I had only one anxiety attack in my life. It was on May 17th, 2017 (thank you Whatsapp saved messages because otherwise, I could never be so accurate). It was a hectic year; I moved to a new place after a big break-up, tried to fix the relationship yet stayed in separated apartments, I pressed hard on the gas with all regarding my private business of teaching others to draw (online, privately and groups), and I started my 500+ hours of Ashtanga yoga teachers training. And then, on top of it all that was happening, a tragedy came; I lost one of my cats after she fell off the balcony when I was away. I looked for her everywhere but never found her. That night, I sat in bed and suddenly started to feel like I’m choking. I felt my chest is burning, and it got hard to breathe. I started crying like crazy, and for the first time in my life (EVER!!!), I thought it might not be such a bad to just disappear, as in not be alive anymore.
If I take myself everywhere I go I might as well just stay here and get to know myself better (Drawing: me)
One of the first things I did after I got back to breathing normally and stopped crying was to write to my boyfriend about it, and he suggested I’ll go away for a while. I don’t know why, but suddenly it made sense to go. I already booked a festival in Belgium at the end of June and decided I’ll make the trip longer. I ended up being away for a month and a half; I started at the music festival, then went to Berlin for a few weeks, Stuttgart to see my beloved cousin who passed away a few months later (which make that visit much more important than I could comprehend at that time), Berlin again, yoga workshop in Copenhagen, another Berlin visit and then went back home to Tel-Aviv
It might sound crazy fun, and I believe that if a friend told me about her/his summer that included all of that, I would have been impressed and even inspired. And to be honest, it was fun and showed me I could do things differently. Not necessarily the traveling part, but the fact that I can take time off, that I can leave my cat with someone else for a month and a half, that I can get out of my little box, and the world does not collapse as a result.
My summer in Europe. I can't say it was a bad one, but I also can't say it took my true pain away.
There’s a saying in Hebrew; “Change place change luck.” I can see why that sentence came to be; to begin with, when we go somewhere new, we have a feeling of a fresh start. We’ve might have left somethings behind (physically and mentally), we are staying in a new environment, and have plenty of new distractions; New places to go, new people meet, new foods to try out, new things to see, and a different culture to explore. We are overwhelmed, and for a little while, it feels like the heaviness we felt before going away has been lifted upon us. But that’s a temporary feeling because cracks will appear in that brand new and shiny surface we wrapped ourselves with, and through those cracks, the old us will appear. It didn’t go anywhere; we've just closed it behind a shiny distraction (or distractions). And when it shows up, we find ourselves starting to look for the familiar distractions we know from the past; Alcohol, food, drugs, sex, partying, binge-watching shit. Suddenly things start to look a bit too familiar.
It can start small, but after a while, everything in the new place will look just as it did in the old one, and only the view will be different. When we go for a short time, we might stay on the "small cracks level" and won’t have the full-blown experience of “it’s really the same everywhere I go,” but it might happen might. Another option is that we might not even be able to escape, to begin with. The bottom line is we can’t get away from ourselves for good just by changing our geographic location, and I felt it very well that summer I spent in Europe. After the festival, I had a few weeks by myself in Berlin, and when completely alone, it didn’t take long for my fears to rise up. And when they did, I immediately started searching for familiar distractions.
It wasn’t “as bad” as it was back in Tell-Aviv because I had the new local distractions that come naturally with spending short amounts of time in different places. Yet, I did meet my shadows enough times to realize that seeing changing my location as a way to fix my life is nothing but an illusion. I was still afraid of showing my heart and art to the world, I was still overeating, I still had obsessive thoughts about food, I was still in a relationship I felt awful in, I still felt not enough, I still relayed much on my external appearance and a few more. I still had all of that, and it wasn't going anywhere.
I could have used the opportunity of a new place to work on my shadow parts, and take advantage of that feeling of a fresh start - but I didn’t have the tools for doing it back then. Now that I do have the tools, I also know that in order to work on myself, I need to go nowhere but in (thank you Osho for that one).
In the memory of Kinka (stinka)