“You need to live not just be alive. Take in every moment. Do spontaneous things without asking anyone’s permission! Leave anything that makes you unhappy and be content with who you are.” Kaydee Watkins (ahiddenillness.blogspot.com)
These are the words of one of the fellow congenital heart disease warriors that I have connected with on social media. Just 6 years ago she was fighting for her life. She posted this wisdom on Saturday morning along with a photo of her in a coma in intensive care.
And it struck my heart like a beautiful sledge hammer.
I realised that this is what I need. This is how I want to live.
I’ve done a lot of reflecting this year. A close friend pointed out to me on Friday night (as we stayed up chatting until the wee hours) that I’ve been looking at my life, myself, under a magnifying glass.
She’s right. I have.
And I’ve realised how much of my life has been automatic, routine. Doing the same things. Thinking, feeling, being.
You know that feeling you get sometimes when you arrive somewhere and you can’t remember the journey? You’ve done it so many times that it has become automatic. You know the route really well but you don’t notice the details of it any more. You just do it over and over again, without caring whether you are enjoying it or not.
Its a means to an end.
Well in many ways I’ve been living so much of my life like that. What opportunities, what beauty, what excitement, have I missed because of it? What have I ignored, gone past, not noticed, not allowed myself?
And I’ve been asking myself why.
Why have I got like this?
Another close friend said to me this weekend (as I spent a second night in a row chatting until the wee hours) that sometimes we won’t ever know the why, but we can work out the how. She was referring to something different, related to other people’s behaviour towards us. I completely agree with her.
But I think that for our own behaviour, our own patterns, the why is in us.
For me, the why is buried under a lot of stuff. I’ve chosen to hide it, from myself, from others.
And the more stuff that I’ve piled on top over the years, the more automatic I’ve become. And the more of my life, myself I’ve lost.
It’s not just one thing, one reason. It’s many. But they are connected, stemming from the same thing.
Fear of rejection. Fear of not fitting in. Fear of letting people down. Fear of losing people. Fear of making mistakes. Fear of risk. Fear of loss.
I’ve talked about fear a lot over the last six months or so, but what have I really done to tackle it?
Outwardly, not much yet. But inwardly?
Inwardly I’ve been hauling a giant magnifying glass around and observing myself in new ways. Facing open heart surgery has led me to do this.
And believe me when I say that some things look extremely ugly close up. Really they do. But other things look shockingly beautiful! I’ve been surprised, alarmed, amazed at what is inside myself. At who I am.
I’ve found hopes, dreams, desires, wishes that I didn’t know still existed in me, or I didn’t know were there at all. Some weird, some wonderful.
And I’m finally realising just how important it is to be spontaneous, be true to myself, be me.
I’m tired of having everything so planned out, so diarised that there is no room for doing whatever I feel like doing in the moment. It doesn’t feel right. It’s not right for me. It has been stressing me out for several years. I don’t mind being busy, but I need more balance, more fun, more adventure.
I need space in my life, my week, my days to be in the moment, to go with the flow. To do what I feel and want to do at that time. How can I possibly know today what I will feel like doing in 2 months time?
Don’t get me wrong there is a time for planning ahead, and routine is important. But things have got out of balance for me, gone too far.
And it has been suffocating me.
I want to have days where I get up in the morning and take myself somewhere, anywhere. Do new things, have new experiences. Without having to ask anyone’s permission.
I’m getting my heart fixed soon. A second chance. A new lease of life and I want to live it to the full. Be myself to everyone. No more hiding. No more excuses. No more apologising for who I am.
This is just the beginning. A new one at that.