This weekend, I visited a beautiful friend. We had the most nourishing day together, discussing all things wellness, sharing our dreams, our fears, laughing uncontrollably, making homemade beauty products, eating wholesome food and drinking slightly too much wine – essentially a day of balance, love and appreciation for life. She spent the entire day caring for me and I left her home feeling that bit more intact than when I'd entered. And it dawned on me... I was tired. Tired because I look after myself (and really well at that) on a daily basis, and you know what? It's damn hard work. I think it's so easy to become complacent to the level of effort, attention and energy that goes into loving, caring and showing up for yourself each and every day. Emotional strength is much like physical strength – it's something you have to commit to and work hard at, you don't just become ripped overnight.
On Friday, I cried in the park on my lunch break. Two weeks before that I broke down on the tube during rush hour. And when I was sick a week ago and exhausted from the sole responsibility of taking care of myself, I felt immense grief. Being strong isn't about composure and pulling it together; it's about honesty and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. Some days are harder than others, and the truth is, we are all going to be confronted with those painful events that force us to give rebirth to ourselves and become our own mothers – sometimes quite literally. So when I have those moments of hopelessness, I know that all is well because showing up for myself is a daily practice, a continuous choice, and whilst it's not always easy, it's incredibly liberating. Healing is a ceaseless journey of discovery and self-enquiry; there's no end point. Even as we sit here, without any conscious involvement, our body is performing a whole host of biochemical reactions to ensure homeostasis. Our cells are communicating, we are in constant flux, adapting, vibrating energetic frequencies, breathing, trusting. We are here. In this moment. Now.
But we can't be whole, healthy, balanced beings if we are silencing our suffering. We can't access feelings of joy if we're constantly walking around numb, trying to escape the inescapable. We're here to feel and to feel can be uncomfortable, but discomfort is where the healing begins and the growth takes place. To feel frustrated or unhappy with your current situation is the powerful space from which real change occurs, and sitting with yourself and those difficult feelings is one of the most courageous things you can do. That's showing up for yourself.
Showing up is allowing time for rest. It's coming home from work and preparing yourself a wholesome meal cooked with love. It's believing in the right to defend and assert yourself in situations that call for it. It's saying no. Sometimes it's saying yes. It's harnessing your pain into something beautiful. It's an unspoken agreement that even when it appears like everything around you is falling apart, you will never ever abandon yourself.
So let pain be. Let it sing! Pain is a transformative vessel. Give yourself permission to feel and release what no longer serves a purpose. Scream. Write. Dance. Sleep. And let's remember that we cannot delay or 'schedule' our the pain – this really only prolongs it. Break down at the most inconvenient of times. Cry on the tube. Sometimes life is painful and to pretend anything otherwise is a drain of your vital energy and a complete disservice to your daily courage. You are so much braver than you know.