Oh boy, here we go again.
It’s been one of those weeks where I have been wrestling demons.
It sounds impressive. My demons are petty. They grumble from the back seat of the car when I’m driving, they point and jeer when I’m using social media. They remind me of what I am not, who I am not, what I have not achieved and so forth. They are strident and bitchy. Secondary school bullies who know me well and know where I hide my shadows.
I started a gratitude practice about a month ago. When I discovered this concept it was so obvious I felt ridiculous, and it was hugely powerful. I felt life shift, a sea-change, I decided to stop therapy; I wanted to process and absorb everything that was coming to the surface, allow it fully to integrate.
At the same time as this enormous shift my “dream job” I wrote about previously dissappeared like a bubble into the blue, and I made the decision to return to employment. So far, so ordinary. I was fortunate that a suitable role came up quickly and that I was able to apply for it and be offered the post. I started work last week.
It was a good week. It was good to be back in school, children are magical, they have unique perspectives and unpretentious wisdom. It was good to have colleagues again, it is a beautiful place to work and my morning commute takes me through the Kentish countryside; rolling chalk downland, orchards, vineyards, flint-clad churches, red-brick cottages. Beautiful.
I managed a whole week at work, despite a lousy cold, and made it to the weekend. We rounded the week off with a belated birthday celebration at a local Moroccan restaurant. My cup was full.
But something happened yesterday. Tiredness? The ongoing challenge of living in an extended family and supporting someone who lives with dementia? The dawning realisation, as we begin to properly settle in, that this is a long-haul commitment?
It is the slow, sad ache of feeling not. Not enough. Not where I want to be. Not young enough. Not strong enough. Not motivated enough.
It is an old pain. I see it in children I work with. The sadness when they are not chosen for the gold star award, the deflated posture when they aren’t picked to answer the question and receive praise. It is an insidious enemy and one which can lead us into “giving up”.
As always I want to know what to do about this. A starting point is always; stop staying up so late reading and get some sleep. But it’s also worth considering that maybe “doing” isn’t going to help.
Because piling pressure on when you’re vulnerable is a sure-fire way to feeling even less.
I want to believe I am enough. Some days I can. Others it’s difficult. And this is why it’s a spiritual “practice”. This is why I have to work at it. Daily, gently and slowly. There are those peak experiences, those moments of joy and affirmation, I love those! Then there are the moments of feeling small and vulnerable and defeated.
At those moments I’m like Chicken Licken in the children’s tale. I think the sky is falling. That’s it, game over! I want to run for cover, get under the duvet, stay there in my blanket fort.
Now that I write this it feels funny, humourous, mad. Of course it’s not the end of the world. It’s just an acorn. An uncomfortable and unexpected blip on the head. I can pause, rub my head, feel confused. Then I have to get up in the morning, take a shower, look in the mirror and say, “I am pure magic, one of a kind and aweseome.”
Then, I’ll raise my eyebrows and say something self-deprecating. And then I will say it again each time I meet myself in the mirror.
No-one else can be you. Or me. Whatever we are doing, whatever we are seeking to create or share or offer, it’s ours. Astonishing because we are working for it, through it, in it, in the middle of everything.
It’s a time of shadows. The valley floor is dark and damp. But the land is shifting, climbing now, time to get higher, get perspective. Take in the surroundings.
It’s already a different world.