdad (a truly important person in my life) died, and my marriage ended. things actually started to unravel quite a long time before that, when i met someone who turned me inside out and cracked my heart open and started me on this whole path. but the dark night of the soul really started when my sister sent me a facebook message saying dan was sick and i was sitting in the pub with my then-husband drinking a pint of craft beer and just went home, ordered a lot of food, ate all of it and then vomited it all back up.
i was numb and denying my pain for a long time. but eventually this deep trauma exhausted me to such an extent that i was forced to stay still. forced into my body and – once out of my mind – i was finally able to hear my soul, and she was asking me for some huge changes. it was time for my marriage to end – not because it had been bad, it had been a wonderful decade of travel and friendship with a very kind man who i loved deeply and dearly.
but we had reached the end of our time together and my body knew it. she knew it long before and was trying to tell me. she hadn’t been having normal periods for a few years and she was bloated and tired and trying everything to just keep me going. she was drinking a lot of wine to cope with feeling so unseen and unexpressed. a month after i moved out, my periods came back with a vengeance.
the dark night of the soul lasted several years and included many more traumas besides. the man who cracked my heart open stopped talking to me (for his heart was cracked open too and his mind wasn’t ready to deal with that either), then my dream job was taken away. every piece of identity i’d ever constructed myself onto burnt up and flew away.
even now, as my soul pours herself onto this page, my mind (who i refer to as Brian, a misspelling of brain) panics. ugh, why am i writing this? you shouldn’t tell people all of this. what you are writing doesn’t even make sense. it’s not in a good order. it needs more structure and you ought to save these ramblings for something more coherent, you shouldn’t use this up now, please stop this and go look at Instagram.
why am i writing this? because my soul needs to, and my body enables her. because i am a wayshower, a lightbearer, a compassion-giver. and out of my darkness, i have learned the only way to change anything or make any difference is to be the change i want to see in the world, and to create. make the beauty. refill my own cup first so i can tend to others.
days like these could be the death of us, but they will not be. once i breathe deep, put two feet on the ground, lift the brush to my mouth and, yes, even step into the shower, suddenly things are brighter. not great. but a little brighter. they will darken again later, and brighten again, too. the old adage that says the only constant is change is a hard truth. but through change we awaken to ourselves, and that is our purpose here.
if, like me, you are struggling to get out of bed today, know that i am here walking with you, ahead of you, behind you. we are all walking within each other. breathe deep. come back to the present. and make beauty in the way that you are able.