I’ve spent a fair amount of time nursing regret at what I should’ve done in my life. It just seeps into you at times, you don’t realise you’re holding on so tightly.
Realising that life is a gift and that the journey is also a gift made me stop and think about why I’m lugging regret around with me.
What does it serve?
I’m talking about the regrets we have when we don’t take action in our lives, not the regrets we have when we’ve hurt someone.
There’s no reason why we can’t just aim for what we want our lives to be like, little by little. Just because we didn’t do that last week, or last year, or even five or ten years ago, that doesn’t mean we can’t still aim for that desire now.
There’s a saying that goes something like you’re a long time dead. Sobering thought. We may as well make good on what we want to do whilst we journey through this thing called life.
It’s Pancake Day here in the UK. As a child pancakes were something we ate in the run up to Easter, to herald the start of Lent. My family were fairly religious, so this was something we did partake in.
As an adult and someone who has practiced the craft for over 30 years, Pancake Day was acknowledged in my house as my children were fond of pancakes. The religious meaning behind the day had gone.
But did you know that the original celebration was a pagan festival?
The Slavs – a diverse group of tribal people, who lived throughout central and Eastern- Europe circa the 5th – 10th century – worshipped a God named Jarilo (I think it’s pronounced Yarilo). They believed that the changing of the season, from winter to spring, was a struggle between Jarilo, who was the God of vegetation, fertility and springtime, and the spirits of the cold and darkness.
They believed they had to help Jarilo win this struggle and this was a part of their spring celebration. The entire celebration lasted a week, with a large part of it making and eating pancakes. The hot, round pancakes symbolised the sun, and the Slavs believed that by eating the pancakes they would be imbued with the power, heat and warmth of the sun.
I think that is a wonderful and happy belief to have.
What a year this has been. I started it off with the intention of loving myself. Regular readers of this blog will know that I have struggled with a lack of self love for a very long time. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions – which I always break by the middle of February at the very latest – I decided to dedicate the year to loving myself. I started off great, I was able to practice self love each day; that was until we hit lockdown in March.
That was when things went downhill.
I have CPTSD – Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – and had been in a hyper vigilant state for most of my adult life. I had gone through therapy that had helped me enormously, but I lost my ability to cope once the UK went into lockdown.
I became so paranoid and stressed, I was crying most days and really couldn’t cope with the threat of being stopped by the police or some other official anytime I left the house.
By my birthday I’d had a breakdown and was in a really dark place. I felt like I had failed at the self love project and started thinking very dark and scary thoughts. I eventually went to see a Dr. and got prescribed anti-depressants.
After a few weeks I began to feel better in myself. That nearly came to an end in late summer, I needed a smear and the first attempt failed – I was really calm and positive too. The second attempt was a disaster also. Flashbacks, panic attacks, massive triggers….they also couldn’t get a sample of cells. I cried all the way home. I felt like I was 16 again.
But out of that experience I felt empowered to help other women who have suffered any form of sexual violence, and domestic abuse too. I was so determined to put my own experiences to some use that I enrolled with the OU to study Psychology with Counselling.
And as we enter the final month of what can only be termed as a horrific year, I feel empowered, well, happy, determined, and I certainly practice self love.
You see, I now know that going to the GP to get the medication was an act of self love. I know that pushing through my trauma triggers and flashbacks has catapulted me forward to a place where I can try to make a difference to women who have suffered at the hands of rapists and abusers.
2020 broke me. But I rose from the ashes and I am rebuilding my life on my own terms.
This year the holiday season feels more poignant than ever before. This year has been dominated by loss. It has driven home the message for me that life is for living.