This time last year I made a connection with a New Zealand woman through #RecoveryPosse on Twitter. We had both received the same book for Christmas, a series of letters from celebrities written to their 16-year-old selves. Inspired by this we decided to do the same and posted our respective letters on our blogs. From that encounter a wonderful friendship was formed and to celebrate that we have decided to write a new letter this year, to ourselves this time last year……. I am so pleased that Chris has agreed to be my first guest blogger to start the new year off with a bang.
Part II features Chris’ letter back to herself of January 2020…….
Dear Me 1.1.20.
Well! Where to start? Lol…
I guess by telling you to brace yourself! The Hairiest year imaginable is headed your way, and you never see it coming! But it has a gentle end, that you will just love.
1.1.20 you feels you are finally getting your shit together, sadly this is just an illusion and while the world burns, you will find yourself ripping apart some of the work you did in the last 3 months and building it all again – but like the Bionic woman you are better; stronger and more whole than you have been in years. But there will be tears and heartbreak because, as in all growth spurts, there is pain.
Early in January, you bite the bullet and “join” the #RecoveryPosse on Twitter. It will be the best decision you make. More about them later though…..
The world burning? That wee virus that you’re vaguely hearing about as you plan your next few years, slowly takes over the world; and you are left sitting on the side-lines wondering WTF? Coronavirus and its subsequent sad cousin “Moronavirus” spread like, well like viruses, turning the world on its head. And disrupting everyone. That country that adopted you all those years ago has been amazing! We became the team of 5 million; and you played your part. It was an easy decision to make. With Liam and Mum in your life, looking after the vulnerable was a no brainer – well, it should be a no brainer. But in some places it became a political thing and mass stupidity followed. And you just sat, helpless on the side-lines, feeling a weird type of “survivors’ guilt”. But the lockdown, tho disturbing, gave you a chance to start to really heal and recover. After years of rushing around, you became still..
I remember NYE 19. Pizza night as always. Outwardly you were your usual calm; but inside all those familiar feelings were burbling. The helplessness and exhaustion of always having to be in control; always being “there” for people; the desire to just be alone… and all the feelings of inadequacy, and self-loathing simmered beneath your calm competent exterior. Some of that still remains; but you have learned so much this year, that it has all become manageable. Mostly.. lol
You will be encouraged to do that most terrifying of things – telling those in your RL, that you have MH problems. And it is scary – you hate pity, you don’t do vulnerable and you hate stuff being about you; but here’s the thing… EVERY single person you tell does none of that. They just want you to be happy. They love you. And trust me Hun, it does get easier to do. And by the end of the year you do the unthinkable and share your story on FB, so everybody knows.
Sadly, over the year, you will have to edit some of your relationships. Your decision to end that significant one still stands. And altho that sadness never really leaves, you ultimately know, it was never healthy; you are better for it not being a thing. Some losses will just side swipe you. A couple in particular, you don’t see coming. But you survive. And by the end of the year, you finally realise you can do this stuff alone, but you also learn to ask for help in the tough times. Who knew? lol
The other gift 2020 will give you is Zen. Pockets to begin with. And then as the year draws to a close you realise you have found calm. Deep, centring, and inexplicable. Even when the saddest thing happens, when you lose your haven; and you find yourself literally sobbing on the floor, deep down you know that this will pass, and the bad stuff will end, and you will be happy again… you’re not perfect but you have made progress; you have tossed so much in the “Fuckit Bucket”; that you are unrecognisable!
Now the #RecoveryPosse? You finally find your tribe! This group of people who are all recovering from addiction, mental health or just life are your people! Compassionate; kind; caring and wise; you learn so much from them. They give you the tools to really unpick your life and start to rebuild it in a healthy way. You learn that you aren’t weird at all; and you even start to like yourself – I know really strange huh? lol. I think it is the absolute acceptance of who people are; and the honesty with how they share their stories, gives you the courage to share yours. And you will start going to some recovery meetings; initially just as a support person, but you eventually overcome your shyness and start to participate. And one day you will find yourself agreeing to do the main share; and it will liberate you! And that anonymity that you currently cling to? Gone. As the year progresses you will find the lines between your RL and your online life blur. You have nothing to hide anymore, it makes life so much easier. You make real friends in that strange world that Twitter is.
And your companions, the Bitch Troll and The Black Dog? You struggle with her for most of the year. But eventually you knock her for 6! You simply don’t listen to her crap anymore. You are NONE of the things she said you were. A lot of what has happened was NOT your fault; YOU did nothing wrong. You are so much lighter not carrying her around Hun. And the Black Dog? He hovers. Nips in and out, but now you know he’s only there on a temporary basis. You just need to weather him out. These “evictions” take time. And they bring anxiety attacks like you’ve never had before. Covid, Lockdown and learning to live on your own terms, bring on the worst attacks. You learn to lean on others, and you know what? It is quite nice to let people look after you for a change..
The other amazing thing you do; and this one will really blow your sox off; those early morning walks you do? they morph into a love of long distance walking. It becomes the main stay of your Recovery.. you, music, and the kilometres do the most to improve your mental health. Eventually you ditch the music too, and just listen to the sounds around you. Your beloved beach becomes the place that saves you from lockdown. Within the 1k boundary, you walk that beach every day! And once the restrictions ease you move further afield, until you accidentally walk a Half Marathon! Every time you drive past the point that you reached that day, you are amazed! Sadly, your old habit of not looking after yourself bites you on the arse; and you damage your knee. For 6 weeks, you are grounded; it will force you to find other ways to meditate; find other things to calm your brain; and it will ironically see you in togs in the pool for the first time in years, as you gently exercise yourself back to health. It shows you tho, that exercise is the key, and solitude the answer. You’ve just got back into it at year’s end, and BOY! Does it feel good! Overall, you cover an amazing 1527.29+ kms! (No bloody app is perfect apparently lol, and so this is the very least you have walked!)
So, Babe… This is now Us 1.1.21; unrecognizable! But not there yet! You realised late in the year that you have so much unresolved grief in your life from all the end on end crap you’ve ploughed through, all your adult life, that the road forward includes addressing all of that; and slowly putting them away, tidily and dealt with. And there are 1 or 2 more tough conversations to be had with the most important people in your life. But I know we will find the courage to do it. So, Chick, we did the Mahi, did the work; 1.1.21 finds us better, stronger, slightly wiser but definitely happier than 1.1.20. I am so excited for the next bit; I wanna see where we end up. I know tho, that if we keep doing #ODAAT; #SelfCare and all the other things we’ve learned; and keep trusting the process, we will get there. We will find that thing we are searching for.
We are beautiful; we are “Fucking Cool” and I really think we will be ok.
© @ChrisBzchris 2021