If Faith can make you do anything, what do you do when you’ve lost your faith? Especially in yourself? It happened to me, and here’s what I did next.
- I ate a lot.
When you feel like there’s something missing, it’s only natural to try and fill it with something else. I’m not even a foodie, and yet, I found myself cramming myself full of calories. Healthy but heavy calories. It felt like I was giving myself a hug from the inside. But the guilt would consume me after I consumed yet another “unnecessary” snack, and I probably countered the effect of nourishing myself better.
Note to self: don’t be so hard on yourself, especially about things like feeding yourself.
- I did a lot of nothing.
I didn’t feel like working, my work is creative. I didn’t feel like exercising, which is usually my go-to self-repair. I didn’t feel like going out with friends, or making new ones. I didn’t feel like reading or writing or painting. I didn’t feel like shopping, or really leaving my house, or my bed for that matter. I just felt like being.
Note to self: don’t be so hard on yourself, just for wanting a break and being by myself.
- I went home.
I’ve lived away from my parents since I was 17. I visit them annually, yet I never consider going back to live with them. Suddenly, all I wanted to do was be home like it was a summer vacation from school all over again, and all I had to do was hang around the house all day, doing whatever I felt like between meals being served at the table and watching TV with my folks and generally knowing they were around. And it’s been great to be home again, every day feels like I’m getting better and more like myself again. (I’ve been home 2 weeks already as I write this, finally feeling inspired enough to do something again.) There’s nothing so nourishing as the love of the people that gave you life.
Note to self: thank you for the kindness of allowing myself to enjoy this time home for what it is, without pressure.
- I gave up on planning.
I had a lot of plans and ideas for the coming months, building on what came before. And then, I didn’t feel like doing anything. And instead of pushing myself further to the edge just to feel like I was a life worth its name, I challenged myself to accept the situation, and myself, as it is, in this very moment. I let things flow as they wanted to, and the only effort I kept making is to accept things just as they were, not as I wanted them to be. Really, truly, be okay with it, including not guilting myself, bullying myself, reprimanding myself, to do better or more or something I wasn’t doing. I just let life unfold like I was watching a movie, rather than being a director. Yes, it’s been really hard work.
Note to self: what is really important will survive this period of inaction. The good ideas remain good.
- I made friends with Time.
Time and I have never gotten along. There’s never enough of it, there’s always something that doesn’t get done or gets lost or limits me in some frustrating way. But this time, I know Time is my friend, because I have been through this before and I know that eventually, things will turn around and I’ll be on top again, and only Time can get me there. So instead of fighting it, I’ve made friends with Time, and we are now taking this journey into the unknown together. We aren’t racing each other anymore.
Note to self: Time is also clearing out the garbage to make space in the house for what’s coming.
- I translated loss into gratitude.
One of the hardest things about non-physical pain is that its origin can be hard to pinpoint. An event may trigger excruciating pain, but it is not usually its origin. The feeling of loss can be inevitable after a feeling of abundance, when things change. But refocusing my attention on what I had the fortune to have and hold for some time, rather than its subsequent disappearance from my life, was a crucial step in bringing back my faith. I had what I had because I am what I am. I didn’t lose it because I failed. I lost it because nothing ever truly belongs to us. We just get to hold it in our hands for a little while, before it continues its journey onward. But… I got to hold it in my hands. And for that, I am ever grateful.
Note to self: I give myself extra credit for realising and implementing this, because I am also grateful for having the capacity to do so. I am grateful for me.
- I made dates with friends who really care.
Sometimes, it’s hard to care about yourself. That’s when you need your friends the most, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of to tell them so. I could never have started to get my faith back without my friends to talk to about the experience I was going through, and sharing my process and progress with them, and really listening to them when they gently reminded me where I had come from and where they knew I was going to go, and all the value I brought into the world. In other words, I borrowed their faith in me, until I started to get my own faith back. I let them give me a piggyback, until I was ready to start walking by myself again.
Note to self: These amazing people are my friends because I am me, and they are grateful for me, too. I did that. I need to give myself credit for that, too.
- I opened my heart again, slowly but surely.
When you lose your faith, the first thing you lose is your courage. Especially to open your heart and to let people in. All you want to do is curl up into a ball because then no one can invade you or hurt you. But after a while, when I started to feel a little stronger and braver, and I dared to open a little corner of my heart again, I found that letting someone in filled up my heart again. It’s like my heart became an empty balloon, and anyone I let in was like a lungful of air blown back into it, expanding it and making it feel full and alive again. I am filling it one lungful at a time, because it still feels scary to risk it popping with one pin prick again, but it’s getting there. It will soon be bulging and shiny again, light and free to float anywhere and everywhere, bringing joy to anyone that sees it.
What is it about full balloons that make us so very happy? Do they remind us of the light, full, happy heart we want?
Note to self: I’m not afraid of anything. I’m not afraid of anything. This too shall pass. This too shall pass very soon.
I may have to remind myself of this daily, like a ritual, just to make it to the day after tomorrow, and I may not believe it with all my being right now, in the lack of faith. But I know it’s true because I’ve seen it before, and I know I’ll get back over there. I have to have faith that my faith will come back. I have to have substitute faith until the real faith is back. Meanwhile, I fill myself with all the good things I know make my life abundant, and wait it out with my new friend, Time.
To be continued…
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