• Charli

Wellness Matters 19.06.2022


I’ve been stuck. Really really stuck, not settling for anything, flitting around like the hungry bees looking for the best flower heads. I’d consider my list of tasks, shrug my shoulders, do the bare minimum required of me and sink further into ennui. Sleep and rest was what my body craved and yet I kept pushing myself, because, well, nothing was wrong with me. But I started to become tired of bumping up against myself, feeling frustrated, guilt ridden, helpless and apathetic.

Since reading Kathryn Mannix ‘Listen” I now understand that this inability to motivate myself stems from grief, but I have been surprised at quite how immobilised I became. Trust the process, I kept telling myself - it will pass. It’s been 25years since Dad died, so why has this sudden intense recurrence of how his death affected me all those years ago, presented itself now?

As Kathryn states, in her most tender way: ‘Grief is not an illness, it is a response to loss. The grief will last as long as the loss does, and after a death, the loss will last for ever. The loss permeates a bereaved person’s present, their memories of the past and their expectations of their future….Grief is a process that will eventually enable them to live alongside the loss. It will take the time it takes.” (p251-252)

Of course, as I’ve written and talked about, this year IS significant: Dad was 25 years old when I was born, it’s been 25 years since he died and he died at the age I am now. When I recently visited the tree we planted in Balloch Country Park, the rain was pelting down and I scrabbled through the sodden grass to plant 3 begonias, one from me and my 2 sisters. I cried, of course, and I have talked openly about the loss I feel, but it started to feel like it wouldn’t end.

And then on Friday, something shifted. I can’t tell you exactly what it was, but I’m glad to be moving again.

Perhaps it was reaching out to a friend - the right friend, who generously gave me time and space to talk. I have known Alan for over 40 years, and he is charming (his word) wise and brave (my words) and was able to just sit with me, as we each sank a bottle of wine in our respective living rooms, 350 miles apart, chatting, laughing, and pontificating as we do.

We had scheduled a time for 9pm, which slightly concerned me because that’s usually the time I start to think about getting ready for bed. My mood had been disgruntled all day, and so I poured myself a large V=T at 6pm, ‘just to take the edge off’ but determined not to drink again until I was talking to Alan. I don’t drink alone, unless I am in a settled frame of mind. I have resorted to using alcohol as a crutch previously, and know how quickly that becomes a devastating habit, leading to depression and poor self esteem. This was a one off.

Wearing some of my scruffiest clothes, no makeup, hair pulled back, I ventured round to the local Nisa in search of a quick tea. Because I use part of my flat as a holiday let during the summer months, I am reduced to a Combination microwave. When I’m on form, I can be quite creative with food, but Friday was not one of those days. I had barely taken 50 steps when I saw a familiar face, and one I had not seen for over 16 years: an old friend from Dollar. We were never particularly close and haven’t kept in touch, but it was nice to see her. We chatted amiably about what our children were doing, until I remembered that I must have had the whiff of a drink on my breath. I probably looked exhausted, but laughed inwardly when she remarked: ‘You haven't changed at all’. This certainly had me chuckling and I guess that spurred me on to prepare for my conversation with Alan at 9pm. So after my Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages, I tidied up, showered, changed and put on a wee bit of makeup, even though all Alan could see was my face, but, after my recent encounter, it mattered to me. I don’t mind admitting I’m quite vain, so perhaps it was this small act of self care that allowed the remaining shackles to fall away.

When I reflected, I recalled that, in actual fact, the signs were clear to see, with a sense that the universe was gently nudging me when these quotes appeared in my 5 Minute Journal:

Tuesday: “Enlightenment must come little by little-otherwise it would overwhelm” Idries Shah

Wednesday: “A goal without a plan is just a wish” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Friday: “Action is the foundational key to all success” Pablo Picasso

Saturday (about 00:30) from Alan: “I remember reading of a conversation between Miles Davis and John Coltrane… Miles said, “Hey Coltrane, why are your songs so goddam long?” Coltrane said, “Well, when I start blowing my saxophone, I just don’t know how to stop.” Miles said, “Have you tried taking it out of your mouth?”

So I guess I have to keep blowing, keep sketching ideas, scribbling thoughts, attending to the innate desire within me to give the words that scream around my mind an outlet. You see my brain never stops, until I lay my head down to sleep. It’s constantly on the go, questioning, reflecting, considering. It’s exhausting, and often why I have to listen to familiar and soothing music as a distraction.

Writing is really all I’ve ever wanted to do, and it doesn’t actually matter where it goes, so long as I keep blowing.

Pay attention to your intentions,

set sail for success

take action, move forward

one step to progress.

Have a great week.

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