When life gives you lemons and you can’t find the lemonade.

It’s safe to say I’ve not had the best few months. Life has definitely given me lemons since the start of September and it’s been a grim time. My heart is broken, and my life is suddenly not heading where I expected it would be. I’m also living alone in a city I moved to five months ago, where I know one person (although I’m working on that) and seeing the ghosts of the life I expected to lead here every single day.

I wondered about writing something on my blog, or even just how to begin writing again at all (all I’ve been doing since September is existing). While I don’t want to go into detail about what happened, I do think there’s something in me explaining the things I’m doing to find the light in case anyone else reading this is struggling too.

After the initial shock of the lemon discovery I did all the classic things someone does, I stopped eating, sleeping, I cried, and I stopped taking care of myself. But despite the sadness I’ve had to keep getting up, walking the dog, going to work and putting one foot in front of the other.

I honestly at times have felt like I had nothing left and I still don’t know what my life should look like now, I feel like I’ve broken into a thousand pieces and I don’t have the picture on the front of the jigsaw box to reassemble myself. I’m still struggling but there are a few things that have got me through (disclaimer: there’s nothing ground-breaking here but it might be useful just to know other people hurt and find hope in simple things):

EAT THE NUTELLA

I’ve tried to follow my nose, and my heart, and do the things I wanted to do in that moment (whenever possible, it’s hard to get up in a board meeting and do yoga). So, if I want to eat Nutella on a piece of bread I will, take a bath for an hour on a Friday night, go for a run, do 14 minutes of HIIT, listen to music and cry – I’ve done the things I’ve felt I’ve needed as often as I could, whenever the whim took me. (Jess, thank you for this tip!)

READING

I read a book called The Universe Has Your Back which I was given a year ago but suddenly decided now was the time to read it. It was. It helped me find hope and trust that there is something bigger than just me and my decisions. The lemon-flavoured last few months have tested me. I’ve asked why, I’ve raked over everything so many times, blamed myself, compared myself. This book helped me try and see my situation differently.

It helped me believe the saying I have under the name of this blog: ‘you are exactly where you’re meant to be’. You can’t control others, you can’t dodge the curveballs but if you accept they may happen, and your life isn’t linear, then it helps. Acceptance and surrender to this has helped me. It doesn’t mean I should lay down and just take whatever horrible things come my way, but seeing things through a lens of learning and love does help. (But is definitely an ongoing C H A L L E N G E).  I can also recommend Light is the New Black for similar guidance too.

MUSIC

I listened to all the powerful women I could get my hands on. Cliché yes, therapy, also yes. Adele, Beyoncé, Taylor, Lorde, Joni, Annie –  thanks for the lyrics that helped me feel a little more powerful in the days when I was eating about 200 calories a day and had run out of tears. Also, I felt like watching the Lady Gaga Netflix documentary  one morning (following my nose again, it felt right, so I did it) and her album Joanne was a brilliant discovery, especially her song Million Reasons. There hasn’t been a car journey to work in the last month that I didn’t sing that at the top of my lungs. And that’s OK. Whatever gets you through.

GET AWAY

I went to this lovely seaside house in Wales for a few days and the change of scene really helped. This house is cheap, cosy and has some of the best ‘lose yourself’ sea views I’ve ever seen.

MEDITATION AND BEING THANKFUL

More clichés, but if you look past the cheesy Instagram quotes (many of which I’m guilty for) you’ll find two genuinely brilliant tools. I do a body scan meditation as many mornings and evenings that I can manage (there are loads on YouTube and the authors mentioned above both have good free ones). I also do a simple one I made up where I sit with my eyes closed, breathing deeply in as I think the word ‘PEACE’ and then breathing out deeply thinking the word ‘RELEASE’ – bringing peace into my life and releasing anything that isn’t so helpful. Sometimes it works. Any thoughts that pop into my head from ‘Did I definitely send that email?’ to ‘How will I ever get through this?’ I put on a little train that I have running through my head and send it off in to the distance. I can come back to it later. I’m not sure what the mindfulness crowd would make of my train, but it helps, some of the time.

I also write down one thing a night I am grateful for (even if I don’t feel grateful for much that day). In the week after lemon-gate, one of my entries was that I watched Mabel chase a butterfly as the sun came out on one of our walks together. Simple, but it was a rare moment of light in a very dark week.

PEOPLE

We all have different people in our lives that are the rock – some it’s family, some it’s friends or even work friends. I’m lucky it’s both friends and family. I’ve had mates jump on three trains and a tube just to get to me to give me a hug, a brother who came and worked from my house to keep an eye on me in the no eating, no sleeping days. Another friend who woke at 4.30am to do the nursery run and get to me before the M25 woke up. One from LA and another from India who both got back in contact to share helpful stories. My MD even made me a pie! Amazing people who haven’t judged me and who have listened. Endlessly. Thank you. Lemon-gate happened in a city where I’m not familiar, so the fact that my friends have travelled and made contact has meant SO MUCH. I am pretty isolated in Oxford, but I feel it less and less through the mates who reach out from further afield.  Find your people and talk to them, although I often find that in times of crisis the good ones find you. And if you don’t feel you have many people around you, then be thankful you don’t have crap people in your life, and be open to bringing great new people in who can help you.

AND NOW?

I’m seeking comedy in all its forms, I have comedy audiobooks to listen to next, and I’m hoping for more joy to come into my life. I’m still very sad so I’m thinking laughter might help.

This lemon-flavoured life experience has taught me that we are all capable of so much more than we realise.  It is teaching me things and whenever I can I need to see it that way. Asking ‘why me?’ serves no one.

What’s the biggest lesson? Only I have the keys to make myself happy. And that looking within is the route to moving past this lemon treacle. People do have the power to hurt us all, very deeply. But it’s only me, with the help of the things above and buckets of time that will help get that power back.

I hope if you’re struggling, or heartbroken, some of these things help.

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6 Comments

  1. Anne
    9th December 2017 / 9:01 am

    Just read your latest post. It’s goid you are back and although we have watched you go through all the pain of the last few months I feel still feel very sad about what has happened in your life. Just remember you are an amazing person and that you have a gift to help other people who find themselves in dark places. You are slowly but surely moving forward. X

  2. Ashley
    9th December 2017 / 1:25 pm

    You inspire me every day

  3. Natalie Greig
    9th December 2017 / 5:24 pm

    Anna, i wanted to let you know that many people will understand to some degree what you are going through – although everyone’s experience is different. I remember only too vividly my life falling apart (ironically in Brighton) after I’d moved there and left all my friends in London. I had two choices, turn around and go straight back or get on with it and see what happens. I can honestly say that the whole experience strengthened me no end – although it was very, very hard. Like you, I knew maybe two people so I decided to get into fitness – if I felt strong physically and knew what my body was capable of I would feel strong mentally, I became a bit obsessed to be honest but it was my tonic. That and wine! I did move back to London after 10 months but I didn’t feel I’d given in, I felt as if I was meant to go through a really shit time to come out the other side and understand myself more. Lemons truly suck but there will be lemonade at the other side – eventually. I promise xxxx

  4. Marilyn
    10th December 2017 / 1:30 am

    This touched my heart Anna and will help many going through difficult times. There will great times again I know for no one deserves them more than you. Xxx

  5. 11th December 2017 / 4:54 pm

    Beautifully genuine, honest and brave as ever. Your courage to share this with others is truly inspirational. x

  6. Claire Norts
    31st December 2017 / 3:07 am

    Anna, you are such an incredible person. This post is so moving and inspiring! Sending you all the love in the world from Down Under xxxx

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