2016 has been a year where I had to fight extra hard to carve out crevices where continuity and contentment could exist within the upheavals, worries, and changes taking place in the outsides and insides of my life. Every time I seemed to find my footing, something slipped extravagantly out of proportion and I’d use my nights to hold myself in one piece only to spend weeks later picking up the pieces anyway, trying to believe that it will get better. Throughout the exhaustive ordeal of survival, I tell myself, This is worth it. Life is worth it. Keep it up.
A lot happened this year. Some things I still haven’t had the time to acknowledge, process, and accept.
As I type this, I’m lying with my upper back flush to the floor to relieve body aches, my laptop on an angle on my belly, knowing that this simple act (of distracting myself from the weird ache nagging the whole of my right side) is really one of my biggest December gestures yet – I’m carving out the space and time to rest.
For the longest time, I convinced myself that resting had a lot to do with doing things like napping (trying way too hard to) or any other passive activity where I could clock out from reality. It got to a point where I was only adding to the pressure I had already placed on myself, though this time, it was to not work, to not be productive, to not do anything. The problem was, I was still trying way too hard. It was frustrating.
I still plan to include naps and do-nothing hours into my schedule for next year, but none of these should be about turning reality off like it’s controlled by a light switch. Firstly, because it’s not. But also, I’m realizing that what I really need, what would be really helpful and nourishing, are moments where I can catch up with myself.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to sit down in the quiet of your own solitude and have a conversation with yourself. The kind that you have with your closest friends or closest strangers or closest loved ones, where talking feels like release and things are analyzed and emphatized over until there is this rare kind of peace permeating in the air, suspended in the safety of the space you have created where you exist fully in sublime vulnerability and truthfulness. That. On your own. By yourself. For yourself. Is one of the hardest fucking things to do.
Around this time last year, I had just made the big move out of the city and in to somewhere where I can listen to myself. Somewhere that allowed me a bit of space and a chance to actually build something beyond survival. From that point to now, so much has taken place. In between all those things, a voice would resound from somewhere inside with the word, Rest! accompanied by urges from people who loved me.
It was – still is – hard for me to actually rest. I’ve no qualms about spending alone time, but it’s those conversations-with-the-self that I haven’t quite gotten comfortable with yet.
I am trying, though.
I started meditating on an almost-daily basis. I’m still trying to practise yoga daily or weekly, and the effort has helped. I’ve managed to listen to my body about what foods I can no longer eat and what I can – or when I can eat them – to avoid severe pains. For my birthday this year, I was gifted a tarot deck that appeared some months ago in a dream. I started writing a lot more for myself. Throughout the year, I’ve been gardening and maintaining potted plants on the balcony – this time they’re actually thriving and while I haven’t gotten my thumb quite right on the succulents, I’ve saved around three plants from going kaput on us.
I’ve also been trying through my art, where I started making self-portrait studies because that seemed to be where I was led to by the moons and sea foam paintings I did in the past two years.
The thing is though, a year’s worth of trying isn’t enough to face decades of a life filled with trauma and dread. This is going to take time and I don’t know if I’ll have that time to fully recover, especially if I’ve not been able to recharge in between moments or events or breakdowns.
I’m hoping that perhaps, I can have a hand in making more time for myself. I’m aiming to focus on my End of the Year Review for this week. That means making my usual Instagram posts about books and sketchbooks. I’m also looking for something a bit more challenging to do to add to my end-of-the-year tradition. Perhaps a questionnaire where I actually list down the things that happened this year. Or a manifesto to arm myself for the new year ahead. We’ll see.