Last week T and I were in Edinburgh. It's a beautiful city (I'll probably post some of my many photos soon) and it was nice to have a bit of a break together - we haven't managed a holiday together this year and I think we're both feeling a bit worn down.
It was brought home to me just how worn down I am on a visit to the Scottish Museum. Normally I love museums, and usually have to be dragged out at closing time. On this day, however, I began to feel quite uncomfortable there after only an hour or so. The discomfort quite rapidly grew into full-blown claustrophobia, and in the end I left, telling myself I would go and get lunch somewhere and return afterwards.
Once settled in a small cafe however, I realised that I didn't want to go back to the Museum. I didn't want to leave that warm and sunny cocoon of a cafe. So I stayed. I ate my sandwich, drank my latte (and then another - and then another), and wrote in my journal. And as I wrote, I realised what the problem was. I am exhausted, and I've been ignoring the exhaustion, not listening to the needs of either my body or soul. I didn't need a day filled with absorbing culture and taking in facts, figures, dates. I needed to sit and doodle with my coloured pens, watch the leaves fall one by one from the plane trees in the square, sip milky coffee. And listen, really listen, to what my body was telling me.
Last year, I underwent my Reclaiming-Feri initiation and also student taught at Avalon Witchcamp for the first time, both huge, intense events for me. This year, I pulled together the British Reclaiming Summer Gathering in about 6 weeks, a feat I still can't believe I managed, and probably one of the most stressful experiences of my life. All the while I have been carrying on as normal, being my usual smiley self and brightly saying, 'Yes, I'm fine!' if anyone has asked.
Now I have to admit: no, actually I'm not fine.
This is hard for me. I'm not good at admitting I can't cope, I'm not good at asking for help. I'm good at soldiering on, putting on a happy face and denying my needs.
That night - the night after the abortive Museum visit - I dreamed I was trying to help a woman who had been knocked down in a hit and run accident. She was almost submerged in mud and I was unsure whether she was in more danger of suffocating from the mud or being further injured if I tried to move her. In the end I went for help.
Now, in waking life, I am also going for help. I'm accepting offers of all kinds of help from friends and family ('Yes, I'd love you to cook dinner!', 'Yes a back-rub would be great!', 'Oh thank you for feeding the chickens for me!'). And I'm helping myself. Listening to what my body wants and providing it - naps, nourishing food, gentle walks, time amongst the trees - and meditating, journalling.
I have come down with a heavy cold, but at the same time I feel better than I have in months. I am helping myself out of the mud and finding that my injuries aren't life threatening after all. Not if I acknowledge they're there and deal with them.