This has been the saddest, hardest year of my life.
This picture might beg to argue otherwise, but what I say is true.
I’ve come to realise that life is sad and hard.
Sometimes I feel sad when I look at my children. Sad that they too will know huge amounts of grief and loss and will die one day. It’s yuck to even think about, but I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of it. It feels important to do so. I’ve started gently reminding my children that life is hard*. That a lot of what we ‘have’ to do in life sucks and things can feel deeply unfair.
A list of things that could be classified as unfair (according to me and also according to my children)
Having to unpack the dishwasher and clean one’s room
Brushing one’s teeth at the end of the day
Watching a loved one be in pain
There is a silver lining though. Honestly, there always is if you look for one.
The silver lining is this - a feeling, a noticing, a presence that cannot be found any other way other than through pain and suffering.
It’s the lump in my throat when I think about their sticky little fingers reaching for mine under the covers at 3am. They’re big smoochy kisses that last for an eternity and a second not long enough.
It's the technicolour of life.
Of everything around me when I’m so grounded in my being that I am no where else but here, in my body and in my heart and in my breath.
I wrote this in my journal recently -
I don’t want to write
I want to live it
The grounded-ness that I feel
The gratefulness that I feel
I want to live inside it. Feel embodied in these things without needing to put words to it.
Maybe I was tired that day. Today I sat up from a nap with an urgency and a need to put words to it.
Everything starts to glow with aliveness. With connectedness. The garden, the colour of the grass, the thought put into a floral arrangement at the art gallery, the way the wind blows kisses through my hair when I sit outside to meditate (Dad, is that you?), the human-ness of humanity, the heart of humanity in every word, every head tilt, every eye locking or even eye contact avoided. I can feel it all and I love it. I love being here. I love being alive. I choose life. My gratefulness grows tenfold. I can feel the safety and love that my house holds me in. The couch that I sit on. The floor that holds me up and the sky that folds me in. And out. And in. With each blessed breath.
Sometimes I think I don’t. Sometimes, like recently, I gasped at the outrageousness that I had messed my ‘life’ up with having kids. I almost buckled with regret. Only moments later was I diagnosed with Covid-19 and I took myself to bed for a few days of much needed rest. After that stint of bed rest I loved my children and my life more than ever before. I saw everything renewed. I noticed their beauty. I stayed in my body when they tantrumed. I laughed when they were silly in the car (instead of clenching my jaw, hoping I’d get through the moment without screaming). I fell in love with hanging clothes on the line again, the warm wind drying them, covering my family’s laundry with the sweet smell of earth and wind and goodness.
Whats the point here? What am I trying to say? What even is the point? Of anything? That perhaps, there is no point. No end point, anyway. Someone once said to me that life is like a spiral. That makes sense to me. Sometimes we spiral upwards. Thats positive. Thats when we feel good, when we are learning, uncovering layers that have been holding us back, becoming free of old shit that held us down. Sometimes we get stuck. I got stuck this year. Stuck in pain and grief. I couldn’t move. Nothing made sense like it does now in hindsight. Doctors say; exercise, eat healthy, just loose the weight, it’s easy, just do it. In hindsight, I could not do that. I was in no position to do that. I have more empathy now for others who struggle with that. What’s that saying - one mans trash, is another mans treasure. What about - one mans easy, is another mans hard. Or woman’s, in this case. Or human’s.
And then there is spiralling backwards. I see this as living unconsciously. Checking out. I can excel at this too. Especially in my teens and twenties and even, early thirties. And even now, sometimes. It’s an unlearning for me to not check out. Noticing is one of my new favourite things to do. Noticing how I feel. Questioning the validity of the feeling, of the action. Just that. That noticing. The hanging up the phone from an uncomfortable and realising that I’m staring into the pantry with no recollection of how I got there. Notice. The noticing of how I unconsciously choose to self soothe. Shining (soft/gentle) lights on new things that have gone unnoticed forever in my life.
One thing I’ve really loved uncovering this year is the self soothing thing. I’ve realised that whatever I’ve done to self soothe has been a gift, has been survival. So those chumpy cheeks that I see when I zoom in on photos of myself, from too many chips and avocado toast. Those chumpy cheeks represent survival. I survived! I got through it. I made it out the other side of watching my dad die and my family unravel and look! I have chumpy cheeks to prove it. I’m grateful for those chumpy cheeks.
But now I’m done with the chumpy cheeks. I’ve peeled back a layer and ready to shed them. They don’t serve me now. They just make me snore loudly and bother my husband and make me tired in the mornings.
So in conclusion to you 2022 - I’ve learnt to say goodbye to my dying father, I’ve learnt that self soothing is important, I’ve learnt that staying grounded (whether it be through meditation or lying on the floor when I’m having a panic attack or taking a moment to be grateful) is where I find god.
I don’t really do New Years resolutions (though if I did it would say things like - play more tennis, get another tattoo, have one more baby, slow the fuck down, avoid social media). I do feel a shift around the end of year and the beginning of a new one and reflections cannot be avoided with this perspective. I like to choose words to live in to for the new year. I generally forget them about halfway through the year. I have no idea what they were for 2022. But in saying that, the words I want to live in to for 2023 are - Grounded, nourishment, softness**
*stick with me
** and my shoulders dropped with the invitation of these words.