Therapy

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Sat across from you I desperately began my search. I was longing for a different life and you felt like my last chance. But I was still unsure.

I tried to trust you, to trust myself. Inevitably, it felt impossible.

Week by week we waded through my thoughts; thick, tangled, twisted. Alongside you I allowed myself to face the darkness. My darkness.

For so long I had feared what I might find. Was it the truth? I am still unsure.

Fragments of feelings flashed burning and bright rather than the dim and distant memories I dreamed I might discover. They hurt. They still do.

And what am I left with? What might I make of these broken parts? How will I fix them together to form my future?

Learning To Let Go

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I had carried it with me for longer than I could remember. I clung to it before I was even aware of what it was. Or what it might become. I was unaware of the potential danger. I guess, I needed it more than I knew.

For a long time I hid it away. I didn’t want the world to see. What might they think? But, it was always there. It was once all I had. So, somehow I befriended it. To whisper words of comfort late at night and feed it all it needed to grow. But protecting it was too much for me to bear alone. It almost killed me.┬áIt had become more than a metaphorical part of me, it now defined every decision I made and all I did.

So I showed you. I revealed it slowly, piece by piece. You listened and, little by little, learned of my secret too. And then you told me what to do. Gave me the answer I claimed I so desperately needed.

Let it go.

But there was something in this that felt like a betrayal. As much as I wanted to believe it might be better, to trust and find faith in your words, I was afraid. Of course I was.

How could I simply lose something that had meant so much for so long?

Losing myself

Writing

Aspirations can be elusive. Something you should hold solid, clear and strong but something I was stuck searching for. Because there is always that contrived question lurking when and where you want it least;

what do you want to be?

Answering was easy. I knew what I should say. And what I shouldn’t. I may not have known what I wanted to be but I knew how I wanted to feel. And how I wanted you to feel about me. So I shaped my answer carefully and constructed myself in this refracted reflection.

Eventually my identity became defined: a soul shifting herself to become someone whole in all eyes but her own.

Then I found myself. Broken. Lost and alone and looking for a way back to who knows when.

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The darkness before dawn

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Imagine how, if you had lived in darkness for as long as you could remember, any light, no matter how dim, would come as a welcome relief.

Like the dull, reassuring green glow of the numbers on an alarm clock when you awake from a nightmare long before dawn.

You would stumble around for a bit. Find your way. Step by step. And, eventually, you would learn to see. It may even begin to feel ok. Normal, if you will.

But, after a while (who knows how long?), you would crave something more. Something greater. You would long to see sunrise; natural, beautiful, true.

And, with that, you would become aware of the darkness once again. A black sky suspended in time. Something all encompassing that seemed never ending and impossible to break.

And you would try with all your might to believe that dawn would come once again.

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My salute to the sun

Health and fitness

Feet fixed. Toes spread. Rooted to the earth. Engage and zip up from below. Tall now, really tall. My head pulled up to all that is possible. My heart open. What might be?

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Inhale…long limbs lift and encircle the world. My world. In this moment. Look to the sky before I…

…exhale and dive down. Stiff at first, it seems more a sigh. Then blood rushes around my ears and fills me with that force. Energy. Determination.

Inhale. Look up. Feel it again.

Hold and step back. Strong. Powerful. Passionate. My favourite moment. One that can’t last just like all the others.

Exhale down and press down. I feel the progress. Pride. Let it go and…

…push forward to reveal the imperfection. Inhale. Almost. Beauty and grace and goodness bending back and looking up. Again, it can’t last.

Exhale. Push back. Tight legs, bent knees, heels that just won’t reach the ground; flawed. Sink a little deeper. Feel it. Hands spread to hold firm and the rush returns.

Inhale. Jump. Look up.

Exhale. Fold. Feel it.

Inhale. Find that world once again. Mine, all mine. All that is possible. All that is real. All that might be.

Exhale. Hands pressed at heart. Peace…begin again.

To be.

Family

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Here is my daughter. My greatest achievement.

To imagine that two years ago today I was terrified of giving birth and becoming a mother seems unbelievable because, as I write this today, that is who I am and I cannot imagine being anyone else.

In those two years I have overcome fear much greater than I ever thought I was capable of facing just by being that person. I am scared daily by the task I have undertaken but it is only through this that I know what it means to live.

I would hate to suggest that being a mother is the only way to live a fulfilled life because I know that it is not. I admire so many women who haven’t had to undergo that transformation to be someone whole, complete. And others who have but who manage to be more than just that. But I am simply not that person. I needed someone else to make me all I could be. And now she is here I hope that I can continue to find the strength to show her who she might become.

Final marks

Love, Uncategorized

Now that you are lost, I find you everywhere. Soft sparks that remind me of that long extinguished flame. Sparks that make me remember and smile.

In a city I wish we had seen together, I hear the distant rumble of wheels on concrete. Words hidden in a long forgotten book. I see some ill fitting jeans. A film. A photograph. I walk down a once familiar street as someone new and there you are.

And I know my face has been replaced. As has yours. Time and again. Age and change have transformed us.

Something so strange at first, I now begin to recognise my reflection in these moments. Glimmers of myself, illuminated by blue light in a second floor bedroom at 3am. Safe and secure and certain of who I am. Who I am going to be.

I thank you for these scars. So deep and so true that they took a decade to discover. Marks to remind me of me.

Competitive yoga and the ever elusive art of standing still

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A few weeks ago I cried in a yoga class. As I lay sweating on my sticky mat I squeezed my eyes shut even tighter and, between stifled sobs, battled with the voice screaming at me. A voice that simply questioned;

How did I become this person?

To me, exercise is about getting your heart rate up, not lying around listening to chanting. The mere prospect of putting on workout clothing makes me feel vulnerable and exposed so why would I want to further contribute to this by doing something I’m not ever sure I understand? After all, anyone can run, but I had no idea what an upward facing bow pose would even require me to do! I hate to be out of my comfort zone. And I would never describe myself as spiritual. Shallow, yes. Selfish, definitely. Superficial, all too often. Never spiritual.

I will admit, I had some very wrong preconceived ideas about what the practice was and who it was for and so, until now, yoga had never really been for me.

And then, after a year and a bit of the full time job that being a parent is, my sister in law offered me the opportunity to spend a cold and wet Saturday morning ‘laying around’ in 40 degree heat, child free, for an hour and a half. And didn’t care what I was required to do.

And so, dressed in my Topshop leggings and an ill-advised long sleeved top, I found myself here. My preconceptions accompanied me to the class and, as I lay down on my mat I began my interrogation. What if I can’t do it? What if I’m the worst in the class? What if I have to chant?! But, as always, these superficial fears were accompanied by something deeper; What if doing this makes things different?

Because, ultimately, I am terrified of change.

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I’m terrified of anything new. The unknown. Too comfortable with the familiar.

At once the teacher proved every thought I had ever had about yoga wrong (I have included a link so you can see why. Wow!). She was strong and powerful and reassuring and fun. And the class nearly killed me!

But I stuck with it. The trouble was, my sister in law is good at yoga. I, on the other hand, have the shortest hamstrings known to man. As she moved through her sun salutations and on to arm balances I saw her step up to the challenge. I, on the other hand, had found my comfort zone and was stopping there.

And then, mid-way through a Sunday morning session, I heard the word, ‘headstand’. And a little voice inside me squealed with delight. I had secretly been practising headstands alone in my bedroom for the past week. I could do headstands!

In an attempt to appear modest, I moved to the wall with the rest of the class. I took a deep breath in, placed the crown of my head firmly on the floor, pushed my bottom in the air and began to walk my feet towards my head. But they simply wouldn’t lift. And, as I started to force the matter by pushing off the ground, another little voice spoke up; you can’t do it, not here in front of all of these people.

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The rest of the class passed in a blur. All I can recall are those words. And the feeling as I lay there on the mat. I was angry for my judgments. Scared of letting them go. And frustrated at allowing myself to become this person. Someone ruled by judgements. Someone ruled by fear. Someone standing in the way of the change they claim to desperately need. And as the tears burnt hot in my eyes I began to forgive and look forward…

Because sometimes it is easier to root your hands and feet firmly to the ground, lift your hips and push your stomach skyward than it is to stand still.

Permission slip

Fashion, Uncategorized

Fellow girls,

I want to share a secret with you. Something more like a confession. Something you may find shocking. Something I’m a little ashamed to admit;

I have let my standards slip.

I have always been a little high maintenance when it comes to my appearance. And, ok, I don’t spend thousands on nail technicians or hairdressers. Essentially because I am too much of a control freak, but also because I don’t have the money. But I always did have the time. And the inclination.

I would spend hours getting ready for a night out. Often the best bit (and certainly the part I could remember), I would painstakingly apply product after product with expert precision. Primer and base and powder and bronzer and blusher and shadow and highlighter…the list is endless.

And I loved it all.

I planned outfits to within an inch of their life. Entire phone conversations, taking place days in advance, would be devoted to discussing the outfit options. Always accessorised appropriately; complimentary shoes and bag, statement jewellery, well fitting (and, yes, always matching) underwear; a look for every occasion.

And hair. Hair was always my favourite.

I am proud to say I am a perfectionist. But perfect is a problem.

At first others told me this. Apparently getting up at 4.30am on a work day Wednesday to wash and style your hair before trying on every item of clothing in your wardrobe, rejecting them all and then refusing to go to work because you have cried so hard your make up is ruined is not normal behaviour. I didn’t believe them.

And then it happened. Time was no longer on my side and so it started with the eyeliner…

Terrified, I ventured out with tired eyes . Too sore. I simply couldn’t look.

And do you know what happened? Did the universe implode upon itself? Did strangers stop, gasp and recoil in horror as I passed them in the street? Did friends pretend not to see me and turn the other way?

No. Nothing. No one even noticed.

They failed to notice the day I got up late and opted for dry shampoo. Or when I forgot to buy a new foundation. Or wore a skirt with slightly stubbly legs.

And that made me sad. Why, you may ask, was I sad that something dreadful, terrible or horrific failed to happen? But it is my hope that I am not alone in knowing the answer because that would simply be sadder still.

The truth is this: I have wasted over fifteen years of my life believing that how I looked made an impact, that how I looked mattered, that how I looked even changed the world. Wasted time.

And I may not be ready to ditch that make up bag completely. And I can’t ever see myself opting for sensible shoes. But that decision may now be driven more by love than fear.

So this is me giving myself and, in turn, you, permission to lower the standards. To give yourself a day off. To forgive yourself for your flaws.

Permission to be imperfect.

Because who knows what else doesn’t really matter?

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Hot tips for how to survive

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When, a few weeks ago, people first realised I had begun blogging they text me, sent me messages on Facebook and spoke to me about it when I saw them. They had questions, kind words and, in some cases, stuff they decided to share with me. I loved it all! Thank you.

Something one of my friends sent me was a photo with a quote that uses language that is so strong even I am too embarrassed to share it here (the fact she can share language like that with me is just one of the many, many reasons I love her dearly!) but basically it summed up something I am only just starting to realise:

Everyone is struggling with something. Be nice.

And when I read it I began to see that, for me, this is what my blog is; me struggling to be nice.

And whilst at the moment (this week? today?) I am surviving that struggle, I thought I would share some of my tips for success. And document them so that when I am lost again and need them, they can be found here. But, please note, I am much like Alice as she stumbles blindly through Wonderland because she too “generally gave herself very good advice (though she very seldom followed it)”.

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Develop an addiction
Not hard drugs (or even soft ones) or cigarettes or alcohol. Much well founded research only serves to prove that this generally makes things worse. Much worse. But find something that makes your skin itch. Something that picks away at your brain screaming at you to do it and do it now. And do it. Everyday. Be it running or yoga or painting or writing (thank you WordPress!) or baking cakes or watching a new TV series on Netflix, find something, anything, that makes you feel good and gives you that buzz. Understand that this is no long term solution but the sticky plaster to fix your focus on something beyond yourself. And do it anyway.

Fall in love. Again.
Although probably the worse time to embark upon a new relationship with another human being, when you have fallen out of love with yourself it is the best time to look for love. Look for it everywhere. In the places you go. In the things you do. In the people you meet. Find something that you can fall head-over-heels-crazy-in-love with. New shoes. A favourite book. Your BFF. Give your heart fully and completely to something that makes you smile.

Be kind to yourself…
Forgive yourself for feeling horrid. Don’t lay awake at night wrestling with what you should, could or might do to change things or beat yourself up day after day for the mistakes you make. Sleep. Take a bath. Sit down. Turn off your phone and switch off from the rest of the world. Take time to feel all the horrid feelings. Cry. And repeat to yourself over and over and over again until you almost begin to believe that it is true that is ok for things not to be, or even feel, ok.

…but not too kind.
There comes a point when, whatever your problem, forgiving yourself and being kind is not enough. I am sorry that I cannot tell you when that point is or how you will know when you arrive at it because I have all too often missed it. You will probably notice that your friends stop calling or asking how you are. You may feel that everything is hopeless. You might have given up even caring whether it is or not. But there will definitely come this point. At this point you must stop making excuses. Whatever your problem and whatever its cause, stop giving yourself an excuse. Forget it. Do whatever it is that you need to do to move forward. You will know what to do because it will be whatever it is that hurts the most.

And talk. To everyone. And anyone.
Feeling bad is lonely. And sometimes feeling as if you are alone makes you feel important, special, different (there’s my excuse). But most of the time it just makes you feel worse. Since beginning to write here (and maybe I found my way here because I had already started to see it) I have realised that I am not alone. I have chosen to write about the things that make me feel horrid and the (all be it minor) struggles I have everyday. And the thing that shocked me most was that people weren’t shocked by what I wrote. Some have confessed to feeling it too. Others have simply said nice things.

And that’s nice. And that makes me feel nice too. Thank you.