Dwindling daylight has shrunk to shortest day.
And tomorrow light lengthens again, as the sunshine starts to shine for a little longer – partnering in its’ ever transitioning cycles with the moon.
It’s time to turn towards sunlight and Spring again, as well as to turn over the fallen leaves of autumn, and sweep them away from my dim winter doorstep.
MY Winter though, actually began some months ago…
And whilst I wanted to keep the darkness quiet and work through it, that meant that I was feeling it, but not admitting to it.
One day in the early hours of a May morning, I woke up in panic, breathing hard and feeling terrified. My thoughts were spinning and tumbling, but I rationalised that it was a simple nightmare and the feelings would dissipate with the dawn.
But when I woke again, I felt a knot of anxiety at my core. My body felt flooded with Cortisol. And this stayed with me, over days and weeks – always, always that tight knot of anxiety, the feeling of being in fight or flight mode inside, no matter what I was doing on the outside.
Thinking I was simply stressed and needed a rest, I booked myself a spa break, thinking I either needed to be there or in a padded cell… But to my puzzlement, rest and pampering were not the cure – I still felt that anxiety at my core.
So I sought support. Talked to my GP, and saw a gynaecologist – as I believed menopause might be the cause and he tested me and agreed.
To me you see, it felt like a physical, rather than mental health issue, but still I did what the medicos said and sat with a counsellor, on the phone, talking it out. Whilst it felt good to vent, I found the process unfulfilling… It just wasn’t getting to the heart of what ever the matter was, or revealing anything I didn’t already know about myself and my life.
Yet things improved, time moved on, and the knot unraveled.
Then life started to happen… bereavement, trauma, stress, crisis, pain, surgery, illness…
Then to compound it all, my car broke down, and so did I. Driving home one evening, I stopped at traffic lights and my car stopped too. So I turned on the Hazard lights and started to sob with self pity and roar with indignant anger that this had happened to me. Passers by and police asked me if I was alright as they pushed my car to a side street, then left me to call for help, as the tears eventually subsided.
Well, help came, eventually. I called breakdown assistance, and waited 3 hours for them to cart my car away to a garage. And then my boyfriend turned up with a hat and mince-pies, to warm me up, cheer me up and drive me home.
And whilst all ended well, the knot of anxiety had returned, wound tightly within and this time I just could NOT unravel it.
Still though, I carried on with my life, as it was. I felt anxious and stressed, but this wasn’t ALL I was, I worked, loved, laughed, supported and smiled, too.
I talked to my loved ones, I went back to the doctor. I found a new life coach.
Yet life kept happening, there was more stress, and more to do, in every part of my life, with deadlines looming and decisions to be made.
But then you know, I’m ‘self aware’, a life coach, so I knew what was going on and what to do about it. Only I DIDN’T do it… Instead of facing up to it, I backed away from it, switching from thinking to doing, to block out the feeling. My survival it seemed, depended on hard work and getting things done – despite anxiety, illness and exhaustion. In response my brain shut down it’s consciousness, so I worked like an automaton. But I also stopped exercising, eating well, and writing – and so many of other things that fill me up, nurture me, and engender a sense of contentment. Instead, I continued to toil, as I was wading through mental treacle, feeling indecisive, slow and ineffective…
And Christmas was around the corner, or rather Chris-STRESS, with a 1001 ‘to does’ needing to be ticked off a long list, on top of everything else I was not doing or doing badly…
Until I just HAD to stop.
Because the panic attacks had come back and the anxiety was now a constant screaming pain in my gut.
So I started to confess my dirty, not so little secret – that the ditzy, positive, capable person that so many relied upon, had crashed and burnt.
And whilst I believe in openness and honesty, when people asked me how I was, I lied and said “I’m good”, fearing the consequences of revealing my ‘weaknesses’ and being a failure. It was a way in which I could exert some control over the chaos I found myself in, when in fact, it was actually covering up a LACK of control…
But then my doctor said ‘enough’. I had tried to keep all the plates in my life spinning, but instead they were crashing to the floor. But now someone had validated that I HAD to stop. And I’d known that for some time, but filed it away under ‘want’ rather than necessity, at the back of my brain. Looking back, I realise, that I wouldn’t actually stop, until someone else had given me permission…
So now, a few days later, I’ve slowed right down now, but not stopped as yet… I’m winding down to that and to Christmas. Instead of going cold (Christmas) turkey, I have been easing myself in, making changes, asking for help and having faith that all will work out as it should.
And as for Christmas, it will still happen – even if I only had the energy to put up one tree this year, the presents aren’t perfect and fewer cards have been sent. My health and happiness is far more important than any of these things. My gift to myself is the choice of a sweet and slow Christmas, with those I love, taking care of myself first and foremost, so I can be at my best for all the rest…
And whilst the doctor rubber stamped the stopping, it’s down to me now – to put myself first. To love who I am, instead of hating what I think and do. To give myself permission to do less, so that I get more (out of life). Deciding to let the world take care of ITself, whilst I take care of MYself. And not least, asking those around me for understanding and support.
The irony is that I have preached self care and self love for a long time now, exhorting others to ‘put the oxygen mask’ on themselves first, but still… here I am… So, as the bible says, ‘physician heal thyself.’ Be this physical or mental, unhealed trauma, hormonal or causal, I need to stop doing now and start BEING.
I write this not for sympathy or pity, because I know that I have so much to be thankful for in my life. This life is a gift and I want to make the most of every precious moment of it.
And to do that, I wanted to confess, to stop pretending to everyone and anyone about what is going on for me. And by being beautifully selfish about that, I want anyone going through anything similar at this moment in time, to give them self the permission to stop, too.
Please know that you CAN pause, rest and re-evaluate. What ever is going on for you, or your brain, sense of duty or someone else is trying to tell you.
Know that this is the way of life – Winter Solstice is giving way, slowly, to Spring. Nature is following its course, so that after all the darkness and cold, all is ready to be reborn and grow upwards, towards the sun. And as a creature who lives under that sun, it is now your time to do that too.
And where ever life finds you right now, may sweet solstice blessings be upon you, xx