This place

mental health

*Occasionally I write a blog post about mental/emotional health. This is one of those posts.*

I moved to this place with my new partner, bursting with love, full of hope. But I also came to this place emotionally fragile. I expected our love to fill a void I felt in my life. In hindsight, I see that resting your whole happiness on one person is slightly foolish.

This is the place where I have been briefly, exquisitely, happy. Where we laughed, ate and sang along to bad songs on the radio. A place where we curled up together, finding safety in each other’s arms. A place where we shared spiritual ideas and meditated together.

This is also the place of intense arguments, where I have curled up in a ball wailing too many times. This is where I found myself alone for months during lockdown, trying to maintain a relationship which had suddenly become long-distance. They say that isolation kills people. Add to that deep feelings of abandonment, and I can believe that. In this place I have reached the depths of despair with no-one but myself to pull me out. I don’t know if I would have got through it if it wasn’t for my dog, Bud. No matter how low I have felt, I have had this small animal constantly by my side, dependent on me, needing me when I have felt that no-one else would care if I disappeared.

Beloved Bud

In some ways I wish I’d never come to this place. In this place, my heart was shattered into tiny pieces. I desperately scrambled to piece it together again, only for it to shatter again, and then again, and then again.

But then I sit back now, in the beautiful silence, and reflect on the lessons I’ve learnt. As Buddhist Joanna Macy says,

“The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.”

There are teachings in the darkness. It was in similar circumstances that I discovered Buddhist wisdom eight years ago.

In this place I have had unlimited time to look inward. There’s been no distractions. I have slowly realised that I need to fall in love with myself, to appreciate my beauty, and to finally gain self-worth. I need to stop looking to someone else to validate me. And it took me many, many months to realise that no matter how desperately you try, you can’t talk someone into meeting your basic needs. Either they want to or they don’t. And you certainly can’t talk someone into loving you.

This place is surrounded by woods. I have skipped through the mud here, laughing at Bud as she leapt with joy. I have broken down crying in despair underneath the giant, sacred beech trees. I have observed as winter turned to spring, and then to summer. I have watched in wonder over the months as the plants have grown from one centimetre tall to two metres tall. I have observed baby birds become adolescents and then adults, and I have greeted the house martins on the day they arrived back from Africa. I have become quite the forager. In some ways, loneliness in lockdown here has been a deep privilege. Perhaps I will never again get this opportunity to patiently observe Mother Earth in all her beauty.

In this place, I have felt so deeply lonely. But slowly and surely I have been reaching out to friends, all several hundred miles away, and I have realised that people care. These friendships have helped me to find the strength that was buried deep, deep inside of me.

I spent so much time trying to fix the relationship that I neglected myself. There is a lyric to a song by Satsang which says, “I’m letting go of the things that don’t serve me no more.” This is what I finally need to do.

And now as I pack boxes and prepare to leave this place, I look forward to the close of this chapter and the start of a new one. I have loved deeply, and now it’s time to let go. I still have a heart bursting full of love, but this love is first and foremost going to be directed towards me. The flat is as bare as when we both first excitedly walked in. Now I stand alone. With tears, humility and gratitude for the lessons learned, I say a final goodbye to this place.

My last night at home with Bud

——-

Through my suffering, I have often found it difficult to practise meditation. I have, however, been able to listen to Buddhist dharma talks, which are always a great help.

I have also tried to keep up yoga practise. Do Yoga With Me is a great site for this. There are lessons on the site that are only 15 minutes long, meaning that when I have been at my lowest, I have done just short lessons.

I find Trevor Hall’s music beautiful and inspiring.


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