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Are You in the Arena Getting Your Ass Kicked?

It's just been one of those weeks where my anxiety is high and I'm battling to sleep. It's part of being anxious and sometimes the world is more overwhelming than at other times. It's been a helluva year since the WHO announced a state of international emergency. And it's been a really challenging 12 months for me personally and professionally.

It's also been an incredible learning experience and a real opportunity to put all my personal growth and development work to the test. Of course it hasn't all gone smoothly, and there's been more than one occasion when I was curled up in a foetal position; where I needed to hit the pause button way before the ugly crying had taken control. But hey, I'm just here doing the best I can do, at any given time, with the resources that are available to me at that moment.

And sometimes because of the work that I do I simply don't make enough time to reconnect, recharge, reboot and reset. It's not an excuse and it's kinda low on the integrity scale when I am constantly banging on to my clients about self-love and -care. So there I am curled up in a ball thinking about how I really must remember to breathe at times like these...note to self. It's a work in progress and one of the areas that I do challenge and stretch myself in; along with exercising consistently.

There are a couple of new truths that have arisen from the pandemic ashes for me. And one of the more intense is that there's a lot of BS going on in my/our lives that really doesn't matter that much in the big scheme of things. That there are some nice-to-haves, but not essentials, to living an authentic, meaningful life. What I know for sure is there are certain people I love beyond measure, and I am grateful that they are all doing okay; even though there's been a couple of scares.

I know that I value my autonomy, but I respect leadership, and have a huge amount of admiration for how certain people have carried themselves with dignity, courage and humility over this time. I have been able to remain open minded a good deal of the time, but I'm not perfect. I also know that I am fiercely committed to the work that I do and feel really privileged to have been able to continue to work with my clients during this time, and be part of their recovery process. I have seen lives change and hearts break this past year as people grapple with the challenges of substance use and recovery. I mean who doesn't want to just escape from the overwhelm of reality every so often.

It's not the slipping away from it all for a little respite, but the remorse and regret that marks the return from relief, that steals souls and shatters self-belief. I know what the pain and angst of wanting to be well looks and feels like, and my compassion and commitment continues to deepen as a see the work that people put into their lives and their recovery. I've watched people not only battle with the uncertainty and stress of this pandemic, but choose to work on themselves in an already difficult time. And that reminds me that what I do is important and meaningful.

I've been given the opportunity to lean into my values of courage and authenticity over and over again. Checking myself on how I am doing, and repositioning myself based on how I feel in these two areas. There have been plenty of times when my courage and authenticity have faltered. But then I look around at the people in my life, and I get strength from how others are showing up, and moving forward.

I've held the decision-makers, the leaders, the healthcare- and essential services workers in a gentle place in my heart, relating to the emotional fatigue they must be experiencing at this point. I'm not on the frontlines and I am feeling the burnout of holding space for others. It's a choice; and I make it willingly every day. I've learned to be unapologetic about my boundaries, and the absence of blue ticks on my WhatsApp - it's an exercise in self-care. I've worn my mask, washed my hands, kept my distance (not much of a hugger anyway) and reminded myself what these are unprecedented times we're living in. I've learned that some people are more resilient than others. And that some will use any excuse to get away with unacceptable behaviour.

I've watched people running around in a state of fight and flight, and I have been aware of what is going on. I do believe that we still need to be more conscious and cognisant of our behaviour, and work with the triggers that we are all experiencing to some greater or lesser degree. All our challenges are different, and that doesn't mean that they are any more or less relevant than those of the people around us, but we do need to be mindful of the impact we have on each other.

I've become gentler and kinder towards myself and others over this year. And I've taken the time to reach out and fill in some of the knowledge gaps by speaking and listening to people that are wiser and more knowledgeable than me.

I've seen strength and beauty in the most unexpected places, and I am grateful for all that the I've learned, experienced and felt. Even if it's been curled up in a ball on my bed, warring with the universe. And as Brené Brown says, “If you're not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I'm not interested in your feedback." And believe me I have had my ass handed to me more than once in the last 12 months.


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