We're nearly there. The light at the end of lockdown is coming as fast as the Summer sun. But as normality starts to filter in, what else is filtering in alongside it?
I don't know about you but I've really enjoyed aspects of lockdown. Not the lack of income or concerts but the opportunity to take a step back and assess. The chance to unravel from all the years of pushing my body to the limit; for my degree, my move to the other side of the world, to coming home desperate to make it as a freelancer and the grief. Everything was go go go. My nerves were fried. Recurring dreams of walking on stage either naked or unrehearsed; Nightmares of arguments where the whole orchestra upped and left or my quartet refused to work with me haunted my sleep. Looking back, it was no wonder burnouts were a common occurrence.
Lockdown, whether I liked it or not gave me time to step away from the craziness and just breathe. Like many, I resisted the lockdown for as long as I could, thinking it would only be a month but ultimately, with nothing but empty months on the horizon and grief washing over me from all sides: it was time to succumb.
Grief does the oddest things to ones body and so does stress. As lockdown steamed ahead, things that I'd never had time to focus on before demanded to be acknowledged. My body craved good sustaining food, not a problem when I was living at home with an incredibly talented cook but living in London, fending for myself, my flatmates were never shy to comment on my odd combinations or my fondness for beige. It was time to face the shit head on. Trips to the local high street to buy good fresh, unbeige produce - all without breaking the bank, we all know how poor we mere musicians are - and getting into the kitchen! Yoga also became a thing. Adriene with her 30 day challenges, slowly started putting back together my broken cellists' body, click by click (after a lot of help from the team at Todmorden Physio).
Bigger issue demanding to be heard? My head.
I have a track record for not just being my own worst enemy but also being incredibly abusive to myself in the way I view failure, my body image and sadly anything that anyone felt was worth commenting on. More importantly, with my two biggest fans and their unconditional support and love no longer at the end of a phone my brain was having free reign - completely unregulated with no-one to contradict its poison. With the help of a fantastic counsellor, my critical self talk filled the majority of our sessions and slowly I'm working on becoming my own cheerleader: learning to have the confidence to not hide behind the laughter and listen to what I need instead of what I think people need from me.
Using lockdown as breathing space, I had the chance to work on these things I'd been neglecting for so long, even integrating a night routine of yoga, meditation and journaling with the help of my fantabulous Heather. But in the latest easing of restriction, I hit a crater in the road.
I returned to schools, and to site with my under 5s. Waking up at 6am, busy trains and the inevitable exhaustion that follows everyone after a break from the work routine. With the night routine being traded for a duvet fort and Netflix (instead of acknowledging my feelings from the day - carrying them over to tomorrow), and food became an "urghhh do I really?", it wasn't long until what can only be described as a roar of thunder announced the return of the abusive, hate filled voice within. We'd awaken the Kraken!
Worst bit of this whole sorry affair? I'm not on my own. I've never wanted so badly to be the only person knowing how this feels. Scrolling through Instagram these past two weeks, I've been half comforted, half pained to see my beautiful, talented friends sharing the same bitter story. Friends admitting the reasons they hide behind make-up and perfect hair and one that really touched me - battling the abusive voice inside when it starts picking on your body.
You know that saying, "talk to yourself as you would talk to a friend"? Seeing my friends share how they talked to themselves, in the full knowledge of how incredible and inspiring I find each one of them was such an eye opener. How many flawless women are picking themselves apart behind closed doors, piece by piece? Each post I saw, owned their acknowledgement and I applaud and worship their honesty. I refuse to get as sick as I was before lockdown. Truth is, I don't have the strength left to battle myself anymore before having to take on the world. I need to look at myself through the same eyes that I look at my friends when I celebrate their successes, comfort them in their moments of pain and admire their courage as they rise to fight another day. I do this without judgement - why should the way I view myself be any different?
Lockdown has forced me to change how I treat myself. I want to take that with me as we head into normality and put that above the accolades and perfection. I want to be held accountable through my own words in this blog. I hope. I truly hope, that those of you feeling the same will try with me. We're worth so much more than our brains would have us believe.
All my love,