2015.

(Disclaimer: Excruciatingly long)

Well, 2015 is coming to a close. On most counts, I am glad this year is done. Putting aside a brief two-week vacation to Nepal, to my enthusiasm, 2015 has been overwhelming on the low front. I had a couple of surprising heartbreaks, professional and personal, that shook my earthing. A few diagnoses were the additional bonuses on the health front! Woot.

When I used to write on Blogspot (before I wanted a clean start and began this blog), I did a year-end review. I thought it was a silly practise till my conversation with A from last evening made me realise how smart I used to be.

I get bogged down by the low a lot. Perhaps a little bit of this is in my nature. End-of-the-year existential crisis is common and tempting to wallow in. I have honestly done a lot of it. BUT, I learnt a lot this year.

Embracing my personality with all its quirks has been rewarding and relevant. I stopped making excuses when I didn’t feel up to being around people. Especially those I had drifted away from. I learnt to enjoy my company and do what is good for me which resulted in lots of art and getting my hands messy. I began to look after myself more. My health taught me that my mind and body are not separate. The pressures on my mind will be felt by my body. So care is not optional. It needs to be integrated into daily living. Smell a few more flowers, perhaps. Unfortunately, these health crises have forced me to give up sweets and coffee. Something till 2015 I thought was not possible. But I am finding new patterns and routines. Healthier ones. All while remembering that I am really tiny in the grand scheme of things. People tell me this insignificance scares them. But it has been one of the most reassuring and calming truths.

“When I go for a drive I like to pull off to the side
Of the road and run and jump into the ocean in my clothes
And I’m smaller than a poppyseed inside a great big bowl
And the ocean is a giant that can swallow me whole
So I swim for all salvation and I swim to save my soul
But my soul is just a whisper trapped inside a tornado
So I flip to my back and I float and I sing
I am grounded, I am humbled, I am one with everything”
– I like giants: Kimya Dawson

As a surprise to myself, I fell in love. Accidentally. Madly. To an unsuspecting bystander. Though it has left me recovering from a broken heart, it reminded me that I am intense and love is overwhelming. It was nice to sit drenched in the emotion and learn to just breathe. Let the pieces fall as they will. I am still learning to live with my intensity and even enjoy the depth of character that I seek. 🙂 Love dragged me along a long path of self-discovery which has been difficult, painful, stirring, and intimate in discoveries about myself.

My professional heartbreak is far more difficult to write about. Since most of the year and waking hours were spent at the office, learnings are integral to my growth. I had to quit a job that I was fond of because of grave internal turmoil, certain strife and need for more challenges. It became essential for me to embrace that I am young, emotional and vulnerable which people in workplaces often use against me as a weakness. I didn’t realise how much I had pushed these away. Over the years of hearing it being pitched as a negative, I had happily accepted this to be true. Not anymore. 🙂

One of the most unsettling truths of the year was revealed while stranded at the bottom of the Himalayas because of unseasonal rain and snow. Rainer Maria Rilke was the bearer of the news – ‘Life is right in all cases’. Rilke has rescued me on several occasions. His words were a float when I felt I would drown in the ocean of anxiety and self doubt. They were a balm to my soul that felt out of place, making me more home in my skin and less cuckoo. (Or is it be more cuckoo? :))

“Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a young poet

I also turned around my writing this year. It was a much needed change from the self-deprecating stuff I tell myself about lack of any talent. Though I write here, I had not written about the many learnings from my work and the world around me. Starting to write for Women’s Web and Girls Globe is an attempt to fix this. I am happy to add my two-cents to the progress to women’s rights and equality around the world. It is a small drop in the ocean, yet a satisfying drop.

I think writing these words was an important part of taking stock of the changes, both good and bad, the year brought my way. In the darkness of doubt, pain and unanswered questions, I have found it is comfortable to believe I had an unproductive year. One where I have been stagnant and done little to further my beliefs. But I have made a lot of personal growth and some professional strides. This forms part of a learning process to understand myself better and walk closer to the person I want to be.

Hope 2016 is less harsh but as rewarding.

Self care 101

I have been struggling a lot lately, both mentally and physically. I have preferred to hide in bed away from most activities and people. My body has, of course, decided that it has had enough with my nonsense and demanded some attention.

While talking to my fellow INFJ who understands me so well, I realised I needed to give myself permission to do certain things. I have always known I’m very harsh on my self. These past few months I have spent many hours questioning why I feel the way I do. What I could have done better? Could have I known better? Am I really so naive? These questions often resulted in anger and shame turned inward. Bottled up inside. It isn’t a surprise then that my body is now reacting the way it is.

This art work (which took me a good two hours) was deeply difficult to do but very soothing. I gave myself permission to feel all these things. To be these things. Like my therapist said recently, you need to allow yourself to be emotional and human.

Apart from this escape, I have also taken to doing a lot of art. I play with colours, paints, material and sometimes even prints. These have greatly helped with the anxiety and depression. It isn’t new for me that art and words are my rescue horses. Time and again they help me find my feet. Helping me centre my self and energies. I forget once in a while how much I need them.

Sanity and full energies must be around the corner. But for now, self care is essential. Some colours, words, chamomile tea and most importantly, kindness – a safe place to be and fall apart. What are part of your safe place?

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A letter to my struggling self

Dear part of me that struggles,

Times are difficult again, huh? I understand. We have been here before. The place where everything feels better when we are numb. Sleep is elusive because it causes triggers that you can control while awake. But we need to sleep don’t we? So sleep a little today.

I can imagine the urge to stay in bed and wallow. I even know that deep down you wish tomorrow wouldn’t come. The body aches, the complete lack of focus, the constant triggered anxious state. I know how it feels. It is a painful process that you have to live through. Your wish for it to end will have to live its course. You will have to walk yourself through this pain. Hold your own hand. Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself the heartbreak.

What you are going through isn’t easy. You’re forced to give up something close to your heart. Something you hadn’t prepared yourself for. Let us be honest. You told yourself it would end. But you thought you would be prepared. But you didn’t think it would be easy? Don’t lie. You knew it would feel terrible. Just not this terrible. Just not for this long.

These days, the world feels like it has come to a stand still. It feels like good doesn’t exist. Like everything you do doesn’t feel happy enough. The flutters don’t last long. The pain and the urge to escape is just around the corner. Yes. But the only truth you have to know is, it is okay. It is okay to feel a contradiction of all these things. To want to sleep but be scared to fall asleep. To want to reach out but know it will blow up in your face. To talk but question what could possibly change with a conversation. It is okay.

I thought I would write to you cause I know you and me will be travelling together for a while. Perhaps you and me will travel together for eternity. I know with the kind of person I am, I take on pain and struggle. But this isn’t a romanticised view of me. This is just to say, we need to co-exist. And I need you to know, other parts of you are around the corner. You aren’t just this struggle.

Be patient with yourself. Don’t let the lack of movement eat into you. Eat chocolate if you need to. Stay in bed if you want to. Don’t respond to anyone if you cannot.

Love yourself in these moments as much as your highs. It is crucial.

I am around.

Now and always.
The other pieces of you