It can happen in a moment.
You’re sitting at your desk or standing in the shops and something happens, actions that occur in a small fragment of time that may not even be directed towards you, yet completely changes the way you view not only the world but yourself…. has this ever happened to you?
It doesn’t need to be an overly dramatic, traumatic, or even graphic moment to catch your attention. Sometimes it’s subtle and it creeps up on you, words slipping silently into your ear until it twists words and all meaning, begging you to question everything you thought you knew. Other times, even when you’re standing completely still, the ground feels adrift beneath your feet cracking, the earth ready to swallow you whole.
Then just for a second you forget to breathe.
I’m 27 and I like to think that I know who I am, what makes me a good person, what enrages me, what I believe in and what my strengths and weaknesses are. I like to think that through a lot of trial and error I have the knowledge within myself to be strong to stand up for my convictions with merit and will.
Most of the time I don’t.
I thought it was meant to get easier, with time and an open mind comes wisdom. The ability to assess my surroundings as well as my role and engagement with those around me leading me closer to a sense of enlightenment, an understanding of the ultimate question.
Why am I here?
I can’t remember when exactly but very early on I made a conscious decision to be a “giver” and I’ve played the role of a loyal sheep for over 25 years and like all good stories it started with my parents. I was a good girl, not an angel but I was good. I followed the rules for most of my childhood and the biggest punishment my parents would dish out was a grounding or the “I’m so disappointed in you.” speech which, as it would seem has had a longstanding effect on me.
“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
That phrase has been imprinted on my brain for as long as I can recall and I still live by it. I get immense joy from giving, donating, solving problems, listening or just being there for someone. I tend to get emotionally invested, regardless of practicalities or reason. I follow my intuition. I’m a firm believer in Karma and I try my hardest everyday to make sure I insert positive actions into the world in the hopes that one day, when my soul is close to breaking it will, in some way be returned to me.
I tend to listen to my feelings, my emotional reactions often driving further actions. Usually I can recognise when I’ve gone too far, invested too much or the swell of negative feelings rises to the point where I can no longer ignore it. I pull back, I talk to Steve, I call my Mum and I try to remove myself from the situation often cutting people off for a short period of time.
Writing tends to help.
I haven’t felt safe to do so for awhile, months actually and I know you’ve noticed. This used to be my safe place for so many different reasons and I can’t quite decide whether no longer being able to write so freely was a change I needed or if it was just simply forced upon me. With my normal channel of release seemingly covered in venomous, often inconspicuous lines of distain often made my casual passers-by I began to retreat within myself and slowly self combust.
Alarm bells rang in loud silence as I sat slumped, food mindlessly finding it’s way towards the hole in the pit of my stomach, a void begging to be filled. I lay in bed fighting the curtains for a few more hours of darkness for blissful sleep, my stomach turning from the late night forage. This wasn’t a new feeling. It wasn’t bad but it certainly wasn’t good, I liked to think I knew myself.
On Monday I’d try to do better and I did until Wednesday or maybe only until lunch. This happened every week. It wasn’t all “bad” foods but it was excess. We eat a healthy balanced diet, Steve’s even lost 17 kilos and we exercise. I’d been fighting myself for weeks because no matter how much I worked out, the food was just counteracting all my efforts.
It wasn’t until I hid three chocolate bars in the car after filling the tank at the service station late one Tuesday night so Steve wouldn’t see that I knew I could no longer help myself. Hiding food is serious “tell” for me that something deeper is going on. Suddenly I was a teenager again who hid bags of freddo frogs from my parents.
I made a doctors appointment.
I’d been depressed before but I’d never sought help, I used my blog for therapy and it worked, it’s why I’m so passionate about the industry. Casting aside the thought of business for a moment, writing is one of the many perfect tools for self expression and after almost seven years my beautiful, tormented and joyful canvas felt like it had been ripped from the frame. A part of me was enraged, another sad and the rest felt weak.
I’ve hardly cried since Aidan was born. Sure there have been tears of frustration, stress and hormones but I’m talking about the kind of cries that feel like your heart has escaped your chest, acid filling your lungs and your eyes swelled shut. The deep breathy heaves and the ache in your hands as your wringe your fingers until your knuckles are white and sweaty. Those tears left when he entered my life.
Or so I thought.
As I sat in the counsellors small room, cradling my bag in my lap I began to question whether or not I really needed to be there. Someone else may be feeling much worse with emotions less trivial than mine. It was selfish of me to take away someone’s possible last chance of help. Then I remembered the toxic cry and I knew I couldn’t live with that in my life anymore, not in front of Aidan, not for myself.
The words poured out of me like a song, the tale of my life and who’s a part of it. I touched on significant people past and present, my day to day feelings, what I do for a living and that I’d noticed dramatic emotional and physical changes in myself over a short period of time. That this was something I’d done before but not with this intensity. I was brutally honest, I didn’t flinch at a single word but tears silently flooded countless tissues without any fanfare or drama, hardly noticeable compared to the rate of my speech.
The hour was up and I was exhausted beyond comprehension. I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I was so mentally drained. I went home and slept deeply until it was time to collect Aidan from school. As I sat in the car waiting for the time to click over to 3pm I thought about that little hour in that little room and came to the conclusion that I was ok there.
In some ways it was just like my blog of old. A small space in the world in which I could bare my soul without malice, criticism or suggestive undertones sweeping back at me. What happened there stayed there and would never leave. Open engaged eyes always met my gaze, an unbiased view of who I am was never questioned. It is my temporary safe house equipped with tools, if which used properly, could help me build a safe house of my own.
I’m proactive about my involvement in sessions which still leave me drained and I’ve surprised myself by how much I’ve been willing to share. Details I’ve never told anyone, things I’d buried deep and deemed insignificant to protect myself. Dredging them up into the light, inspecting aspects of my life, the choices I’d made and what sort of knock on effect that’s had into my current situation.
If I’m making any of this process seem casual or easy I apologise. It’s the hardest but most liberating thing I’ve ever done purely for the sake of myself, in spite of myself. I’d like to be clear that by no means is any of this about weight or body confidence, excess food consumption is purely my tell for a deeper issue. I still totally rock at being me like no body else can and I own that in any shape that I may be but what I’m working through right now is bigger that my body.
What governs my choices and what type of confrontation leaves me faltered? What are my responses to those situations, my rationalisations and ultimately how I’d like to act in present and future scenarios. I’m not saying it’s for everyone but it’s working for me. Whilst I’m silently questioning every facet of my life up until the current day, trudging through torrents of often difficult emotions I can also say I’ve never felt more in tune with myself.
It’s difficult to live outside the box when you’re constantly being put back in it.
There will be changes afoot and that will have a ripple effect across everything that touches my life. I simply ask that you be patient, pause before you comment and be mindful of those around you. Even the most unsuspecting, confident and self assured people can be sensitive beings and allow it all to get lost in a moment.