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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Once More, Unto Hope.

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.

My heart. My head.

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.

Love Challenges.

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 ]

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 ]

How does it Feel?

It feels like the start of a new journey while tangled in the old one
It feels like mountain climbing and gliding down the other side in a bicycle
It feels like finding new friends and suddenly losing them again
It feels like every mistake I’ve ever made arriving at once
It feels like emotional exhaustion and fresh energy
It feels like new music and sad songs
It feels like missing meals and discovering a picnic in the garden
It feels like a new book and worn pages with turned corners
It feels like stormy winds and sunshine on my face
It feels like crying and receiving comfort from your best friend
It feels like anticipation and collapsing on the floor
It feels like fresh sheets and staying too long in bed
It feels like soft pillows and a comfy sofa
It feels like nerves before a great performance
It feels like a skin pamper and removing a splinter
It feels like brick walls and open doorways
It feels like colourful paintings and dusty old masters
It feels like lavishing attention on the cat and not being clawed
It feels like light at the end of the tunnel and minding your steps over the rocks and tracks
It feels like a triumphant fanfare over a steady drumbeat
It feels like your suggestion from last week suddenly sitting perfectly within my plans
It feels like decorating the Christmas tree and not minding the worn faded tinsel
It feels like looking at your own reflection and wanting to see where today might go
It feels like the texture of touching this sculpture and knowing it can never be moved
It feels like finally caring for yourself, no matter what happens.

Reconciliation and Hope.

Today was Father’s Day in Australia.

I spent early parts of the day, with my limited resources, trying to find a picture of him that I could post for today on my FB page, in memory.

I didn’t find anything suitable. I found a selection of photos illustrating him wasting away in his last year and that brought back painful memories. I wanted to remember him in the best way possible.

I went out for a bike ride to a weekly markets in the city. It’s a good place to sit myself down with some live music in the background, think, write, and people watch. I had forgotten how much I enjoy observing what happens around me.

After a couple poetic sketches, I was inspired to write a poem in memory of my father today. And I found a picture suitable enough to use illustrating my creativity.

And I thought that would be that.

Friends on FB were posting pictures of their fathers. Old family photos of smiling people having fun together, mid-hug, joyous memories. Along with this, descriptions of their positive experiences, their support, their love.

And I thought about how I experienced very little of that. Since age 10, when my Dad was knocked off his motorbike by a drunk driver, family life was never the same again. He suffered many problems as a result, which resulted in a family of 5 active children living with a physically incapacitated person sensitive to everyday noise. He suffered brain damage which forever changed the way he would interact with us. We lived with a person who became increasingly angry, irrational and explosive.

After five years Mum left. Eventually I followed.

I don’t have photos of hugs with my father. I remember some very early days of young boys rolling on the floor playing with him and that is all. I remember years of hating him, of wishing he was dead because that was the only way I could see life improving for the rest of us. Many years of having space and time gave me the opportunity to let go of the hurt and eventually reconnect. With assistance I eventually came into my own acceptance of what happened, of understanding, of letting go of blame and letting go of my own guilt.

I have come to acknowledge the aspects of my parents that I encompass, focussing on the positives. But I have always struggled with feeling loved, with needing to be loved. And I guess I am envious of those people I know who had such support during their formative years, who have some solid grounding in their lives.

When I see their stories, it leaves me sad.

A lesson I have learnt clearly, personally, this past week, is that the pain of emotions is a response within our mind. It is a chosen reaction. And we can choose to deal with it, to look at it with a different perspective, so that the pain is simply not there. The pain is only ever within our mind and as such, we have the individual power to not feel it. And that does not mean to bury it away somewhere. No, I mean to simply understand that by seeing around the emotions with a self awareness, there simply is no pain.

Pain only exists when we choose to create it within our mind.

This gives me hope. It lets me know that I can train myself to not create the pain. To live with a greater awareness of my self and a greater awareness around my thoughts. To live in a space where I am at peace, while still acknowledging all that I feel, all that I am.

And hope, is perhaps the most powerful emotion of them all.