EPISODE 5: The Empire Strikes Back
(Star Wars fans should appreciate why this is happening in a random chronology. Everyone else will hopefully make sense of it too once all has been said. )
3 Habits That Saved My Life
All had been said. And done. And undone. The heart plundered, the mind f***ed. It had now been 5 months, of living in a haze. Where nothing was real anymore. Nothing mattered. Nothing helped.
I look back now and it’s hard for me to decipher where exactly the rebuilding started. And the rebuilding came much later, like it should. First came survival. The kind you take for granted but is sometimes your biggest fight.
I suppose, other than my mother, these three habits that I had, literally on auto, were the most instrumental in getting me out of the mental hole, I found myself in:
- WAKING UP AT A SET TIME IN THE MORNING Ever since I was a child, even on Sundays’ we weren’t allowed to sleep past 10 am. Obviously, now it’s not a rule enforced by an outside factor, but one that the body and mind have internalized. You see, somehow that discipline, that fear that I have only these many hours to sleep, kept me from staying up nights. From missing out on the hours the world was up. From missing out on productive hours, whether or not they were productive. The fact that every day, I was up at an hour that put a lot of hours at my disposal to do things- whether or not I did them– prevented my days from feeling like a total waste. That hope and affirmation, slowly turned into motivation to fill them with useful things. So hey you, start waking up on time! Even if you are not sleeping on time. Wake up. Show up.
- MAKING A TO-DO LIST I make a to-do list every day, for 8-9 years now. That means, even on days, I have nothing TO-DO, the list will include things such as: clean cupboard, spend time with mother, go for a walk, oil hair, take a shower and watch a show. Days when you are busy, sure such lists come in handy so you don’t forget to do a particular thing. Ironically, they also come in handy when you have nothing TO-DO, and fear turning into a vegetable. They prevent you from sitting around, staring at the ceiling, and waiting for a miracle to fall through. They get you moving, albeit slightly . So make your to-do list, before you go to bed. Put 5 things on it. And then stick to them.
- EXERCISE At a time when my brain could no longer think about what to eat and whether to eat or not, when I was OD-ing on caffeine and sugar for energy, I was still somehow forcing myself to move! For years I had done weight training, HIIT and other intense forms of exercise. I did not have the strength to continue with any of those anymore. I went to a yoga class, August 2017, and the pressure of driving to it, changing, being around strangers felt like it was too much. So I started walking. I could not, do nothing. I would go walk outside my home for an hour every day. It was meditative and it made me feel more alive. It gave me time away from everyone and to breathe. To teach myself, as if from scratch, that if you just keep walking, you will actually get somewhere.
So much is said about inculcating good habits. Floss your teeth to prevent gum disease, eat before 8 pm to keep weight down, so on and so forth. What nobody told me, and turns out might be the biggest reason to have habits, good ones, is that they act like a crutch when you are really down and out. It is an auto save mode; that you can build for yourself. Do it when you are strong and it will come in handy when you are not.