Despite having written that post last week about how we all have the choice to choose how we feel, which, I still maintain is 100% accurate; I fell into a corona hole. It was almost as if my mind was like ‘Ha! You think you’re so strong and in control, preaching to the world about controlling me..try controlling me now..’ I had a bit of a weird week, a couple of things happened in my personal life which threw me off track, I was starting to feel a bit overwhelmed with trying to figure out exactly what it is I’m trying to do here and then there was the minor issue of the intense building work going on outside my flat resulting in 8 hours a day of incessant drilling (there was one point on Thursday when I was in the shower and genuinely thought they were about to break through the wall into my bathroom). All in all, I felt a little bit odd.
You know that feeling when you just kind of want something to change but then nothing can? Through the entire pandemic I’ve managed pretty well to not fall into the hole of thinking too much; I try not to think about when it will end, or any of those other unhelpful things, but last Friday I found myself falling off track. I fell off track wondering when I’d be able to travel again, when I’d be able to date again, when I’d be able to see my friends in person for dinner parties, when I’d be able to see my parents, when I’d be able to do an in person yoga class where the heat of everyone else makes it’s so sweaty that you start slipping off your mat, I even started pining for conversations in sticky, smelly, damp pub toilets at 11:30pm after too many glasses of warm white wine (said for theatric effect, this is genuinely my worst nightmare). I fell so far off track that I found myself desperately searching for any country in the world that would let me in that wasn’t Canary Wharf-on-sea (some people call it Dubai, meh). Turns out there is basically nowhere and my sense of civic duty prevailed so I stayed put.
When I was thinking about what to write today, I had all these lists of potential ideas but when it came down to it, none of them felt real. The only thing that I could feasible share today, was this. I don’t write this to throw anyone else down a hole but I thought it was important to share because even though I’ve done an absolute tonne of personal work, managing my mind and choosing helpful thoughts, I am not immune to falling off track sometimes. The thing that has changed since I started doing more work on myself is my ability to pull myself back onto a more helpful track rather than staying in a spiral of rubbishness (both the visible and invisible kind) for days on end.
Step 1: This is going to sound really basic, I get it, but it’s a step that it is very easy to miss (or to feel idiotic doing): acknowledge that you feel rubbish. Just acknowledge it. You don’t have to tell anyone, you don’t have to write about it or meditate on it or anything. Just acknowledge it. Notice and allow that voice in your head to go, in a non judgey way, ‘oh…that’s interesting, I feel rubbish today’.
Step 2: Once you’ve given your rubbishness a little bit of space by actually acknowledging its presence rather than pretending its not there, maybe you can go a little bit deeper and, with curiosity, question whether you can shift out of it straight away by changing your thought patterns (you know like short term rubbishness when you create a story in your mind as to the reason someone hasn’t text you back for a day) or if actually you need to give it a little bit more breathing space and you aren’t quite ready to shift gear yet.
Step 3: For me, last Friday, I wasn’t ready to shift gears. I did try but my body was like noooo can do, you need to sit with this feeling for a little bit and allow it to be here. My default reaction when I’m in this space is to generally try to numb by surrounding myself with people talking about other things but last Friday the idea of that felt, in and of itself, exhausting. So what did I do? I let myself wallow in it for the evening. Like, really wallow. From about 6pm on Friday night, I was horizontal watching Schitt’s Creek for about 5 hours (YES Netflix, I am still watching Schitt’s Creek, stop with the judging) only sitting up to take another spoon of my Dishoom Deliveroo-ed Dhal. Anyone that knows me well knows that none of this is textbook Lucy behaviour, but on Friday, it was all I wanted.
Step 4: Once you’ve let yourself wallow for a little bit, the next step is up your focus on all the things that are pretty much guaranteed to make us humans feel better. Good sleep, good food, human connection, movement, nature. I pre-empted this by messaging a friend asking to meet for a walk the next morning (human connection, movement, nature tick tick tick), good food was ticked off by Dishoom’s finest (I also learnt in my Ayurveda course that if you’re feeling anxious, the best foods are basically buttery mashed potato and dhal, they ground the hell out of flighty thoughts), and good sleep ticked off by putting my phone on airplane mode and going to bed at 10pm with no alarm.
I woke up on Saturday feeling 100% ready to shift gears. Although there were still the remnants of the neg thoughts loitering around, my body was ready to say goodbye to them and to pick something more helpful. Thank you very much brain for telling me that I will die alone with cats and that COVID will last forever, I have allowed myself to believe you for an evening but now I consciously decide to think something better — like how for the first time ever, despite feeling so very disconnected, we are actually so incredibly connected through the madness of this experience. How this madness has allowed for real, deep, emotional conversations between people who usually would prefer to hide all of that away for themselves. And finally, how, despite having walked it approximately 753 times, Hyde Park is still very, very beautiful.
Everything felt infused with irritation. I was doing all the things for everyone else that I thought I should be doing. I was doing all the acts of service. I was, technically, loving those people. And yet. It felt like every act I did, rather than being infused with love, was infused with a shards of glass shooting out of every plate I stacked.
It was a Thursday back in February 2018. The rain hadn’t stopped for months and London was right in the depths of what felt like the longest winter we’d ever had. The dark, damp days had started to getting to me so I’d taken refuge in a hot yoga class to warm up. The scent of palo santo blended with the sweat of 50 people pervaded the room. It was bonus day at work. They’d told us it had been a bad year and not to expect much. I peaked into the envelope, hopeful, as soon as they slid it across the table: £130k. But there I lay, in savasana, with hot, salty tears streaming down my face: I’d never felt emptier.
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