During the first two weeks of isolation I was thriving. Zoom discos with Auntyjonny. Book club with Clare and Richie. We were reading Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith. I love reading work by writer’s with gems like this – “you don’t follow plots – you negotiate them” pg 58. I was getting dressed for dinner on Friday nights despite the fact I couldn’t persuade my family to do the same. I was writing a short film with a view to have it shot during isolation. A one-hander.
Then somewhere in the week of the 6th April I fell apart. My days consisted of dangerous binge-reading the Guardian and ABC News for latest updates and getting on the mygov website trying to sort out what the hell if anything anyone in my family is eligible for. Anxiety started to grip my mind with catastrophic scenarios of not having enough food and money. This is a common default method of mine – poverty mentality – coming from a long line of DNA memory. My grandfather was a hoarder. A real hoarder. Probably due to the Great Depression. My mother and I grew up surviving on the single parent pension. Despite this she made sure I always had enough. But I always knew it was a struggle. Mind you she is currently thriving in her little house in Adelaide with her vege garden and culinary skills. Follow her on instagram @culinaryartproductions to see what she creates from her produce. I’ve told her she could make a fortune from survival classes.
In an effort to get out of this loop I went back to meditation and made sure I did at least one live streamed exercise class a day. But I am a serial overachiever and if I am not achieving what I set out to do I give myself a very hard time. It’s paralysing actually. The irony is by trying to over-achieve I end up achieving nothing. This is one of the reasons I stopped pursuing my dream of being a writer along the way. My inner critic was so harsh I would stop writing because I never felt it was good enough. Since going to NIDA I have broken this habit and I write anyway, without judgement. I decided best action was to take the rest of the week off. And read instead.
Last Monday and Tuesday I had zoom sessions with my psychologist and occupational therapist. Last year I had to take time off running my business due to anxiety and depression. This year I have been in rehab to get back to work, hence the occupational therapist. Talking to them both helped me move on. My occupational therapist reminded me that during traumatic times there is a part of me that tries to fix everything. It is my survival instinct. My psychologist reminded me of the work we have been doing using ‘radical acceptance” and I realised this traumatic time is affecting me too. I thought I was coping because I have been dealing with trauma for such a long time. I was wrong. Time to cut myself some slack. So I am writing this instead of trying to write the next King Lear. Doing a little bit of writing and reading and work each day, or not. Lying in the hammock in the back yard. And remembering to be grateful. So easy to forget.
And so I return to Patti Smith and the Year of the Monkey which was a tough year for her. And for me. It is not lost on me that 2020 is the Year of the Rat. I look this up and find the following:
The vital force is weak, which is why this year you might feel pretty stressed, even by small things. You will notice slow progress in your projects, which is why you need to be confident in your strength, and you will be successful in bringing everything to a favorable end. During the first half of the year, you will have more free time, and you will be able to rest and make plans for the future. You will consolidate the relationship with your life partner, and you will spend more time with the kids.
The year 2020 is under the influence of Flying Star 2, which is positioned in the south, causing all kinds of health issues.
How’s that for spot on!
So I make a promise to myself to take it easy, go slow, do what I can and enjoy the time of renewal. The sound of the birds outside when I lie in my hammock. Be more like our puppy enjoying the sunshine in the backyard. The lack of planes in the sky. The big deep breath Mother Nature is taking. To follow her lead and take my own deep breath. This too shall pass.