Tuesday Tales: The world seems brighter today – Donna Thistlethwaite

Last night I had great intentions. My partner and son had headed off to our son’s weekly guitar lesson and I planned to have dinner waiting for them when they got home an hour later. As I started the dinner preps my mind turned to a task that my assistant, Christie, had asked of me. I figured it would only take a few minutes so quickly navigated the hallway to my way too accessible office.

It did only take a few minutes. I could have headed back to the kitchen afterwards, and in some ways, I wish I had, but it’s weird where life can take you sometimes. I thought “I’ll quickly find an image for the Tuesday Tale so that there’s less time pressure on Christie tomorrow”. As I trawled through the stock image library nothing, I mean absolutely nothing, resonated. I chose a picture that would have to do the job. Another fork in the road.

I found myself opening up the (now archived) drafted story and couldn’t help tinkering with it before finally aborting dissatisfied. I had realised the boys would be home in 20 minutes and I couldn’t possibly cut all the fat off those chicken thighs, make a Massaman curry (with rice for my partner and cauliflower rice for me), reheat a leftover spaghetti and meatball sauce and cook pasta for my son in that time (it feels like it’s taken me that long to just to type it!).

I rushed into the kitchen and started hacking at the chicken. “What next,” I thought. “What can I get happening simultaneously?” I’m not sure if it was adrenalin or cortisol, perhaps both, coursing through my system but I could actually sense it. I felt a tightness in my abdomen and I suspect my breathing became shallower. Unfortunately, this is an all too familiar feeling for me, particularly over the past couple of months.

As I became more aware of what was happening internally a sudden thought crashed into my mind “Stop … Just stop this Donna. You can’t keep running in this way. Who cares whether dinner is ready when they get home? Why does it have to be served at a particular time? Who makes these rules anyway? Are there even rules? What would happen if I actually stopped panicking and calmy prepared dinner?”

Well, I actually found out … In the moments after these questions, I felt my entire nervous system change. I was surprised that I could notice it to be honest. I calmly worked my way through the preps. I felt more present and alive.

The boys showed up and no one asked where dinner was, but even better, my partner said “How about I put the rice cooker on?”  I could, and probably should have kissed him on the spot (a clue there for anyone wanting to get lucky more often). It felt soooooooo good to be supported after soooooooo many honest conversations about wanting to live, and role model, a cooperative and loving relationship.

Something that might also be relevant to yesterday is that I also did some tremoring. A friend reminded me of it recently and I’d recalled it when reflecting on options other than talk therapy, which I’ve done a lot of. Tremoring has been suggested to release trauma and I was already somewhat familiar with it from a meditation course I’ve taken. Please note this technique doesn’t have a solid evidence base yet so please do your own research.

I also started reading a brilliant book “Flawsome:  The Journey to Being Whole is Learning to Be Holey” by Georgia Murch over the weekend. Very early in Georgia helped me to recognise how much I’ve been judging myself and others lately and the degree to which I’ve been trying to exert control over my world. I am finding myself wanting to highlight something from practically every page of this book. I will have no trouble finishing it before my book club meets in three weeks, despite initially thinking “wtf, maybe I’ll skip the meeting because there’s no way I can read the book by then”.

Right now I’m feeling like I have shifted this two-month funk but time will tell. Either way, I had a lovely time last night, laughed for the first time in ages, the world seems brighter today and I have love in my heart again.

Which, or what combination of these strategies impacted? I’m not sure but I reckon the key is to never give up until you find the keys that unlock YOU ????

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Donna Thistlethwaite is a Brisbane-based speaker and trainer specialising in mental health and resilience. She is an accredited Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Resilience at Work Facilitator with a passion for suicide prevention and for helping individuals, teams and organisations to THRIVE. You can find out about her next Mental Health First Aid courses here.

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