23/100 days of emotional badassery - In which we retreat

Photo by Mohamed Ajufaan on Unsplash
I don’t know what to write about today. I was in great need of recharging and resting, which I did all day, and it was delicious. 
 
I love Mondays so much. Those are the days where I recharge and prepare for the week. No matter how bad the past week was, on my Mondays, everything resets.
 
Two years and a half ago, I was completely depleted and overwhelmed. I had a recurring fantasy of dropping out of my life and leave for some faraway land where nobody would know or need me. The fantasy wasn’t more detailed, I just was dreaming of an escape from my life.
 
I was reading the wonderful “Introvert power” from Laurie Helgoe, and drooling over her concept of retreats, feeling so bitterly envious of those people, deciding to check out for a while, even if they felt as guilty and selfish about it as I was. She was talking about retreats as something flexible, depending on our needs and wants. 
 
My partner needed to leave for a few days, I didn’t have anything plan for a few days. I didn’t have any money to spend, so I couldn’t go anywhere. I decided it shouldn’t stop me. After all, she said retreats had to be defined by ourselves, didn’t she? 
 
So, I decided to declare a few days of retreat. I didn’t know exactly what it meant for me, except that I didn’t want any contact with the exterior. My fantasy was to be on an island where no one knew or needed me. Well, I could make that island happen if I'd cut out any contact with the outside world. I warned my very closed friends so they didn’t worry.
 
I bought some supplies, one of my treasure chest groceries session : a little budget, but absolutely no rules on what to buy with it. I ended up with candy, cookies, some ice cream, fruit, frozen pizzas, ramen and savoury snacks. I don’t believe an unbalanced diet for a few days is such a big deal. I rather believe the pleasure component of food is important to a happy life.
 
The first few hours were excruciating at points. I felt restless and panicky. Like I was missing out on everything, like no-one would care about me anymore, like I needed to KNOW what was happening… I had to negotiate hard with my inner parts.
 
At 10pm, I declared to them “It’s been quite a while. We survived, of course, but it’s really really hard. But there’s only a few hours until sleep. Let’s say we reassess tomorrow morning. If it’s still excruciating, we abort the project.”. We all calmed down slightly at the idea we wouldn’t have to bear this for 3 days if we didn’t want to. I started a movie.
 
I went to sleep more easily than usual. When I woke up, everything was different. No pain, no restlessness, no panic. No craving for the outside world anymore. A curious sense of quiet inside, very grounding and soothing. I scanned my body, asking the parts “Are you sure? Should we keep going?”. Only a calm agreement. 
 
The restlessness actually came the morning after those 3 days. Parts of me were still very calm, but I felt like a kid at the end of recess, who feels like they didn’t have enough time to play and enjoy it. A huge wave of grief overflowed me. My inner child was devastated. I was very surprised to hear her say from the bottom of my belly “What was the point of giving me all this if it was just this one time?”. I promised that it would be a weekly practice from that moment on. 
 
That’s how Mondays became sacred. And twice a year, I take a few days off, still from home. I don’t exist on social media those days, my phone or by email. Nothing. When my partner is at home, we barely speak, I stay in another room. I start out with a long version of my routine, then I read, I make art, I take it very slow. I watch a movie or two, but no more : or sometimes, I avoid myself the whole day with stories, and then don’t get to enjoy the point of all this. Learning to appreciate my own company, the only one I will have my whole life, so the most important one. 
 
In 2 years and a half, I had to postpone it sometimes, and only missed it twice. And it was so much harder that I will certainly not do it again. I was lucky enough to be able to sacrifice a whole day, but I don’t believe it’s about the length, it’s about taking as much as we can and need for ourselves to recharge and reset. 
 
I hope, dear warrioring hummingbird, that it will make think about what would a retreat, time off, be for you?
 
Love,
L.
 

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