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.

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 ]

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 ]

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.

Journey. 4

It’s time to tell the truth
To myself
I’ve been lying for so long
Making up excuses
Believing hurtful words.
It’s time to hear the truth
Deep within my soul
That others have echoed
That will make me whole.
I am enough
I am already all that I need
Love maintains the fire in my core
Love surrounds me
Friends surround me with their love
as they appreciate the person I am.
There is no emptiness here
Only forgetfulness
Just remember
Love.

(20 July 2016)

Journey. 3

And then I’m reminded “you are love, you are all that you need”. And as I contemplate these words, gentle answers come:

Maybe you don’t have the words for yourself today. But you have trust. You have hope. You have love. All these are already inside you, they ARE you. Be content in the knowledge that what you need is already available to you.

And with these words, I see that I have the answers. They just weren’t the answers I was expecting.

(20 July 2016)