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How are You?

Updated: Jul 5

Someone said to me the other day, ‘You’re looking well, Rachel. How are you?’ I answered, to my surprise , ‘I’m better than I’ve been in ten years!’ Well, that was news to me! I’d actually been feeling rather rough. A week in bed with Covid had left me fatigued and covered in a post- viral rash that I couldn’t seem to shake.

Years ago, I remember listening to Byron Katie describe how the observer in her watched as her hand opened the window. I found this such a curious idea. It was the first time I had encountered the figure of the observer whom we can call on to aid our awakening. Since then, the observer has become a companion on the journey into the heart. Krishnamurti’s encouragement to find out for oneself is particularly dear. He exhorts us to look without judgment because in judgement there is conflict. Without judgment, it just is and therein lies acceptance, the first step to peace.

What I observed as I contemplated my response is that I have become afraid to answer the question, how are you? After a series of losses that brought me to my knees, I am afraid that admitting to being well, might invite whatever vengeful force had laid waste my family, home, finances, business, security, faith, mental health and safety, will cause havoc in my newly rebuilt life and take from me my tender treasures that I am nurturing from the ruins.

Conversely, answering that I’m not well initiates the Law of Attraction to multiply the ‘not being well’. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of this law. It doesn’t care, it just operates on established principles. Other fears ride in on the back of this one. Perhaps I wasn’t grateful enough or worthy enough, when the house of my dreams came to me, which is why it was snatched away.

All sorts of magical thinking arises as I reach for an answer, all of which trigger fear. It’s not that I don’t think it’s wise to be mindful of our thoughts. I said for many years in response to said question, ‘Oh, I’m limping along,’ until I actually was limping and, after emergency medical investigation, faced with a chronic diagnosis. I’m not too maudlin about this. Despite the pain, my curiosity has been piqued.

Likewise, when I heard myself respond that I was better than I’d been in ten years, I looked with curiosity and took it that my higher self had spoken a truth that I needed to hear.

Ten years ago my youngest daughter was newly born. We’d moved back into the family home after it had needed complete renovation because flood damage had wrecked it. I had the kitchen of my dreams - the colour of sand and sea, designed so I could cook and face into the kitchen where my children played, ate, chatted, danced. It was a convivial sunny room - sunrise blazed brightly through one window and sunset brought gentler hues through the other at the end of the day. It was a space that filled my heart with joy except that the man of the house loathed it. Along with the sunrise came his ‘f*ck this kitchen!’ and the banging of plates on the tiled surface. Tension always accompanied breakfast when he was at home.

In time his angst about the design of the kitchen shifted to his loathing for my appearance. I’ve questioned over and over why I stayed so long. There’s no snappy answer. It was probably mostly fear of what would happen to me and the children if I left. If you’ve experienced abuse in intimate relationships, you’ll recognise this particular grief - for all the lost time trying to make things right, smooth things over, settle the children, the constant discussions with someone who has shown little propensity for change, the long weary nights trying to re-find yourself in the barrage of disgust and, hiding under all of it, the fear of what’s going to happen if all this effort fails. Be gentle with yourself. Let the observer just notice what arises.

Today, I’m noticing that some fear remains, hidden in my inability to answer lightly how I am. The intangible losses of safety and love that accompany domestic abuse, can be hard to identify. This is where the observer joins hands with the Grief Recovery Method. Once seen, these hidden losses can be brought to peace.

There are tangible losses too. Some days the ugly rental house kitchen which is designed to make you face the wall while you cook, makes me weep. There’s no sunrise only sundown through a small window. It’s enough to notice how sad I am about this, I don’t need to add the conflicting thoughts about how I should have done it differently, or I should be earning enough to refit it. And, I’ll find gratitude for the sunshine and shelter in time, once I’ve made peace with my grief.

So am I weller than I was ten years ago? Yes! Some days there is still fear in my heart, but mostly there’s peace. I notice that I have found beauty within and don’t need to rely on someone who is mortally afraid of aging to appraise my looks. I notice that I still worry about making provision for the children but we enjoy convivial meals and lively conversations and there’s laughter and lightheartedness in the house again. My newly bought singing bowl rings out its tune and encourages me to find my voice too.

Alongside the observer, the Grief Recovery Method has been a vital adjunct in my return to wellness. I invite you to book a free session with me if you’re curious about how you too can rediscover wellness after loss.

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