I’m back. For a time, who knows how long. My creative energies have been wandering around and exploring Instagram for the past few months. But I feel the need to be back here now. Writing more. Less shiny, more gritty. Instagram will still be a regular hangout. I just want WordPress to be another regular hangout. Like the old days. Much has changed in my life. Much is being processed, still. Much is yet to solidify. And that is life, a journey. I’m feeling good about dropping by here again.
R U OK?
I saw the evidence in my social media feed. This annual day focussing on mental health had arrived again. Nobody was asking me directly, so I asked myself,
“aRe yoU OKay?”
And my response was a little uncertain, but mostly a “Yes.”
Maintaining a positive focus, one of my newer skills. 🙂
I’d been seeing memory posts in my social media feed, “on this day” from a year ago. And each day it didn’t look good. There was much pain 12 months ago. Mental anguish, also manifesting in physical illness. And I could see it so clearly now, looking back with experience, with compassion. Seeing clearly what was going on then.
And now, not wanting to look back too much. Not wanting to see so much pain, to be reminded of what I’d been through, because it’s still raw there, I’m still healing there.
But reflection is a good action. With a positive focus, it is helpful and enlightening.
But it hasn’t been that way for most of my life. Only just realising that my self-improvement had often been a vehicle for self-admonishment. A finding-and-fixing attitude often fed a destructive force of self-criticism.
I presume that came from my father. His black and white attitude to right and wrong coupled with strict religious beliefs, was a recipe for harsh parenting that I learned early on. And now battle with today. Possibly the last haunting vestige of my past (well, that I have identified anyway) – (see what I did there?!)
So at the end of this year’s R U OK day, I know I’m in a far better mental place than previously. Far better than for many years. There are gaps, there is still work to do. I am learning to accept present me, be understanding with past me, be patient with future me, mostly just learning to be.
I will not acknowledge this darkness clawing at my soul
I will not name it depression, grief or anxiety, which gives it form and offers it power
I will not give in when the desire to hide away, from people, from loved ones, from life,
Calls me incessantly and offers an uncomfortable ease to this troubled heart
I will not doubt my own worth
I will not question every part of my being that others see as positive
I will not make life-changing decisions based on the fear of my present.
There are so many ways to dive into these depths
And in the past I’ve tried them all, tested their effectiveness
So I know that path isn’t right for me right now
Despite the comfort of familiarity all of that could be
There is only right now, hunched over,
Wanting to stand tall, but bearing the weight of my world on my shoulders
So for every step forwards, and every step backwards,
I know my focus on the future will eventually win through.
Hope calls me forwards
I don’t recognise it’s shape, but the warmth is enough to draw me away from this icy cold.
Hoping for a mind unrestrained by this clutter and weight.
Hope is a quiet voice, whispering encouragement through the darkness
Leading me onto a new path
Reminding me of the light that exists out there.
There is so much more I need to say
To the world, to you, and to myself
I need to hear the encouragement that only comes from a changed state of being
From a fresh way of thinking
From love overpowering fear
And it’s greatest source is hidden inside me
I want to hear it loud and proud
And each day I cry for another vision
Another visit from the tenderness that had been lost
I. Keep. Pushing. Forwards.
Searching. For. More. Of. This.
And the fear claws me back, holds me back,
Stabs my back and leaves me bleeding in pain
When all I want is Peace. Love. Life. Connection.
How do I connect with strength ephemeral?
Wanting more. Looking for more. Searching
Tell me where to look
Help me see what I need to… Be.
When deep ruts steer me wayward
I ask for guidance, for a gift
To heal the rift inside my heart, my head.
You said I needed to make up my mind
When I make it up every day
But following through with those decisions is where I fall down.
I want some*thing*
But I also want to help others enjoy life
And some*times* I let that over-ride my own feelings.
Did you ever consider my feelings?
Did we ever talk about how I really felt underneath the surface?
We all want to be happy
So how do we blend our own happiness with those around us?
How do we all sit together in peace, and love,
feeling connected and supportive of each other?
Perhaps the challenge is overcoming our own pride
Perhaps when we start seeing others as equally important
and equally worthy of our consideration and energy
Perhaps then we will all feel it –
The collective human energy that we desire
An equal focus on ourselves and others
An equal tolerance for ourselves as for others
This works for me, and,
just maybe it is what we all needed to hear.
[ 15 August 2017 ]
Today, is just as times before. When I feel the pain of another’s story, long after my ears have heard. When I remember back to my own journeys through the pain of chronic ill-health. And the mental anguish of being unable to function for days, weeks, months. The self-imposed stresses. The very real stress of maintaining a relationship whilst unable to maintain yourself. Being unable to work, unable to generate income, unable to meet deadlines.
Unable. Disable. Needing more enable, but those days were rare.
I have known defeat, suffering, struggle, and loss. Somehow I have found my way out of those depths and stand here today.
Pain reaches forwards
Up from the past
Clutching and dragging me
Fearing all that
Now, as then
And I tell myself right now
These are emotional ghosts
They have no power over me
Except that which I give them.
Though I feel unsteady, unsafe
My comfort lies in others
Asking for help
Accepting supportive hands
Belief in my own inner strength.
These are my tools
With these now I survive
And prepare to thrive once more
This is my hope, my truth.
[ original photo by @xisarahix on instagram ]
Realising this morning that I’ve been sitting in fear these past weeks.
I’ve been fighting it, resisting it, trying so hard to be right.
Worrying about long-term relationships; about the new and subtly about the past.
Through all the “what ifs” “shoulds” and “was I right?” I found a place this morning. A little bit of comfort, perhaps some resolution, and definitely a way forward from here.
From 13th Century philosopher Rumi:
“Out beyond the ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing there is a field – I’ll meet you there.”
This is the place where I will sit down, to spend some time, to talk through my life with other humans.
Because the biggest gift I can grant myself, and the biggest gift anyone else can give me right now, is to sit (with me) and consider my life so far – without judgement.
I admit I don’t know your full story.
But I encourage you to write because of my own experiences of that being a hugely beneficial path to take.
When I was depressed for years,
frequently suicidal, for years
when writing was my only emotional outlet, I pushed through it all and eventually pushed out through all the hurt into something that was truly a little bit beautiful amidst the terrible darkness.
It was on the advice of a dear friend I started blogging. Fear made me keep it anonymous. But what I met was a writing community that embraced me and encouraged me in every way. I found friends who taught me about understanding and grief, about strength and persistence, about discovery and perseverance.
And I am forever grateful for that experience.
I see now how I pushed myself through the fear. Partly out of fear of the darkness, but mostly because ALWAYS inside me, no matter what other shit was going on, there was the tiniest spark of light that guided me onwards. Perhaps it was a genetic gift from my mother, of hope or optimism. Perhaps it was the repeated words of a few close friends who reminded me during those darkest times that it wouldn’t last, that life will get better, that I deserved better, that just hanging on for another minute is all I needed to do in the moment.
How can I not be grateful for experiencing that genuine expression of love from people I’ve only known for a few years?!
And now it’s my time to shine for myself, and for others. It’s my time to pass on the love. To “pay it forward” to someone else. Not out of any duty, or karma, just because its who I am. Simple, honest, caring for other humans. (And because, well, in that place, there are new lessons for me too.)
So I don’t know what you want in your life, what your personal goals are. But I see you already caring for and discovering yourself in many ways. We all want to “be better” or perhaps just “feel better”. While that path is a very personal choice, I see you finding your way forwards already.
And I just want to encourage you to do, and to keep doing, whatever it takes to maintain forward momentum in your life.
I encourage you past the fears in whatever way it takes, because that is just the way forwards.
Don’t be afraid. Just be who you need to be.
[ feature/title image aerial photography of Mona Vale Beach, Australia, by Bo Le @safromabove ]
I remember times when just getting up out of bed
was foremost on my mind
and the biggest struggle of my day.
I remember times curled up with undiagnosed pain,
when I wanted to die,
when I hated myself for being this way.
I remember times when I could get up,
could get out of the house;
yet my head would spin,
and focus and comprehension were distant lands,
long journeys away.
I remember not crying through most of this,
because that felt like weakness when I needed to be strong.
I remember needing someone close to me,
needing someone to sit with me and be present.
Not to fix, not to suggest I am broken,
just to keep the loneliness at bay and
to bring positive energy into my day.
And I remember rarely receiving that.
I remember not having those people around me
and not knowing how to ask for it.
I remember alone, pain, hatred, depression,
and all the physical manifestations of a life in turmoil.
I remember Stars in the night. ✩
I remember pouring my heart into words,
flinging those words into the dark sky and
watching them match up with the results of others’ efforts.
I remember seeing out there;
words – with emotions,
that became faces, that
reached out to me, that
helped make sense out of it all.
I remember their souls
their energy, compassion, and love
some now faded, some drifted away,
some still flickering – as my light did for so long.
And I am blessed
to have lived through this all
to have been present through it all
and felt every fucking feeling that life has to offer.
I see this knowledge and understanding,
an integral part of me,
a gift I am able to share with others
As my light shines bright, once more,
for myself, and for those I connect with.
This life exists most wholly
with those whose paths cross mine
For minutes, or days, or months.
And in those moments I am brightest
in those moments I shine and
share the warmth that glows in my heart.
Spoon Economics is A very enlightening expansion on Spoon Theory.
Reposted from a late-night email I wrote a while back that is rather interesting to revisit at the present time. Concentration warning – longish.
I was pondering the many applications of the original Spoon Theory recently, at some unearthly hour of course. One of the things on my mind was that the concept has been taken up more widely by healthy people, usually to describe general stress and weariness, e.g. “I should get this piece of work done but I just don’t have the spoons so I’m going home.” Understandably this has caused some opprobrium in chronically ill/disabled circles, partly because run of the mill tiredness at the end of the day is not really comparable to literally not being able to get out of bed because you used up your energy having a shower yesterday, and partly because it can feel like yet another thing created for or by a…
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[ trigger warning: reference to a deceased friend ]
Tricia said “those bastards” and “I hope you’re alright dear” then she started talking about her own experiences of life being unfair and unpleasant. It’s her care and warmth that shines through. And soon you feel much better, for a sympathetic ear from a beautiful soul.
She’s right here with us, loving that we became friends through her. And she’s focusing on the important matters in life, steering our thoughts away from unpleasant incidents, because – well because that doesn’t really matter.
In this great play of life, the small unpleasantness doesn’t really matter. We have each other. We have health food and shelter. We are able to travel and create our own adventures. We stay safe. And we look out for each other.
Our role is flexible. We choose the story as we go, but we choose to embrace others into it, to create a big beautiful mosaic of life.
[ postscript. ]
Traveling the US for the first time in my life. Seeing my favourite musical artist perform live for the first time in my life. On my own, quite the adventure. Visiting writer friends. Visiting new old friends and going to a vegan Sushi restaurant, during which brief time my Bag was stolen from a car boot barely 15m away. Everything important, everything non-replaceable, was with me. Being grateful. Being thankful for all that I have. And learning to let go of that which doesn’t really matter, learning to free the soul from material attachments. A valuable lesson, at an important time in my life.