I woke up this morning, for the first time in a long time, feeling really quite ill. The surreal fevered dreams of last night were fully cemented into the realms of real life horror by the sight of the snail trails of snot seared across my deathly white face in the mirror.
This, along with a near head on crash as part of the wacky race to school this morning freaked me out sufficiently to see fit to cancelling a long standing appointment up in the big smoke in favour of some R&R.
An actual sick day feels like quite a luxury. Pre-Covid, I would have berated myself mercilessly for the inconvenience to myself – or indeed others – of an on the day bail out, irrespective of whether I was dying or not. Plus as a freelancer, a day off means no money. My decision, despite me feeling unwell, gives me a deep sense of empowerment and satisfaction. It places my own interests first. I see this as a great testimonial in terms of my progress towards improved self-compassion and love and a move away from piling unnecessary standards of perfectionism and pleasing others upon myself.
This new positive me seems to have blossomed over the last year, which by no coincidence has been an experimental year of total sobriety from alcohol. Having achieved one year (376 days to be precise) of no booze has provided enlightenment in ways I had never imagined. I was by no means an alcoholic, but I do come from the generation of nineties teenagers from where girl power, binging on alcopops and hitting the superclubs kept on rolling for 25 odd years most weekends. Living for the weekends was habitual, even if the daylight hours were spent feeling under par due to mild to moderate hangovers, with or without kids in tow. I honestly can’t bear the thought of a hangover or associated hang-xiety these days. My energy levels are stratospherically higher, I’m more comfortable in my own skin, am nicer to be around and I just don’t really need or want to spend an evening acting out my alter-ego anymore. Folk can take or leave me as I am quite frankly. I appreciate some may leave me.
I’m in a place right now where I feel content. Entering my forties was a rocky time mentally and caused me to reflect on my life in general. There was a point at which I genuinely believed I hadn’t left any positive indelible mark on this earth and where my boozing and perceived dissatisfaction with myself definitely increased in line with this as I searched for meaning and worth in the wrong ways and places. I think this is quite commonly described as a mid-life crisis. It was horrible.
I am happy to say that particular storm has passed and I am focused a lot more on the present and not taking the basic stuff of human needs for granted. On reflection, things always just find a way of righting themselves in their own ways eventually in time and to try resist the gravitational pull of life would be like missing the fear and subsequent elation of braving a roller coaster ride. I have emerged a little wiser over the hill!
I guess Brene Brown would perhaps define this part of life as the “messy middle” – the bit where the new shiny exciting stages of life are more steady – one could say dull. Now I’m through it, I’m quite happy with steady, because today I am deeply grateful for (general) health, ongoing support and stability in my life and a family whom I love and who love me back.
When I think about some friends, their lives just seem to be one long metaphor of shiny new cars (or whatever high value consumer goods) every year, the moment they get bored. They covet the next desirable machine, perhaps from afar, and when they get it, they are happy for a bit, then start to covet the next one once the novelty wears off, if there’s a little wear and tear or they just start to feel itchy feet kicking in it’s straight off down the dealership. Rinse and repeat. They will never be happy as they just don’t let themselves hit that messy middle before they move on to something new.
A search for the good life based on material virtues rather than letting things run some sort of course over the bumps does not a wise person make. Wondering why they are never satisfied but habitually repeat the toxic cycle of materialism or a need for newness; always blaming others rather than the much harder process of self-reflection and allowing life to unfold rather than jump ship at the first opportunity. It’s a choice we make I guess, wittingly or unwittingly.
I’m lying on my bed under my weighted blanket. Yes I’m sick, but life is good. A good and fulfilling life will never be found in a long line of shiny new cars.