Another Saturday morning in isolation. I’m two coffees and a flask of hot water in. It’s kind of lovely. I spent quite some time preparing for these very moments. Yesterday, after I got home from another day in Coronaville (the hospital I’m currently working in, excuse my flair for the dramatic) I threw my blue scrubs in the washing basket, put my leggings on and proceeded to clean the house from top to toe, fuelled by an energy that had been evading me all week. I hoovered, wiped, tidied, scrubbed, dusted and organised. I plumped cushions, put birthday cards in boxes and rearranged my shelves. I moved my tray of candles and journals and oracle cards back into my meditation room, where they had temporarily been evicted in a quest for simplicity. I even fearlessly tidied the shit that had accumulated on R-‘s bedside table. I threw open the windows and welcomed the freshness of seven p.m. with new delights of springtime sauntering in to wash the house with its clean, vibrant energy.
All so that I could sit here, this very Saturday morning, in my tidy living room, hair in a top knot, adorned in Harry Potter pyjamas and a fleeced blanket, two coffees and a flask of hot water in; ready to write this very post.
A long introduction for what is quite a simple blog. A blog about retreating, resting and self care. A blog that is the result of three years of therapy, a great deal of pain and the ultimate pursuit of inner peace, inner revolution and inner balance. As within; so without. As above; so below.
The first thing I had to give up was something I only recently found words for. And that is Hustle culture. Defined, roughly as the societal standard that you can only succeed by exerting yourself at maximum capacity. The culture that justifies years of telling myself I had to work hard to get what I wanted and working hard meant sacrificing everything. The culture that gave rise hustle porn, with ‘inspiring’ quotes like “There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs”, “Eat, sleep, slay, repeat”, and “Rise and grind”. Hustle culture consumed me ever since I was a small child searching desperately for something to hold onto that would tell me I was good enough. And that fact is; it reeks of the patriarchy. As a woman, there’s such pressure to “have it all”: the home, the family, the perfect post pregnancy body that show no signs of ever having been pregnant along with the thriving career. It renders this endless quest to keep churning. Workaholism is a lifestyle; it’s sexy on men and “empowering” to women. If I gave that up to devote my life to a home and family ~I wouldn’t be a strong, independent woman anymore~ and said empowerment would cease to exist That’s because ‘hustling’ isn’t really empowering at all. It is born out of the need for a woman to adopt ruthlessness in the workplace in the effort to be equal to her male counterpart. The other thing is that being a woman is different to being a man. Doesn’t true feminism lie in our ability to respect and respond to that? Isn’t empowerment about making choices for ourselves and not for anyone else? Isn’t equality recognising and respecting our differences and working towards balance rather than expecting us to be exactly the same? Women are cyclical beings. Our bodies demand so much from us, physiologically. Our wombs tend to life. They shed and we bleed with the moon. This is sacred. Hustle culture makes us see pregnancy and periods as an inconvenience to our work rather than a beautiful celebration of fertility, womanhood and connection to divinity herself. I’ve walked away and turned my back on this. I love being a woman. I love my cyclical nature. I love my complexity. I love the striving, dedicated conscientiousness that my masculine, yang energy adds to my work and the beauty, empathy and compassion that my stunning, feminine, yin energy yields. I’m not interested in cutting one of these parts of me out to favour another in the name of Hustle culture.
The next thing I’ve had to give up is Toxic positivity. My initial introduction to spirituality, amongst other things involved learning about a concept called the Law of Attraction. In basic terms, this is a new age belief system which advises that your mindset dictates the things that you ‘attract’ into your life. Subscribing to the Law of Attraction without context turned into a dangerous practice for me. Books like ‘The Secret’ and the teachings of Abraham Hicks were black and white, failing in all aspects to account for the complexity of the human experience. When I was clinically depressed for the first time in 2017, I became aware of the fact that my thoughts were creating my reality, as dictated by The Secret. So I pushed down anything that felt vaguely ‘negative’ in attempt to ‘stay positive’ with ‘good vibes only’. This was one of the worse things I could have ever done. I wound up in a cycle of shaming myself for feeling anything negative. The fact is that all experiences are valid. Sometimes it’s not possible to ‘see the positives’ in something and that’s okay. It is possible to feel total and complete sadness, to cry from deep pain and to validate one’s trauma and still attract one’s desires into their existence. With inner work comes healing. With healing comes stillness. With stillness, comes the ability to view our human experience for what it is, feel emotions for what they are and still cultivate an overall positive mindset. Unfortunately, the self help industry does a terrible job at addressing that, leading innocent people to fall into the trap of toxic positivity and spiritual bypassing. I have walked away from toxic positivity because I understood that I was using it as a way to avoid feeling the scary, triggering, complex emotions that lay beneath the surface. Consider this: to feel one’s pain and go through the process of surrender and acceptance is an act of sheer self love. In law of attraction terms, does this not put one on frequency of love, the highest possible vibration, attracting the greatest possible outcome?
The third thing I’ve stopped subscribing to is Social media. I’ve talked about that enough so I’m not going to go into it again but the long and short of it is that it’s been killing my energy and wasting my time. 2015 saw the disappearance of snapchat and twitter. 2018 saw the demise of Instagram. And 2020’s wind brought with her, the deletion of Facebook. And that’s it. Completely social media free. Photos and memories in a dropbox file so nothing precious has been lost. I can explore Pinterest and Blinkist and still follow all my Instagram accounts without caring about likes or filters or subscribing to a fake world of Kardashians and fitness models and friends whose highlight reels I inevitably wind up comparing to my bloopers.
With these three things eradicated, my mental health, above all has improved drastically. I am journeying closer to self love each day. I see my body and respect her. I acknowledge my trauma and respect it. I see the human experience for the complex and beautiful thing that it is and I vow to stop wasting this one precious life with the things that just don’t matter.
Until next time,