December 31, 2016

Isolation & the Elephant.

I have always been a bit on the outside of things in life—a bit odd and on the periphery.

I tried often to fit in but it never seemed to sit right. So I have never found life that easy. I met someone recently who told me, “Maybe you don’t really want to, deep down. Maybe you are happiest on the outside of it all.”

Maybe that’s true.

Recently, I’ve been on a hard journey. Some twists and turns I have liked more than others.

My father’s death, marriage issues, constant stress and worry about family and then a confirmed diagnosis of chronic illness—I think stress triggered the illness—Grave’s disease, an autoimmune disorder.

This time last year I was painfully thin, lacking in energy, aggressive, paranoid—the list went on.
I have heard Grave’s described as having PMS, Dementia and ADHD all rolled into one and after the experiences of the last year or so, I wholeheartedly agree.

It has been the most isolating experience of my life.

Something takes hold of your mind and you are no longer yourself. On its own that’s hard to take, but as I looked further into ways to promote healing I found that they were isolating too. Changes to diet, reducing stress—it all meant massive change to my normal routine.

Everyone tends to look at you and you appear fine—so why the shift?

I became the girl people talked about and not to.

“Why is she so thin?”

“She is so quiet now, I wonder what’s up?”

“Why is she suddenly changing her diet, is she just attention seeking?”

“She looks alright to me.”

In the end, you stop trying to be the person you were and stop explaining to everyone that you are struggling simply to get through each day.

You stop telling them that your body and mind are either in a state of overdrive or wipe out. Noise and chatter jar your senses to the core and when the paranoia kicks in, your brain is on auto correct, constantly trying not to upset anyone or sound odd.

You feel you are bonkers.

So to put a stop to the questions and gossip I cut myself off completely. I took the energy I had and put it into approaching things differently. I tried new activities and looked at life from a different angle than I had previously.

I needed to get well.

I began my journey into myself and found my creativity. I looked into what made me tick.

I wrote, I studied meditation and positive thought. I tried affirmations.

I walked alone and took pictures, slowly began to enjoy my own company again. I stopped the chatter in my head and calmed down. Peace at last.

However, no man is an island and I had to venture into the social scene again at some level.

Along came Elephant Academy. I had always read the articles but never thought about learning with them or even writing for them.

I looked at the application, and wrote some words on paper.

What did I have to lose?

I felt brave and pressed send.

I put some trust in my instincts for the first time in ages and jumped right in. I managed to get accepted and the exploration began. New horizons were opening.

Since the beginning of the apprenticeship I have talked to some of the most amazing people I have never met (in person anyway). A community of others like me who are enjoying a different journey and maybe feeling brave too. They also seemed to long for creativity in their lives, and it’s been amazing.

I have thought more deeply and achieved more than I could have imagined with their help and support. I’ve heard my voice strengthen and mature in such a short time and that is the best feeling in the world.

The connection to this community has brought me alive again—not physically but mentally and emotionally. It has helped to trigger some passion that I thought was lost. It has pulled me out of my isolation, my bubble and that is the best tonic anyone could have. I am happy again.

This has all been very beneficial for me, but how has it helped me be of benefit to others? That’s the message elephant journal would like to spread and I am happy to share that with you.

I see now that it matters not if I “fit in,” but just that I am a happy, caring and loving person.

I have learned it is important that I am of benefit to myself or I cannot be to others. I have taken this message to my nearest and dearest in my work and play, so maybe I am spreading the word on a small scale every day.

I have become more aware of the world around me again. By reading so much and discussing other’s views, I now look at the world differently and see these opinions in a different light.

I see how my actions may affect others. Working together on a team of other learners who are aiming for similar goals, I have learned to be more respectful. This gives me the ability to nurture people by allowing them to be who they are—their own person.

I am more able to listen to others, be kinder and more sensitive to their needs. I was always a good listener but by reading more of the articles and speaking to others on the apprenticeship, I have seen other people’s fears starkly in their writing. The rawness of their fear and how they are embracing it is so encouraging.

All in all, it has helped me develop my already kind and curious nature. Helped me to become more of the person I once set out to be.

As one lady in my group stated in a meeting, (a woman I greatly admire and she will know who she is), I am no longer “surface.” No longer happy to be what others want.

I am happily seeking magic and inspiration in daily life. Nobody can argue with that.




Author: Emma Toms

Image: Courtesy of Author

Editor: Travis May

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