I haven’t written in a while. I think in my heart, I must be old-fashioned because I write these posts as if they were letters to an old friend. Maybe that’s who reads them in my head. I ran away from my feelings a lot during lockdown. Decided that I had done “enough inner-work” and was done working through my triggers for one year fairly early on. I won’t bore you with the details, but as echoed by many of my peers, I feel myself coming out of lockdown a different woman. I largely held it together at the start, rarely panicking, barely even blinking an eye when I was first sent home from work; a semi-apocalyptic feeling running through the city. The heaviness was apparent, and I was of course not exempt from its effects. But, like a true introvert, I found myself taking comfort in the solitude, relishing the stretched out days that rolled ahead like clouds.
I connected deeper with friends, shared mindlessly silly moments with housemates, called my parents, got teary, got angry, got heavy, got stagnant, got impatient, got exploring. But mostly during lockdown, I worked. I worked the entire time, slowly finding my feet as I went. I felt happy to be able to hold something together and took pride in the idea of being seemingly useful to others. And though there were more than a few days of feeling absolutely stagnant, I felt I was well-suited to working and supporting others practically during this time. For me, the lessons unfolded slowly. I was making sense of the cloud of heaviness that rested upon the city. I was wrestling with self-discipline, sleeping in, eating strangely, scrolling my phone absent-mindedly; willing the burst of creativity and energy to find me. I was in limbo, my least favourite kind of place to be.
What followed was a water fast, a gruelling three days that I should have better prepared for, a bout of wisdom tooth pain that had me bed-bound, and two weeks of working continuously with Bobinsana – a plant found in the amazon that had been suggested to me by a practitioner last year. Supposedly a “heart-healer”, I was more than skeptical of its effects. Imagine my surprise when, on one of my final days of drinking the tea at night, I found the band-aid of an old wound completely ripped off my skin. This sudden realisation led to a messy conversation, a re-establishment of boundaries, a “don’t ever talk to me again”, and a blocking of several people on social media. An old, festering wound, some deep entanglement and a lot of residual resentment had risen to the surface, finally ready for me to deal with.
What appeared in its place was a sudden bout of energy. They say we throw out the old to make way for the new, however, I had underestimated my own resilience. I did not think I was strong enough to let go of this particular pebble, did not want the emotional upheaval that would come from airing my feelings, flinched at the perceived “permanence” of it all. However, what was waiting for me on the other side of this test was euphoria, strength, empowerment, a new direction and exploration. I felt like a better person because of it. From a tarot perspective, this would be an ultimate “death” or “tower” card. But far from negative, this had no grief attached, no sadness, only new and improved energy. My very own personal spring. From this “emotional laundry-airing” I gained some creative energy. I had previously been mindful of how much ‘Zoom culture’ I would participate in, favouring instead to dedicate my time to worthy events that were more few and far between. I started to co-host a poetry night, and took great comfort in the sense of camaraderie and routine that it brought. I delighted once again in having group conversations with a purpose behind them.
Around the time of the summer solstice is when things really got interesting. I joined an amateur theatre meet-up and took part in a reading of A Midsummer Nights Dream. I’ve loved acting my entire life and this was the perfect no-pressure environment to do something sheerly for the love of it. I also watched the full performance of AMSND on The National Theatre’s YouTube page, started visiting my favourite gardens more, learned more about foraging and started getting into new music. I can always tell when I’m moving into a new season of my life when I suddenly feel compelled to create a new playlist. They seem to act as markers for me. If a new burst of energy is needed, I’ll go and create a playlist. They help me organise things.
The “transformation” so many people experienced during lockdown arrived for me, albeit several months in. I moved around the furniture in my bedroom, re-organised my living room, bought more fresh flowers and got really into Kae Tempest’s latest album (amongst many other things) this was around the same time I became aware of my friendships developing. I noticed the people in my life were really able to be a lot more present with me. While deserving a whole post dedicated to them, I don’t really have the time to get into just what my friendships mean to me, or how lucky I feel to have them. What I will say is that I have worked very hard over the last four years especially, to build a support network for myself. I feel incredibly lucky to have multiple people in my life who build me up, who see me for me and who are so readily accessible. After living on the outskirts for so long, I know the isolation that comes from having geographically distant friends. I am truly appreciating just how many people I can call on, and the close proximity of many of them also.
Significantly, I had a birthday. The feelings that came over me during the days and weeks leading up to my 30th birthday were something I will struggle to describe (although a separate blog post is coming). I can only attempt to paint them as waves of pink-tinted nostalgia; memories of previous summer birthdays, garden flowers and grandparents. Remembering what it is to be small, remembering my childhood, and finally feeling so special and loved, due to the efforts of many. As someone who periodically doesn’t like birthdays, my 30th ended up being really special to me. I woke up, drank coffee, opened presents and cards, listened to folk music, travelled to my hairdresser, who dyed my hair hues of pinks and purples, wore an astrology symbol embellished dress, then a crop top and jeans as I travelled to a trans rights march. We stopped for raw vegan treats, played with my housemates pet rat and walked the forty minutes home in drizzling rain. I saw my parents, who delivered cupcakes, listened to recorded messages from the ones who couldn’t be there and finished my night in a room full of glitter confetti.
Celebrations aside, I had a creeping feeling that things were too good to be true. “Too many” quiet, uninterrupted nights in my bedroom; “too many” mornings that flew by with no inconveniences; “too many” pain-free work days; “too many” acts of kindness and compliments bestowed to me by friends; “too much” earnest perfection exhibited by the man I’m in a relationship with. I was waiting for it all to curdle. While I do understand that life has many ups and downs, I’m happy to report that there is beauty still unfolding for me. As my birthday celebrations were adamantly stretched out for the entire month, I felt this feeling of serenity linger. At night I’ve taken to mentally listing all the things that make me feel safe, and let me tell you, there is a lot of them. I’m currently feeling so loved, so held, and in such great communication with the people around me. The trips I have been able to take (walks, visits to waterfalls/lakes) with friends have been so special. And I’ve had more positive social interaction these past six months than in recent years.
A few weeks ago, my wisdom tooth flared up again. It lasted around two weeks and I spent my time mostly in isolation. While the pain was almost unbearable, I also experienced a great deal of solace and clarity. My pain would cause me to wake early, meaning I got to experience sunrises and birdsong. The need to rest allowed me to finally do so without guilt (something I don’t often gift myself). And I was kept company by my favourite series on Netflix, reminding me once again of my love for acting, fantasy and storytelling. I was almost a little sad when the pain eased and the pace of my life picked up again. (Huge gratitude to the lovely dentist that finally agreed to give me an emergency appointment!)
Something I am struggling with is the idea of returning to “normal”. Without going on a huge rant about society and capitalism (although it’s coming), I decided many moons ago that my previous lifestyle of on-the-go food, constant travel, self-medicating with sugar, little time to myself and the daily grind had to go. While I love what I do, I do not love everything that comes with it. The transport, the politics, the weather, the lack of self-care, the lack of true connection that comes with trying to make plans with friends who also don’t have time for self-care, the pollution, the asthma… the list goes on. While I am a city girl at heart, this fast-paced modern lifestyle is not sustainable for me. Previous to COVID, I had been setting my sights on travel, with the emphasis on it being long term. As a creature of habit, and one who has set up quite a comfortable little life for themselves, the prospect of ripping myself away from all that I have built terrifies me. Finally when I seem to have everything in perfect balance, the house, the location, the proximity to nature, the yoga classes, the friends, the walks in the park, the job that I’m good at, the poetry networks, the family; to leave would seem wrong. However, there is a knowing, something I feel deep within my gut that this level in my life is shortly coming to completion, and that it is time to move onto the next. Nothing is worse to me than stagnation, and I know that what feels like a perfect situation is not supposed to last forever. “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind”, but how does one grapple with that? How do you allow yourself to be fully here in the present, while knowing that this could all be over in a flash, soon to feel like the remnants of a day dream?
I don’t know how, but for now I seem to be mastering it.
Soon, things will be changing. But the resounding feeling is that I will likely hold these past few months very dear to my heart in the years to come. I feel like I have been maturing. I will remember the cherry-blossom trees, the wonderful spring, the freshly baked bread, the long days, the creatives I found on social media who peppered my imagination, the short stories I resumed work on, the conversations with my friend about his novel, the book Conversations With Friends, the takeaways, the visiting home finally, the cleaning, the movies. All of it means something.
We are mostly becoming better versions of ourselves.
While my experience was rooted in privilege and, until this month (redundancies), job safety, I acknowledge that this time has been devastating for some people and communities. The impact of the death of George Floyd in particular filled my thoughts entirely (and still does now). Anti-racist work has been a part of my life for almost a decade however, I realised just how quiet I have been in recent years on my social media especially and just how much we have failed the black community. This is not the time or the place for picking apart systemic racism, but it’s something I’m still mulling over daily. People are rightfully angry and there is a lot of imbalance in this world. I’m seeing so much spiritual bypassing, so much closeted racism, transphobia and homophobia that sometimes I think I will never stop screaming. Still, we prevail and move forwards. One day I’d like to share more, but for now, I will continue sharing the voices of the people more in-the-know, over my social media especially. Now is the time to come together. Leave your old mind-frames at the door and greet your fellow humans with unadulterated humility. Now is the time for unity. It might seem idealistic, but I truly see glimpses of a better world and the chance for us to become better people individually.
In the spirit of this readership feeling like an old friendship, let’s not leave it so long next time.
I wish you so much poetry & beauty.