I should have known this might happen.
The emptiness. A void from deep within that I wasn't quite expecting. Exhaustion. Wondering, Well, now what?
In the past month, I've realized this void I'm feeling is from completing a major project. Publishing a meaningful book had been imprinted on my soul since I was a young girl. I sat daydreaming in Mr. Romanello's 6th grade classroom about writing a book that would help adults. At only eleven, I knew I'd have to wait a while. To now have that desire be met with The End, feels like an ending to a very long last chapter in my life.
I don't know why it didn't occur to me that I might experience some PPD (Post Publishing Depression). I write about the seasons as a metaphor for getting through heartbreak and how we must allow ourselves the time and space to experience the feelings when we're going through the parched barren emotional landscape in a season of drought. How we must be patient and yielding in the season of dormancy. How important it is for positive expectation and trust while we are tilling the soil to plant new seeds of life.
And yet I did not allow myself the time and space to transition between seasons. I was going to plow through the completion of the book straight into the practicalities of marketing, structuring my year-long plan to get the word out about my book while building my coaching practice, writing articles and starting on the next big project.
No wonder I'm exhausted! It's not natural to push ourselves to the brink of fatigue and yet so often we do this to ourselves. We think ourselves into believing we have to keep moving forward at a fast pace to get to the next 'thing.' Whether it's the next relationship because we don't want to sit with the uncomfortable feelings of sadness from one coming to an end, or the next project because we feel a sense of scarcity or fear there won't be another client or opportunity if we don't jump at the immediate option available.
But that's not natural. Nature shows us everyday there must be a balance of all cycles of energy; a time to reap and a time to sow. There is an ebb and flow to the tide, a waxing and waning of the moon, the blossoming and decay of the flowers, the foraging and hibernation of the creatures.
Even the joyful life events like a wedding, the birth of a baby, a product launch, a marathon training, are endings to the time it took to plan, cultivate and grow the idea. While we are happy to have the outcome, we also must honor any feelings we have of the slight emptiness we may feel when that endeavor has come to completion.
How can we give ourselves permission to take a break? How can we honor the cycles of the natural Yin and Yang nature of our lives?
Awareness and allowing.
Awareness is the key to everything. I was aware of my feelings but uncertain as to why I was feeling them. But I kept allowing myself to be aware with curiosity. I acknowledged how my body felt fatigued, how my energy felt low, how my thoughts slipped into insecurity and doubt.
It was uncomfortable. But I stayed with it, letting it course through me like we sometimes have to do with a stomach bug - there's no denying it's there and doesn't feel good. We have to let it resolve itself and exit the body in its own time.
I allowed my feelings to be what they were. I allowed myself to retreat and to reach out, to go to bed early and sleep a little later, to talk about my feelings and be patient with myself.
I journaled. I cried. I cleaned (a little). I walked. I talked. I slept. I read. I avoided social media to a degree. I listened to uplifting podcasts.
I feel better. I'm still going to allow myself the time it takes to have closure on the long journey of writing my book, and the emotional whirlwind that was both in the content and the completion.
I will rest. I will renew. Will you?