Holding on to yourself

I have spent most of the past few months looking for things to hold onto.

There has been so much rapid change that it has felt, at times, as though I fell down a gap somewhere along the way. The points of reference keep shifting and I have found myself waking, at three in the morning, wondering where the hell I am.

I have been talking about this with my friends. A lot. Asking what they anchor themselves to. Wondering how they manage when the touchpoints suddenly disappear or prove themselves to have been illusionary all along.

There has been one resounding answer. “You have to start holding onto yourself Issa. You are your own point of reference.”

The concept has fascinated me.

Holding on to myself sounds so simple….and yet it is, in reality, incredibly hard.

I have been trying to figure out exactly what “holding onto myself” would look like.  To understand why it is as important as everyone seems to think.

I got close, a few nights ago, over an Eternal Mist cocktail, with a great explanation from one of my friends. We were talking about ups and downs, about the unpredictability of it all and how we are constantly moving from one place to the next. “Imagine”, she said, “that everyone else is going through this movement. How difficult it is, in those circumstances, to keep holding onto someone else. And that’s before you even factor in the other things that can suddenly change.”

Yes. I can see that.

I have been trying to reconcile this theory with my ideas around how we connect to other people. With my conviction that it is these relationships that make our worlds, and the knowledge that, often, it is my friends who are there to pick me up when I stumble. I realised, as I was falling asleep last night, that there is a difference between anchoring yourself to people (and things), and forming connections. That there is a network, certainly, but the connectors are not iron chains but soft links; and the stability comes, not from the links but from how strongly we position ourselves.

There was one further conversation that has helped me to reach this point. It was a reminder of something that I had written, some time ago, but lost sight of. It was about being your own best friend. About fighting your own corner. About treating yourself as you’d like to be treated –

And about understanding that it is through these actions and this relationship that we hold on to ourselves.

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6 responses to “Holding on to yourself

  1. Great thought-provoking post, Issa (as always!) 🙂

    Working out where you are or who you are is difficult and confusing. Working out other people and your connection to them is difficult and confusing. Being nice to yourself is also difficult if that’s just not what you normally do. Altogether, there’s a lot of difficulty, confusion and doubt as you work out what you to anchor yourself to and how firmly you do that.

    Maybe anchoring yourself into the belief that everything is unstable and accepting change is helpful? Regardless, hold on to yourself and be happy, because in the midst of it all you’re still a lovely person with lots to live for and things turn out well if we don’t anchor ourselves on to worry, right? 🙂

    • “Being nice to yourself is also difficult if that’s just not what you normally do.” Yes. I guess that is what it has come down to for me….and why it’s so important to recognise that I need to be strong for myself, if that makes sense. Just got to remember that now!

  2. Also, anchors, as tempting as they are, keep us in one place by design. The joy of being centered in ourselves, seeking to be complete there ever as we celebrate and learn and share in our relationships, is that when the wind blows, we don’t have to waste time or suffer the anguish of having to pull up anchor to more the boat. We can just unfurl the sail and go where the wind wants to take us.

    I also find myself reading you and feeling envious. Ah, to be thinking your thoughts at your age. You really are a bit ahead of the game, whatever the cost has been. That’s a gift. As is reading about it. 😉

    • Thanks Michael. Have missed the connection of writing and your comment means a lot. I think you’re right in terms of freedom – after feeling lost, stuck, dependent, I’ve been really thinking about how you balance self sufficiency with relationships and staying engaged….hopefully I’m getting closer!

  3. Hi Melissa! I’m really glad to be reading your writing again – we’ve missed you over the summer! (Hope the break was good)

    I think I am currently trying to work at this myself, so this was a really interesting piece. For me, having spent a life-time not trusting myself (and my body) to take care of myself, I think it is something else that’ll take time, patience and effort. I’m finding that the more I stand up for myself, be assertive, take time out for me and generally take little risks for my own best interests, the more I trust that I can do this. Life. Whatever it all is.

    Good luck and I look forward to reading more from you in future.

  4. Good to be back 🙂 And thanks for your comment! You’re spot on about trust. It’s pivotal and I guess the more you learn that you can do things, the less the need to attach comes… or for me anyway.. 🙂

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