Image credit: Instagram – Caroline Spencer @ladylikelace
A year ago I quit my job. It was a perfectly fine job in an office as a legal secretary but it was making me miserable and sick. It was affecting my health, my mood, my relationship, my eating habits, my finances and my sex drive.
My self-esteem had packed up and moved on.
I felt trapped, bored, frustrated and unimportant.
My decision to quit wasn’t overly sensible or planned.
One of the head honchos was having a bad day and took it out on me.
After I got furious, complained to anyone who’d listen and had the conversation in my head another 100 times (each time winning the argument with smarter and wittier comebacks) I felt fed up.
It was the kind of fed up people often say was the catalyst for their weight loss or marathon running or decision to shave their head, quit society and become a monk (yep, I’ve thought about doing that too!).
I gave my notice, packed up my pot plant and went home early via a mid-afternoon yoga class.
I walked out the door of work and (mostly) didn’t look back.
I had doubts, of course I did.
I worried about what people would say and that I’d struggle to get another job.
I gave myself a few days to percolate on things and during that time I made the decision to take three months off to just recover. It wasn’t something we could really afford financially, but I knew in my gut it was the right decision.
I’d spent so long pushing myself, punishing myself and doing everything for everyone else. I realised what I needed most was to spend some time reconnecting with myself, or maybe just connecting for the first time.
I needed to be kind to myself, to rest and to disconnect from all the daily drama and obligations.
The first thing I did was nothing.
For a couple of weeks I slipped into sloth mode. I slept til noon, I stayed up til 2am and I watched hours and hours of all my favourite TV shows. I went out for chocolate milkshakes in the middle of the day and I went to a day spa for some pampering.
It’s incredible what some sleep will do for your perspective on life!
The second thing I did was book a two week holiday to Bali for my partner, Brendan and I.
We’d both been working too hard and were under loads of pressure. We were both frustrated with other things but we were taking it out on each other. We desperately needed some quality time together.
We went and stayed in the Bali mountains, away from tourists, computers and demands on our time and energy. It was wonderful. We read books. We talked to each other. We stared at trees and flowers and birds. We relaxed and reconnected.
The third thing I did was go on a Vipassana meditation retreat. It was 10 days in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, no talking, no eye contact, no alcohol and no chocolate.
It’s something I’d wanted to do for about 10 years but had always found
reasons excuses not to.
I’m not ready.
I don’t have time.
I’m afraid of what might come up.
I don’t know how to meditate.
My legs will go to sleep.
I can’t go until my mind shuts up!
But I went. And I did it.
I wanted to run screaming pretty much constantly for the first few days. Then I really started to enjoy the silence. Some meditations were great. Some were crazy frustrating. In others I was so over it I started playing random alphabet games in my head to kill time.
Vipassana meditation was one of the most emotionally challenging things I’ve done, but it was also one of the most incredibly rewarding.
I managed to sit with myself for hours a day.
I realised I’d been the leader of the most bad ass army of thoughts and the target was me. I was really, really mean to myself.
In meditation the idea is to observe the thoughts, not to buy into them. So on the few occasions I was able to do this I could see that basically I just threw dirt at myself all day long.
You’re not smart enough.
You’re not pretty enough.
You’re not loveable.
It all added up to YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
How is anyone meant to be happy and enjoy life when they feel listen to that junk all day long?
How do you walk away from the source of cruelty when that source is you?
I didn’t come back from Vipassana ‘cured’. What it clarified for me was that I needed to start being kind to myself and that’s the journey I’ve been on ever since.
I’m starting to realise what a waste of time being mean to yourself is.
Life is hard enough without fighting yourself.
I’ve also realised that there are so many other people out there who feel, or have felt, the same way as me.
To those people I say you are worthwhile. You are loveable. You are deserving.
I’ve started this website to share a message of self-love and self-acceptance.
I want to shout from the rooftops that It’s ok to love yourself and you can get there.
I read a saying recently (attributed to Rob Bell) and it goes like this
Some of the most comforting words in the universe are ‘me too’.
I believe that to be true and I just want to tell you, I’m here and I care. You’re not alone.