I spent yesterday in emotional crisis talks. Long conversations and a bit of spontaneous weeping over perfect green olives in Jamie Oliver’s. For I am tired. More tired than I can explain. I am tired and worried and worried and tired and honestly it makes for quite an exhausting combination.
At the heart of my discontent is I suppose I kind of existential crisis. A sense of what is it all for and why am I? Why am I is such an odd question I know, but it feels right, though the answer is I do not know. I used to know, but I don’t know anymore.
What used to fill me up now leaves me empty. Where once I could partake in the kind of conversation that always struck me as existing on the peripheral of emotion, now small talk leaves me wanting to punch people, despite understanding how very irrational I know that is. And where once I would feel sorrow and disappointment, I now feel anger. And anger to she who has avoided such ugly, for the best part of her life, is both astonishing and petrifying.
There are things I am realising about myself now that I have simply never noticed. I am the most dreadful of friends. I am not good with people. I find group conversation, offline and on, confusing, overwhelming and exhausting. I have huge sweeps of energy where anything feels possible, swiftly followed by long periods in the trenches, savouring solitude, drowning in depression and fastidiously organising my online life in order to feel in control of something, that even after fifteen years, I cannot fathom how to manage. Life feels horribly complicated when my whole being is yearning for simplicity. And because I am so very at odds with my own authenticity and apparently now fuelled by rage, the consequences are ricocheting through every aspect of my life and leaving tiny fires in their wake.
Above all else my health is controlling my whole way of life in a way I would never have imagined possible. My body is behaving incredibly badly: a refusal to use the hormones, my medication is supposed to replace and the merest effort leaving me literally exhausted for days on end. All normality now lost to managing my spoons and trying to get enough nutrients into my blood so that I am not constantly gasping for the breath my continued anaemia keeps stealing.
I keep hearing myself muttering “I can’t go on like this”. And yesterday I let it out. I said it out loud. To my sister, And my Dad. To my Ste, over olives and even to my Finn who text me late at night, to say how are you Mum? I said to all of them I can’t go on like this, I don’t like me. I have lost all connection to my work and it feels so very pointless now, I don’t know what I want anymore, what I am for, why I am. And they listened, And Ste took me to a hill where we watched birds with red heads chatter and rabbits play hide and seek and wondered at a landscape patterned with broccoli: great swathes of bushes in every shade of green lining fields and paddocks and farms. And he let me talk and talk and talk until I was all talked out. And Helen said start again, get a sheet of blank paper and re-invent everything, and I felt better for letting myself be vulnerable instead of always keeping my vulnerability locked inside my rib-cage. I felt better.
Start again. You are doing too much they said. Expecting too much of yourself. Always complicating that which should be simple. Losing your message, your very point, in busy work and over-promising in order to offset some peculiar shame that you are not enough.
I listened and I felt better. As if I had been seen. Heard. Though I do not talk about it here, life has been horribly hard recently. Ste’s depression so all consuming for the past few years and my own grief put on hold to prop everyone else up.
And now it has caught up with me: my refusal to truly acknowledge what I need.
But how to start again? How to sequester myself from patterns so entrenched, even when I know they are killing me and that in the process I am so frequently letting people down. Not seeing messages. Cancelling plans, Missing deadlines of my own making. Arguing because of my own discontent. How to stop diverting my own attention from what matters with the all-consuming pull of the social media that is sending me nuts? How to eradicate damn Facebook, to come back here, to my blog and hang pictures that thrill me and write stories that matter all over again?
Sometimes of course, drastic action is so very necessary to stop inevitable decline. The willingness to say I can’t do this anymore. Behind the scenes I am going bonkers. The deliverance of yourself to your doctor and the handing over of your health to her in the hope of some relief. The power of vulnerability. The willingness to let tears drip onto iced olives, and the joy of sitting with someone who doesn’t try to wipe them away with pacification but instead just listens. The derring-do to say no more: this doesn’t fill me up anymore. I cant carry on.
Its time to sit down with this blank piece of paper and start again.
What this means I do not know. It is I suppose my very own fallow period. A time to dis-lodge old roots, rake over the land and plant new seeds. A process that can’t be hurried, will sometimes have to be endured and will ultimately see me grow into who I need to be as I enter the next stage of my life.
I’m not too proud to say I am a little frightened.