On a short trip this week to get my hair cut it occurred to me just how empty I feel.
It’s not that I didn’t already have an inkling – I’d already both described myself as feeling like a chained up dog and a stagnant pond to Jaime this week – but given the space to not concentrate on anything but driving, a more clear understanding of what’s going on began to emerge.
I’ve been teaching and holding space online now since 16th March 2020. For pretty much the same duration I’ve been working from home in an environment where my screen time has gone through the roof, and my ability to let off steam has been diminished. Since late September 2020, I’ve been working an additional job which, while a great opportunity, has added even more screen time – and taken even more free time. In November 2020, I lost my beautiful cat, Rossi. And since then (albeit it’s been on my mind for much longer), I’ve worked hard to understand the possibility of leaving long-term employment and have eventually made the decision to venture out on my own. I’ve (to the best of my ability in the circumstances) partnered, and step-parented, and daughtered and friended. I’ve worried about the environment and our capacity for change. I’ve worried about the pandemic and its effects. I’ve changed plans more times than I care to remember. And at the same time as personally processing all of this, I’ve been holding other people’s processing of it all too.
Now know that this is no pity party, and I’m genuinely not asking for gratitude or indeed anything else in return. But let’s just take a moment to recognise that it’s A LOT. For all of us it’s been a lot. And, for me, there are some clear signs that it’s just not working any more – my heart is tired, and my tank is empty.
With my notice period in employment coming to an end this June, I’ve been thinking about the future – wondering how to build a sustainable business model that will support me and mine as it needs to. I have the sense of great things ahead but no ability to manifest concrete ideas.
As my birthday came and went this year, I’ve cried on receiving people’s kind wishes – a kind of sorrow on remembering what it is to feel cared for. Something similar keeps happening whenever I feel music touch my soul – a realisation of what it is to feel connection.
When it comes to work, I’m managing to keep holding space for others through my teaching – but I’m not doing my best job at being a partner to Jaime, I’m really irritable in my role as stepmum, am not really available to friends and, perhaps obviously, not the best of support to myself either!
I took a look at the time I’ve had off since all this started. In total, three weeks of holiday and a Christmas break which, when I write it down, seems like a lot. And yet the reality is that it barely touches the sides. I need more.
So here’s the plan…
We have 10 days away in May as it is (it was Ibiza, now the Gower). Plus on top of that I’m choosing to take the rest of May out from teaching too. Which will be a key piece of the puzzle in enabling me to (fully) fill my own cup back up so I can come back to the work of helping others do the same.
In some ways of course this kind of a break was always a part of the plan – as Elin reminded me recently, I did write last summer about committing to a full month off in August this year. I guess then what I’m doing is bringing it forward a bit. Because the best-laid plans are meant to be broken? Or something like that in any case…
And why take the time to write it all out like this? In part because I want something to refer people to when they ask about there being no classes next month. But also because I know that many of you reading this won’t be all that different from me – soldiering on because, well, that’s what we do, but feeling exhausted and empty as we do it. Until that is, we see someone else doing differently and that becomes just enough of a spark to set off a process of self-enquiry about what we might do differently too.
[Do note that my different isn’t necessarily your different – it’s just proof that there can be a different if we really want there to be.]
And so that’s me for now – signing out after 13 months of all this STUFF for a proper, give-back-to-myself break. I’m already looking forward to seeing you on the other side – but I’m so excited about the idea of not being here for a while too.
With so much love (and gratitude!) to you all,