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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.

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Remembering Magic.

I remember good times a lifetime ago. (Painful memories are there too, but I now see the importance of connecting positives within me.

I remember first loves, first touch, first kiss. Car sliding off-the-road down-the-embankment adventures with friends and knee-high-mud hikes through remote wilderness. The quizzical feel of unrequited love. The laughing easy fun of real friends around me, even though the new experience was confusing. The joyous sound & feeling of singing familiar songs. A-Capella blues improvisation on the rocks near the seashore. Feeling the chant of ancient community harmonies. Up all night talking, sitting on the side of a hill, then watching sunrise dawn on a new year. So many connecting in deep conversation moments. Special friends who may have loved you.

I know you. We shared life together. Then we never saw each other again. 

I know you. The first time we met was a meeting of old soulmates. I know you. Our time grew over years. Now we share warmth, inspiration, crazy fun and laughter. I know you. A few years of friendship remains a glow within my heart, whether or not we see each other again. I know you. We have never shared the same physical space, but our connection is as real as the hugs we will give when we finally do. I know you. We have walked together, talked together. Cried, lied, and sat together. 

And now, I have known you your whole life. Every day is a new journey and one day, this too, I will remember. 

[ Inspired by the magical words of @urbansirenllc ]

Positive Progress. 

I know that I seek perfection in life. I understand that is unrealistic, and sometimes I feel scared that I am destined to forever seek the unattainable.

But I know that as I remain grounded, my vision is clear, and I see the truth in life that is more important than a facade of perfection. I know that I seek the truth in people I become close to. I know that I seek truth within myself and that will always guide me to the important and realness that is life.

In this way I can trust myself. I feel brave and know that I will find, in each day, that which I need to enjoy life. Thus I remind myself, that I am enough, that I am all I need, that I am loved – within and without. My life is certainty and solidity because that is what I desire. My life is also adventure and unexpected because that is what I desire.

This feeds me strength and positivity, because this path forwards is already beneath my feet.

My Story of Change.

In my early 20s, for continuing self-improvement, I would identify facets of myself that I felt needed shifting. Perhaps an attitude to something that I realised I would be better off thinking differently about. I found that through the desire to change I would swing from one extreme to the other side and after experiencing that, eventually settle somewhere in the middle – a good place to settle.

When my depression got worse requiring medication and professional therapy, I struggled a lot with acceptance of myself, seeing this person as faulty and broken. Some of these feelings persist still, although I am currently breaking through that wall of self loathing.

Later on in life, with more experiences, differing therapies, differing attitudes to myself and my mental health, I really started progressing on my journey of self-realisation. Therapy required daily homework, sometimes difficult, but I wanted to move myself out of the depressive experiences that had defined most of my life to date.

I believed changing thought patterns and mental habits that were 20-30 years old would be difficult and would take a long time. But I was ready for the journey and determined. What I discovered surprised me. I believe the first major mental shift only took about 4 months, when I expected a year or more. And the more that changed the easier each change became, because they all built on the positives of the previous. Within the past year I have seen shifts that only took a few weeks to overcome a lifetime of negative patterns!

By setting my mind to it, by being determined to change for the better no matter what, and by learning to trust myself and rely on my abilities and the support of experienced others, I have surprised myself with what can change for the better.

Be hopeful for your own journey.

Breaking UnRules Before Midnight.

It’s that time of the the night when the world has gone quiet around me, my brain has cleared of daytime clutter and I want to just sit into the night and write. 

A sleepy brain is actually a benefit to creativity as all the normal barriers and rules have melted away. 

I can access deep, intuitive words and thoughts. 

But the downside is that I push past my need to sleep which becomes problematic tiredness the next day. 

So instead tonight I will lay down my writing devices and attend to my body’s need for rest. 

And tomorrow, perhaps the inspiration will have built up and there will be greater creativity at play.

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This Is Not A Manifest.

Time to sit and process. Take stock of the present me, and recent thought encounters.

I need to look after myself. I need to make decisions in my life that are the best for me, irrespective of how much that may* hurt others. There is no point in letting myself suffer for the sake of the perceived* comfort of others.

I believe my ongoing health issues are largely a result of the stress of my profound unhappiness. Said unhappiness being largely the result of a relationship that has not been fulfilling me for some time (10 years or thereabouts).

I have made my best efforts at the time to resolve the relationship issues. I have worked on myself. I have attempted to guide my wife. We have been to counselling together. I have made many attempts to open discussions about our relationship. And all through I have seen her narrow view. I don’t know whether her refusal to engage with me (verbally and emotionally) at the level I need is out of fear or a lack of understanding.

I have stepped back and left space for growth. I have engaged fully to encourage growth. At times I have also pushed heavily for growth. Ultimately for me though, this has all been relatively futile. Which has resulted in negativity calling me out as a failure. I know this is not true. I have been battling to believe that I have done the best I can and that the negativity is a lie.

I do not believe in static relationships. I believe we grow daily with every experience, every challenge to our thoughts, every discovery within and outside of our mind. I believe significant growth comes through shared experiences with others. I believe that resisting change is ultimately hurtful to oneself, and that resistance is usually based on fears. I believe love is the basis for all good things.

I know that no matter what happens, what occurs, or what choices I make, that I have good friends who will support me. I trust them, as I have appreciated their response to my opening up about depression. And they have explicitly stated their support of me.

I have nothing to fear but fear itself.

I am pleased with my personal growth. I identify aspects of my personality that have changed significantly, especially in recent years and I am proud of the person I am. I have surrounded myself with amazingly supportive, genuine and fun people, whose company I thoroughly enjoy. I am proud of my growth as a writer and artist.

I have come to realise that all I ever wanted in life, is in fact right there surrounding me already and I only have to reach out for it.

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3am Reality Manifest.

Awake at 3am. Brain running, processing. Recent events, current events, in my life.

Feeling unhappy is the very first thought. I remember that because it surprised me, disturbed me.

It is sadness at the way A treated me last night, going to bed. Not much communication or care from her. I perceived it as harsh and negative. Ok, she was really tired and struggling with energy and I know that makes her grumpy. But really? I mean, every fooking time I get to deal with this. Which is usually multiple times per week. Most weeks. Her in a good mood, in the evening, is a rare thing. My perception.

She shut off the tv while I was still watching it, but in the process of organising myself towards bed. Yes she had prepared my hot water bottle as well as hers, that’s a rare concession to my needs. And it was her attitude, as it usually is, that bothers me. Maybe it’s a frustration at her own immediate situation/tiredness. But it feels like she takes it out on me. Whereas if “the tables were turned” I internalise those sorts of feelings and make a point not to inflict them on anyone else.

Why the difference between us and why should it bother me?

Big questions that I cannot answer right now. But enough to keep me awake in the middle of the night.

Maybe I feel like she is fed up with me being sick. Maybe I am fed up with her being a dick. I guess that I struggle to look past these “little things” she does, to see the bigger positive picture. Because it seems our life is full of these constant frictions, while I struggle to find the positives, struggle to see the love in a way that has meaning for me.

And I acknowledge this all 100%. Hey, if I’m “doing something wrong” I will be the first to try and make it right, to try and act and be the best sort of person I can. And she won’t do that. Because that would mean admitting in some context that she has “a fault”. And those thoughts lead her to feeling criticised, feeling unloved, because “she’s not ok the way she is” or something like that. You see, we never really get to talk about it. Because any suggestion in that direction leads to her shutting down emotionally, or reacting and starting to attack me with criticism about random past events.

It’s so sad to me. She won’t let me help her in any way. For years I tried to make helpful suggestions, in as positive a way as possible, for her life. And she mostly paid no heed to my input. But when she first started talking to a counsellor I was seeing, and they made the exact same suggestions that I had, well then it was time for her to act. I take that a little bit personally, in that, does she not trust me? Does she not believe me, or in my intentions all along?

But I don’t think that I create a whole grudge against her from that. I mean, I think about these things, I create awareness of myself, and I always try to be the best person I can. I make mistakes in the relationship, things I say, or do, or don’t do sometimes. But I try to learn from them and be better next time. Isn’t that just the best anyone can ever do as a human?

I don’t see her doing that. I don’t see her listening to what I say about us and making little course corrections along the way. What I see, mostly, is her reacting to what I say. Perhaps she thinks something like “I must change this otherwise he won’t love me any more”. And so a behavioural change happens and lasts for one or two weeks on average. Then I-don’t-know-what happens, perhaps dealing with life preoccupies her again (work stresses, money worries (did I mention it’s always about security for her?)), and it’s back to the way it was before.

Oh, there have been some changes for the better. Along the lines of, I-ask-for-100%-of-this, she-initially-gives-80%, later on with reminders of what we agreed she gives 10% more steadily. So I can’t say that she doesn’t make an effort. It’s just something about the whole situation, the whole pattern that I see over 20 years together, that leaves me quite uncomfortable, and sad.

And maybe that’s what is keeping me awake tonight. I tried. I try. But my energy reserves and enthusiasm wane after so long. I thought I could keep it up forever, let love fuel that push forwards. But love not returned as much as is given (and all this above, to me, is about love. “If she loves me she will…”) eventually wears me down. It’s all I know. It’s all I have the current knowledge to apply. It’s my best effort. So why do I feel this sharp pain in my gut, like all this hurt is stabbing me? This pain that I can’t rationalise. That I can’t think away or placate.

The reality of my situation Manifests itself within my physical body. No wonder I’ve been sick.

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A Letter from Inside the Struggle.

I don’t know who’s standards I’m trying to live up to. I just feel that 1½ productive hours in the office today is not enough, when I have jobs due to go out.

Maybe I am being hard on myself, I don’t know why that is so. I see it happening, but I can’t put together enough energy or thought to get past that observation. And so I feel helpless, or useless, or both. Maybe other people can find ways to switch their thoughts over to a more helpful, more positive direction. But for me Even a small amount of depression seems to make that an impossibility. 

Sometimes the best I can do is try and cope, try and get through whatever crisis or reaction is going on in my brain, try and survive to get to another day. 

What sort of messed up life is that? I don’t want to have that struggle every day with no end in sight. So often that is all I can see in front of me, and it’s not pretty. It’s not desirable in any way. It’s not something you want anyone else to have to feel or to go through. 

I could say I stand strong through it all, but that is nonsense. What I do is crumble, fall apart, and somehow just manage to not get washed away by the storm. The silent storm that nobody else sees, nobody else experiences. It leaves me wrecked and alone, locked inside my own head. 

And if I wasn’t able to express this all in words, I wouldn’t have survived thus far. 

Survival, how I hate that word. While it means life at the end, it also means the battle not to die. And I am so weary from battling. So drained from fighting, and for what? The chance to go through it all again? 

A vicious circle of perpetuation fills my sight tonight, as it does many other times. And seeing past, through, or around that to something else, seems beyond my present ability. 

So I thank you for listening, for thinking about what I say and for responding in a considerate manner that I truly appreciate. I apologise for my depression. I honestly wish there was some other way for me to be right now. And yet, here I am, in this unhappy place.

I hope you manage to be somewhere better.

Trying to Feel what Others Share.

I don’t understand why some days I can function fine, be productive at work and home, and engage with other people in a meaningful way. And other days I fail at all those things, I struggle to get up, to get going, to think, to focus, to function in any normal sort of way.

It’s terribly upsetting. It leaves me feeling broken and useless. Can you see how much this affects me, how much it feels like it damages my mind and grinds me down into dark despair?

And this is just one aspect of what I deal with in my life, it’s just one thing that I could grab hold of long enough to write about tonight.

So when I’m tasked to find a positive focus for each day, to find three positive things about my life to start each day, That just feels like an impossibility most of the time. One more thing that I struggle with and can’t seem to manage – one more failure of me. I can’t seem to get my brain around this all. I struggle to find any way around the negative stumbling blocks I can see, to manage to latch onto anything much that is positive. I am trying to find a way forwards and I’m just not having much luck with any of that.

And it’s all about failing. I know in the counselling we talked about how failing is just learning a way that doesn’t work. That’s fine if you have the right mindset. But the way I grew up, Not getting it right, or failing, was a flaw – was something bad and something to be avoided at all costs. Because then came judgement and punishment. That’s what I know of life. So the fact that I can make any sort of effort forwards, to try something new or different, to help myself, is significant. But often it seems that effort uses up all my energy. I have nothing left to deal with the aftermath, or to make plans from that point onwards.

So I feel stuck and ill-equipped to help myself. And I’m not sure anyone trying to help me fully appreciates this. I’m not there for myself, and it seems others aren’t there for me. And loneliness despair closes in.

I know there are people there for me. I know there are friends who care and others who are willing to help me. But when I feel stuck, I tend to withdraw and not lean on them, because I’m not accustomed to having reliable caring people around me. My negative thoughts slide in early and isolate me with lies. But I don’t know enough to counteract the lies. They are the only story that gets regularly fed to me.

I’m putting all this out there, because I don’t know what else to do right now. I know I’m struggling. I know I’m not communicating with people around me very well. I know I’m not coping with life very well. I’m just writing out my heartfelt feelings in the hope that it is enough, to let someone else understand enough, to help me get back on a better path.

That’s all I long for right now. To know I’m on a better path and to know I’m not alone. But there is a big chasm between others’ actions and me actually knowing the feeling. And that’s where I continue to struggle.

Cutting And Growing.

[my photo: Remnants of Summer grapes lingered into Winter.]

Pruning the grapevines, through sunset, into dark. Finishing because there’s no more light to distinguish the dark grey vine bark from the shadows.

It all connects me back to my dad. The way he made use of that time of the day.

Pruning for fruit growth next year. Pruning for shape, for future direction.

Working on something right now, that you will only see the desired results for in six months’ time, or longer.

Yes there is a result right now. Clearing off the wood that has gone to sleep. Neatening the plant back to it’s strongest branches.

But it’s really all about that planning ahead. Where do you want it to be, next year, the year after that? Shaping with a future direction in mind. Not a specific goal so much as, assisting it into a better framework of future.

And isn’t that what we want with our own life? Making little adjustments now, a trim here, leave that little growth there to strengthen and bloom. I like to think that is what I only ever try to do with myself.

Yet in total honesty, mistakes are made. We cut off too much over here, we let that dead wood linger over there, we become “straggly” and misshapen. And then it takes some hard decisions, some drastic changes, to put ourselves back on the track that we really want.

Hey, that’s okay.

We all need to learn how best to care for ourselves.

And at some point, many of us will be very happy with what we see has, and continues to, grow.

But it is not “All or Nothing”. There is space to be happy with the growth over here, while still working out how best to deal with that branch over there.

Seasons come and go.

They always have and will continue to do so, for everyone. What remains important is this living thing that you look after.

Your core, what and who you choose to be.

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Need some pruning advice, or have a thought to contribute? Leave a few words below.