I’ve been back in Queenstown, this town I called home for 4 years, for an entire day and still can’t believe I’m here.
It feels like a surreal dream, one that I haven’t quite woken into.
Walking down the town centre and running into people I know, going to the grocery store and running into more..
Jetlagged and tired, in a familiar yet different surrounding. To find a Queenstown Summer turned into a Vancouver Winter (sorta, but I’m exaggerating a little bit – it’s raining but it’s not that cold).
This is a town that saw some of my worst times.
I won’t go into details but suffice to say it rubbed me raw in many ways and led to a lot of growth, learning and healing after being broken into a thousand pieces. When I left nearly 2 years ago, it was painful and hard.
So of course, I was a little nervous about being back here, even though the excitement was pretty rampant.
It almost feels like a pilgrimage of sorts, visiting my past, the memories of a Tia who doesn’t exist anymore except in the deep, dark corners of the not-so-distant-past.
I feel strangely vulnerable and exposed.
Which is why when something happened today that made me feel a little “helpless”, I realised how easy it used to be for me to slip into the ‘poor me, I have no choice’ victim role.
And how although much has changed since then, this is still a familiar emotion and feeling, one that my body recognises uncomfortably well.
Long story short, due to extreme tiredness, jetlag (still!) and unclear thinking, a little miscommunication resulted in me being ‘stranded’ for 1.5 hours in the rain, waiting for a friend with whom I was to ride home, while she waited for me at the actual place we were to meet.
In that time, I lived a lifetime of feeling paralysed, stuck and unable to act.
I didn’t have the external tools I needed (cell fone to call my friend, car to drive home myself etc) but luckily, I DID have some internal tools.
Byron Katie’s work (which I’ve been leaning into a lot of late), closing my eyes and breathing into the knot in my stomach and the dizziness in my head, allowing myself to feel frustrated, and consciously choosing how I wanted to feel instead.
Each time the “I can’t believe this is happening to me” thoughts arose, I’d stop and ask myself “how is this making me feel and do I still want to feel this way”?
Sometimes the answer was yes, so I let myself wallow in feeling sorry for myself till the answer changed.
I wish I could say I did all that and it was fine.
Instead, I had to consciously keep changing my state at least 7-8 times in 1.5 hours before I managed to make it stick it out in the state of calm and “holy mother of God, what a lesson I just learned”.
The lesson being, if you’re gonna step into the past, make sure you take the present with you.
We all have an Achilles heel, a behaviour / thought / person/ circumstance that trips us up.
You know – they’re the ones that make you go “wow, I thought I was past that by now” or “I’ve been through this a 100 times, I really should know better” or “when will I ever learn” or something equivalent.
Where in your life do you find yourself stepping into the past and forgetting how far you’ve come in an instant?
If I were to share my thoughts on this (and I will), I’d say
- Find yours, acknowledge them, really know them
- Be aware of what triggers them
- Have tools and strategies to manage the situations and feelings they thrive on
- Don’t let them fool you into thinking you haven’t accomplished anything, this is just a reminder to show you that you have
So the next time those old triggers pop up, you can do your thing, smile to yourself and say “I’ve come a long way, baby”.
As you chart new plans and desires for the coming year, I invite you to look back at the progress you’ve made thus far. What are you really proud of? Where do you still need to be more conscious in your actions? Where in your life have you gone from being a Victim to a Victor? Celebrate that!