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Coping with the Tide of Life

Photo by Richard Smith
Photo by Richard Smith

Today I feel lost and broken and sad. I’m sitting in the conservatory of the house we rent in Geneva. The doors are open and a light breeze is playing with the hem of my dress. The sky is a blue blanket dotted with wisps of cotton. I want to fly into it and disappear. I’d prefer dark clouds and cleansing rains. Black kites soar above me, casting shadows on our lawn, noisy and ominous as they search for prey. Just ahead, past the swing set, stands a tall lavender bush surrounded by splashes of colourful tulips. The beauty does not lift my mood. All I am conscious of is uncertainty and my own inadequacies.

I’m not sure what brought me to this place. A sense of having lost an anchor, perhaps. A mixed bag of niggling worries. Worrying, according to Buddhism, is a useless emotion, a waste of energy. Usually, I can identify the reason for feeling low. I find a solution or apply a plaster: a hug, tea and biscuits, sleep, write lists to keep from feeling overwhelmed, listen to music, dance in the kitchen with the kids. All of these usually help. But emotions are complex and cannot always be controlled, soothed or even recognised. Sometimes, they are just a murky mist of shapeless ghosts. A fog that eventually lifts.

I am grateful for the silent expression of writing, the soothing rhythm of my fingers as they move over the keyboard, that I don’t have to articulate my thoughts out loud. There is magic in surrendering to a blank page, of savouring the words which appear, a reflection of self. There is wisdom that comes with not rushing to analyse, of not having a conversation partner trying to fix you. Because sometimes a black tide of sadness comes in, and we have neither to make sense of it nor ignore it. What helps is just to be with it, to accept that the sadness will recede and we will find our footing again.

As a child, I was honest about my feelings, clear when I didn’t agree, unwilling to be artful. My parents sent me to a small primary school with a home away from home philosophy. They felt I wore my heart on my sleeve and needed to be protected. As an adult, I understand that there is both strength and fragility in baring ourselves to the world. Life is messy. It is nothing like the polished images we present of ourselves on social media. It twists and turns, and that is part of its beauty, the bright dawn against the night sky.

All we can do is cope in our own way, ask for help when we need it, do the work, make progress inch by inch, and remember what we are grateful for.

15 thoughts on “Coping with the Tide of Life

  1. Words written are often a comfort in themselves at times like this. Just articulating whatever it is you don’t know you feel can help. I sense a little homesickness in here, but I would not presume to know that. Whatever it is, it will pass, as all things do, and in the meantime, keep those fingers tapping over the keyboard, because communication, in whatever form it takes, is most important to keep that fog from taking up a more permanent residence. And do ask for help. We’re all here, out here in the ether, to listen. For what its worth.
    Much Love, J xx

    1. Cheers JB. We know each other well enough for you to be able to presume. Maybe that’s it. Though it looks like we’ll be home soon enough and then it’ll be the lake and mountains I’ll miss. Thank you x

      1. It doesn’t matter what’s the matter. Often it’s nothing in particular. It just is and we wait for the storm to pass, and knowing it will is the only thing we need to know. Much love friend xx

  2. When the black tide sweeps in, there is often nothing that can be done except to be left alone to ride it out – past the best intentions of decent people who mean well and try to lift a spirit that will normally dance on the tree tops but for the moment does not wish to be disturbed.

  3. “A murky mist of shapeless ghosts” – such a beautiful and stirring image.

    These messy moments that you refer to often destabilise us more because we tend to withdraw and not speak of them. I am guilty of that. Your willingness to write it out and share it with an audience is of great comfort to someone like me. We all have our moments of vulnerability, but we feel less vulnerable when we are not alone.

    I know this will pass, but in the meantime I will send you virtual hugs and remind you that your writing is beautiful and inspiring x

  4. Hugs and sympathy are probably not enough for when those feelings of loss and sadness creep in, but I’m offering them to you anyway. And I am physically not that far away, if you do need someone to talk to.
    I remember driving back home after dropping the children off at school, on a beautiful sunny day, with a view of snow-capped Mont Blanc taking my breath away – something that would normally lift up my spirits… and it made me want to cry and despair.
    Hope you find a way to cope with those messy moments – writing is probably a good way.

    1. Thanks Marina. So lovely of you to stop by and comment. It will pass. I think we all must have moments like that.

      We were meant to have to meet months ago. Not sure how things get so busy. If you have time in May perhaps we can have a walk/lunch or pop into a gallery in May. My email is nillu writes at gmail dot com.

  5. Your words have very beautifully described what so many of us women feel at times. These moments though sad are necessary fir the soul and to help move us forward. Take care xxx

    1. Nina, how lovely to see you here. Hope you are all well. And thank you. Yes, I think both genders probably go through these phases of darkness and questioning, and I read somewhere that a dip comes before a breakthrough. For now, there is love and friends and chocolate :).

  6. Beautifully written, despite the painful wounds of the feeling of lost self worth or inadequacy. For me, that means it’s simply time to detach a little from the “auto pilot” mode of working, caring for the children, keeping the house. It’s time to allow thoughts to marinate in my brain. The time quiet and alone (and writing) is the beginning of my restoration. Have a beautiful day!

    1. Thanks so much. What a caring comment, and yes, I think you are right and I am probably quite similar too you. Sometimes, you just need to withdraw and let your self heal. Best wishes and thanks again for commenting, Nillu

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