So I haven’t updated in awhile for various reasons… You know when you’re in the middle of something and you know you need to ride it out and process it all before you can talk about it? That’s where I’ve been, in that in-between space. The past couple weeks have been a little rough. I’ve been consistently getting sick since I got here, partially because Spanish culture is one of nightlife and fiesta, thus my sleep has been lacking. Even when I set an intention to catch up on a given night, I still find myself going to bed at 1am or so. What is going on?! Some places have certain energies, I guess. This happened to my cousin Rachel and I when we were in Ireland last year. We were in this tiny seaside village called Glencolmcille where the townspeople all but lived at the pubs, and we could not for the life of us go to sleep at a decent hour. Osmosis? Idk. Something in the freakin’ water.
Working with children is also contributing to the never-ending sickness. Children, as precious and pure-hearted as they are, are also unhygienic demon sponges. I was baby-sitting recently when the little boy started giving me kisses. His nose was all running with green mucous and I was thinking a slow-motion NOOOOOO!!! in my head but you can’t like say that to a 3 year old child without them getting sad so I just let him freaking plant a few on me while doing my best to turn my cheek in time, and woke up the day after next like boom, sick in bed for the next week. Blah. After four days of not getting better, I finally went to a doctor, which has been an adventure in itself. I found a sort of doc in the box close by that took my insurance, but they were booked with appointments for that day (even though I went at 1pm and they closed at 9pm!) and they suggested I go to the nearby hospital to see a doctor. Hmm. So I go and they pair me with an international translator even though I was able to tell them what my symptoms were, which was a kind gesture, and they tell me that in order to see a doctor I need to go downstairs and wait for at least an hour or two in the ER. I felt pretty iffy about that because like, this wasn’t an emergency by any means, so I went back to the original doctor to make an appointment for the next day. For some reason, they just decided to take me back for a quick consultation with a doctor. I explained my symptoms and she did a quick check-up on my face, which was swollen and inflamed. Apparently it was sinusitis, and because it had been persisting for awhile, she gave me antibiotics which were to be finished off in 3 days. So eventually the infection was finally almost gone, but the antibiotics left me feeling really weak, despite eating Greek yogurt and kefir for the probiotics. (I would kill for some kombucha right about now; it’s just one of those things they don’t have here along with smoothies, cheap peanut butter, fresh juice, etc…yeah okay i’m being annoying whatever). A week and a half of not really leaving the apartment except to get food and force a walk around the block was really starting to mess with my sanity. But I cried a good long cry to my mom and roommate (who is an angel of a person) and felt a lot better. Now I am feeling about 90% better and vowing to keep good on my sleep. Y’all hold me to it.
At this moment I’m going through a profoundly shaping experience. You know when things are going along a certain way, and even though you know deep down it may not be particularly healthy or beneficial you do it anyways because it’s comfortable? I’m on the tail end of that, and I think I’m coming out with more awareness and recognition of my behavioral patterns. Everyday I’m presented with situations where I feel like my habits are reflected back at me, and I have to question why I’m doing this or reacting like that. Living in a new country where I haven’t known anybody or anything for more than three months is showing me how I interact and bond with people. Making me see how actually really sensitive of a person I am. Like… damn. Why can I go from 0-10 with sadness and deep conversations in a second flat? It can be too much for people, it can be too much for me even, but my heart has so much to say and I’m not good at small talk. I tend to go straight to the whole “so tell me what your soul’s deepest desires are!!” conversation and it understandably throws people off and sometimes even kills the mood. Anxiety is my greatest battle and it’s a constant one. Sometimes it’s a struggle to just go outside and talk to people I like being around. Sometimes I put on Netflix so I don’t have to sit by myself with my negative self-talk on loop. Sometimes I think about one minor thing that literally happened years ago and it induces a panic attack and I can’t stop shaking for an hour. Sometimes I feel like a wilted flower and so I overcompensate by being really hard on myself and putting on a tough face. And pain follows that I don’t know how to process because this whole process itself is subconscious. And trying to get back on safe, happy ground while being away from the people that know you best and that you can joke with can be hard.
I want more than anything to help people and to be of service, but I have got to learn to set boundaries so that I don’t absorb the pain of others. Occasionally in my efforts to want to be liked and help, I over-extend myself to where I feel taken advantage of or under appreciated because secretly I had expectations in my mind of what they would give to me afterward. Learning that no one owes me anything is necessary. Last year was for learning that I don’t owe anything to anyone else if it makes me uncomfortable, and this year is for the opposite.
My shoulders have been slouching over recently out of wanting to curl up and protect myself. I’ve been making an effort to hold myself up straighter and have been doing some basic heart-openers, and it’s been both scary and healing. But I’m really starting to believe in the power of these now.
I had a really enlightening conversation with a friend the other day who has a strong faith in God. Personally, I do believe in a higher power; I’ve had too many little signs and pointers to not believe at this point. But my heart has still been unsure and uneasy and closed off for years and years. I kind of despise the term religion, because I think a spiritual connection is much more of a relationship than a conceptualized institution, but either way… whenever I think about going forth and taking that leap of faith into something more personal and practiced, my mind stops me. “It’s not real, the stories are just fables.” “You can’t cherry pick from the things that you like.” “Who is anyone to tell me I’m a sinner?” The paternal language of religious texts have also always put me off, as well as the hierarchical and familial language. But basically I talk myself out of everything with logic before there’s even a chance to examine how it makes me feel. Because if I’m being completely honest with myself, the moments of clarity in my life have come from the moments I’ve had the most open heart. From recognizing that I don’t have all the answers and that I am completely meant to trust and relinquish control to something greater than me. And I think I’m finally ready for it. I think I have to be, because living with this sense of emptiness and loneliness and this void in my heart that I’ve tried to fill with so many people and things isn’t working for me anymore. I want love, unconditional love. I need it. I know in my heart of hearts that things will make more sense once I stop being afraid and let it in.
God is love and love is real.
Forgiveness isn’t something that comes easily to me. Sometimes I forgive way too easily and let myself become a victim in the situation, and other times, I hold a grudge that I nurse for years. Where is this middle ground? I think it lies within self-preservation. Knowing that my value as a person comes from no other person. Therefore, when I feel hurt by someone, it doesn’t feel like my world has been totally rocked. Understanding that people don’t owe me anything is helping me to relinquish my expectation I’ve had of them, and understanding that I have this tendency to victimize and hold onto pain as a form of my own personal revenge is helping me see that I absolutely have a choice in this matter. (I know this is getting into dark territory, but hey, dark and light lies within all of us). So to know that I have a choice to let go of pain is extremely liberating. I have a choice to forgive and let go of people who have hurt me. I have a choice to communicate my feelings instead of nursing my pain in silence. What I have to say matters, damnit. Expressing how I actually feel instead of bottling it all up is the most important thing that I am learning right now. I am unlearning these habits I’ve worn for so long, too long. I can forgive. I can move on. I can clear my heart from pain. I can say I’m sorry without feeling used or like I’m giving too much. I can admit when I’ve wronged instead of focusing on my perception of how the other person committed “a bigger wrong” and using this as a crutch to not admit what I’ve done to contribute to a situation. I can move on from things without requiring closure or explanation. I can be unaffected.
I can feel things, and let them go. Simple as that, light as air.
So this is where I’ve been lately. My next post will be more related to things I’ve done here in the past month or so. I want to extend love to everyone who is reading this; I hope to see you all when I come home for Christmas. I want all the big hugs and the happy laughs and even the sad tears if you have them. We’re all in this together.