“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”.
- Lao Tzu
I love that quote. It has so much depth of meaning. Yes, to making a start on something. Yes, to even the smallest step, one at a time, one day at a time. You’ll make progress on that journey. Whether it’s a specific goal you’re walking towards or life in general. It’s all a journey.
And like all journeys, sometimes it has twists and turns. Holdups. Delays. Bumps in the road. It slows us down. Trips us up. Even forces us to stop. Albeit temporarily.
It’s how I’ve been feeling lately. Stuck. Delayed. Tripped up. On hold. This isn’t new to me. It’s happened many times before. Usually self-inflicted. Usually low self-esteem issues. Many times not listening to my intuition. Ignoring the whispers that something is off or more importantly, missing an opportunity because of fear or taking a wrong turn because of ignoring the signs.
Those days are more or less gone. Bringing up my family. Divorcing. Finding love again. Building a career from a much loved hobby have all contributed to me finding my true self. To silencing the self-hate talk. There’s something wonderful about reaching a certain age too! I had a “it’s now or never” moment many years ago. That was liberating. Of realising this is my life. My journey. No one is going to do it for me. All those things caused delays in my journey. And as I said, very self inflicted delays.
This latest delay was something completely different and threw me. Unexpected. Came from nowhere. I ended up in hospital really quite unwell after having a minor op. I contracted a uterine infection as a result. I also inadvertently took an overdose of co-codamol. All this landed me in accident and emergency and then being admitted to hospital. I was in for a week and boy, was I unwell. I’ve never been that unwell. What was happening? Is this really me? Surely not.
Once home from hospital, although still horribly fatigued and feeling weak and wobbly, I thought I could get back to life. Yes, there were more outpatient appointments, yes I need more surgery but I knew it was the right thing and would eventually be the best thing for me. Until such a time, I thought I could just get on with life as it was before.
Boy was I wrong. This bump in the road was big. It tripped me up and injured me badly. I found it hard to concentrate for any real length of time. I couldn’t even get back to my beloved design work. Even doing some drawing, crochet, anything creative was a major task. I found myself crying for no apparent reason. Like full on sobbing. I felt violated - yes, that’s a strong word - but that’s how I felt. Dramatic, yes. But it really is how I felt. I realised I was feeling frustrated and slowly getting more depressed.
I talked this all through with Steve, my GP and then at my next outpatient appointment. Realising these emotions and the physical fatigue was all normal, and to some degree, side effects of some medication, I felt better. I could rationalise it and realise that this is just a moment in time. I wasn’t losing my mind.
The coming months are filled with various outpatient appointments, an MRI scan, counselling and then probably a hysterectomy later in the year. This is me right now. This is the truth of my life at this moment in my journey.
Having embraced all of that, I started to feel better. Talking it all over with Steve and going to my GP definitely helped. Realising that these things happen. That they’re often out of your control. We can choose to stop and listen to our bodies and what they’re telling us. To stop and take time out of the journey and embrace the imperfections in the road or face the possibility of continuing and causing more damage. To live a life that’s less than the best for you. As hard as it is, to just stop. Listen.
My creativity has returned. I’m slowly getting back to work. But on my terms. I’m grateful for a husband that supports me, gently guides me, listens to me and holds me when all I can do is cry. I’m grateful for a community of artists, designers and followers who had my back and gave me so much wonderful advice that got me back to my art. To my creativity. I’m grateful for my family and friends who have prayed for me, supported me, encouraged me. They have my back too. Their love has literally held me up on my worst days.
This isn’t the end of the delay. Chances are I’m facing several more months of delay but that’s ok. I’m excited to see what happens during that time. We can’t always control when the unexpected happens. Illness. Accidents or whatever. But we can control how we deal with it. We can control how we look at it. Why is this happening? What is this saying about my life right now? It’s worth taking that time out, embrace what’s happened, listen and learn.