#25 Grateful for Close Ups

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When the mind goes a little…

CRAP

THINK PINK

THINK BRIGHT HEALING LIGHT

THINK OF A STRAIGHT LINE

IT’S GONE!

FUCK

I CAN’T

I CAN

NOPE, I REALLY CAN’T

I DID IT ONCE I CAN DO IT AGAIN

You catch my drift.

Such chatter rides my waves, mainly storming up when I’m outside, when my anxiety roars ‘you’re agoraphobic, you can’t go outside without a fight!’

Screw it, there’s no fight to be had anymore. I don’t want to fight myself!

I don’t want labels anymore either. I don’t want to call myself something that doesn’t sit comfortably with me… and today I decided to think of myself as calm, at peace, able to go outside without feeling ‘weak’ (I think I may eliminate ‘weak’ from my vocabulary. No one is weak, we all have boundaries in different areas of life and these boundaries can always be expanded, should we choose).

So today, as I woke feeling particularly empowered, I thought ‘I’ll take advantage of this calm’ and went out for a run, then for a walk, then for another walk with the dog. High flying these days, ey? 🙂

As I was out with the pooch, I felt the worry rise – of course it was going to, I’ve become so accustomed to ‘the fight’, worry wanted to play the rebelling game. What helps, what always helps is noticing nature. The birds, the grass, the muddy patches on the grass and the trees. The trees are medicine. I know I’ve said this before, over and over. Today, as my anxiety wanted to perform centre stage, I was distracted by falling head over heels in love with one particular tree – anxiety didn’t stand a chance.

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… And the close ups, oh boy. The colours, the textures, the light reflections, the rough and the smooth. Calm had come in the shape of a tree. Ask and you shall receive.

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Thank you for up close and personal. For beauty that is often overlooked as we worry or rush or think of our ‘to-do’ lists. NOW was (is always) full of natures miracles and what better way to spend our time, loving all that we are a part of, art by Gaia.

 

#23 Grateful for Candlelight

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Since Christmas eve, each night we’ve eaten dinner by candlelight. This is not something of tradition in our household. We light the candles at christmas and then put them away at the beginning of January (usually only having lit them on christmas day) until next year. This year, we light the candles each night – a tradition I am now adopting, not just for christmas but through the winter months.

These dark evenings are feeling weighty at the moment. It’s always at this time of year I struggle with claustrophobia and agoraphobia, like grey skies wash over expansions and pull me in. The past week i’ve wanted to hibernate and not get out of bed until the sun comes up (I’m sure I’m not alone in that!). Yin energy is at it’s peak and as this month is in the astrological sign of Capricorn, a cardinal earth sign, this proves challenging and uncomfortable for a woman with no earth in her natal chart.

So light is medicine for me, and oh so heavily craved, plus there’s something about the naked flame that makes me feel alive. It’s like primal instincts know I’m made up of this, the heat and power emitted from one single flame is within me (although I haven’t been feeling very powerful of late). I know that this is the time of year to reflect, to go inward and find more of ourselves, some pieces beautiful, some not so beautiful. These past few days my agoraphobia has been on full blast and I’ve been wanting to hide away. To jump into a cave surrounded by moss or tall grass and just… well I don’t actually know what I’d do if such a situation should arise, I guess I’m just romanticising the wild life.

So candlelight has been such a precious gift the past week or so and I hope to keep this evening ritual burning 😉 The cycle of life needs winter and although the words ‘god, I hate winter’ have bounced off my tongue in the past, I know I need to reestablish the relationship I have with myself in the these darker months – we gotta love our own cycles after all and the feelings and emotions that arise are part of my whole being. Candlelight is keeping my enthusiasm alight ( 😉 ) and this year, some deep exploration is taking place, even if feels really crappy sometimes. I am grateful that I can enjoy these luxuries, that next to a warm and healing flame I am able to meditate, pray, do yoga and now eat with my family. Yes, tonight I am feeling mighty blessed.

 

Travelling Nowhere

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I’m not going anywhere right now, as I stare out of the window, watching the rain tap the glass, this view I’ve known for 20 years. Sometimes I feel like I don’t want to move from this place, ever. Often the world appears scary, like a string of heavy beads attached to my ankles, dragging behind them the outbreak of panic, to explode unexpectedly and without warning, this is the nature of agoraphobia.

Indeed the world can be a pretty scary place but I’m not sure if it’s the world I’m afraid of, I’m not sure I want to wear the badge of confinement anymore. What if I truly am an adventurer, a free spirit, soaring effortlessly through all the BS of life, just carefree and connected and whole? Maybe my fear is not the world being a scary place at all, maybe I fear that if I let all my limiting self beliefs go; my soul would soar higher than I’d ever imagined it could.

I’m not afraid of wide open spaces, I dream of wide open spaces, and Cadillac’s and desert exploration and all the wonders of continuous road trips going anywhere but here. I’ve never considered myself a traveller yet my imagination always carries me to places unknown, to lands where sweet love songs are heard in the breeze, where love knows no boundaries and I’m not talking about the ‘I’ve fallen in love with another being’ kinda love, I mean lands that bring you back to the love you lost within yourself. I’ve dreamt of living in America, in the jungle, in wooden huts surrounded by bears and mountains. I’ve sailed the roughest seas, resting in the expansive sense of self that only the ocean can coax through the iron walls we’ve built as protection from no one but ourselves (basically boarding ourselves into our own hell). I’ve met many strangers in my dreams who have enriched my life, just after the few seconds of random conversation, who knows where that spark of verbal action stems from but oh boy do I love the wackiness of ridiculous conversation…. How incredible life could be if all weaved more ridiculous into their blanket of reality. Each night I see the whole world, my world and not knowing where I’ll end up next is the enticement my body needs to sleep soundly most nights.

I travel so frequently to such distances in my imaginings yet when life gets a little strained or uncomfortable I feel like I’m wearing ‘shrink-me’ socks and my size resembles that of a mouse. My overly familiar surroundings cave in, I’m caged and all I can manage is the walk to the kitchen to make a calming tea.

I know there’s a deep physiological reason for this, hey that’s why we go to therapy, right? There’s an opinion about everything we do, every habit we adopt. Every belief about ourselves stems from an experience, driving us to form a sense of our own (often warped) reality from momentary happenings. What complex beings we are, or are we? Are we overcomplicating because, as humans we like to believe we’ll find the answer to everything but really, how can we as we only see/hear a fraction of what’s happening in this vast, magnificent universe – that’s a whole lot of not knowing in my book. Maybe, just maybe no answer is needed, or no answer can be forced. Maybe we are led to our own interpretations and that’s enough. As we loosen our grip on needing to know, the changes that benefit us most will happen automatically, like magic. I may be making little sense to you, I am slightly confusing myself right now but maybe that means I’m on the right track, maybe!?

I do believe that we are led. If I think about past relationships and situations that have caused me heartbreak or upset, they are eerily similar, unintended at the time of course, but the patterns have repeated and the amount of damage is always of similar weight.

So, why am I so tied to a place that I’m so desperately trying to run from, why do I feel like I’m being led to nowhere? Many reasons spring to mind as to why this may be. Am I supposed to stay here to learn more about myself (yes, these past couple of years have been a bitch but I’ve learnt more about my inner workings than I ever thought possible, I’m deeper than I thought!) or is that just an excuse, a coping mechanism that aids the deep ache for more than this, of being in this familiar place where everything and nothing happens, all at once? Am I delaying any actions of relocation due to fear? (Yea, this one probably stands out as being the most possible)

Oh hello new thought; am I just looking for constant distractions, anything to steer myself away from the fact that I’m obviously running from someplace inside, someplace that makes me feel consistently uncomfortable? Ok, these words I’ve just written are beginning to feel like words I should really take notice of.

This is why I believe we are led, that struggle and conflict in our life can teach us and when we don’t learn, the lessons keep appearing, in differing forms. This, I believe is why I’m where I’m at, right now.

I’ve read plenty of quotes stating the above and in the many self-help books I’ve digested over the past few years, this subject demanded attention. Yet, my understanding of this has ripened only recently, brought about by the agoraphobic behaviour I seem to have slipped so seamlessly into. I’ve never taken full responsibility for my actions, ever. I’ve felt absolute frustration at others, played the blame game over and over, trying so desperately to understand why others are acting out of such hate, causing such hurt – I must be right and they must be wrong. I’ve hated, I’ve wondered why this shit keeps happening to me yet my endeavours to bring about personal change has fallen short, but why should I change when the world just acts so randomly against me?

But it doesn’t act so randomly against me, and I’m no longer typing detached words, I’m feeling these teachings so deeply inside my ocean of understanding, where true knowing lives and always has. In this moment I’m feeling all the restrictions I’ve built so sturdily around me because this is exactly where I need to be and feeling this claustrophobia is medicine. I’ve been led to a land so stagnant the only way out is to start breathing love back into my roots, to start watering the broken flowers and watch life sprout so abundantly as I tend to these soils I’ve so wickedly stamped on, forgotten, left to feel the abrasive and unforgiving frost, suffocating my vitality, suffocating me.

Who knows, the vibrant lands in my dreams, the adventures, the discovery, could all be to come. To stand tall in the place I seem to fear so much, to take off these ‘shrink-me’ socks and believe, to listen, only then will I be ready to truly explore all that my soul craves. There really is nowhere for me to hide, no dramatic distractions, whatever my soul has been so desperately needing me to recognise, I’m ready to hear. Whoever thought healing was going to be easy… it’s not (my hand is up, I hoped for an easy, bright healing ride, never gonna happen!). Right now, falling to my knees, to give up needing to know or needing an explanation, opening myself up to receive, to surrender is the only option left. Tonight I hope I visit someplace familiar in my dreams and instead of feeling the need to run, I’ll hug a stranger and show them the sights, the places I know so well, the places I’ve grown to love.

Labels

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Labels, I don’t like them. However, being a vegan (yep, a label) does warrant a need for labels on certain foods, i.e. has a cheeky pinch of milk powder gotten into this whole-food power bar, or is there animal bi-product in this bottle of wine? (why ALL wines are not vegan is beyond me). I try to live as simply as possible, not thinking about designer labels and trying desperately not to label and judge others due to their political views or dislike of animals (although in my eyes, animals are the best)

So there you go, I can’t deny that labels have taken on a vital role in our society. We are labelled as soon as we are named as children. We’re labelled at school to help with the testing system, seen as mass rather than individuals. We’re labelled at work with our job titles. We’re labelled depending on the colour of our skin or the god we worship. Labels are un-escapable, not just in the modern world, they’re part of our history and traditions too. It distinguishes left from right, the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’, it can give people a reason to feel powerful, the hierarchy of society – high to low. It’s safe to say we invest much of our sense of self into the labels bestowed upon us, or the labels we willingly adopt to fit in, merging with a tribe that suits us best. However, the most damaging labels can be the ones we give ourselves, building a limiting story and often being so far removed from our souls purpose that ‘failure’ is the most believed label, even before we give life a good shot.

However, over the past few months I’ve been discovering there are moments when labelling yourself can be the most healing decision, the only decision in order to surrender into feelings. To label the pain in order to admit it, no matter how dark, this can often be the only way to move forward.

“What’s happening to me, why am I feeling like this, am I going mad? Oh shit, I’m a crazy woman!” Leaving ourselves open, like a free for all for every emotion, not knowing why or how or what we’re experiencing can be the scariest thing of all. This has been my reaction to life for the past… well many years now. I’ve not wanted to label any of my thoughts, I’ve been leaving my front door open for a miracle to casually float into my erratic space and clean up the trash I’m pilling high. All has been a whirlwind because of my refusal to admit to myself; to lean into my discomfort, to scoop up the rising issue that I’ve been battling over the years. The truth of the story is, the agoraphobia I once ‘suffered’ many years ago has returned and it ain’t going anywhere, not right now anyway.

I didn’t want to admit this to myself as I’ve been here before, riding the road to recovery when I was 15. Being labelled agoraphobic at such a young age was one of the most difficult paths ever I’ve taken and this is why I don’t like labels, this is the story I’ve been running from, trying so frantically to erase.

“You can’t do this again, you’ve already battled this, you’ve conquered this already so don’t let it come back, you’re too old to be going through childhood trauma again… GET OVER IT! You have to, your future depends on it” Yes, I’ve been that harsh on myself and when I see those words written, just as I hear them in my head, I know I’d certainly never speak to another being like that, so why so hard on myself? This is why writing is so healing and marvellous on many levels. Reading the hateful words I genuinely felt, seeing them on the screen has been the dose of medicine I so greatly needed.

Battle, that’s the word I needed to see, battling myself, battling the labels, battling my way through life so I don’t have to sit through that pain I once persevered. Battling against myself. What craziness to be at war with ourselves, yet it can be the easiest habit to fall into, so readily done each and every day.

I did battle agoraphobia when I was young; I refused to go to school, as it became such an impossible task. I couldn’t socialise, I felt weak, pathetic, the black sheep as I couldn’t do all the things my friends were doing to live a ‘normal’ teenage life. I was at home, all the time. I was reading about alternative methods to heal (blessed with a mum who believed in the holistic path, who shared her knowledge and who loved me unconditionally) as I refused to take drugs, knowing even then that mood suppressants were not the fix I needed. However, as my whole family was included in this battle and we were being inspected regularly by social services, the need for my recovery was getting stronger. The law instructed that I had to get back into the classroom so it became a necessity to find a way to immerse myself back into the scary world, even if that meant jumping before I was ready.

Every effort was made to mask the open wound; I had GCSE’s to take and due to persistent reminders from the external world that I’d surely fail in life if I didn’t take my exams, I had no choice but to plaster up and face the world. I hated being the sensitive girl; the girl who wouldn’t go to the pub or the sleazy clubs that seemed so vital in the girl-snogs-boy process (it was the 90’s, snogging was our favourite word). I didn’t understand why I felt this way, even after a year of therapy the mystery of this complex mind matter continued. I’d been classed as mentally ill and I needed to be like everybody else to prove I was no longer sick.

I see now that although I did recover in order to continue with school, finish my exams and go onto university, I was running off the wrong fuel, adrenaline was overriding the pain, I’d planted my seeds in completely the wrong conditions, they were suffocating.

I did get back into the world, I did make it to the pubs and clubs and drink vodka most weekends even though it tasted like every sip was stripping away a part of my intestinal wall. Although I was back in the game, I’d made it, I’d battled an illness that was only working against me, my soul was deeply aware that I was so far removed from the real ‘me’. The cracks were deepening and I was craving something else… of course at the time, I didn’t know what.

The label of agoraphobia that I’d once found so debilitating, so isolating and uncomfortable is one I never thought I’d be facing again. “I can do it, I’m powerful, I’m bigger than my fears, I’m strong, I’m strong, I’m strong” Yes, I am all those things but I am also sensitive and shy and scared sometimes and I cry about things that happened over 15 years ago. And that is all OK. I’m done with battling, war never leads to peace, war never leads to forgiveness and love and acceptance.

So here I am, I’m labelling myself as agoraphobic, not because I want to slump into the pit of despair about the difficulties in my life at the moment or feed the struggle I face being in busy, public places. It’s not because I want to throw my hands in the air and say, ‘you got me agoraphobia, I give up, I’m not trying anymore’. I’m ready to step into this label again because I want to honour the girl I was, who fought so hard to become the woman I am today. I’m honouring her tears and pleas for self-love when all she could feel was shame and guilt and distance. I want to breathe hope and compassion into every moment of panic; I want to cradle the inner child that never recovered properly, who never got to express her true feelings or desires. I want to edit each page, adding words of strength next to words of fear, to become the healer I wanted to become before the filler of quick fixes hardened across the seeping wound.

I’m labelling myself agoraphobic as sometimes you have to take full ownership of something before you can let it go.

Agoraphobia is only one part of my story, it’s part of my now but that doesn’t mean it has to be written into my future. All I can do right now is inhale light and exhale acceptance until this chapter ends. If anxiety must live alongside my true being then all I can do is promise my soul that I’ll continue to listen and never declare war on myself, ever again.