Portions of this program not affecting the outcome may have been edited…

Portions of this program not affecting the outcome may have been edited…

I said.*

He laughed, kissed his way up my arm and wiped the tears from his eyes. Those eyes, wet with mirth and, I dare say, blessed relief. I had cracked a joke – riffed on his involvement with game shows – when referring to his censoring of responses he felt just added ‘noise’ to the conversation. I smiled. Tentatively.

And in saying that I reflected on another conversation, last night, about the carefully curated selves we tend to present on social media. Whitewashing troubles and the danger inherent in comparing our lives to those portrayed by others. My friends were there because I had spent most of the preceding day sobbing. I couldn’t work, sleep evaded me, had no appetite and could do little more than lie on the bed. They were surprised by the message “I have fallen apart after the women’s weekend”, for the images posted over the weekend were of a radiant, joyous me. And those images were true – I was filled with joy and excitement and some bubbly wine. It had been a wonderful adventure for me. Of course, I had not posted any pictures of me sobbing. Of smudged cheeks, red eyes and knitted brow. I had taken a selfie as I lay in bed. I had thought about posting it to Facebook. Instead I kept my misery more local. I whitewashed my story.

I guess it’s a fine line between a heavily redacted fairytale social image and ‘oversharing’ personal woes. There have been times when sharing my pain online has gained me support I would otherwise not have received. I’ve seen whole communities rally when they fear someone is at risk. There are times when the sharing then becomes another ‘job’ – of replying to messages or fending off those drawn to crises who are sometimes less than helpful.

Portions of this program not affecting the outcome may have been edited…

I played dress ups on the weekend. Fueled by excitement, effervescent wine and sparkling women, I tried on an astonishing array of frocks. Nearly all of us did. These are the subject of the Facebook photos: sans bra in a black baby doll frock, hands on hips in a sequined purple strapless number with a Dolly Varden skirt and the wedding dress. In those mock bridal photos I look as radiant and joyous as any bride. The lingering massage oil may have contributed to the glow, but my delight at seeing myself in that frock is what illuminates those pictures.

I had never been to a Women’s Weekend before. There’s no way I would have contemplated such a thing until recently. Even so, the notion of it filled me with anxiety. I knew only one other woman there. I was deliberately pushing myself out of my comfort zone. It was a chance to get away. To relax. Connect. Most of all it provided space to STOP.

I am frenetic. I rarely sit still. I am busy. Some of this is necessary – after all, I am a working sole parent without family close by. Much of the busy-ness is self-imposed: a result of perfectionist drive, of anxiety and of distraction. The venue, at Hepburn Springs, was nestled in close to the bush. It was hot. I panicked when I got there. Almost got back in the car to leave.

But I stayed. In the company of those women I relaxed. I sat. I walked at dawn without headphones, climbed a tower to watch the sunrise. I did yoga for the first (and second) time. I can’t say I completely let go of the busy-ness or of the anxiety, but it was quieted. And I STOPPED.

And here’s the rub…

Portions of this program not affecting the outcome may have been edited…

All that busy making means little time for feeling, for deep connection with my psyche. Stopping triggered some sort of release. I first noticed it during the second yoga session when I started crying in the savasana (corpse) pose. After I returned home a wellspring of grief and exhaustion poleaxed me. I could not stop crying. I had no joy. I am usually adept at finding joy in the smallest of things: a leaf curled just so, a ripening quince, soft dog hair. I had no joy. The radiant, joyous mock bride was gone. In her place a husk in a black dress.

Today I am wearing a pretty striped dress in shades of blue, green and pale grey. I have cried a little and grieve some more. I have been to a yoga class at my local gym – I didn’t cry during the savasana but I found it profoundly restful. I did get teary when I spoke to the instructor. My abdominal muscles hurt.

I will survive this crisis. Perhaps it is catharsis. Perhaps cyclical. I am glad I stopped. I will press pause on the perpetual motion machine that is me from time to time. I may cry, but it will be good.

* Actually, to be pedantic, I didn’t manage the whole phrase just ‘Portions of this program blah blah may have been edited…’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s