Day 16 – an unexpected treasure

Day 16 – time really flies when you’re having fun, or, in my case, a lot to reflect on and even brave the odd challenges along the way. I got up ok, determined to avoid another binge watching incident. I did, what I (now) always do in a situation like this: write a new blog entry (I am still behind!). What followed afterwards was a matter of hours, I kid you not and I will also spare you the technical details, but I managed to salvage some of my lost data. It’s magic! Not really, I used a software, and thankfully, it almost did, what it was supposed to do. I will have to look at each file and reorganise it (400 gb, no biggie), but not now, this task won’t run away. Relatively proud, I walked away from the pc after salvaging a few files, without spending even more hours to organise and browse through everything. Why bother with a gruesome task, when there is so much more to do.

In my case, that was risking another gruesome challenge. I sat down, trying to identify why I didn’t feel as good in the city, as I hoped. It could have been way worse, but also, a bit better. After the excitement of the first few days (home improvement – I definitely need more excitement in my life), I felt like spiraling down, without any means of stopping it. The energy was down, the mood was down, the lust for exploring anything was gone, I went to the great outdoors only three times in three weeks, I didn’t sleep as well, I made myself a smoothie only once (once – in three weeks, when it previously was a daily thing), I felt exhausted once again, desperate, sad and depressed at times. Even though I had my little book full of challenges, things to do, places to visit and so on, I never even picked it up anymore, everything seemed too hard, too much effort and to scary. Time to meditate on that. Without the actual meditating – laying down on the sofa serves me just as well.

Some people may find an epiphany through meditating – I didn’t. But I compared my days on the countryside with my days in the city and realized a few things. The city, my own flat, my friends, my love, my family distracted me a bit. A distraction I don’t have at the countryside as much. That’s not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong, I went to the city as some kind of holiday and trying out new things, to reconnect with my loved ones and that’s what I did, mostly. I meant, that having these many distractions and temptations at once, is still too overwhelming for me. It showed me, that I am not ready yet, to throw myself into the hectic life. I am not yet as well as I can and will be and I am not able yet to look after my own needs in a more hectic surrounding. I still need the quiet and alone time to be able to put myself first. I still lack interests, stuff to do, things that keep me busy. In those moments, when I felt lost, I didn’t know what to do and I looked for comfort in what I knew to have worked in the past, to silence the inner nagging voice: improving the flat, cleaning, organising, watching tv, playing games. Basically doing and thinking about anything else, than me. I didn’t actually watch tv or played a game, but the temptation was there. It could have been so easy to just let it all slide and retreat to a world without challenges, without having to work on myself. There’s a few things I can’t quite put my finger on. I get up more easily at the country side. It’s easier for me to make a smoothie, have a nice breakfast, to ready myself for the day, to go out, do some grocery shopping, to have a walk. That last one is no shocker, there is nature everywhere basically. I have more energy, at least it feels like it. I think in a way, I feel safer. Of course, spontaneously booking that yoga course or talking to people, really talking to people, is still a problem for me, even at the country side. If you, dearest readers, have any input for me on that matter, please, feel free to contact me privately or share here. Many brains think better than just one.

Still some work to do! I am looking forward to what it feels like at the end of the rainbow. I aim to think about my fulfilled desires, how it will feel, not the hard, rocky way to reach them. Feel free to remind me of that, sometimes.

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Day 15 – The cake is no lie.

When I woke up in the morning of day 15, I thought to myself: ‘today, my dear, today, we’re going to outsmart myself”. Don’t worry about the pluralis majestatis, I haven’t lost my mind. Yet. Neither did I acquire servants and fortune over night (damn). But when trying to achieve something and pull yourself together, you’d best address all of your inner selves. I grabbed my phone first thing in the morning to set up a lunch date with a very dear friend. Luckily, she said yes. Timing couldn’t have been better! Second thing I did, was to call another dear friend, who honored me, when she asked me to be her first child’s godmother. And what an adorable child that is. I suggested a walk in the sun in the afternoon, and again, fortune was good to me. Booyah! That’s one challenge down. Not the actual meeting my friends, but the effort it takes me, after a black day, to outsmart myself and set goals or meetings up, that I can’t or won’t cancel. Instead of comfortably sitting around in the morning, waiting for what today would bring or to look at my list, I chose the one thing, that asked a little more of me. Going out, meeting friends, talking, interacting, laughing – and eating cake. That last one was a lie. I do like cake. And the one we shared was exquisite. We as in me and my friend, not as in me, myself and I, doh.

It took me a little longer than anticipated to ready myself for going out. I wanted to wear something comfortable, something nice, that provides me with security and confidence. Well, to spare you the story, I found something like that. It took a while. With my battle outfit and edgy, classic and totally non-synchronous eyeliner on, I left home, already late. We were supposed to go to a new restaurant, that turned out to be so popular, that we couldn’t get a seat there. Another challenge for me. Deviations from a plan. Adjusting to be spontaneous. To resign myself to find another place. The horror, the horror. But as I told you previously, I am getting way better at that. Today’s city girl knows just what to do in a situation like this: google. I found some good options nearby, and guess what, we picked the absolute best one. When we arrived there, however, it was full, too, but we were told that a table would be ready any minute. We waited in the entrance area – totally awkward, I know, but I managed. It’s always better with a confident friend at my side. Or just a friend. It’s always easier if I am not alone. We had the best lunch ever. Light, delicious, satisfying, beautiful and clever – just like the company.

After lunch, yet another great time with my friend and a full stomach I made myself on the way to the palace park nearby. I outsmart myself again, by asking to meet my friend right after lunch. If I went home first, I usually find it extra hard to leave again. I know, I know. Get off my back, nagging voices! That’s a challenge for another day.
My friend and her daughter waited for me at the entrance and we strolled around a bit. Out of the blue, yet another challenge arrived. We were approached by a group of strangers, nice looking people, not scary ones. I’d probably have kicked them, if they seemed scary, but instead, I decided, to not stand back and let my friend handle them, I took the lead. I am getting good at this, at least when accompanied by my trusted bodyguard – a cute baby. They were playing a game, where they were supposed to exchange random things with random things of strangers. All I could find, was a pencil, that I exchanged with some pastry. Win. Apparently what I wrote on day 13 didn’t really sink in yet. I again apologized mid-talk to be chatting about my spa weekend and everything for what felt like ages to me. I still do not trust the people around me, to decide for themselves, if they are ‘happy’ with me. I still try to make myself as acceptable as possible. Failed that challenge. To reward ourselves after the tiring hike (I am joking, just in case you couldn’t tell) we went to a really great coffee place, that my friend suggested. Oh boy, oh boy. They had cakes! We shared a piece, we are not insatiable. My little godchild got a little cranky towards the end, so we went to say our goodbyes, extra hard, when the baby in question is super cute. As is her mother. Oh my!

I went home, even made myself dinner and went to bed with a book. Not bad, what do you think?

Day 7 – Reunions, ice-cream and family

Yesterday wasn’t a good day, challenge wise. It was a really good day for many other things. There’s a little voice inside me, nagging, that I wasn’t able to provide you all and myself with a worthy challenge for Day 7 – the end of week 1. One quarter, you guys. We are getting somewhere. And although I can’t tell you about a great, soul-searching, fear confronting challenge today, I still very much liked my day yesterday. Let’s say, I celebrated week 1, ok? There was ice-cream.

I am a little shy. I am not warming up easily and talking to strangers or people I hardly know is a big deal for me. Before the breakdown, I met my people regularly, with joy, for hours. I wasn’t afraid of strangers, friends of friends, colleagues at university. Although, that all changed in the past years, I am working my way up to the top again. In all these regards and many more. For someone, who has great friends, that take pride in being my friend, following my journey and helping me through it all with calls, comments and text messages, it may seem odd, but I am not seeing a lot of people these days. Until 2 weeks ago, I only had visited one friend at the countryside, maybe 4 or 5 times. In the course of over 8 months. I kept in touch as well as I could, but picking up the phone, sending a reply or writing an e-mail, was an intractable task. I wanted to, but I didn’t have the strength. I came to the city almost 11 days ago, filled with energy, strength, plans, challenges, tasks. And the joy of what it meant for me to see a few of my best friends. I met the first one on sunday. And even that reunion wasn’t something I made happen. It was a surprising coincidence. Get a grip, you say? You want to see your friends, don’t you? Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. I want to, I am looking forward to and I can’t wait. What makes it a little hard for me to go through with that plan, is myself. My need to be perfect. My overwhelming tiredness, when presented with a challenge, may it only be to shower, get dressed and meet someone. My own 4 walls, that provide so much security for me. And my inner chicken.

Yesterday, I met 3 people. 3 people! High-five, or rather, high-three! I had an amazing lunch date with an even more amazing friend, that was everything: funny, deep, delicious, joyous, easy-going, relaxing, profound. As if I’d never have left the city for almost 8 months now, we connected, shared, laughed. And I extended the invitation. Booyah! Afterwards, I felt like sitting in the sun for a little while, but when I called my granny to let her know, I was going to arrive a little late, my beloved cousin took over the phone and told me, he was at her place too, skipping a university class, just to meet me. It was meant as a surprise, and boy, was it a good one. He skipped class. For me. Oh boy, OH BOY.  Needless to say, I hurried there as fast as possible. My gran is that sort of gran, that is incredibly intelligent, in top shape and totally in love with me. She also has the tendency, to rant about everything, mostly my family. None of this, yesterday. She couldn’t have presented me with a more valuable gift. We chatted for over 2 hours about history, books, politics (did I mention, she is close to being 90?) and music. Before the burnout, talking to her was frustrating, depressing and extremely exhausting for me. Yesterday I left, light on my feet, a little tired, as it still is fatiguing for me, to concentrate for a longer period and to follow and focus on people and a conversation, but very relieved and thankful for the pleasant surprise. My cousin and I had some super decadent ice-cream afterwards, (because treat yourself, right?) and I shared the blog and a challenge idea, that includes him. The darling sweetheart that he is, he was excited, interested and agreed instantly. Keep your eyes peeled – you’ll soon know why. I feel like this first day of actually taking the plunge and meeting people, took a lot of pressure and unease off of me and that there are and will be many more reunions soon. I took the first step – all following steps now, will be a lot easier. Also, ice-cream, you guys. Treat yourself.

Day 2 – no rest for the wicked.

I don’t know about you, but that blog post yesterday was quite something. I felt liberated, but only for a short while. Then there came the old doctrines, fears and insecurity. Sharing can be difficult, and doing it openly on the web even more so. I’ve never been a big sharer. In my few but very valuable friendships I used to talk, listen, ask and interact, no matter what topic – except when my inner self was concerned. I listened for hours to the stories of my friends, I thrived with every challenge or difficult situation they presented me with. (Some of you, my dear readers, will certainly snicker a little bit now, sounds familiar, does it not?) It takes time to open up and when I was ready to share a little bit, I used glibly one-liners, smiled the memories and pain away and showed my most controlled faced, the face of a person, who can cope with anything. That’s how I liked to present myself. “Hey – we’ve all been through “stuff”, right? What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger! Let bygones be bygones.” I would share some details, some stories, and I laughed. Laughed as nothing could touch me anymore. To be quite honest with you, and honesty I promised you, I still struggle with the urge to never lose control, to never show how sensitive I feel about certain topics, to never let anyone know, how hurtful that comment was to me, how much chaos, anger, fear and despair rests underneath the calm, restrained surface. If not for the burnout and my following treatment, I might have never stopped to think, anything could be wrong with always being the strong one, to never let anyone in.

My therapist asked me a very simple question: why not? Why not show the person you are with in that moment, that you are agitated, sad or hurt. And that is a really good question. Is it pride? Fear? Convention? In my case, it is the fear of not being a valuable friend anymore, if I don’t only provide advice, laughter, easy-going chatter – or cupcakes. I used to live in constant fear of what that break between text messages meant, if I made or said something wrong to annoy my friends, if my whole being was low-key enough to be welcomed and to not turn into a nuisance. It was, and still is but I am very hopeful for the future, very hard for me, to just be natural, normal, relaxed or comfortable around anyone. I adapted sitting positions, way of talking and expressing things, the right time for a tea or cookie or the topics of the talk. I simply couldn’t believe, that anyone could still like me, if I showed them all my colours and faces. I couldn’t believe, that just being me, with all my ups and downs, would be enough. I never shared out of these reasons. And then there came therapy. I slowly learned to share, to open up, to talk. First it only worked in therapy. When you do something a lot, when you practise it, sort of, it becomes a part of your habits. And just like that, step by step, I learned to bother the people around me with feelings, emotions and words. A lot of words. And it worked! Where I usually would have listened, my friends listened. They offered a shoulder to cry on, time to reflect on life and another perspective. They encouraged me, were there for me, were friends. Just like that, they endured myself – without the bribe (cookies!), I’d usually bring with me to feel welcome. That all sounds good and positive, you might say, was there any challenge linked to this? Why did you choose that weird title?

I chose that title because, even after knowing all that, even writing down all that, yesterday I felt like staring into an abyss. I shared the link to the blog with the people, that have been my rock, ever since I was lucky enough to meet them. People that matter to me. (And my therapist – would be a shame if he got bored in these weeks without sessions.) I can tell you, that was a challenge in itself! I hardly managed to hit the send button and I kind of apologized in some messages for even daring to bother with this triviality. What if I was too open and honest? What if no one cares? What if people are annoyed by me sending out a link to my blog? What if people feel bored, offended or indifferent? Was this really a good idea? These questions raced through my mind and stopped me from sleeping. I tried welcoming these thoughts. I told them “Hey, old pals, nice of you to stop by! Good, that you remind me of your existence. But please, go away now, let me sleep!”. I did sleep eventually. During the night, I received some really touching messages about yesterday’s post. Phew! Huge rock off the chest. But not everyone replied. Mind you, I sent this to 7 people, the equivalent of some people’s labradoodle pack and not to a small, random army.

And there we have one of today’s challenges. I stared at my mobile, checking if I really did send out the link, if my messages got delivered. I looked for plausible explanations. And then my old pals visited me again. “You offended someone! You should have written in german. Why didn’t you keep that blog a secret, like a personal diary?” I stopped right there, thinking: ok, even I know, that sounds crazy now. And so I gathered all my strength to not send an irrelevant message to the missing replies to see if they were mad at me or just didn’t care or didn’t see the message. Hell, with this new technology, my message could have vanished into a black hole! What can I say, I succeeded. Mostly. I still feel a little unsure about going “public” and sharing and I still don’t know, what some of you think about the blog. But I trust, that you will read this blog, if it’s of interest to you. And I believe I can expect of you that, if you choose to not be part of this particular experience of mine, you will still appreciate me, even if you think the blog is stupid and if my last delivery of cupcakes was ages ago.