I like to keep most things under cover. Like most people I prefer not to reveal too much. I’ll tell people seemingly personal open things but not reveal anything. It’s so strange to be able to tell people random tit-bits about my personal or private life and yet have it mean nothing. All the important stuff, all the real stuff stays under wraps. I have it all parcelled up and neatly packaged. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. And I don’t think I’m alone in that. Feelings are oh-so important. They define our actions and the value we place in different aspects of our life. They put colour in life and let us fall apart when we don’t want to face up to reality.
Well I have been feeling all the feelings lately and I am also comfortably numb at any given moment. There is nothing like the end of something important to put you in a tail-spin. Now don’t get me wrong. I have been stalling on these feelings for nearly 3 years now. They have always been in the rear-view mirror and gaining speed for ages. Now they hit me and I have to manage the trauma. All the bloody feelings. And not just the grief and anxiety of feeling like something big has gone missing, I am talking about owning up to the horrifying reality that you can’t remember who you are anymore. That you don’t recognise the person in the mirror. We often feel like frauds, in our jobs when people think we have all the answers, in relationships when people praise our bravery or strength cause lets face it we are all mortal, just trying and failing and trying again until something sticks. What surprised me was that I can’t remember who I am or at least who I thought I was. I still follow my plan, still get stuff done, still tick the boxes but something is amiss. Somewhere in the last few years my values and sense of self changed and I let it.
Our life changes us and we change to suit the life we want. Now I am unsure if I ever knew what I wanted or if I have been guessing all along. So the answer….. I have no idea. I don’t just want a rebranding. Same product, different label. I need to try everything until I find that light bulb moment. I’ve spent years saying I didn’t like this, that and the other. Full of all the things I hate or don’t do. And looking at it now through fresh eyes I think maybe I have been lying to myself without even knowing it. So I did what any type A personality does and I made lists. Many, many lists. Full of all the stuff I need to do. Now some of them I have no control over in reality but I make lists cause I love lists. Dear god I love making lists and plans. So that’s one thing I do know about myself. I got myself some energy and now I have to start ticking off boxes. Updates to follow 😉
The rusted ladder screeched under her weight as she made her ascent. Step by step with an even keel. The peeling paint scraping on skin and staining her palms. The street was silent all around her. A few lights coming on in the distance but most people still blissfully asleep and as of yet unaware of the day. Seventeen steps she recognised without looking. The rooftop wasn’t much. Black tar and bad patch jobs. A water tower and an up-turned bucket for sitting. She didn’t come here for the décor. She came for the view. A different outlook on the world. It was quieter up here out of the street. A vast expanse of buildings and rises that stretched in every direction for miles. It was cathartic. It solidified her place in the world. The sun was coming up and would soon burn the morning dew off the surface of everything. It couldn’t remove her demons as easily. It could only illuminate all the cracks and crevices where all the dark is hidden. All the hidden parts that no one sees could be exposed in this light. Here on top of a deli and a few apartments where people did mundane daily things in an unremarkable fashion she came to feel exposed. The heat on her skin at the dawning of a new day. That monstrous power and energy outlining her very being. Cradling her and bathing her in something new, something that wasn’t there before.
Anxiety. Calm. Panic. Tired. I can’t remember the point anymore. So many arguments and bad memories but in that moment that is not what I think about anymore. All I can feel is the heat in my ears, the lump in my throat and a confusing mixture of sadness and hopelessness and letting go. My hands are trembling and my stomach is jumping. I am caught between holding on and letting go. I’m resisting what I have known was the inevitable. Clinging and grabbing at thin air. Air made thinner and thinner by the lack of feelings between us. Where there was once a swampy thick heady mixture of lust and feeling and emotion, now there is just this. Just you and me and a phone connection. It is human nature to connect and hold on. We hold onto dreams when we know they aren’t realistic, we hold onto hope when its presence crushes us, we hold onto people when we should just show them the door. I was never good at letting go. I still have scraps of paper from my childhood. I put sentiment in every action. I imbue objects with meaning long after they lose their function and familiarity. Relics of a life yet lived. So sitting there, gasping for breath and clinging to the memory of hope, I fool myself again. I do what I know I do so well and I lie to myself. I cannot lie to anyone. It’s written on my face, all blushing and darting eyes, screaming “this isn’t true, I’m sorry” but I am an expert at lying to myself. I can’t act but I’m an actress in my own life. I tell myself whatever it takes to stop change. To prevent the crash. To unexploded my life. But one of the mysteries of life is that even with our maniacal need to have hope and dreams, when the dust settles and you take that first true deep breath for yourself, there is a deep relief in beginning again. Real adventure in the remaking of yourself.
Creaking footsteps on the worn wooden steps announce the intruder in the silence of the evening. The tarnished brass handle is cold to her touch and stiff at the turning. The door squeaks on its hinges and falls inwards as if inviting its visitor to proceed. The room is dark save for a stream of light from the skylight. The sun is setting and the hazy warm orange glow guides her eyes across the jumble. The stillness of the room tells of its history, unused and solitary, guarding its treasures. Each footstep whispers to the silence, echoing off the walls, speaking to the room and the room speaking back. The air is heavy and thick with the smell of some long forgotten memory of the house. It envelops its guest, holding her in that moment, in the half light. Fingers tracing the dusty lines and hollow corners of the contents of the room. She knew what she was looking for, buried deep under lampshades and manuals. Hidden in the back where it couldn’t stare at her with all its knowing. Since she had heard the news from a friend she could feel it calling her, beating and pulsing and drawing her attention away. She moves the debris of the past tentatively out of the way. Hands feel for the dusty, heavy weight of the box. Just an old shoe box, cardboard and ink, damp to the touch. At first she just holds the box, appreciating its weight and watches the dust float and fall in the fading light. Then as if by some realization she steps and turns back towards the light of the stairway. The steps creak in protest of her weight as she sits down on the top step. She runs her fingertips over the edges and along the lid. She can feel the anticipation buzzing as if from the box itself, its contents ready to explode out and create from within all of the feelings that writers and poets alike describe. Buried so long ago and calling to her ever since, full of happiness, horror, longing, fright and worst of all: remembering.
So I figure I should pen these before I go to bed although its technically been new years for 12 hours already (start as you mean to continue eh?? :)).
I make resolutions every year and like most usually forget them two weeks later. They are often more of the same things every year (weight, money, goals etc). So this year I wanted to give myself some small manageable goals and some more broad things to aspire too.
2015 was an epic year which started better than it ended but that is also just a matter of my perspective. In january I was returning home to New York, to my apartment in the upper east side where I worked for a huge prestigious hospital. All year long I had trips home to see my loved ones and many friends came to visit! After a summer of fun and adventures in the big city I moved home to start medicine, my lifelong goal and dream.
While I love my course and the experiences I am having, I didn’t keep much perspective or work/life balance in the last 6 months (or in life in general) so a big emphasis of my resolutions is on gaining back some of the chances I put to one side in the last few years. To make a better, happier, healthier, stronger person one day at a time.
- Make my life more “momentous”: I think about the big picture too much. Where I will be in ten years, what I plan and don’t plan etc. I want to consciously focus more on enjoying the individual small moments that make up everyday and make up the best memories. By focusing on small enjoyable moments everyday it can lead me onto my other resolutions.
- Be more positive: I naturally tend towards the negative and this year more than ever I want to focus on all the good. Im very lucky and very loved and the end of 2015 has shown me this more than ever. I have lived a thousand lifetimes in my 29 years and its time to see the good instead of the small faults. It wot be an easy task, probably one of the hardest as it involves changing my own views but it is something I need to work on.
- Live day-to-day: I am a planner and that can feed into negative thoughts as plans can take time to come to fruition and can feel like a failure before success. So a new focus this year will be to treat each day like a new separate entity. If its a good day then it is a special moment and if it is a bad time then I only have to think of that moment in time and not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow is a different day.
- Fall in love with a person, a place and a thing: I want this year to be full of love. I want to let myself love someone new, whether its a new relationship or just new friendships that let me grow. I want to travel and fall in love with a new city. And I want to fall in love with a new skill, hobby or activity. It is time to get back out into the world and stop just working all the time.
Seven smaller goals for the year:
- Do 30 mins yoga everyday, morning or evening, just to feel good
- Visit three new places in the world and remember the joy of discovering the world
- Read more even if its just on public transport and even if it is crime drama (just for the love of it :))
- Do regular exercise everyday to manage my moods. Culminating in the half marathon in September. I joined the running club in work and I need to go now 🙂
- Get more shadowing experience in my field because so far those experiences have been incredible and invaluable.
- Take up kickboxing cause I have said I wanted to for a long time
- Write and blog more obviously 🙂
At first impossible. Blinding and shaken. Bracing and faltering. Think mundane thoughts to calm the sickness. Make it all just slow down. Scrabbling for control. Hills and troughs of anger and grief and nothingness. Such deep nothingness, the world falling away but you are still standing. Inside is screaming but the outside doesn’t flinch. When the outside gives way to tears the inside is silenced and empty. They say that time is a healer but it moves all too slowly .
“Experience, that most brutal of teachers.But you learn, my God do you learn” – C.S. Lewis
The light had been fading fast and she yawned hard fighting sleep. She felt her jaw muscles stretch and burn and her eyes so heavy they could just close in an instant. Her hands were limp on the steering wheel and her gaze was easy on the horizon. The sun had set long ago and the blue in the sky was now murky and cold. Stars on the dark horizon showed the open road. An open road was either freedom or a struggle, she hadn’t decided. She shook herself to jolt the heavy sleep from her mind. Turning the radio up loader she held a cigarette between her fingers and felt on the seat beside her for the lighter. Joni Mitchell lulled and wooed her from the speakers and the lit cigarette glowed warm and bright. She had left so quickly, random clothes stuffed into an old bag and some money from the dresser drawer. The backseat debris was all she had now in the world. She pushed this thought to the back of her mind, it wouldn’t do to be sad now. She had made her stand and she needed to follow this road until it came out at another end. If she went back there would be no future and they both knew it. She had said it first and now they needed to feel it to believe it. They had met years ago, so many years , when they were just children. They were all they had ever known and if she stayed he would be all she ever knew. It wasn’t enough anymore. A dead end job, the bar on weekends and the hot sticky sleepless summers. It hadn’t happened all at once. It was like a little itch. A little niggle that had started a year ago for what seemed like no reason at all. As the days and weeks wore on that itch had turned to a rash that had her full attention. It permeated every situation and even if it was invisible to everyone else, it was all she could see. It was like poison in her blood and she was seeking a treatment. She had wanted to tell him, to explain but it was useless. It couldn’t be explained. It had to be felt and it would not be ignored. She didn’t wait around to see his face. She could imagine the sorrow and hurt changing into that flash of anger. Leaving the house her heart had been jumping out of her throat and her ears rang with the terror of the unknown but once she was on the open, unending road a stillness had descended. Nothing was clearer but everything was possible and it would be ok.