A couple of months ago, I wrote to you from Bali. We had been there a couple of days and I was already feeling the strong impact of the country’s spirit. I felt pulled to clean up my life: simplify, reduce noise and distraction, clear out the muck and start fresh. It was a symbolic clean up and it happened effortlessly. Our trip in Bali was all about choosing what made sense, following my intuition around food, places to stay, what to do and just experiencing life as it happened. Day by day – simplicity. My diet cleared (because Bali has an incredible choice of healthy foods), I did yoga (although not as much as I thought I would), we walked, explored, swam and relaxed completely. I really felt like I shed some old skin while I was there and my return to London came with a renewed sense of vitality.
I went straight into ‘do’ mode: website, workshops, retreats, planning, creating, invoices, excel spreadsheets, bank accounts. After leaving my job and venturing out as self employed for the first time, this was the natural thing to do. The masculine energy in me has been super charged and excitement out of the roof. Things were going really well, so there was nothing to cause me to press the breaks, really.
But I knew. I knew, because we always know. I knew this cannot go on like this. Sitting on my computer for hours on end, only to realise I’m starving at the end of the day and also desperately need to pee. My man finding me, zombified, in the same position as he left me, 8 hours earlier. It’s such an amazing feeling to have this drive, to feel so passionate and inspired that all you want to do is devote your full attention and energy into your work. It doesn’t actually feel like work. Yet, this is a sprint and I’m told I’m running an ultra race. Apparently having your own business is not a quick and easy game; otherwise everyone would do it. So although we get these rushes of inspired mania and we need them for the creative process, it is in setting healthy, sustainable routines and systems that we thrive. Apparently.
The symptoms began way earlier, but the pain in my back became unbearable a few weeks ago. My eyes were hurting and my all too familiar headache started re-appearing. At the beginning, these were the price to pay for having the luxury of undivided focus and determination. It didn’t seem to matter. What I was forgetting was that in fact without my body functioning at its best I could not sustain this level of performance.
It’s a common trap: thinking you’re too busy to take care of yourself, yet demanding your body and mind not only to support you, but also exceed your perfectionistic expectations you have set upon yourself.
I’ve been down this road before and I know I’m not alone. Most of us will put to-do lists over self care any day of the week. This doesn’t seem so bad when you love your to-do list, but the damage is pretty much the same. You’re not nurturing yourself, you will ultimately pay for it. For some of us the price is physical (pain, illness, bloating, allergies, discomfort, insomnia). For others it’s psychological (anxiety, depression, overthinking, inability to relax and slow down, general unhappiness). And for others it can be a sense of disconnection, a separation, a feeling of loneliness.
I would usually respond by making rash decisions to eat better : exercise better : live better. I would make small changes in my routine, which I might keep or not. I would try to make myself feel better by making another commitment to myself. I would definitely return to those practices which by now, I know sustain me and keep me grounded.
This time, however, I decided to respond differently. I wanted to understand what was behind the tendency to fall into this trap; I wanted to lean into it, rather than force it out of my life. There would be space for the commitment, for the change that ultimately needs to take place, but my intuition told me I needed to draw more on my feminine energy to really dive into this.
What I discovered was a desire to go deep. No – it was not simply a desire. It was a need, a necessity. I was fighting a deep urge to withdraw from the outside world and focus on myself. It’s scary admitting this because although we live in a highly ego-centric world, saying you would like to nurture yourself is ironically deemed inappropriately selfish most of the time. I know now that I disconnect and disengage from reality because that way I can protect my bubble. I feel vulnerable and I switch off because it’s too much. So I feel nothing or I feel too much. I’m beginning to understand this is my nature and I want to make space for these polarities in my life. I want to understand more.
I’ve decided to go on a journey, within.
I devote myself to healing. I honour my shadow.
To be continued…