I haven’t blogged in months. Not since the beginning of June to be precise.
I was riding high on a wave of positivity; my image having appeared on billboards in Times Square and Piccadilly Circus. I’d been on BBC Radio London and made a repeat appearance on BBC Radio 5 Live. There were press articles too…the Evening Standard, Stylist, Bustle and I was even in Oprah magazine. I had achieved what I’d wanted to – raised the visibility of flat women and demonstrated that flat is beautiful. So why the lack of blogs? Where did that excitement and positivity go?
I’m still not sure but I want to try to explore the possible reasons with you.
First the positive – physically, I’m in the best shape that I’ve been for years and years. I don’t mean that I’ve lost loads of weight. More that I’m fit and strong again.
I exercise now because I can. Because I couldn’t for so long. I love it and it makes me happy. I know how lucky I am to be able to exercise so much. Not everyone can and some are able to do much more than I can. There have been times when my excitement at what I’ve achieved has meant that I’ve posted about it rather enthusiastically.
Yes, I am excited that my body is now capable of doing what it now can, and I want to share my story to encourage others to do whatever they can …for themselves. Not to please anyone except themselves. And not to outdo anyone else. Just to experience the joy of movement however small or big that movement may be.
Mentally, however, I have been low for much of the summer. It’s actually exercise and counselling that have kept my head above water. My anxiety has been at a really high level, I’ve procrastinated (hence no blogs), and I’ve withdrawn socially. I’ve felt lonely and isolated and again I’ve felt unable to go away for more than a few days.
I’m in a very difficult phase in my counselling at the moment. I’m finding it challenging and now I realise why I’ve never fully committed to what I always knew that I needed to work through. Once the genie is out of the bottle, she’s not going to get back in there easily.
I know that the work I’m doing is going to have a positive outcome for me but, my goodness, it’s hard. It’s making me challenge many of my relationships and ask difficult questions of myself. I’m learning how to change deep rooted behaviours and beliefs and to focus on what I want to do for myself. Believe me, that does not come easily to me.
Then throw into the mix that two important people in my life, Liam and my counsellor, who I rely on to talk to and get my feelings out, went missing from my life. Liam is working in India for two weeks each month. I miss being able to walk into his garden office and talk about how I’m feeling with him. My counsellor, on who I have come to depend, went on holiday twice over the summer. How dare she? Seriously, I missed my sessions so much and found it so hard not to be able to talk to her for three whole weeks.
Comparison is unhelpful
Life has sometimes been difficult these last few months and I’ve compounded this by comparing myself to what others are doing and mentally beating myself up. Why can’t I go on holiday? – I’m such an idiot for allowing my feelings to stop me. I wish I could run a marathon, swim thirty lengths a day, cycle for twelve hours non-stop – I need to be fitter and stronger. How does that person get all the luck? – it never happens to me. Not helpful thoughts.
Then there’s the articles, posts and comments that I read regularly about living life to the full after or whilst living with cancer. And all of those amazing people completing the most incredible challenges. Live your best life, don’t waste any more time, compile & complete your bucket list is what I hear and read.
I’ve thought about this a lot. Being on social media and seeing all the incredible things that others are doing can be difficult if I allow it to be.. One assumption is that all of us who have had or still have cancer should be able to achieve the same. That’s obviously nonsense but I think that it does put pressure on those of us who are struggling mentally – I include myself here.
My best life
I love that people are enjoying their lives doing just what they want to do and pushing themselves to their limit …they are living their best lives and I salute them. My best life is just that – my best life.
Right now, my best life centres around my home – my safe place – my family, some close friends, my dogs, my counsellor and my personal trainer. These are what make me feel good.
Right now, I’m not able to travel to all of those places I’d love to go to, to take on big physical challenges, to push myself out of my comfort zone very often, to travel on the tube, to go in lifts.
But I am living my best life. It’s just that it’s not your best life.