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My journey from burnout to grace — Part 2

The storm before the calm


In Part One, I wrote about my burnout being a call from my soul, calling me back into conversation with my inner wisdom.

I knew that I could not go with my old strategies of trying to get better but I thought if I did nothing, I would be ill forever. I could not see another way to be, beyond the striving, achieving self I had always been.

I felt torn in two. I was the wee scared self (wss) who needed her plans and her strategies for recovery. But another consciousness started to make itself known, that I called the Witness Susan Self (WSS) who, inexplicably, was whispering “There is nothing wrong”.

Both parts felt real, I was terrified I was descending into mental illlness and simultaneously fascinated.

All I could do was try to describe it in my journal.

“wss is scared of missing out, being left behind, of delusion. She keeps making plans for a future that does not exist, in despair over a past now gone. She does not know who she is without a plan, how will she get out of bed? She loves her problem solving mind, her analytical skills that are failing her now. She is the needy girl, face pressed against the window, even now, even here, begging “Let me in”. Her only question was always “Why?”. She needs to know, she can’t let go until she knows.

Her need to know feels like a tantrum, wss is a toddler throwing a fit, shaking her fist towards the heavens, hot tears streaming from her eyes, her face red and scrunched in anger. The anger of being misunderstood, ignored, sidelined.

WSS watches with compassionate love, scoops wss into her arms and asks tenderly “what do you want, my darling?”

wss sobs “I want to be loved, I want to be free, I want to be seen, to run and jump and play. I want you to look at me and see who I am”.

Who am I?

Who am I without my plans? Who am I without the solid ground of everything I took myself to be?

Who is this I who wants so desperately?

Who is this I who sees?

I want to know the answers and I want them now.

WSS soothes my fevered brow, brushes hot sweaty hair from my eyes.

“You do not need the answers, not yet, not yet, yet”

“But I want them”, wss wails.

A storm is raging inside me, against a paradoxical background of peace and joy. A hurricane of pain and longing is blowing through me, created by a S/self that both knows and refuses to know.

I am a spiritual schizophrenic. Two tracks playing their simultaneous songs.

There is nothing wrong/I am losing my mind/There is nothing wrong/I am losing my mind/There is nothing wrong/I am losing my mind/There is nothing wrong/I am losing my mind.

WSS says “Relax and enjoy the storm, let it blow right through you without resistance, you will soon smell the ozone in the crisp morning air.”

wss says “You are losing your mind, you need to stop right now, go back to where you came from, you were safe there. Everyone will think you are crazy, you are making it all up. Why can’t you just be normal? Who do you think you are? You are going to lose everything and everybody.

I am losing my mind. WSS applauds in the background.

“At last”, she says.

“Be brave, my love, come home”

wss is terrified. WSS just smiles.”

During these months, I spent most of my time in bed, watching the trees outside my window. Those trees were my teachers.

Autumn
No resistance to the shedding
The beauty in letting go
Winter
No resistance to the storms
The beauty of being blown
Spring
No resistance to the blooming
The beauty of new growth
Summer
No resistance to the fullness
The beauty of it all.


Then one day, the electricity company came and lopped the branches off the trees. I added a haiku to my poem:

Branches gone, stripped bare
Essence remains, still a tree
Nothing real is lost

I began to see that I am not my achievements, my First Class Honours degree, my career, my health, my energy levels, my contribution to the world, my thoughts, my actions, my good intentions.

I began to see I was not mad, I was waking up.

I began to see that there WAS nothing wrong — read more in Part 3 next week.

Originally published at medium.com

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