Well, here we are – we didn’t die again. Please make a note, Brain, because my hope is you’ll cling on to this simple fact and thereby making the next time just a smidge easier for me to get through. Yep, workshop presentation is over with. Yep, it was every bit as hard to do as I knew it would be. Did I back down? No. Hand on heart though, I very nearly buckled and had this gone on for a sustained length of time – and I am not being dramatic or exaggerating here – I would have got ill. This was about as much as I was able to take, but I went into it knowing this and did all I could to mitigate and unleash damage control in terms of my mental health and well being.
I guess I focused on the things in this cluster-fuck situation that I had some level of control over. I began studying the subject in goddamn January and read five books cover to cover. I spent time researching and endless hours thinking about what exercises and examples might help bring the theory to life so that I wouldn’t bore my peers stupid. I was open with my partner – even apologetic as I felt like a burden, that she’d been lumbered with someone who is as terrified of speaking in front of people as I am. I was apologetic because in no way, shape or form did I underestimate how much this required of me. With hindsight, I’m annoyed that I did because I wasn’t a burden. I was the bloody opposite but that’s all I’ll say on that.
Oh, I know the whole group is in the same boat. For that reason I feel bad even saying I feel this terrible about all this. I appreciate most of us get nervous to some degree. For me, this was Everest. It took me until the evening of the following day to begin to feel human again and the palpitations finally began to subside.
Bear with me, there is an upside! No, really, a big one too!
FOUR huge take-aways and things I’ve learnt…
First off, I did this thing I’ve avoided my entire life. I’ve said no to jobs because of this. I was quite prepared to walk away from my degree and later on also my Masters, had the tutors not caved in to me begging to submit a written piece of work instead. Oh yes, all the way to here I’ve managed to wiggle out of this. And then found my path with the counselling and there was no more running and hiding. So really, I had a total of 19 minutes of presenting experience accumulated over the past year from two mini-presentations going in this time! Hah! And as we have already established: I didn’t die. Don’t get me wrong, I did freeze and I did splutter and forgot to say half the things I’d wanted to say. But this fucker was two and a half hours and I talked solidly for the first half. The presentation won’t win any awards, but I did it, I survived and it was good enough. That’s all it needed to be. Victory. Oh, and I didn’t throw up OR faint. Double victory.
Secondly, look how recovery delivers again and again – make no mistake, this is ONLY possible because I’m sober. Pursuing counselling is only possible because I’m sober. And so many other things. My 10k run yesterday and my normal 5k loop today – I mean, back during the Dark Years I could barely leave the house. Everything I have, I have because I got out of hell. (And no, I don’t consider myself “cured” or “safe” or any of those things – my recovery will always be a work in progress. Just sayin’).
Thirdly, my modus operandi worked as well as I could have hoped. I knew my stuff inside out and when I realised I was so panicked I couldn’t read my notes, I was able to improvise and just speak looking at the bullet point slides. I can’t control the panic much beyond grounding and breathing techniques, but I could at least make sure I wasn’t going to struggle with what to say.
And fourth – huge lesson. My father has throughout my life said “you have to stop being so blue-eyed“. Well, I am blue-eyed, but by this he’s referring to my naivety. I trust very readily and expect the best of everyone until they literally stab me in the back, but even then I’m quite willing to consider it might have been an accident. Or rather, feel bad that my back is making a mess of their knife. You get the drift. Being too trusting/naive ties in with some of what we presented but I won’t bore you with that here except to say that I am. And so it has happened many times that I get used, taken advantage of, chewed up and spit out. Lesson: that’s on me. It doesn’t make it OK but it’s not the job of others to babysit me and ensure I only agree to give what I am able to without being shortchanged. So this has left me reviewing the drawbridge policy for Anna Island. I can’t bloody well get annoyed with it becoming a shit place to be if I willingly lower the drawbridge at all times. My bad. My side of the street is clean but I will think twice before I cross to sweep up on the other side in the future. That’s a perfect petri dish for resentment to grow and multiply, which will only hurt others as well as me. It serves no one. I’m kind and I’m honest and I care about others. That’s all well and good. The problem arises when I then stand there on my island and find it’s been looted and all the flowerbeds have been trampled. My bad. So I am checking over the drawbridge and the ol’ boundaries.
With all that in mind, and knowing there’ll be another workshop in the second year, I feel quite hopeful for what’s ahead.
So after a bit of a cleaning-up effort here on Anna Island, things are well in the world again.
Very ready for the summer break and looking forward to those summer evenings by the west wall of Falla when the sun barely sets.
Today I’m not going to drink.