I shared recently that I’m going through some Big Life Stuff. Big Life Stuff that I can’t really talk about in detail as they involve other people’s stories.
It’s been an exercise in getting through difficult times.
I’ve learned so much from it already.
I’ve tried all the ways to cope with it: from having a panic attack on the bathroom floor to playing an unspeakable amount of hours of Tetris.
Some ways have worked better than others, clearly.
So I thought I’d share with you some thoughts on Walking Through The Tricky And Hard Shit.
Just incase you are going through it too.
1: You’re not alone in this.
Even if you don’t know anybody else who is going through your exact thing, please know there are many, many out there.
And that sometimes simply asking people if they’ve experienced something like what you are can be an opening for a vulnerable and precious communication.
For example, my current openings are:
I’m dealing with ageing parents and their health issues. HOLY MOLEY IT IS HARD. Have you had to deal with that yet?
My parents’ divorce is fucking catastrophic. Have you experienced anything like that?
I’ve asked old school friends. My massage therapist. Anyone I’m spending more than five minutes with, honestly.
And they almost always turn into really thoughtful conversations, and I feel closer to the person I’m sharing with. And I realise that even though my circumstances are unique, my situation is not.
2: Sometimes, our tragedies make other people laugh (in a good way)
I have an old friend who is going through a similar situation to me. And honestly, when we call or email each other to share the latest calamity, it cheers me immensely.
Maybe it’s the Aussie sense of dark humour, but I fucking LOVE when she says:
“Think that’s bad? Wait until I tell you THIS!”
Then I say:
“This will cheer you up! Let me tell you THIS CRAZINESS!”
And then we cackle with laughter and relief because we get it. We get the crazy and the hard and the pain and the tears. And we know we’re in the same muck.
3: I know it’s fucking trite, but ONE DAY AT A TIME REALLY HELPS
The older I get, the more I find that the old people sayings are pretty much smack bang on.
It’s like they were trying to tell us all along how to survive life, but we didn’t realise how true their words were.
“One day at a time”
“Children grow up in the blink of an eye”
“Giving birth is like trying to shit a refrigerator.”
Well, that last one is from my mate Deb, but me and my vagina have discovered it to be gospel.
Anyways, in all the stress and crisis of the last month, I’ve discovered that: GASP! I really CAN only take one day at a time!
I’ve realised I can’t stress about the future. I can’t worry about what MIGHT happen.
I tried doing this, and I fell in a heap on the floor.
I knew it wasn’t a sustainable way to live. There’s still too much else to do: kids to raise, businesses to run, husband to love.
And I can’t do any of that when I’m bouncing off the ceiling with anxiety.
So I made a really logical decision: No thinking about the future until it is here. 99% of what I imagine won’t happen anyway. When anything DOES happen, I’ll deal with it then.
I can’t deal with Future Leonie’s problems for her by worrying about them. All I can do is be Today’s Leonie and do what is in my responsibility to do.
It’s helped immensely.
4: Self care self care self care
I usually take a bath about once a week. Currently, it’s every two days. Everyday if I need.
Recipe for splendid bath:
- Epsom Salts
- Roman Chamomile essential oil
- Olivia Newton-John’s “Grace and Gratitude” CD playing
- Vast vat of herbal tea
Then I stay in there until I am Full Prune.
I remember one evening, I messaged a dear friend about that day’s crisis.
She texted me back:
There’s not much we can do about that tonight. You sound like you are in shock. I know there will be things you need to do tomorrow, but may I suggest really upping your self care tonight?
It was such a simple reminder. Oh yes, time to down tools. Time to go gently, gently.
Everything will unravel from there.
And they do.
My husband is in the thick of it too, supporting me and dealing with his own feelings too.
Some days, when we are both worried and ungrounded, I ask him if I can give him a foot massage.
I massage his feet with Blue Tansy, Frankincense and Myrrh. I look up reflexology points on my phone. I hold his feet, and rub them, and we both breathe together.
I feel so much more grounded when I am in healing service.
5: Honestly, TV and novels are a damn elixir
I know some hippies aren’t into TV, but DAMMMMN I love it!
For the same reason I love Victorian romance novels – they are such a good brain holiday!
Sometimes you just need to get out of your own damn head and feel human for a while.
Current TV show medicine:
6: Buddhist teachings
When I was 18, I lived in Malaysia for a few months. I stayed in a Buddhist household, and the host mother would teach me about her faith and rituals. She taught me:
Buddhism isn’t a religion. It is an education for the mind. It can co-exist with other religions. It is about learning how to deal with the suffering of being a human.
Malaysia was a blooming magical experience and taught me so much. And her words held up for me over the years. As I’ve become more and more human, as more and more suffering arises, I turn back to Buddhist teachings again and again. To educate my mind.
Pema Chodron has been a balm for my soul for now. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh have also been a guide for me during difficult times.
7. Know that you are becoming a better human through this
Whenever I go through tricky shit, I think to myself:
I am becoming a better human.
I am going to understand other people who have gone through this so much more.
I am becoming more compassionate. More resilient. More stoic. Softer.
Like a river stone knocked about, we will become smoother. Knock off our old bumps. Become lovelier than before.
Wherever you are, however you are…
Please know, I hear you. I see you. You are not alone.
We will get through this. Step by step. Day by day.
One breath, one connection, one conversation at a time.
From my heart to yours,