2020-Tired and worn out

When I was in Thailand this time last year, I thought I was recharging my batteries for a new year ahead, 2019 had already been a stressful year combating the changes of an elderly parent with dementia, and battling with various services to listen and help. I had a vision of 2020 being the year of being able to travel to another unknown, an exploration of new terrains where I could feel the sun on my face, learn about a new culture and unlock a different part of me. But 2020 has been just as stressful if not more due to Coronavirus. I’m not complaining about the pandemic and the ways in which it has changed the way we live possibly forever. I’m talking about the side effects, the curve ball, full on in your face, ripple, emotional and physical effects. This is what is going to live with us long after some “normality” is resumed.

I am so f**king tired. There are days when I cannot think, I don’t want to speak, I cannot breathe. My partner and I have been talking about “joy” and “light” recently and to be honest, it’s f88king hard to see any of those things when you don’t have the energy to find your way out or lift yourself up. If I’m honest, I am not really sure how my partner has stayed with me for so long, it feels like an endless road of sheer relentlessness of shit.

All the effin positivity, motivation, all the Deepak meditations, breathing, and training I am doing at the moment is not helping my well-being. All the self talks, tools, coping mechanisms have fallen by the way side and I don’t know how to get back on track. I don’t want to do another zoom workshop, I’ve just taken an extra week off work to have three in total and all the admin I’m doing isn’t mine. Now, I sound resentful and gawd dammit I am, I just want to be able to book myself into a hotel by the sea, feel the sand beneath my feet, the sun on my face. I can’t even do that. It’s so grey here. London, I love you but you need more colour in more ways that one.

How can I be strong for myself, my partner and parent when I don’t have enough energy for me? Why am I complaining, why am I ranting? I have a job when so many have lost theirs, I have a partner when so many don’t, I have my Dad where so many don’t. I have a warm flat, clothes, food when many live on the streets. Am I complaining about first world problems, am I ungrateful, do I need to do a daily gratitude diary, am I selfish for ranting? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it’s all relative?

Are we not allowed to feel this way? Are we not allowed to talk about the difficult times, or do we feel being human is not allowed. No one wants to hear the dark times, the down in the dumps, really shit times. I hear more often we are in control of how we feel. We have a choice to pick ourselves up, no one or thing has the power over us unless we allow them or it. True but we all allow it to at some point. We’re human. Even the rational side of my mind turns itself off, even my feelings say “f**k off”, even my body says I’ve had enough. Is this depression, is this me just being low and irritable, not enough sleep since March.

I know I’m not the only one. Hang in there.

Comfort zone or Fightzone?

Comfort zone” as “where our uncertainty, scarcity, and vulnerability are minimized-where we believe we will have access to enough love, food, talent, time, admiration”
Brene Brown

Sometimes, I really love where I am in my life and what I mean by this is I have a job, I have choices and I can make these choices based on my age and experience in life. There are days when I look at kids whose parents encourage them into an activity (notice how I said encourage and not force), how I envy this choice as a child to be able to do something that becomes a passion. I am certain this is how you find “your thing or one of many things”…I’m so eloquent with words. I also believe this is how one finds different zones “comfortable” equates to safe, secure and “I like it here, I might stay for a while”. We surround ourselves with like-minded people, a support network of sorts, close but not too close, then there’s the odd challenge but nothing overbearing and mostly tolerable.

Ahem.

Life has a way of throwing one’s comfort zones out with those challenging people, situations and sometimes one may go out and seek the challenge. Find the discomfort in order to know what it is they like about the “comfort zone” so much. I digress. I believe we live this life and start a new one every time we face trauma, death, birth anything that is life changing, we become a new version of our old selves. It sounds obvious, I know but I couldn’t see it before 2009, and it’s not necessarily that I see it clearer now (because I still wear glasses and somewhere I developed a SOH…shh don’ tell anyone) but the best way I can describe it, is reading or hearing something you already know but at that moment you hear/read it, it has an impact, it changes your perspective, how you feel and it can change your life.

Life defining moments feel like an ageing process in a short space of time but equally the fuzziness is you don’t know how you got here. Even though I remember everything preceding 2009, well most things, some of my memories I let go of. Maybe they didn’t serve me, maybe they held me back and were toxic and maybe it just didn’t matter anymore. I guess when a parent dies, many things that mattered previously don’t matter anymore. So, you ask yourself what matters, you look at yourself and something apart from death slaps you in the face, and forces you to ask yourself “Who the f**k are you?” in the broadest sense and say goodbye to your comfort zone.

One of things I said to myself is “I want to live life to the full”, I haven’t been living. I was a fool, as not knowing what that really meant, I interpreted it as “let’s paarrrrty”. Drink upon drink, late nights, excess spending, blah blah blah. Did it serve me? No. But it became my comfort zone, my numbing zone. I realised after bereavement/regular counselling, working eight jobs over eights months on 3-4 hours sleep, breaking my ankle that took me out of acting for two years, that this was not what I meant when I said “I want to live life to the full”.

Another trauma, another period of reflection and another new me.

Jump to 2017 and I never thought that writing a short film about a female boxer would take me to Islington Boxing Club for research, a reading of my script and a love of boxing grew. However, I am the first to admit that I get restless quickly, I like change and realised I like trying new things (Oh this is the new me) I know, that sounds totally facetious but it’s true! I haven’t made the film yet, partly because I wanted to be in it…hahaha I know, me, as a boxer first I would have to obtain the figure of a boxer and secondly I would need to believe that I could do it.

A slight aside, I was listening to two BAFTA talks, one with Noel Clarke talking about ‘Bulletproof’ and the other was the BBC Writers Room both saying that you have to push through with your vision, I kind of still am. Pushing through with writing but sometimes you have to park stuff in order to move forward.

Back on track to 2018, I always wanted to travel on my own and long story short I was seeking sun, workout and rejuvenation. I decided to go to Thailand after seeing and asking a few friends about the places they had trained in. I wasn’t keen on doing just a yoga retreat as I had done that already and loved the two free surfing sessions thrown in. Again, was I coming out of my “comfort zone” or was I trying to find it? I was learning to swim that year and somehow I felt brave to be in the sea in a way I would never dream of. I liked this new me, it felt carefree, adventurous and spontaneous.

I entered Tiger Muay Thai, Phuket in December 2018 with no expectations bar that I was going to be surrounded mainly by men but I was pleasantly surprised to find women there too. I remember a friend saying to me “only you would go on holiday where you can go to the gym too”. Yes, I laughed but what did this really mean? Was I about to embark on a career in MMA. Ha, hell no. I hate violence, I work with people and teenagers, I’ve worked with kids. I am a nurturer, a carer, I encourage so why these violent sports. Well, I had never explored that element before or that side of me. There has to be something in me that desires that interaction, there must be an excitement that thrill, right, otherwise why would I do it. I don’t seek a career in it, I aim to get good at it, so is this my thing?

Fast forward to November 2019 and now a month in Thailand and training in Muay Thai and Krabi Krabong. That was it, I knew when I came home I would be seeking a class in either to continue. In January I entered the world of Fightzone knowing I would be looking around to discover which fight gym I would settle in. Normally, I’m confident/comfortable in myself since I started weight-lifting but coming into a fight gym is on another level. Oh, there she is that new me again, another life.

I never thought for one moment that my journey to explore the market would end. Jose, the Coach was supportive. I had a partner called Jenny, experienced and patient, and I was elfin bricking it. I said/say “sorry” a lot, I swear and I tend to beat myself up when I don’t get the simplest of steps. I didn’t realise the child in me who never got it right still exists. I hoped she had grown into a confident, self believing, easy on herself woman. Sigh. Nope, still need to remind myself every day and in every way, Marie Forleo’s quote “progress not perfection”.
12 months in, I still love it, I’m still learning and I even bought gum shields to gently spar. “Not the face, I an actress, don’t you know”. It’s kept me going during 2020, online and in-person. I really wish I had found the sport as a child and maybe the child in me may have grown up differently.

I’d rather be in Fightzone than my comfort zone.