An African mum living, learning, and documenting the process.

Marcy Madzikanda: On the immediate aftermath of loss: Part 2

Continued. Aiming for 1000 words and don’t want to get into the habit of lengthy posts.

One thing I knew my body needed was movement. I mentioned I didn’t leave my house for a month. The first few days was a fog, me shuffling from the bed and the table. Eating because we normally do this together and it was important my child saw me ‘doing’ normal things.

I lost a lot of weight during this time. I am an emotional eater and eat for comfort, this was different. I had no desire to eat. It became a mechanical exercise to put food in my mouth. My body needed nourishment. There was no joy in food. I found no comfort in food, cooking, eating, nothing.
In the first few weeks nothing brought me joy except my child. The reality of life and death.

I’d sit on the sofa (sun trap) watching my child. She brought me out of myself. She kept me grounded meaning I didn’t slip too deeply into abyss I knew would consume me.

The little garden we grew during lockdown.

I’d usually retreat to the bedroom or sit on the balcony so I could cry without causing distress to my child.

I read awhile ago about how the body keeps the score and the importance of movement, yoga specifically to help with calming the mind and dealing with trauma. I knew this practice worked from my experience of depression.

I had for some time paid for Les Mills On demand membership with inconsistent usage. My partner would often say cancel if you aren’t using it and I remember saying when ‘it’ clicks I want everything in place. ‘It’ referring to the fitness bug. The subscription was about £7/8 a month when I first got it, currently about £9. You can get a 14 – 30 day free trial.

I used to work out at least five times a week sometimes 2-3 hours and would often do two or three back to back Les Mills classes at the gym. I enjoy Body Combat and Body Pump.
I tried Body Balance many years ago and I loved it. I preferred the mix of disciplines in the workout and the music as opposed to yoga (not taking away anything from yoga). Then it disappeared from the gym or was only available weekday mornings and with work I couldn’t attend. Having access to it on-demand was what I needed.

I hit play on latest release at that time (85). Being guided through each track and realising my body was not as unfit as I thought was a pleasant surprise. This really spurred me on.

I often wonder if I had started with something harder like grit which I tried previously and being unable to keep up affected my joy for working out meaning there was little motivation to return the next day, or a few hours later.

Bodybalance energised me. It also calmed my thoughts. For 55 minutes I had to concentrate on moving my body and get out out of mind. I mostly didn’t cry but sometimes I did and that was okay. I think what I also loved about this time was it was mine. The final track was the meditation and I always looked forward to this part of the workout.

Please remember this was right at the beginning of a global lockdown. Nursery was closed, parents were being hit with the double whammy of home working and schooling. My attention span was zero so my partner took that on. I was physically present for my child whilst going through the most emotional anguish I had ever experienced.

I’d wake up early, remember what had happened, have a cry, jump out of bed (perhaps an exaggeration) but get my kit on and workout. I did this a few days into my compassionate leave and have kept up the routine of early morning workouts. About 5-6 days a week on a good week.

I sent a message in our family group saying I can’t process the emotions but I can move my body. If I can move it, then I can bring feeling into it. Then perhaps I can teach myself to cope. (I’m paraphrasing a long message).

Those daily exercises prescribed by the government make sense. Although it would be a month before I left the house I did exercise. (For those concerned my child went outside with my partner) He was extremely supportive and present at this time.

I’m not a ‘cryer’ I don’t think he’d even seen me cry until the baby blues hit, (ugly crying then) and in the days and months since my sister nearly daily. Sometimes he finds me silently shedding tears and I wonder what goes on his mind.

I wonder if he sees me as ‘broken’. I feel broken on the inside. Not quite the same person I was before lockdown and her death. I try daily to get a little less broken and exercise helps me to do that.

I’d read about kintsugi years ago and during this period the philosophy comes to mind when I think about the concept of ‘brokenness’ after grief. I like the idea of seeing beauty in the broken crockery, piecing the parts back together with silver and gold. Creating something more beautiful than the original.

One day.

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