Howling to the moon

I’ve woken up two mornings in a row to go to my pilates class. I’ve got washing on, cooked and ate an omelette, and I’ve had a coffee. 3MBS is playing in the background – something I’ve come to enjoy since I moved into my own apartment. In the slow cooker, a chicken red date soup is simmering for a dear friend who’s in hospital.

The last few weeks have been intense – taking care of said friend and family, holding the stress but staying calm and collected to support everyone in the situation as far as possible, managing my own worry and helplessness at my friend’s condition that first week when she fell ill, whilst keeping on top of my work and home.

But I wasn’t alone.

There were so many others around her, and around me: friends and art family from across the country checking in on us, pulling together a fundraising campaign for her recovery – independent artists lose income when they press pause (contact me directly if you want to help) – and organising a meal train for the family to take their mind off organising the everyday things.

For the most part, I’ve just been operating on instincts. And really, the Loke-Lewis make-up in me is strong. When someone around you is in trouble – you pick up what needs to be picked up. You hold space, and you hold others. You keep vigil, and you just be there. Lucky for me, I’ve enjoyed my hospital encounters – sitting with my grandmother talking and singing – waiting is ok too.

And also, I can’t keep going around the country and collecting surrogate family as I often describe my friendships, without extending my surrogacy to someone else.

But as I’ve been describing to friends who have been checking in on me – I think the come down will be felt strongly.

She is making steady progress, and there is now clarity around the situation and her recovery trajectory. There’s a bit more moving parts in the next few months. But for the most part – we can now feel relieved of the worry, fear, and stress, because we know what is going on.

And suddenly, you remember you’re tired.

And exhaustion can trick you into feeling lonely.

This time last year, my marriage was at the end of a long spiral. I was deeply sad and lonely, and numb – like everything around me was flat, 2D, and fuzzy in the background.

6 June 2018, I came home after work. Ben greeted me with a cuddle as he always did. He had cooked dinner which we ate together at the dining table. We talked about mundane things – our day maybe? I cannot quite remember. But after washing up the dishes, he said he wanted to talk about something.

And that was it. Unexpected, but unsurprised.

The combination of my exhaustion and this one-year reality course through my days as an undercurrent – not quite visible or known, but an unsettling feeling – throwing me off balance, leaving me wanting.

But what wonders simple gestures like changing your sheets can do for your mind. What a privilege to be financially stable and buy a ten-class pass to pilates round the corner from my inner-city home. And what comfort to turn the heater on and read poetry on my loveseat whilst sipping on saké.

I know I will need time in the country in the coming months. And sitting by the fire. And baths, and bush walks, and karaoke and good food. And quiet conversations and friendship.

So my friends, please nudge me, remind me – and sometimes even just take me.

I will need it.

But here’s the thing – stressful situations, and holding stress, and feeling stressed are three different things.

And I treasure my ability to accept the stressful situations in my life, and manage the ways I hold the stress, so that I don’t move through my days feeling stressed.

I now know where this sense of loneliness is coming from.

And once again, as I’ve been practising this past year – is to pause, sit with it, and meander through it.

So my friends, please nudge me, remind me – and sometimes even just take me.

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