In Joy


Watching the chapters of my life fall away.

This was the sense that started to dawn within as I watched over the months the old skin of our new home being stripped away. As blood, sweat and tears over the weeks revealed flesh, bones and guts of lives passed. As age-old dreams carried deep in the heart began to pulse into life. Our life. Our new life. Within four secure, history rich, walls.

But last night I realised these chapters, I need to feel them first.

Last night, as I pulled the door closed quickly behind me, jolted from what I believed I had just witnessed.

Oh? You don’t want me then? Oh. I’m not included? Oh!

These were the words that I heard, that took me so abruptly by surprise. These were the words that I heard as I watched my neighbour invite another neighbour in. These were the words that shuddered through me as I stood in the cold outside.

Swiftly followed by,

Well, you’re just not good enough. There’s something wrong with you. She gets all the accolades. They’ll think you’re fucking strange even asking….

Tiredness is not my favourite bedfellow. Exhaustion skewers my mind. I watch, when weariness fills my being, how thoughts turn inward, how paranoia feeds on anxiety like a vulture. How severely I become truly not my own best friend.

Last night, BOOM! Tiredness hit. It screamed out loud inside of me as triggers of isolation ricocheted between my synapses with the immediacy and malevolence of wildfire, loosing myself in the bowels of fatigue and long~forgotten sorrow. What did I do? I ran. Bolted. As the hurt soared from the interaction with my neighbours, who were casually  exchanging beside our house, I ran away as far as I could. From this big, hefty old pain. Shame swept her gnarly cloying arms around me and pushed all my tenderness away. Anger and blame quickly took their charge.

I started to see from the outside. Imagining our neighbour would imagine me a fool for stepping outside our front door to see if her cat had returned. Imagining she thought I was being nosy, wanting, annoying. And, with a bellyful of disregard, sided with my imagined story of her story of me.

Coming back into the warm, the shock of my response still fresh through my system. So suddenly did these feelings arise, I hadn’t quite caught up with acknowledging they were mine. So strongly they roared, I didn’t even realise this deep sadness was coming from within. I went into disassociation. I started to explain these feelings in third person to myself. I started to talk to myself as if the experience had really happened to you, an imagined other. It was too uncomfortable to be mine.

Without knowing, I abandoned myself. Just as I’d learned to all those lifetime of moons ago.

You see. How tiredness really doesn’t become me.

I promise you. It really, 100% doesn’t.

However, I had had a little conversation with myself the other day that helped shift the outcome over the hours that followed. One that helped me less bury these ‘childish’ feelings down until they were to next try find a window to say, I’m HERE!

I’d been ruminating on joy. I’d been ruminating on stress. I’d been ruminating on how stress seems to dominate my life these days far more than joy and I made an agreement with myself. I decided to, when able, even just once or twice a day, observe moments, however seemingly miniscule, in which I experience joy. It’s taste. It’s sense. It’s smell. I decided, somewhere between Christmas and New Year, somewhere in between defiantly refuting the need for New Year intentions and claiming you, me, him and her are all perfectly enough just as we come, I decided to, IN JOY, reclaim this bountiful asset in our lives.

So, after jumping outside of my skin and beating my flesh up for feeling so friggin alone and needy, I retreated to where feeds me often best. The Bath.

It took time to uncover what lay beneath. It took time for me to accept how hurt I’d felt seeing my dear neighbour’s innocent interactions. It took time for me to welcome rather than push away my desire to want to be part of something.

And then, BOOM, there she was. This darling yearning that inhabits us all. The desire to belong. And with it, all the choirs of years passed sang out, of child and adulthood alike, of wanting to connect with those around and feel part of this life. And feel wanted. Hello, I said and, Welcome.

Tenderly, I navigated the shock of the past hour, the shame, the guilt and weighty barrage of storylines of old, tattooed through my nervous system, that were, are, untrue. And as I sank further into this familiar territory, as I soaked achy limbs in silky warm water laced with Espom salt crystals, and greeted all the tension and fear I felt, I noticed underneath each layer was a ginormous, diner-greeting sign that hailed me to my vulnerability and with it to this magnificent wonder we call life. With each small urgent panic that cursed through me as worn thoughts tried to push everything down, I felt the tightness and rejection attempting to drown my vulnerability and my opportunity to inhale the raw beauty that is living.

Will I? Can I? Can I come back to life? Can I remember all these glorious invitations that beckon me to remember, to reintegrate this pulse? Am I brave enough to IN JOY my vulnerability and connection to all? Am I courageous enough to experience heaven on this earth?

Tenderly, as years entwined with great stories big and small fall by, I promise I will try.

Image: Artist unknown

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