No-Face Gif by The Good Films
One of my favorite characters from Spirited Away is No-Face☝🏽. My best friend and I often love to have these existential, philosophical conversations about animation haha. That's probably why we've been friends for most of our lives, 22 years to be exact. We literally talk for hours about this stuff, but that's why I love different forms of storytelling. Stories help me make sense of life and give me a sense of guidance that I can't seem to get elsewhere.
I thought back to this character a couple of days ago. On Thursday evenings, I have my clinical skills training class through my practicum site. This past Thursday, our focus was exploring anxiety through a Gestalt therapeutic lens. I had a strong urge to volunteer and participate in a demo as "the client," which was quite nerve-racking since this was done in front of my cohort.
I'm always extremely nervous when I'm speaking or I feel like there is a spotlight on me. I'm not sure if this was obvious, but I'm actually quite shy. Hence, why I like behind-the-scenes stuff. I've often referred to myself as a shy nervous chihuahua in human form. At the same time, it could just be me getting really overstimulated and overwhelmed in certain contexts. 🤔
But honestly, I really love my cohort. I'm often brought to tears because I'm so deeply moved by them. They're constantly cheering me on and are just some of the most supportive, warm, genuinely kind and funny people I've met. I think that's why I felt brave enough to volunteer.
Anywho, in the demo I ended up discussing that I've noticed lately I've been on my phone more often than usual. I actually really hate that😅, but I couldn't understand why my phone usage had increased. After giving more details, I was asked by our instructor/therapist if it was okay for her to share an observation. I replied "Yes, please!" She said, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you feel lonely." ( I should've said "No, please!"🤦🏽♀️)
Me ☝🏽on screen about to have a spiritual breakthrough
Her words felt like a strong blow to my chest and gut. I literally said out loud "That actually hit quite hard." Then, I started to tear up in front of everyone. I said, "I guess...I do feel lonely." But then I got really excited (being the weird person that I am) because I finally could understand what was going on and I was actually very curious, like I was my own social experiment.
Incidentally, I truly, truly, truly love solitude and being alone. I used to think that I was actually meant to be some kind of recluse, or hermit. Yet, with this quarantine I think for the first time I experienced a different kind of loneliness, especially without a collective to process, grieve, and mourn with. My mother and sister are immunocompromised along with other comorbidities, so I have to be really cautious. Therefore, my activities are quite limited and my interactions with others are often through a screen. Hence, why I was probably going to my phone to fill up some of the emptiness I was experiencing.
Gif by theAwkwardYeti
I did start to feel sad, so I set out to continue my practice of self-compassion. I also felt a lot of gratitude because I didn't realize in that moment I was actually held by my cohort and everyone on the call. It's pretty cool to be able to feel the warmth of connection even virtually and to be reminded again I'm never really alone. Plus, my vulnerability wasn't shamed! Instead, people messaged me that sharing my experience helped them to realize they were doing some of the same things too and offered to connect with me! 🥰
But if you haven't noticed, I usually share these experiences because while they do help me...I really don't want people to feel alone in this world, that their existence is inherently and wholly flawed, or that by feeling any emotion is a reason to be ashamed. So, I like to expose myself just to be like yea I'm here too. I'm here too trying to navigate this world and it's not easy.
Well, I'll end here sharing what some of my acts of self-compassion were. Yesterday, I decided I would just play 😋. I chose to read most of the day, watch a film (Sylvie's Love is quite beautiful btw), I danced, and had a check-in with my best friend (we danced too☺️ and our pets joined us🐱🐶.) Looks like that was the medicine my spirit needed. :)
Scene from Sylvie's Love
I won't say I'm cured from my loneliness and that, even as an extreme introvert, I don't ache for in-person connection. But I appreciated the instructor's/therapist's reframe, these decisions I'm making are because I value my loved ones' lives. I'd do a-ny-thing for my mom. Plus, I know one day I'll be out in the world again and who knows. I might look back on this time and realize while I thought nothing was happening, all the while this might have been the period in my life where I had the most internal growth, internal adventures, and access to the most truest sense of myself.
I'm wishing you much clarity, warmth, support, moments of peace, lots of laughter, and oh so much connection.
From a shy nervous chihuahua,
Sandy from The Underground Galaxy ✌🏽❤️👩🏽🚀
P.S. I'm currently having a sale, so be sure to check it out! *(sale ending 1/31/21!🤗)*
All support is super, super appreciated! You are not only helping me, helping me build the world I wish to see, and support the causes I believe in, but you're also helping me help my loved ones. Plus, you're supporting a loan-rich grad student haha!🤗
Also, I think I've found my word for the year.😅
*image by sour moha *