I am travelling the world and performing poetry.
I have just moved to New Zealand after competing at the National Team Slam Finals in America, representing Australia.
I am living in a beautiful area with beautifully kind people.
I released a new poetry video last week (click here to watch it), which has been received well.
I live here
But today, my greatest success is: I managed to eat…
It took me until just before midnight to do it but I did. I haven’t drunk enough but I’m going to make an almond milk hot chocolate in a minute, the minute that I’ve been promising in my mind for the last hour. I did not make it out of bed until around 2pm but I’ve at least attempted some writing, which I have of course saved under “*Insert title of poem* SHIT”. And I did have a shower – which is an amazing feat because, on days like this, the first unpredictable blast of water is like jumping through a pain of glass (typo intended).
I have a reminder on my phone set to go off everyday to message a close and dear friend of mine to tell them to eat, drink, write and shower. But, honestly, everyday it reminds me too.
I meant to go outside today. It was sunny and warm (so much for pathetic fallacy!). But with the shards of shower still stuck in my back and the salt rub of clothing decisions to be made and the lemon juice of potential social interaction, I decided to band aid myself back in bed.
I did not leave my room again until 5pm. I wanted to but the voices of others around the house built a barbed wire barrier that I would have to climb through just to exit. I put headphones in with no music on to isolate myself from the inevitable, kind inquisition of housemates, like I will sometimes wish I had crutches despite not usually needing them – they just make the injury visible. The kind inquisition comes and I remind myself through the electrical storm zapping my brain that they do indeed mean it as a kindness and not lightning rods but I am struggling to ground myself right now.
My mumbled insulation, “I’m sorry, I’m mentally exhausted today…” felt rude and cutting – not to me, but it felt like I felt like I should feel like it was, based on how I’ve seen people feel. This is a complicated and multilayered thought process that I am aware is taking up far too much of the limited energy supplies I have. I quickly return to my room and message an apology.
Annoyed that in the one interaction I have had today, I’ve apologised twice already. And neither should’ve been necessary – they probably weren’t. But we do that, don’t we? Say sorry because we can’t be the thing or fulfil our side of the script or engage in small talk or feel in a controlled manner. I try to let people know in advance that sometimes this will happen. Because it does. No one ever says it’s a problem (but sometimes it is). When I can, I apologise anyway. I calm myself by promising that when I feel stronger, and have more spoons – I will say “I’m not going to say sorry for xyz but I do want you to know that it wasn’t intended to be rude, it was a necessary part of the path to now but I appreciate it may have come across as abrupt.”
I am relieved when I hear the house go to bed. I am dehydrated. Because drinking means needing to pee and peeing means leaving the room. I am hungry but… well… see above. My phone vibrates reminding me to remind my friend to eat. I have two unread messages that I haven’t dared open due to the pressure then to reply but I see the positive preview lines to one and it is quiet now so I open it – it is someone messaging to thank me for how my poetry has touched them lately (N.B. if you like a poet’s – or any artist’s – work then please, please, PLEASE tell them, share their work if you can, tell others too – you have no idea how much it means! NO IDEA!). I open the other message and it is my friend reminding me to eat – sometimes the syncopated beauty of life is incredible. All these things combine with the silence of the night and give me enough push to make my way to the kitchen for the mountainous task of cooking:
Today is avoiding the microwave because the beeps are an unworldly level of piercing;
Today is thumb and forefinger picking carefully through the cutlery draw so as not to bring the knives jangling into my head, whilst I find the right shape and weight of eating utensil – thinner is better;
Today is avoiding anything needing frying, slicing or more than one step of preparation because focus is not my forté right now;
Today is setting a gentle alarm on my phone to remind me when I need to take food out of the oven, knowing that I will not allow it to go off anyway because see microwave noise note above,
Today is not a creative meal. But it is a meal and it tastes like self-care and victory.
I return to my room. I eat, watch Rick & Morty then begin to write this. The clock has continued to push its way inevitably forward to 5am. I’ve been trying to see more sunsets and less sunrises so I tell myself this will have to wait for editing another day. After all, it could be any day. I stay up editing anyway. This often happens.
I am psyching myself up to brush my teeth when I remember the hot chocolate that I haven’t really forgotten – but to leave it now would be a horrific failure. However, if I have hot chocolate I will need to go to the kitchen, come back to my room to drink it (because… potential interaction), go back to the kitchen to wash mug, go to the bathroom to brush teeth and then get into bed. This feels like too many steps so I make a plan… I will brush my teeth on the way to the kitchen, get hot chocolate, bring it back to my room, drink it then sleep. One journey is most efficient. Washing the mug can wait and my teeth will have to be happy they got brushed at all.
I boldly use the microwave to warm up the almond milk but keep a close eye out, stopping it before it finishes because the finishing beep is louder and longer than the cancelling one but less of a hassle than heating everything up in a saucepan, which will require washing…
I drink it, I watch gamers do speedruns on YouTube and I sleep.
Why am I telling you all of this?
I am trying to live an open, truthful and authentic life and I am aware that, like many others, I have a tendency towards posting mostly successes and good things on my social media and so then it can come as a surprise to others when I break. And I do break. I have a litany of patterns, routines, self care strategies, back ups, check ins and reminders to try to keep myself working and I still break. But I am also still here and it is a good idea to post up "how", once in a while. Even the seemingly small things in a day like this carry significance in survival…
The quiet time in my room shows I am listening to myself. The eating shows I want to live. The hot chocolate shows tomorrow may be achievable. The shower and teeth brushing show I am willing to push myself. The unwashed mug shows I know my limits. The messages I received show I am cared about and the validation I felt shows I care about the world - wanting to be a valued part of it. Writing this blogpost shows I understand the importance of positively affirming all these things. Posting it up shows I know there are others out there that need to see they are not alone.
You are not alone.
If you feel it, message me and we’ll see what we can do – I may not always manage replying but I will always try.
(And even without reply, just by doing it, you are showing: you value yourself)
Look at your own patterns, look at those around you, try to set up contingency plans, have people you can check in with/ will check in with you, do not feel bad when you are not able to and take time to recognise the seemingly small achievements and differences that collectively equate to survival.