(Long post alert)
I’m just back from my holidays in Greece. We spent 11 days on the stunning islands in the Ionian sea on west coast of the country. I’d been prepping for this journey for months, organising diligently and planning fervently.
I’ve waited passionately and eagerly until the day came. The complications started on the day before our trip. It appeared that our car’s documents were out of date and needed to be renewed. It was Saturday and we were supposed to leave the next day, Sunday. We decided not to risk passing the border with invalid documents so had to wait till the offices opened on Monday. That meant we were to miss out a day from our holidays, I also had to cancel a hotel reservation we were staying mid trip, luckily without any extra charge besides our skipped first night in our final holiday home.
Next day, Sunday, my partner fell with an illness and couldn’t get from the bed all day. That put some more pressure on us but we managed to keep to boat steady while we waited patiently. On Monday early in the morning we were in Traffic Police office to renew our car’s documents. It took us about an hour which is remarkably speedy for our Bulgarian administration.
We decided to hit the road straight away, just after sorting out a few last arrangements – a hotel for our cat and another reservation for us to spend a night midway to break our journey since it was about 8 hours altogether.
So far we were doing well and we arrived in our holiday home in the evening. Next day was full of emotion and excitement – we started exploring the little island of Lefkada. We went to the beach and then had a delicious dinner. All great!
On day three of our holiday I woke up headachy and nauseous. I felt what my partner felt a few days earlier. I managed to keep it together for a while, taking it easy and not pushing ourselves too much. But on day five I couldn’t get up from the bed. I’d spent a rough sleepless night and in the morning I felt sick like never before. I couldn’t do anything but stay in bed and even that wasn’t soothing my symptoms. I was aching all over. My body was feverish and weak but the worst was my head. There was a constant mental chatter, agitation and anxiousness that I just couldn’t get a hold of.
That day, and the experience I had, brought me back to my worse days in 2015/2016. It was like a black hole had consumed me and it was grinding and crunching me from the inside. That day and the next day I wanted to be gone, to disappear, to not be alive… Calling it a nightmare is an understatement.
The other part was that I didn’t know what was going on – I didn’t think it’s a virus, it was too unusual for a virus. I figured it was brought by the stresses we had to endure just before the trip, the strain around organising the holiday, and an overall burn out acquired through the last year and a half since we moved to live in Sofia.
All this plus the astrological events happening at the moment (too many to mention but mainly Mars Retrograde + Eclipse Season) brought me down to my knees. In some way, I’d needed this. Just about now I’m starting to comprehend the experience, gaining some understanding of what happened to me and being able to put it into words and draw some lessons from it.
What I learned from my physical, mental & emotional instability episode:
- Show vulnerability and be seen in my worst and weakest.
It felt uncomfortable and messy – I felt weak and dependent, I felt like a failure and out of control – I was at the disposal of others and external circumstances. I do NOT like that. I had to submit and accept I can’t always be in charge. In that I found relief, humility and gratitude.
- Ask for help and what I need.
I had to articulate to my partner what I needed and ask him to get it for me. That put me in the role of the “lesser”, the inferior. I do NOT like asking. But again it taught me to humble myself down and allow others to look after me. It taught me to let go of control and allow others to step in and take charge. I also reached out to a friend, opening up with my darkness to someone else. The act of sharing took a weight off me.
- Help comes from unexpected places/people.
My granny kept calling to check on me. At first I was slightly annoyed since she has the ability to “worry” about us. I didn’t want her to call me to tell me she worried about me and I said that to her. She took that in with a laughter and kept ringing to make sure I was doing OK. On the other hand, my father didn’t call. I was upset at the time because when you’re sick you want others’ attention, you want them to show care and compassion. That brings me to the next point.
- Our expectations deceive and betray us.
Often we don’t receive help from where we think we should. In my case, I expected my dad to check on me. He didn’t and that hurt me. Later I told him what happened to me and he was genuinely surprised. He knew I was sick but didn’t know the seriousness of it. I had to accept that he’s not the person to show firsthand compassion but I was delightedly amazed by my granny and her support.
- Help comes in unpredictable/imperfect ways.
This is related to the previous two points. What I noticed was that my partner had his own unique way of helping. I know that sounds obvious but for me it was a great lesson to accept that help might be different from what I imagine and expect. He was “imperfect” (“according to my standards”) in his ways but I had no choice but to take what he could give me. My idea of what “should happen” was taken to the rubbish bin – so much for unrealistic expectations. I was grateful to have someone who could take over for a couple of days, while I was recovering, no matter what that looked like. Everybody needs a co-captain and I was thankful to have mine.
- Let go of control and surrender to the flow.
I’ve been going over and over this in a spiral. It seems to be a big lesson for me to just TRUST. Trust life, trust the universe, trust people, trust that it’s going to work out fine. I was full of angst that our holiday is turning out to be a disaster. And it wasn’t because I would miss out on it – it was the fact that I had no choice but to surrender to what is. I felt powerless and losing the control. This one is BIG for me. I’m learning though and it feels good to not always feel the pressure of knowing it all and having it all together.
- Remember this is an episode not the norm.
This one’s tricky because when you’re in a state like that, there’s no tomorrow. Everything feels like too much right now. You think you can’t handle it and want to give up and be out. There’s no consolation that tomorrow you’ll be better, it’s just wanting out of the pain NOW. This wisdom usually comes in hindsight after the episode – it’s only a passing shadow not a full-on darkness. Remembering this while you’re consumed by the darkness will help you on the journey.
- Honour your journey and keep things in perspective.
I have been there before. I was viscerally reminded of my depression and anxiety a couple of years ago. My cell memories came back up and it felt so real that I was afraid. The memories brought back to me, showed me how much better I am now. Before it WAS the norm, now it was an episode. I felt deep compassion for myself and also tremendous feeling of strength and self-respect. I can get through a rough patch in a week now. This was a first time it hit me full force like that since I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety but now I have the internal strength and love to overcome even the scariest darkness.
- I have myself to always come back to, I am my own safe harbour, I am my own rock.
I feel this episode solidified something I’ve been working on for years. My own self-love. There’s a point where the love for yourself becomes so solid and unshakable that you know you can handle anything. I’ve been working on this and now I feel this inner pillar of strength and resilience. Coming out of this ordeal only showed me that I could go through it, and feel even better within myself after. But also:
- We are not meant to do it all alone.
I couldn’t have done it without the help of others – my partner, my granny, my friend who shared my darkness with me. And my son who kept me grounded. These people were there for me in unexpected ways and held me through the experience. I don’t know if I could’ve done it by myself and I don’t want to know. Things were imperfect and different than the way I imagined them but learning to accept what we’re offered and receive it with gratitude is what matters. Surround yourself with just a few people you can count on. If you have them already, appreciate them even if they don’t fit “your high standards”. If you don’t – start working on developing these relationships.
To finish off, it took me another two days to come back to my full strength and that was the end of our holiday. Spontaneously we decided to hop on the ferry and visit another island just for a night. I felt strong and calm in myself and enjoyed this fullheartedly.
This holiday was one to remember. Not as a holiday but as a spiritual experience.1