I know I want to write this blog but it’s a tough soul-baring one. Even more so than the entries here that have gone before! I plan to share this more publicly too because it’s important. For me and for others.
My life coach asked recently what kind of year 2017 had been for me. “It’s been the year I got shit done” I replied. And it has been. I finally published my book (The Superhero I was Born to Be available from www.sarahwindrum.co.uk in paperback or https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B077DVD5R2 in e-book), got divorced, and am about to move house. It was also the year I removed some of the emotional ‘quick fixes’ from my life that I discuss in Superhero. I got rid of the things that gave my heart a high of temporary pleasure followed by a low of longer term regret. I started 2017 determined my heart would be strong and resist all temptation. I went in hard.
While writing Superhero, I identified the emotional fuel my heart needs. So starting the year I felt that I knew what I needed to do. And I did find pleasure in more positive ways: adventures with my daughter, trips to the theatre, and of course writing. But it seems it was not enough. Because last week after a very difficult few weeks, my heart gave me a scare. I was tired. I was driving home from an event I had attended dutifully rather than from desire. Stopped at a cross roads with a lorry coming towards me, my heart spoke up:
“If you pull out now, with the lorry travelling at that speed, it will probably kill you.”
My mind immediately interjected.
“Don’t be ridiculous! Why would we want to do that? Think of all the trouble that would cause. Heart, you are stupid sometimes.”
And my heart shrunk back again, knowing she was weak and my mind would always win.
On that occasion, and many others, I am truly glad that my mind did win. My strong, clever, wonderful mind. As a teenager when I was struggling with my parents’ difficult relationship, my mind still got straight As in all my exams. When I myself was dealing with my own abusive relationship, my mind got First Class Honours at Oxford University. And every time my heart has wanted to throw me under a bus because she can’t cope with her own inexplicable sadness; my mind has been there to ensure normality resumes.
But at what cost? I am writing this in a beautiful, peaceful place called Croyde in North Devon. Having recognised the signs before my heart spoke up, I had booked a weekend away by myself to recuperate. This place is incredibly special to me. It is where I came to finish Superhero. It is a place where I know I will heal. Having this time to reflect, I can see more clearly what has happened. My heart is naturally weak. I mean at dealing with emotion and not at pumping blood around my body! I don’t know why. And over years I have weakened my heart further by refusing to acknowledge her struggles, her sadness, her pain. What is ridiculous to my mind is very real to my heart. Instead of giving both acknowledgment, I have celebrated my strong mind and left my heart neglected. So this year was the year I wanted to strengthen my heart. I wanted to focus on my long term happiness and on bringing my heart the acknowledgment she craved. But, perhaps inevitably for me, I have been a little too stern. Cutting away my heart’s temporary pleasure at the same time as forcing her out into the open.
The Superhero I was Born to Be explores my battles in life and the strategies I use to fight through them. As part of its promotion, I have talked and talked and talked about my sadness to audiences full of people I know and people I don’t. It has brought forth a rollercoaster of emotions. Wonderful feedback from readers coupled with the overwhelming desire for the floor to open up and swallow me whole. During the whole promotion, I drank no alcohol and had no sex (‘quick fix’ pleasures) but also I didn’t write or read or spend time replenishing my energy. My heart had no sustenance or fuel and I made her perform again and again, all the while claiming it was for ‘her own good’.
And in a way it was. I needed to limit quick fix pleasures and I have. 2017 is not a year I will look back on with long term regret as a result. My heart needed acknowledgment for her pain and she has it. Sharing my sadness has helped enormously. Over the past few weeks in particular when I have told people I am struggling, kindness and support has flooded back. All precious. All absorbed most gratefully by my weak heart as she heals. But I have not given her kindness. I have not given her support. Instead, I have been a hard taskmaster.
So this blog serves as the sincerest of apologies to my long-suffering heart. For my recent birthday, I received two beautiful heart necklaces as gifts which I will wear throughout 2018 to remind me of this pledge …
- Heart, I am glad you are weak, as without your weakness my mind would have grown strong
- Heart, I am glad you struggle, because through your sadness I experience the true kindness of others
- Heart, I promise I will try to strengthen you no further; only accept you as you are