Stress, oh how ye plague me. How you have ripped my life apart only to rebuild it with more resilience and power than I could ever have hoped for. How you took my health brutally to the edge, only to show me how to gently nurture myself back to well being. How you cuckold me then lavage me with gifts. How you pressurise me yet teach me how to set my boundaries. Oh, what a beautiful gift you have been to show me everything that needed to be seen.
Life as a stockbroker was not easy but then again, neither was my life before I became a stockbroker. When I look back at what drew me into such an industry, my need to prove myself, to myself, at all costs, to prove to all of those boys that bullied me, all of those years ago, that I could cut it in a man’s world, I realise that I had built my world on stress and toxicity a long time before I walked onto the trading floor.
I used to thrive on stress, or so I thought, but now I realise that stress thrived on me. Stress had woven its way into every muscle, every bone and every cell. It had intoxicated me with its charms, its power and its might. It had tricked me into believing that I needed its drive and its force to ignite me with my passion. It had led me on a merry dance that drove me into darkness and saw me swimming with sharks.
But stress has also healed me. It pushed me so far into the darkness that I could no longer see the light. It had engulfed me so deeply in its clutches that I could no longer breathe in its embrace. It took me so far over the edge that I could no longer feel my feet on the ground. It saw me losing myself, only to find myself as I gasped for air under the gentle embrace of a new day, a new world, a new life.
Stress pushed me so far that I could never hope to return to the person that I once was. A person who was filled with dread and fear, hate and anger. A person who laid curled up at night, enslaved to the pain that stress had inflicted upon her body. A person who had lost her way so completely that the only way to release her from her enslavement was to disembody her from all that she knew. Because all that she knew was darkness. All that she knew was disempowerment and all that she knew was pain.
That pain that I carried deep in my chest, that engulfed and controlled my every thought, my every action, coursed its way through my body on a bed of cortisol and adrenalin. That fear that held me so deeply in my entrapment raged a war on my adrenals that no organ could withstand. How deeply into my pain I had to be taken to be able to witness, acknowledge and release it.
I thank you stress for all that you have done., for all that you have taught me and shown me about myself. I thank you for pushing me to my limits so that I could see the reality of my situation. I thank you for teaching me that slowing down does not mean to fail and that being compassionate with myself does not make me weak. I thank you for teaching me to listen to my body so that I may know all that my body shows me. I thank you for teaching me to be me as I now walk hand in hand with you, still navigating your seas but learning your lessons at every turn. I thank you for now being more gentle and kind with me as I now respond to your embrace with grace and ease. As I now recognise the signs that you give me to be more kind to myself. As I hear your gentle whisper that tells me that I need a break. As I flow in the ebb of your ocean that warns me of the tide.
I thank you stress for ripping through my fear with all of the gentleness of a sledgehammer’s swing. For leaving the wound open so that I could see how deeply the pain gripped at the organs of my tormented body. For guiding me to salvation as I heard the call of my soul to walk a different path.
Thank you stress for all that you have done, for all that you have helped me to become. For all that you are and all that you give, for you have taught me how to live…
First posted on Thrive Global founded by Arianna Huffington with a mission to end the burnout epidemic with sustainable science based solutions that enhance well-being.