I’ve felt a little cheerless not putting pen to paper of late, but two weeks ago I had “one of those weeks”.
The highlight was an online speed awareness course and my greatest success was getting my hands on a medical grade scalpal to retrieve a deeply embeddded splinter from the ball of my left foot. I had no more than a few hours’ sleep most nights, spent seventy-two hours sobbing my heart out and had my first panic attack in four years.
I guess, actually, it hadn’t just been one of those weeks, it had been rather fucking horrendous.
The saddest thing is, I should be high on life right now. I’ve just landed my dream job at a dream company in a dream country – I got the lease on a dream apartment too, overlooking Vejle’s Radhus. And after four years of hell, followed by three years steamrollering my way out of hell, I genuinely thought I deserved it – a break. I thought surely, finally, it was time for the good stuff.
But apparently the universe still had a few slingshots of lifeturd to catapult my way…
The Ghost of Traumas Past
The integrity of my digital baby Mindless Mag came under fire on social media for something that was misinterpreted and subsequently manipulated until the point where I was being lambasted left right and cente by complete strangers; people who know nothing about me, nothing about my story or why I set up Mindless in the first place – and clearly nothing about what we stand for.
I took immediate action, providing clarity on the situation and issued a heartfelt apology for any offense caused, but it wasn’t enough. We went on to receive further backlash. My phone turned into a bubbling Hell of notifications; each and every buzz sending tremors of hatred through to my core as my soul began to shatter.
I was out of my depth and with the mental wellbeing of my team (and myself) as first priority, I knew there was only one thing I could do: I shut the whole thing down. Our social media was temporarily decactivated and I deleted the apps from my phone, even my personal accounts. In the press of a button, Scroll Free Sundays had turned into Scroll Free July.
While doing this, switching off, instantly settled my stomach, the misalignment of my good intentions with the negative perceptions of those few strangers hit me hard. My eyes were the size of golf balls from crying. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t hide the misery from my voice. I felt hopeless. All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and sleep forever.
Those feelings, that scenario, they all felt unnvervingly familiar. In fact, they mirrored two significantly catastrophic events that had happened precisely seven years and four years prior – and I can’t help but think that is not just a coincidence. There’s got to be more to it than that.
It was although I’d invited an emotional blueprint of my past back into my present to haunt me.
The Universe Has Your Back
“The universe will keep sending you the same lesson over and over again until you learn it,” one of my best friends, Clare, said to me in her successful attempt to speed up my recovery. I knew she was right. And I knew that this time, I was going to cajole myself out of the heartache before it could take hold. This time I was going to pass the test.
After a few days wallowing in self pity and letting the pain pass through me, I began overdosing on Deepak Chopra meditations, Whim Hof breathing techniques, Gabrielle Bersnstein’s written word and Kenneth Soares soothing sleep remedies. I treated myself to some human touch in the form of a massage and I paid a stocky German guy called Michael a lot of money to make me cry in a good way – with deadlifts and russian twists.
On the Saturday, my new colleagues threw me a “Welcome to Vejle” gathering and despite being paranoid about my swollen eyes and inability to light up a room, I forced myself to go. I’ve done enough reading up on the benefits of socialising to know the instant cognitive impact of good people and good conversations. And my decision didn’t let me down.
For those few hours, while we sat on a balcony watching the sun go down over Vejle’s marina, my body and mind completely forgot about everything that had happened. I was effervescent with excitement. I was back to being me. I had stories to tell and I was laughing until my belly hurt.
When Sunday came, I decided that my week from Hell was officially over. I wasn’t going to be dragging those painful thoughts or feelings from the past into my present, and I certainly wouldn’t be taking them into my future.
First, I wanted fresh air and greenery. I was craving that feeling of sanctuary you get when you’ve left the man-made world behind and there’s nobody else around. I set off early and walked for hours amongst the pine trees in the pouring rain, watching the morning mist rise up from the forest floor and listening to the birdsong.
That evening when I got home, I took out a book another best friend of mine, Karen, had given me before I left the Motherland: Hygge, the Danish way to live well. I lit some candles, made a cup of green tea and sat facing the window, snuggled up under a blanket, listening to the rain beat down outside my window.
As I turned the pages I rememebered how exciting it is that one word can have the power to transport you into a whole new world; a new culture, rich in stories and meaning. And I found myself captivated by those five little letters.
Hygge, at least as far as I understand it so far, is the Danish word for setting an intention – an intention to make a conscious effort to be happy. And that’s exactly what I intend to do. And so, five weeks into my Danish life, I’m going in search of Hygge.