Magic. Pure magic is what I felt on Sunday afternoon as I settled into my place on the sand. The breeze was cool but the sun warm as I stretched my legs out on the wind-rippled dunes. For once the grains of sand slipping over the hills and valleys of my body didn’t bother me.
I breathed sea air in deep and melted, every vibrating particle of my being supported there on my towel in the sand. Grounded.
It’s no secret to those around me that I struggle with resting. With sitting still. With ceasing the constant tornado of thoughts. I try the flick on Netflix and numb out way we’ve been defining as “rest” lately–and I can’t even sit through The Handmaiden’s Tale (sooo gooood!) or New Girl without getting up several times.
I often feel as though I am in a constant state of motion–checking off lists, stress-cleaning the kitchen or attacking the mystery piles underneath my always-made bed. Re-examining my goals. Reading up on self-improvement. Planning my next workout, my next vacation.
I strive for order. Cleanliness. A full schedule. An outward projection of perfection. Order.
But in reality? On the inside I am a mess. I am restless. Anxiety clouds my focus, disorderly finances haunt the far reaches of my brain, worries of career paths and relationships and what happens after tomorrow? tug at my joy. Instead I opt for just one more episode of Hulu, one more Insta-scroll, one more snack or drink or plan. I try to numb out, rather than simply rest in, the space I’m in.
Can you relate? (Can I getta aaaaaMEN!)
I know I needed to change my mindset when it came to rest. So this weekend, oh this weekend, for a few pure hours I brought my exhausted soul to the beach. I laid it down. I let it breathe. I let it rest.
I heard a metaphor the other day involving a girl and her coffee cup. Hands outstretched and fingers gripping tightly to her mug, she runs. Thumb looped through the handle she is careful not to spill, but the faster she runs–and oh! how she must run!–coffee sloshes up and over the rim. Drops fly. The cup empties.
The girl sprints by her source once more for a refill–but the running must continue. She receives only drips from the Maker in passing.
On and on she goes, day after day, week after week.
We all know how this story ends: when nearing empty, one cannot survive on passing drips alone. Dehydration takes it toll long before thirst is felt,
Empty knows this. Yet Empty refuses to slow down enough to receive Fullness: There is one more thing to do! One more project, assignment, workout class. One more night we just can’t miss out on. Promotions to chase and salaries to raise. Bodies to trim and clothes to buy.
Empty will eventually stop–perhaps the only way she will stop–when she is met with a slow burn ending in a crash and fall.
I am the girl with the coffee cup. I, too, was Empty.
And I got way too many feels, way too much emotion
I don’t even know what’s real, I just say f*&k it, keep on going
-Kiiara ( & Avery)
I am a feelings girl–my heart bleeds on my sleeve. I cry when I get excited. I cry when I laugh too hard. I cry at sad movies, like real, belly-deep ugly cry that keeps me up at night. (I avoid sad books and The Fault in Our Stars and movies where animals die for this very reason.)
I cry when others cry. I cry at concerts when the music is just so good. I cry when I sense my sisters’ pain even from across the country. I also literally shake with happiness at good news, and can hear my heart crack under the weight of disappointment and unmet expectations.
For the majority of my young life, I thought this was wrong. I thought I was faulty. Too sensitive, they said. Drama queen, they said. Toughen up, they said.
So I tried.
I stuffed down emotions only for them to explode later. I buried myself deep inside my head, weaving myself up tight in lies questioning my self-worth, my purpose, and my mistakes. Relationships and close friendships imploded.
It wasn’t until my senior year of college when years of depression and eating disorders became unignorable, a very wise woman (my therapist, God love her) brought me to a life-changing realization:
the very trait I was seeing as my weakness is actually my strength.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” – Brené Brown
As humans, we gravitate toward stories. We love stories for their beginning, middle and end, a perfect succession of past, present and future.
We love stories because of the rise after the fall. We fervently listen to the hero’s tale of fighting, overcoming, then saving the world and going on to rescue humanity with their lessons learned. We attach strings of our own truth, heartaches and struggles to the characters we read. We think, me too! and when they win, if they can, so can I.
I started my blog out this way. Writing buoyed me as I waded and swam through my eating disorder recovery. It saw me through to my win and beyond, looking down over the debris of a battle fought and won.
But here’s a thing about stories–they are never really over until we are gone, our earthly shells reduced to sprinkles of dust under the hard ground. Life is a series of ups and downs, challenges and changes–this we know well.
But for a while I was speeding along too fast to see the next hurdle in my path.
I am going to be painfully honest here. I’ve gone back and forth about this post for about two months now, after taking a break from writing because the words just wouldn’t come. I needed to pause, I needed to start the healing process. But the more I open up to my closest confidants, the more I have found this truth still stands: we are not alone in the struggle.
So remember this please, when I share my story with you.
I’m coming up on my one-year anniversary of SF living.
Yes, it is true–exactly one year ago I accepted a job offer in the city. I spent the first half of January packing up my San Diego condo, planning my trek north and saying my farewells before heading up to the land of hella, bridges, hipsters and startups.
One year later it is time to reflect. I have found a home and bits and pieces of myself I never knew I was missing up here among the old Victorian homes and steep streets. I found excitement in the always-happenings of this city by the bay, thrill in the bright lights and late nights and long work hours and side projects.
But in the midst of the energy, I have also learned something vital (or rather been reminded once again what I already know): my body, mind and soul require more rest than average. More than I often allow.
Two weeks ago I was reminded once more. Two weeks ago was a dark stretch of time.
I will not sugar coat it for you, my friends. Anxiety ignited by a medication, lack of sleep and a overcommitted schedule sent me into a tailspin.