If I close my eyes, I see you. I am allowed to hold you. I wrap my arms around your soul and kiss your mind. And when I am sad, and I’m alone, I will not tell you, for I will smile through my tears. I am okay, or so I say. Who will ever know the truth? I mastered my disguise. 264 filters to hide me from myself. Layers and layers, but who am I underneath? I will drown or fly. If you listen and see, you will know better than I do. I am full of surprises and miracles, and so are you.
In 2017, my exhaustion was already visible in my eyes. The depression that accompanied me for the last years was just beginning. I had no idea then how much worse it would be. I just knew something was very off, but I had no idea how to keep myself afloat.
Sometimes, I wonder if my mental struggles began because I had to start to work. The timing is uncanny. Don’t get me wrong; I love my job. I love working at a nursery and teaching the babies and toddlers new things. I love seeing their evolution and helping them to accomplish new milestones.
Since I started working in late 2016, I stopped writing fiction. Since I started working, I am sick more often. Since I started working, I had migraines more often (twice monthly until I started acupuncture). Since I started working, my mental health began to decline. Maybe it is just a coincidence. But what if it is not? What if I would be happier (and saner) being at home, taking care of the house and the kids, and spending my time writing?
I love getting up in the morning and going to work. I love how fast time flies, and I even love the “rush hour” when the kids eat (or we feed the little ones) and before they take their nap. I am working part-time. I could have the best of both worlds. But my work is exhausting. I am not only playing with kids. I am constantly observing them, writing reports, planning new activities to stimulate their mental and physical development. And of course, the planned activities need to be carried out too…
I have been home again (on paid sick leave) for the last week. I can almost feel how I am getting calmer and how my mood takes a boost. I am still in a lot of pain, and after my injection a week ago, I was ordered to rest and do nothing. Or not much. And it makes me feel good. Or better. I need this time-out to care for myself. I neglected myself for far too long.
And of course, my emotions are on a rollercoaster. I feel guilty for being happier at home alone (and in pain) than being at work. They manage well without me. Just like the last time, one colleague got in touch; I am not missed. And that bugs me; I have to say. My work is good, but clearly not as good that it makes people miss me. Maybe it’s because even at work, I keep to myself? I don’t know. With my injured shoulder, I am not much use at work anyway. (And due to varying pain-levels, I am not reliable right now either.)
Now, these last weeks, I started writing again. I am also working on changing our family diet: fewer carbohydrates, less sugar, no alcohol, but many more vegetables and protein, and lots of ginger-flavoured water and green tea. The kids are not happy, but the change is visible. Not on the scale, but we have more energy, and stupid as it may sound, our skins look better too. It’s the little things.
As you can see, I had a lot of time to think. Rest assured, I don’t regret anything. Everything happens for a reason. I needed to get a job because one income didn’t pay the bills of a family with three kids. Easy as that. Writing doesn’t pay the bills, working at a nursery does. At what cost, though? Is my physical decay (melodramatic Cathy) due to my mental struggles?
Did I recently explain that I don’t believe in regrets? Well, for me it is true.
Regrets make us live in the past, and the past often makes us miserable. Either because we were hurt or because we are longing for the happier times that we think we remember. Every choice I made, every decision I took brought me to the place where I am now. And even when I am depressed and melancholy, I believe that I am learning from this experience. I sound like a lunatic. I firmly believe this. I also think that people step into our life for a reason, and we are learning from all of them: the good and the bad. I don’t ever hate anyone. In fact, I am always trying my best to see every side of a story. The funny thing is, when we interact with someone, we exchange parts of ourself for parts of them, and like that, we will forever be a part of each other. (Obviously, I am alluding to people who are close to us for a part of the journey… Although strangers can change our lives too – I am dropping that train of thought for now. I am turning in circles, and my head hurts, lol)
Sometimes we have to let people go. And it is hard because selfishly, we want to keep them in our life. They make us feel good, and we choose to ignore how much they are suffering. And again, I could never be angry with someone who needs to protect themselves. I understand it. And I accept it. That doesn’t mean that it will not make me sad. After all, I am a very sensitive and emotional woman. Compassionate too. I struggle with people leaving my life, though. The more they mean to me, the harder it is to let them go. That’s the same for everyone, right? I can’t deal with rejection very well. It makes me feel wrong and unlikable. It unleashes a myriad of negative emotions inside of me. No matter what happens and why friendships end or evolve in different directions, I always blame myself. I am not good enough, not beautiful enough, not engaged enough, not intelligent enough, not funny enough, not serious enough, not sexy enough – I am simply not enough.
I would never change the past. Again: no regrets. I would not even change my childhood or adolescence, where I was emotionally abused and neglected. Because without it, I would not be who I am. And I am unique with all my flaws and shortcomings.
Here I stand frozen in motion. A stranger in my own light. In my own right. Unable to say what I shouldn’t think. For once, claiming my rights to really fall apart. I am coming undone at my seams. Crying, mourning my own self. And I am afraid to leave it all behind. But there aren’t many moons (and even less moans) left for me. We all will die, that is for sure. But I need more time. Just a little more. And as I slowly disintegrate from within, I wonder if I let the darkest of my soul take over and allowed it to win. I am too tired to fight. Too exhausted to stay. I just want to live a little while. Oh my heart… Just keep on beating for me.
I work in a job where we are sent to trainings twice a year. Today I spent an entire day in training. We were a group of sixteen strangers. The training was about self-conception, our effect on the parents, and the use of verbal and nonverbal communication.
One exercise this morning was very uplifting. A stranger sat across from us. Facing one another, the stranger had one minute to compliment me. This was done twice. So… I had two minutes of compliments today and also gave two minutes of compliments.
Here are some things these strangers said to me which left an impact (or got me thinking). One man and one woman made these statements.
There is something mysterious about you
Very open and welcoming
Curvy (yes… That too was meant to be a compliment)
I feel safe and accepted just sitting face to face with you
Very high tolerance for everyone, regardless of gender or anything else
Available to your friends
We could talk for hours on end if we met for a drink
At ease with yourself
There for your friends
You seem to be a person with a positive attitude who can find a solution to every problem
Would love to work with you
Beautiful when you smile
These are the ones I remember. The ‘you’ is me, of course. These things were said to me by people who I had never met before. It’s incredible how uplifting this exercise was. And, I recognise myself in the things they said, too.
I do want to add though: what is mysterious about me? Can anyone explain this to me? I’ve been told this more than once and I don’t know what to make of it.
Also, try to pay compliments to a stranger for an entire minute. It’s long…
Getting rid of the long hair was a big deal for me. 40cm (16inch) were cut. I always looked young. I look even younger now. Quite weird actually. This change of hairstyle happened spontaneously (on a whim) and after many years of being proud of my long hair.
While my kids aren’t fans of the short do (my daughter cried!!), I honestly love it and most people seem to like it too. (Or they are just being polite.)
I can’t really put into words how this feels. But I am happy 🙂
So, a nice man was paying me compliments for this picture. First he asked if it was an old picture, then he said that ‘No, it can’t be, it takes years to become this beautiful’. I admit, it worked. I blushed and giggled like a schoolgirl.
Besides, I would not share a picture of myself that I don’t like. I like my eyes on this one, and my hair. The shadow on my face (from the rearview mirror) is annoying though. Just felt like sharing a picture of me again.
This is the same person who fell asleep while watching a movie for the first time tonight. Which movie, you ask? Logan. Yep… I slept through Logan, then I dragged myself to the bathroom and to bed in a semi-asleep state. And now I am wide awake. That’s me.