2021-Tired and worn out

When I was in Thailand at the end of 2019, I thought I was recharging my batteries for a new year ahead. It had 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 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 into 2021 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 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 I have shown up every day to work, to be there for loved ones or my partner; it feels like one endless road of sheer relentless shit.

All the effin positivity, motivation, 21 days of abundance, breathing and training I am doing 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. 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 I need more colour in my life other than Netflix.

My past haunts me, the “what ifs and the maybes”. Was it so good? Did I have so many fun moments that only now I can see how grateful I should have been or am I living in a fantasy of unrealistic stories of the past. We all view moments differently, and each could tell a different version of the same moment. Maybe my shade of haziness is lined with drunken forgetfulness of the reality?
Does this mean I am not happy with the present? Does this mean I am doubtful of the future? Where is it all going, can any of us be certain anymore?

As a teenager I had dreams of moving to the US, of wanting to be an actress full-time with an apartment in New York and a flat in London. I would travel widely and my success would afford me my own business and financial freedom. There would be direction, security, maybe children, marriage and certainty or is that last word meant to be replaced by security? I don’t know…instead my life is the complete opposite. I’m not complaining but reflecting. I’m not naive but stillcadjusting. I’m not dissatisfied because I made choices every step of the way. So, what am I saying? I don’t know anymore, I don’t know what the future holds and that is unsettling when nothing seems certain in the world outside. Am I just afraid? Yes. Am I realising that my OCD is kicking in and I cannot control the future. Yes. Am I bored due to lockdown? Maybe. Am I the only one feeling this way? I don’t know.

What if this is all there is? What if this is as good as it gets?

My only aim for this year so far is pressing the pause button to declutter, recharge and give myself the space. To think. To be. To heal.

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.

The Soul Journey

Today marks the end of 100 days Sober challenge and I ask myself what have I learned, observed, has there been some life changing moment or knowledge and wisdom that I can share with you?

Every experience is different and the journey personal. I thought I might blog or vlog regularly about not drinking but actually when it came down to it, I asked myself why I needed to stop? I chose to join a friend in her journey and my partner joined me in solidarity. Thank you to both.
Choice is the key word here. I forget sometimes that I have a choice in everything I do and how I feel, it’s not down to to the external world. That can have an impact but how I respond to it is what matters.

I enjoy a great glass of wine or prosecco and more recently have found a delicious gin, on an evening this has been my release, my “go to” when life has got stressful or an adjunctive to winding down on an evening. It was my dose of numbing the pain, separating the emotional burden or heaviness of the moment or an excuse to forget the past.

I didn’t have any expectations going into this, friends said I would feel good in myself, others sent love and support. Thank you all. I really never thought deeply what it would mean. Did I miss drinking? Occasionally. Did I crave other things? Savoury and sweet, but always had a sweet tooth. Do I feel better within myself? Definitely!

What are the positives?
The most eye opening for me is how much clarity my mind feels and how my learning and absorbing information has altered. I haven’t felt this level of distinction for a while. Learning and listening has been freeing rather than weight bearing.

Emotionally, I feel everything, how painful situations can be but it’s not unbearable. Some situations are impactful and my Dad’s dementia and changing behaviour is something that affects my day to day. Caring for him on this level is difficult, and even though I am responsible for my feelings, there is always going to be a trigger. Navigating through this situation is a day at a time and there is no easy answer.
My emotional outlet has been greater, I cry, I let it pour out and I believe it’s because I’ve previously denied myself to feel, I desensitised myself to hurt or I didn’t feel comfortable in releasing as it made others uncomfortable. I realised this denies who I am and I don’t want to ignore or suppress who I am because who I am, matters and how I feel is valid.

My training is so much better, my confidence in being able to spar in a Muay Thai session (as a beginner) is something I never thought I would see myself do. My coordination is better, my body is definitely healthier and I am listening to what it’s asking of me daily; food, drink and rest.

I’m also less irritable, less spiky and and willing to see life on a wider scale rather than having my “all knowing ego” talking. Ha!

What are the negatives?
My sleep has been poor and that is down to worry and stress.

What next?
Back to drinking? Well, the man made Mead. Lol. Alcohol from spring water and honey fermenting in natural yeast. I look forward to a sip more than a gulp.

“They” say you can form a new habit in 30 days, you can if there’s a habit you’re ready to let go of to replace with a new one.