Let me ask you one question; if you could sum up your life in one word, what would it be?
put a limit on; to keep under control.
If I were brutally honest with myself, this is the one word I would pick to define my life so far.
Exercising to maintain and keep my body in control, limiting food intake, being “disciplined”, having “self-control” - reigning in my physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Always maintaining composure, imprisoning myself in the belief that all that I do, needs to be validated, liked and approved by others, thus restricting the fundamental needs of my own.
In a broader sense, restrictions in the UK are now being lifted. We are more able to socialise, go out, see loved ones and feel more “normal”. This runs parallel to my treatment finishing, so really the world is completely opening up for me.
Whilst on one side of the coin, I feel very excited by this- I also feel confused and overwhelmed. As I have been in treatment since November 2019 so my “lock down” has been much more prolonged than most. I would argue that I have been restricted and in lock-down my whole life, and in truth the past few months have all felt quite natural to me.
So, what do you do, if you have any history in restricting yourself? Do you go back to the gym, sign up to the next best fitness regime? Do you go out and say “yes” to every opportunity to socialise and see loved ones? Do you dress like you did? Do you make up for all of the time “lost”? Try out all of your favourite restaurants? Shop for a new wardrobe? Do you stay in your lock-down routine?
None of these, without the others, is healthy. By engaging in one (excessively), we often restrict another. I can only speculate that many of you will have trouble finding balance over the next few weeks, there may be days filled with joy and love and others filled with overwhelm- “how do I fit this all in”, “what do I talk about?!”. We may become burnt out. Tired, not wanting to let others down, afraid of being a bad friend, colleague, coworker, daughter, x,y or z.
As I said, this is all speculation. (as an over-thinker I could go on all day with examples)
However- I feel overwhelmed by my diary already, I am so eager to connect, work, have fun- yet I feel there is no space to breathe. I know it will be a personal test for me to set boundaries with myself, to know and discern when to rest and when I am shutting off, to know I can ask for help, to know I am allowed to be busy, just as I respect others for being busy (even if that is for time to unwind, relax and recalibrate). To set boundaries when my body or mind needs to be nurtured, and to set boundaries with myself to be able to call a friend (or see one) when I need to be emotionally held, cheered up or if I simply want a natter.
Over the next few weeks, my personal priority is to open up, whilst still holding myself wherever I am in that day, week or hour. Opening up for me, means opening up to my needs. Opening up to life means to be curious about why I am restricting myself, where I am and how I am. Opening up is uncomfortable, because, to open up means to allow access for something new. For change. To let go of being restricted, imprisoned and locked-up in every capacity.
Only you can decide how you open up to the world now. Only you can decide whether you want the word you chose at the start to define your next chapter.