I’m sitting here trying to ignore the sound of notifications dinging on my phone. It is nonstop. It.is. maddening! I am home from work for my third day in a row attempting to fully recover from the flu before diving back into the several days worth of work piling up in my email inbox. The stress of thinking about work is hindering my recovery just a little. I’m annoyed and exhausted thinking about it and to be honest I’m just not quite ready to engage. “Worry about your health, first,” they say. But what they really mean is “Restore yourself enough to be what I need you to be…”
The expectations of others always seem to be pounding away at my door. It is the reason I contemplated getting dressed this morning and heading into work. I was almost willing to do anything to silence those stupid email notifications on my phone. Technically, I feel ok. I mean, I’m just milking this, right? I should be over this flu by now. But who is anyone to dictate what my body or my mind needs to go through in order to properly heal? Lying on my couch dying of the flu really caused me to question: when was the last time I allowed myself to properly heal from something?
The end of a friendship, relationships, minor disappointments and disillusionments take their toll on us every day. Sometimes I truly wonder if we are actual savages, cutting off friendships and posting about it on our social medias with little care or remorse. Or, have we just hardened ourselves to rejection and disappointment playing this stupid game of pretend where we act as if the “weaker” emotions within us don’t exist? I don’t know about everyone else but my mental health is too fragile to avoid fully processing through my emotions. My soul craves connections with other like-minded human beings! Each time I trust enough to let someone into my world and they trash the place with their bad energy and ill intentions it breaks my heart a little.
This year, I want to be more careful with my heart and soul. I want to journal more to stay in touch with my true emotions and not what others project onto me. I want to lean less on the advice of others and try to view my sensitivities as positive attributes and not weaknesses. It’s ok to be wounded, and it’s ok elevate the wound, saturate it in healing oils, pray over it, rehabilitate slowly and thoroughly until it is whole again. There is beauty, love, laughter and many wonderful things in this world but there is also something to be said for acknowledging the darkness. Not everyone cares about your wellbeing—many of us are inherently selfish and we just need you to be ok for us. WE want to laugh with you again, monopolize your time and rely on you to make us feel good about ourselves. WE need you to entertain us and to provide us with that good feeling and on some level we don’t care about the internal process it takes for you to get there. I recommend that you ignore US, and do whatever you need to do to come back whole.
Practicing What I Preach
I don’t consider this advice, I consider this a few tips for myself that I would like to put into practice.
- Ignore Work Emails I’ve designated today—a Sunday–as a writing day. I’m here on my couch writing away and receiving emails about work assignments for tomorrow. I will read the email TOMORROW. I work 5 days a week from 9am – 5pm which means I only get two days a week to keep and cherish for myself. It’s completely unfair of any co-worker to infringe upon that time, so it’s up to me to set the boundaries. I monitor emails for emergencies but not for to-do lists that don’t go into effect until the very next day.
My work is ok, it’s enjoyable enough but it’s not what I want to occupy my thoughts and time while I’m not in the office or on the clock. The immediacy of technology puts pressure on us to be more available than we are. Even Instagram changed their settings to show when other people are online—a feature I quickly disabled. I don’t need to watch my unanswered direct messages and feel bothered that Such-and-Such has not responded to me but just posted a meme and has been active on Instagram for the last half hour. Such-and-Such is a person that deserves to use their time as they very damn well please. I myself have learned to become more forgiving and realistic about response times because I enjoy the same courtesy in return. I will respond to messages when I am in the right mindset to do so.
- Go Where the Love Is …be it the arms of a lover, the presence of a good friend or a favorite coffee shop. I am teaching myself the art of chasing after good vibes. I take notice of who I am around and what I am doing that provides me with a good feeling and I recreate the environment when I am hurting or my soul is in search of some healing. We absorb soft rejections and experience psychological triggers more often than we are likely aware. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with seeking comfort and restoration in familiar places and with familiar people. Furthermore, healing is a personal journey and it’s totally up to me to…
- Communicate Within My Comfort Zone My friends don’t have to know why I am seeking their comfort and quality time. No one has to know of my personal struggles—I’ve had to heal from dropping an entire jug of milk onto the kitchen floor before! Sometimes, there are small events that can trigger chaos within my psyche. Confiding and confessing to friends is always an option but it’s not a requirement. Healing is for me alone and cultivating healthy relationships is restorative by default. Being near someone who has a calming effect or being in the right environment can be enough in some situations. You don’t have to create a spectacle or engage in “bitching about that thing that happened” — you can just BE!
- Trust My Personal Process Everyone heals differently! Maybe that woman broke up with her man 3 weeks ago and is already back in the dating pool but what is for her is not for me. After being with me for 33 years, I have learned that sex is not something I take lightly and it does take quite awhile for me to move on from being sexually bound to someone. After putting in time to learn a person so intimately, the thought of reaching that level with someone else is daunting. Rushing to sleep with someone new after a break up will NEVER be my go-to move because I know that it would slow up and even damage my healing process. When pain and tragedy hits, it can be an opportune time to evaluate what it means to “get over” something, what it means to “restore” and to set realistic expectations on whether you even expect or wish to return to being the same person or a different version of yourself.
For me, keeping busy is a coping mechanism that deters me from properly handling my emotions. It has taken me years of trial and error to differentiate between unhealthy things I do just to appear over something versus what I really need to do to activate healing. Healing doesn’t always look like the easy way—sometimes it looks like reliving painful memories, journaling them down and reading over again until control and sanity is regained. Healing is a reality that we live in that includes the acknowledgment that there is a hurting or unpleasantness to heal from. Much like self-love, it’s not just about bubble baths and treating yourself to nice dinners.
- Come Back Whole The expectations of others often cause me to act out of the desire to avoid disappointing people. Disappointment is inevitable and sometimes cutting myself some slack is necessary when it comes to prioritizing my own health and wellbeing. I absolutely hate taking breaks from the performance arts scene. I love to be booked and busy, I love performing and using my words to connect with an audience but I don’t love to be immersed in a scene that involves hidden politics and constant self-promotion. The pressure I feel to keep an audience engaged and to constantly present myself as an interesting person whose writing you just HAVE to read takes its toll and sometimes makes me hate being a creative.
This year, I am on a quest for freedom. I want the freedom to write and express however I wish to and the freedom to focus on who I actually am outside of my art and my perceived persona. I have decided to cut down on my performance schedule this year because I want to spend more time with my children and adulting in my life outside of the creative arts. I’ve spent a ton of time and money investing into my art and working so hard, I now just want to make sure that I am doing what I truly enjoy. I don’t feel the need to take every gig offered to me or to continue to appear at places where I don’t feel particularly welcome or happy to be. I am taking the time to focus on what makes my life fulfilling and to do those things almost exclusively.
There are incidents that have happened years ago in my life that I have finally admitted to myself that I have never fully recovered from. Lately I’ve found myself being constantly triggered because I never allowed myself to go through the full experience. After a hurtful event occurs, there is an entire process that I’ve been skipping because I don’t want to feel the pain of it and I don’t want to put in the work it takes to restore myself back to good. The time for quick fixes are now over…
I don’t want to return to a version of myself that is tolerable and acceptable to others. I want to return to the truest version of myself, I want to be the most of myself. I no longer want life experiences to chip away at my being until there are parts of me missing that I will never be able to restore. I want to do the work—and when I decide to come back–within my own time– I want to come back whole.
*If you enjoy my writing, please visit www.whiskeyandpoetry.com for more*