The last couple of weeks have been incredibly turbulent, physically and mentally. It has really brought home the fact that every day has to have some act of self-affirmation or self-care to build up one’s personal reserves. I have posted on my Instagram page a few longer posts (as it basically is a journal for me to hold myself accountable) about my head swimming around divorce, frustration with my injury limitations, a family mental health crisis, and the re-emergence of a beast I thought I had quelled. But, let me go back a bit.
Our house, our lovely new/old house (It’s from 1800), needs a lot of work. What was meant to be 4 days of plastering before my last teacher training block started turned out to be 4 weeks of noise, dust, dog panic, and entire rooms out of action. As if that wasn’t enough to contend with, we had some doors being repaired and a fireplace to service in the yoga room. This threw my practice out the window and I couldn’t find a place to stretch and do the postural things that assist with my spine’s support. Deeper than that, my morning ritual vanished.
It was this that cost me the most. I can deal with the mess, I can calm dogs, I can handle not going into rooms. But, losing that stand-alone act of care, of being still and building myself really cost me. It showed me the power of my morning ritual. Waking to take the dogs a walk, I hold hands with Alan. We get home, feed the dogs, I get a green tea and head for the yoga room and shut the door. I am left to my own devices for over an hour to get my brain ready for the day. It is something I have done for years (the hand holding thing is new, though).
So, in this state where my resilience was super low, my self-esteem drowning in inadequacy, Alan suggests taking some time to watch a documentary. What could the harm be in that? We could talk about it and spend some time together in the one room free from all the mess and noise.
We watched Leaving Neverland. Now, don’t make the mistake that some people on Instagram made thinking this is Finding Neverland, the story of J.M. Barrie, this is the documentary about childhood sexual abuse and Michael Jackson. Regardless of your views of his innocence, listening to these men and how their lives had been shaped around this formative experience is hard watching. Both of them spoke openly and you could see how they were processing the story each time they spoke it on the screen. I was so uncomfortable watching the entire thing. I could feel my body matching their postures and my throat tightening as I watched. I got off of the couch and sat on the floor very quietly during the whole thing. Alan reached his hand out to me, just a casual act of connection, and I couldn’t stand it. I wriggled away.
Internalising everything, I walled everyone out and felt myself hardening my shell to keep myself safe. We finished watching the programme and I felt sick. We went to bed and I rolled away from Alan, staying very quiet. Hot tears ran down my face while I made myself and my energy as small as possible. Hiding in every way I know how. Something I did as a child and throughout my teens. Something I thought was passed.
Looking at it now, I see that the child that the abuse happened to, recognised something in those stories. He sat up and watched and his heart broke all over again. He had to feel the betrayal all over again. The confusion was overpowering. The teenage part of me that had a bit more power took over, and his way of thinking is really messed up. His voice chipped in, “We can end it. We can take this story with us and no one will ever know or miss it. We can stop this right here.” This all happened in my head in the time it takes to do a full breath and it was the thought I went to sleep on. I felt powerless to get out of there. I was being pulled at by all of these splinter selves from my past that felt like they had to stop existing in order to survive. If my mind could have killed me then, I think it would have. I am not ashamed to say that my mind can roll into that place, but when it does, it takes a real wedge to get me out of that hole.
Alan knew something was up, the next day, I was miserable. I could feel myself repelling any opportunity to connect. I was doing the dance of isolation and internalisation all over again. While I was scrolling on my news feed, I saw what is a daily feature on my wall, another person I knew had completed suicide. I spoke up. I spoke to Alan about it and told him there would be a lot he wouldn’t understand but that I needed him to listen. The whole time I felt on the edge of a cliff. Almost like if he said one wrong word, I would shatter to a million pieces. He just held my hand. That simple act, one I have come to rely on, reminds the adult me that I am here, right now, I am not back there. It doesn’t say “forget about it” or “aren’t you over that,” it reminds me that I am loved and safe.
For how many years have I chased that? To feel safe and loved?
This last couple of weeks have taught me some really important lessons:
- Ritual gives me shape and a way to care for myself
- Chaos can’t be controlled, but I can schedule it better (let’s not get all those tradespeople in at once again)
- My past holds energy, and I need to accept it
- Talking and speaking lets me reshape my identity, every time
- I am loved and safe.
Every time spoken, the present self evaluates everything that has come before with the lens of current experience, the story evolves from a different viewpoint. The child sees the acorn of his achievements, the man looks back on the oak.
Thank you for reading this far. If you want to reach out, send me a message or drop me an email. These subjects are hard, and feel isolating, but what if they could bring us together? What if speaking could save us? Isn’t it worth a shot?