R U OK? Day 2017.

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.

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Falling into a Moment.

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
Back
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.

Without Judgement.


[ 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.

Advice You Never Asked For.

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 ]

Elegy for a missing travel bag. 

[ 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.

A moment of Carolina in Silence.

Silence spoke
Whispering in her usual tone
Of quiet places and
Welcome comfort
Releasing those clanging heavy chains of everyday
Until you slip into welcome peace
Amongst the calming aroma of herbs and spices that surrounded your head in Autumns past
Listen deeply
Let her words carry you into the heart of freedom
Easing the vessel of your being to a new state
Where we rest with impunity.

«Carolina»

===

Carolina was talking to me on the train home. I was listening to music so pulled my headphones down to hear what she was saying.

I had seen her give a handful of change to a homeless guy who was walking through the carriage asking out loud for just an extra dollar. There was something in her face and her presence, an energy that I connected with on some level. 

She was talking clearly, but I struggled to understand through the African-American accent and slightly incoherent concepts. But she was kind and I listened, smiled and gave her my full attention over the train noise. 

I asked her name. Then told her I would name this poem I just wrote after her. 

Suddenly my stop came up and we both got off the train. After we walked some meters on opposite sides of the platform, I stopped, turned and waited while she lay down her bag and bunch of flowers on the slatted bench seat to wait for the connecting train. I asked how was her reading? She said good, so I offered the chance to read the poem I named for her. 

Carolina looked at my phone and read my poem out loud, perfectly clear and with understanding. I sensed she appreciated it but was perhaps slightly bemused by this unusual experience. 

She grabbed her pen and started tagging the steel posts with “TO SEM”. The meaning of these words, over and over, was lost to me. 

Turning and leaving, I smiled over this interaction with a stranger. I don’t know just how much we connected, and whether she will remember the poem a stranger gave her on a train. I wonder whether she will be ok in time, not that she wasn’t during this shared time, but just because I care. 

Carolina took a little part of my heart that I willingly offered her. And I wonder whether maybe the world will be just a little brighter because of this.

Restrained Teardrops.

Tears of sadness and joy

For the loss of a part of me that I held close for so long

That was integral to my being and yet never served me well

Since some long ago defence response initiated its activity

And now I let it go, simply no longer needed, simply

Never to be a part of my life again

Loss and Joy combined

Bittersweet tears sat behind my eyes, until

Your words brought clarity to my attention

I sit now, within the truth, feeling

Tears of sadness and joy

.

.

Tell me: What have you given up, that hurt?

Shining a Light for Myself.

Get this out. Exorcise the negativity. Writing is therapy for you.

Feeling tired is understandable after a string of late nights (early mornings). You will refresh with time outside and in touch with nature, fresh air and sunshine.

Your energy has been considerably focussed outwards, engaging with others. You also benefit from quiet self time to recharge.

Already, within minutes, this very process has shifted your focus. The positive reaffirming responses are exactly the inputs you needed.

I feel so tired, I could just sleep the rest of the day through. Yes, you would also benefit from additional motivation right now. Getting to work and being productive, moving projects forwards, that energises you. There is also bookwork to complete, to make life easier for the future. 

*Focus now on doing what will benefit you the most tomorrow.*

It’s okay to take time out for yourself. Yet remember that working also brings in the money to enjoy life, to do more that engages with others, to experience new joys and discoveries. Life is what matters the most, and that can truly only happen the most when you get up, go out, and interact with the world you have around you.

I will move forwards now, focussing on one step at a time. A single step forwards, then another, in the direction of my goals. Because I am responsible for my happiness, I am the source of my power and energy. Because I love people, I cherish connection and interaction – and the path to those times also goes through personal effort, work, focussing on more mundane tasks. I will push forwards today, one step at a time, each moment another positive move no matter how small or large.

A Return.

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.

A Deep Conversation with Myself. 

Why do I feel alone on my own?
Because I gain a great deal of energy from connecting with other people and I fell that I don’t get that on my own.

Why don’t I receive that connection on my own?
Because I feel inadequate with my own thoughts. There seems to be nothing to reinforce me, positively.

Why don’t I feel comfortable with myself in the quiet?
Historic uneasiness and Fear. Feeling trapped in the past even though I am moving forwards. There is an inner dark place that I am constantly running from and I am trying now to understand it now.

What is this inner dark place I am avoiding?
Self-hatred. Self-loathing. It is doubt of myself and feeling that I am inadequate.

Why do I feel inadequate?
Because I remember all the times I couldn’t do things, Couldn’t function, Couldn’t perform, Couldn’t work, Couldn’t please others, Couldn’t be liked.

And do you see that a lot of those “couldn’t”s are just assumptions about situations and prejudgements of the opinions of others?
Yes I see that. I want to walk away from that – pain – and yet it all feels so comfortable that I don’t want to leave.

What is the worst thing that could happen?
That I cannot function, that I am stuck in depression or frozen in fear. That nobody likes me, or loves me, or gives me attention. That I will be alone, all on my own with no-one to care for me.

Why do you need someone else to care for you?
Because Ive spent so long fighting to be noticed, that I’m exhausted and hurting and I don’t know what to do anymore to be happy.

What if I said that you don’t need others to be happy? And that you can love yourself and feel everything you need provided from within your heart?
I don’t believe that. Everyone is looking for someone to love and be loved by and they are unhappy when they don’t get that. I don’t want to be like them.

OK. This is big stuff. This is strong stuff. Powerful and unsettling and I understand that. But I want you to know that you are loved. By others and by me. These fears are real to you, but they are based on errors of judgement. There is a much more positive energy environment around you, if you can tap into that, you will see the more positive truth. I want you to focus on that, the more positive energy around you. Consider it, feel it, leave space for it to seep deep into your being and carry you to a more comfortable place of existence. This is already happening as you take in these words, let it continue. Let it be the only preoccupation for your mind. Let it shelter you from the dark places. Let it be your guiding light. A light of hope. A way of living that you will be proud of and comfortable with. For this is you. You are already this. Just let the cloudiness clear from your vision and see the truth of the awesomeness that your life is.