The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year
Clare Cremona, Environmental Educator and Psychologies Ambassador, on taking the wilder middle path together and wishing you well
What a difference a year makes. I spent most of last year lying down and what I discovered from that angle was a completely different perspective on my life and on life in general.
It didn’t start out that way, this felt like enforced imprisonment. It came on suddenly, two slipped discs in my neck causing chronic pain where I wasn’t even able to lift a book. Not only the physical discomfort but also the emotional pain of not being able to do what I would like to, to do the job I love or be the Mum to my young children I wish to be; the fear that life was going on without me. My first reaction was a well trodden path of either pushing it away and not wanting to accept it or feeling overwhelmed by it. Eventually, through really having no choice I learnt to be with it, listen to it and look at it even for the briefest of moments to start with. Over time I found that these periods lengthened. Not only that but by taking this wilder middle path between running and drowning, I found gifts hidden there, learning so much about myself and growing as a person. It was like I went down untrodden depths into the darkest of mines and I came back to the surface with precious stones.
Something that softened the whole process and allowed me to be in the moment when I was most ill, was being able to see a tree outside my window, from bare tree branches last winter, I watched the new spring growth appear and then blossom. It truly kept me going. Then as my recovery has taken flight, a daily wild walk in nature has become my go to healing activity. As Florence Williams says in her book Nature Fix, “naturalistic outdoor environments remain some of the only places where we can fully engage all five of our senses, and thus by definition are fully physically alive.” I carry my discomfort from the world, take it to the woods, wash it in the streams and the sea, turn it over and look at what lies on the other side of that discomfort. Nature inspires me, and in turn it comforts me.
To enable me to get better, I ended up having spinal surgery. Once I could lift a book again it was Psychologies magazine that spoke to me and became my companion. It helped me to realise that I had been asleep and in waking there were revelations about the way I had been conducting my life. I have been physically recovering, but I am also recovering from being a people pleaser as well as an over functioning perfectionist, who looked after everyone before myself. It is a daily practice now to live the best life that I can for me and for all around me.
The magazine has given me community, connection and accountability. I joined the Freedom Collective and undertook John Williams’ course where I created a blog called www.iwishyouwell.org A proud and incredible moment towards the end of my year was learning that I had successfully become an ambassador for Psychologies magazine. We were never meant to do this thing called life alone and it is truly better when we support each other in the most compassionate way. During this time I also dealt with grief and have learned that life really is too short to live someone else’s version of your life. You must be you and live a life you love. I wish you well.
“We’re all stumbling through the night.
It doesn’t matter, we’re all together
And it’s paradise in our minds
Falling together, arms around each other.”
- Craig David