I recently decided that one of the only ways to get over my issues was to take action. To make a plan and then carry it out, rather than sitting around dwelling on the things that make me unhappy.
Phase 1 was to get a rescue dog and focus on training and caring for him. It’s a lot of work and for a few days I wondered if I had done the wrong thing, but I think he will be good for me and he certainly limits the time I have for wallowing.
Phase 2 was to work on my spiritual health. This is something I have never focused on, but I’m finding that my combination of non-religious prayer/meditation with lots and lots of reading is really helping. It helps take me out of my own head, it makes me less selfish and it reminds me that what I want isn’t always what is actually the best thing for me and for other people.
Phase 3 is working on my physical health. If I am to start treating myself right, I need to treat my body better than I have been doing. So I joined a gym and today I went for my induction. I have a feeling that I won’t be able to move tomorrow, but hey … baby steps.
But here’s the problem. Each of these things is time-consuming. They work to halt the pity parties (because I don’t have the time or energy to hold them) but have I taken on too much? Is this the right thing to do or would I be better off just wallowing and not wearing myself out? Or going to the doc and asking for a prescription?
I have no idea. What I do know is that I had to stay up until midnight last night and then then get up today at 6am because the dog has a stomach issue and can’t last all night; then I was at the gym by 8.30 and stayed there to work out after the induction; then I had to cram a full day’s work into the remaining 5 hours (while also taking a break to entertain the dog at lunchtime) and then he needed a walk at 5pm, and now I have to make dinner … my energy for drawing myself is low, so this was done on a scrap of paper and from memory.
The good news – I haven’t really cried today and I doubt I’ll have the energy. Maybe I am doing it right after all 🙂
I think my issues in art mirror my issues in life. I am often too heavy-handed, too determined to control every outcome, too sure that if I just work hard enough to impose my will, things will work out.
The portraits that really work are the ones with a light touch.
This, unfortunately, is not one of them.
Yesterday I said I seem to take one step up and two steps back.
Today I feel I took a few steps up.
I bonded a little more with my new dog. (As I write this, his head is resting my my foot as we both lie on the sofa after a long walk).
I meditated and found a new insights that ave me some strength and helped me feel less emotionally bruised.
And I signed up for a gym. Because I want to start taking better care of myself both spiritually and physically.
There is something I feel I need to say. I know from private messages and emails that some readers worry about me and wonder if I am suffering from depression. Please don’t worry – I’m tougher than I sound – and also please understand that my struggles relate to specific challenges that (I think) would make anyone unhappy.
I choose not to share the details, but if you knew them I think you’d understand.
So while I understand that tablets might ease the pain I sometimes feel, I tend to think that we are challenged for a reason and that, if we numb the pain, we only prolong the problem. Better to just head straight into it, so we can come out the other side.
I do wish there was a shortcut but there is not. So here I am, rowing my little boat in the storm just hoping that one day I will be out the other side.
But to everyone who has contacted me and everyone who cares – thank you!
That was the one-word prompt that just appeared in my WordPress feed when I logged on to write this post. It seems apt, since today’s drawing was done part-blind (just a few glances) and you can see where I made a mistake, getting the line of the chin completely wrong the first time.
But it’s also an apt word in general right now. I feel I have made so many mistakes and all of them have led me here, to a place that currently feels bleak and without hope.
There’s a Bruce Springsteen song called “One Step Up and Two Steps Back” and that’s how I feel these days. If you’ve been reading for a while (thank you!) you’ll know that just a few weeks ago, I felt I was making progress. Thinks looked brighter. I had found coping mechanisms that were helping.
But now I’m back in a dark place. Nothing I do seems to help and some of it makes things worse. I am trying hard not to beat myself up for all those mistakes – I know that will only make things worse – but it’s a challenge sometimes.
How much suffering would be relieved if we stopped expecting people to act the way we wanted them to?
How much better would we feel if we were able to accept everyone we know for exactly who they are – and if we were able to therefore not take anything personally? After all, they are who they are. Everything they do, say and think comes out of that. We did not have anything to do with creating them, moulding them, making them who they are.
So how can anything they do reflect on us? How could it be personal?
Today I drove to a place that I last visited two and a half years ago when things were very different and I felt everything was alive with possibility.
It’s nothing special, just a pull-in next to a quiet country lane. It’s only significance is my state of mind the last time I stopped there. But it felt important to go there, to remember those feelings and then to acknowledge that that time is past and it won’t be coming back.
I shed a few tears and I asked for help. I’m not religious so I don’t suppose I was asking God. Just asking whatever there is – the air, the trees, my own mind, the universe… I have no idea. After I asked, I had the urge to get out of the car and that’s when I saw the river, flowing down below. I hadn’t noticed it last time I was there.
The thing about water is that it just flows. It never stops. It changes constantly. and it doesn’t resist those changes. Watching it, I got a glimpse of grace. I unclenched a little. I breathed. The pain was still there but so was something else. So was hope.
Later I walked my new dog Riley. I was with my husband. We’ve only had him two days and – as a natural-born worrier – I have been fretting about whether we will bond. For moat of the walk, Riley and I were ahead of my husband and he (the dog) was fine with that. But at one point, I stopped to take a picture and they got ahead. My husband called back to me: “Look at him – he’s waiting for you.” Sure enough, Riley had stopped and was waiting to see what I would do. He wouldn’t keep walking until I had caught up.
My heart filled with love for him. My little rescue dog who, in that moment, rescued me.
Grace again. Twice in one day.
Today’s drawing is from memory.
I spent some time today facing some facts, getting clarity.
I work so hard at deceiving myself. It works some of the time. The problem comes when life forces me to face reality. When that happens, the clash is intensely painful. And that’s where this continuous pain comes from. Me being forced to face the reality that I am working so hard to deny.
I deny it because the pain of accepting it seems overwhelming. But can it be any worse than this constant drip-drip-drip?
I know that I need to treat myself better and that means going through the pain rather than trying to avoid it. Today I wrote down the facts and read and re-read them. Then I took my new dog Riley for a walk and cried some. He didn’t mind because he was trying to find rabbits, which quite honestly seems like an infinitely better use of time.
I used only line for today’s drawing, to represent the clarity I feel I am starting to achieve.
I really like this one.