And here we are.
It’s 3am into the new year. I’ve had a lazy day, and a very gentle hang with dear, dear friends. My belly is full and my heart is warm. I’m showered, moisturised, and have a face mask on.
On year-end reflections, it sure feels like I’ve already been in this constant state of reflection these past six months. But in the spirit of charting time, as I have been doing so, perhaps it is useful to mark the year as a whole.
Because the truth is for a while now, it feels like my year only really started in June.
The first six months of this year – I now acknowledge what a haze it was. I had a good job, with exciting projects on the boil, my husband finally home with me – but everyday I woke up to my alarm, got dressed, and right when I was about to leave the house, I would beg and bargain to stay home like a kid who didn’t want to go to school. And I was never that kid.
I was deeply lonely in an emotionally distant relationship, with a man who didn’t know how to (or perhaps couldn’t) support me. It was my first real big spiral in all my 32 years of life – and how fortunate that that is so, that many around me have experienced that spiral with far more pain, and much too often, and my heart aches for their loneliness.
For the brave faces we put on, we smile – and head out the door anyway. For what’s left of what we might call resilience, I functioned.
And then we hit the tipping point. Ben left, and in a manner of survival and healing – my year began.
This is the year that I’ve been describing as mammoth – and when I’ve mentioned that it’s the year my marriage broke down – I have often been met with the response that this then, must have been a shit year.
Here are the things I have managed in the last six months – and here are all the ways in which it hasn’t actually been a shit year at all.
- I saw my baby nephew and spent time with family in Singapore. Watching him grow, over the airwaves of whatsapp, instagram and skype has brought me such deep joy.
- I returned to Darwin and it fed my soul. I also spent time in Adelaide and it has nourished and loved me, as I love it and the people there – in the way Darwin had first won my heart. There is so much room for more love.
- I found a home and made it warm, open and nurturing – everything I aspire to be as a person. And I have had house guests stay in their time of transience, providing a quiet place to ground themselves in periods of change.
- I worked on VERY ambitious ideas and put myself out there. The work continues to unfold and land in ways that surprise, challenge and thrill me.
- I met new friends, forged deeper relationships, and gathered more surrogate family around the country. More importantly, I found emotional intimacy in many of these people. And I have been so affirmed of the mutual generosity that I find myself a part of all the time.
- I clarified and sharpened my goals and visions in the different streams of my practice. And I am feeling strong about where I’m headed, because I also have solid partners, collaborators, mentors, colleagues and peers around and alongside me.
- And for the most part, I maintained relatively good sleeping habits, enjoyed good food, good drink and good company. I’ve taken time for baths and swims and skincare and good sheets. All the things that I find reasonably affordably luxurious that I can bask in.
In the scheme of things, on the whole, it really hasn’t been a shit year. Not at all. Because when left to take care of myself, I have found that I am actually pretty good at it.
And there is relief in not having to hold space for another person’s mental health on a daily basis. More importantly, not having a partner to rely on, is healthier than having a partner you cannot rely on. And believe me – the depths of my heartache to acknowledge these – but alas!
And so, I end my year-end/year-beginning reflections with more #askasianaunty tips for taking care of yourself.
- Be kind. Be gentle. First to yourself, then to all.
- Sleep. Sleep deeply. Sleep plenty.
- Drink more water.
- Moisturise – your skin, your lips, your hair.
- Wear sunscreen.
- Make time to enjoy a cuppa.
- Make time for your loved ones – nurture the friendships that matter.
- Read fiction, enter other worlds, and dream. Read voraciously.
- Care for plants. Be near trees.
- Dress up, and strut.
- Sit in silence and do nothing.
- Immerse your body in water – the sea and rivers and baths.
- Laugh. Loudly and freely, laugh.
Thank you to the friends who have become family; the easy conversations and the vulnerability afforded me. May our practice and lives continue to be true. Happy new year to you.