Learn me, implored Tess to Justin in The Constant Gardener.
It was her request to a love struck Justin as he tumbled head over heels.
The phrase struck me and it has been my pursuit since to those who I have the good fortune to cross paths and spend time with.
It has been my pursuit with my children. To learn them. Individually for who they are. Let them shine, as I watch them take shape, beyond measurement.
I will be their mirror, if they permit.
I spoke the term to my bereavement counsellor after my mother and grandmother died and in the weeks before I finished my sessions with her, she said the phrase had struck her too and she endeavoured to learn me. To be in receipt of this, 18 months on, still brings tears to my eyes.
It is my dream. We learn each other. For it is a beautiful thing.
And too to learn our selves as best we can.
And so sat in bed, tea in hand, laptop on lap, writing with tears flowing, I feel overwhelmed. Four months into renovating our new home and I’m brain-deep exhausted. I’m doing it the only way I know how. Full steam. Heart and soul. And there have been unreliable tradespeople who have let me down last minute. I’ve had others who left our front door wide open at the end of the working day with no one else in the house. And I’ve had a flood from the bathroom that saturated part of the new kitchen.
I say I’ve had the Nightmare Team and the Dream Team and the latter have been wonderful and I’ve loved watching them weave their magic in rooms throughout the house, revealing the flesh, guts and bones of a near century old property.
But the flood floored me and I have very little stamina left to give life over the next month and birth our new home. Just before Christmas, just before our daughter’s birthday, just before my husband’s… Whilst knowing I have to re-pack our belongings all over again, having packed up shop less than twelve months ago.
Right now it feels too much. I was shattered before I began. Exhaustion bit me on the bum big time when we landed in Devon after four insane months of relocating us here. Five months of house hunting and house buying didn’t leave much time for reprive. And now I’m cooked. Fried. And all the magical juice of my self-learning and self-loving is struggling to surface.
Adrenalin, the force of its charge, is surging through my aching system and I feel betwixt two worlds. A need of rest and a need to do. And there’s so friggin much still to do.
This is when I feel powerless. This is when an over-busy, extremely knackered mind starts travelling down negative avenues of thought. This is when I rise up and out of myself and, as if a child again, yearn for ‘Someone. Please HELP!’.
And this right now is my biggest learning. How can I tend to my exhausted self, kindly, lovingly, whilst knowing what lies ahead over the next month. How can I step back into my power again.
For my tendency to go whole hog and put every pumping cell of my body into a project and not burn out on the other side. Learn me. Learn the gap in between that historically neglects and abandons myself in pursuit of dreams, visions and hopes. Learn to love into here and rekindle self-worth in this personal blip of a momentary black hole. Learn to fall into the deep well of wholeness rather than skirt perpetually around it’s edges.
Paralysis here is never a helpful bedfellow but strengthening my bridge, me, between BIGness and SMALLness will carry me far.
Today, as I want to run up to the house and think and mull and fret and panic, I choose instead to be still. Today, rather than run up to our new home, I will stay in the one we are presently in and home in on me.
An image arose, shortly after writing this, whilst lying in bed trying to rest, trying to sleep. Wrestling inside, tears starting to fall, Help me! I cried out to my husband in my dream. His radio silence these last weeks I have found difficult and suddenly I saw myself drowning in an ocean of invoices, coordinating deadlines, not being able to manage those I am employing. I saw him, sitting safe and dry in an inflatable, disengaged to my angst.
I then drifted into sleep and woke shortly after with the same image but not of he and I. Instead there was me in the boat and me in the sea. And the same scenario. Me tuning out to me. And for a while I wondered, how can I help? How can me in the boat help me in the sea? How can I integrate thee? But no answers came and still there was me sinking in overwhelm and the other me, warm and dry.
And then it came to me. I just need to let these two sides of myself be. The seeming giver and the seeming more selfish side. My job for now, is just to recognise each of these parts, without reprise, criticism or a need to make either part do something different; save, rescue or even fall in love. My job now is simply to observe, trust and accept both aspects and know each are doing their best, in each of their ways, to look after me.
Image: Inga Moore, A House in the Woods