I’m hopeful that I am able to get back in to writing….. Stay tuned
Healing is not a final destination
It is a journey.
So Friday the 13th was truly a Black Friday for me. This last year has been one of loss. Today was one more of those losses. So I stand here surrounded by the remnants of my life, stripped down to the very barest of basics. I know many of you have been in this space. The space where suddenly you wonder just what the hell happened? Where did things begin to go so wrong? And those things that once meant so much to me, new cars, big screen TV’s with blue ray player (I don’t even own a blue ray disc), the latest computers, phones and electronics, a big house, enough money to live comfortably. You know that place? Comfort? Suddenly those things are completely unattainable to me, for the first time in about 20 years, I have no “comfort zone”. I look around and at once everything that used to be important to me is gone.
These are the moments that define us. Do we walk the talk? Do we live by our own words used to offer support to others who have previously found themselves at this place? This is a moment of reckoning, I can wallow in the why me’s, I can refuse to move past this, I can sit and pout and bemoan the injustice or I can take a step forward, one brave step at a time knowing that staying stuck will change nothing but moving forward will change everything. No one is coming to rescue me, I must save myself.
I look around at my life, stripped bare, and I see what remains. Without the clutter of shiny new things, that which remains stands brightly in view. I have the love and unwavering support of my partner, I have two healthy, wise and spirited children, I have my health, I have friends and relationships with people who add to my life everyday. I have an abundance of things remaining. Things of substance, things of permanence, things to be grateful for.
Now is my time to start again. To truly let go of the past and to create a brand new future. There isn’t much left of my past to carry forward and I am feeling free to move into the future with the simplest of things, but the simplest of things I have come to see truly hold the most value.
My feelings about my past are held in a box. Put away long ago because they would not have helped me, not then. Fear put away because it was overwhelming and either made me react in ways that caused me more harm or to shut down completely. Happiness put away because there was no place amongst the pain for happiness to be present. My sense of betrayal, my self worth put away because my body and my mind betrayed my soul with their actions and reactions. My mind states “they hurt me because I am bad”. Sadness put away because if so much misery was to be acknowledged it would mean giving up and giving in. Doubt put away because if this wasn’t the truth then it made it so much worse and if there was something else and something more then WHERE WAS MY RESCUE? Self respect put away because of the things that I was forced to do meant were painful for self respect to see. Hope put away because hope cannot live when faced with such cruelty and abandonment. Love put away because to love them and be hurt by them was too confusing for my mind, if love is hurt then there is no future that I wish to see. My box of feelings all wrapped up in anger. Rage so intense it feels like a physical presence. Anger left out of the box because anger means not giving in and not giving up, it means fighting hard, retaining self respect, not submitting, keeping ME back, the real me, they could not reach, anger a barrier that they could not penetrate, saving a little of my soul, holding on to my sanity. Not screaming in terror, not ripping at my skin, not submitting myself entirely and not living in complete darkness. A darkness so encompassing that it swallows the sun. Its heaviness crushes my breath and weighs me down til I cannot move freely. But inside is my box of feelings, breathing rhythmically and slow, warm and radiating a glow that illuminates the darkness enough to see the path to the future, as yet unknown but also unwritten.
Now to get to the feelings in the box I must touch the anger and the rage that keeps it contained. It is painful to face and touch this anger, it is my shield from the vulnerability of my other emotions. It keeps me strong and removed and it keeps me safe. It has become my life, this containment of my feelings inside my box so I feel the anger still. My childhood thinking is that by holding ME back I would not submit, I would not let them reach me, I would not give them access to the things in the box. They are mine and they are precious and they needed to remain hidden where they were placed in childhood and where they have been kept safely. This shows me that I saw the hope, that I knew to protect myself for the life ahead, that I was not taken in by the lies and the darkness. I stowed away these feelings for a time where I could bring them out and use them to live, where before I had been merely surviving. This box is a gift from my past to my present and future self and I am glad that I had the foresight to put them away and keep them from those who would seek to twist them and use them against me. I am now able to open the box and explore the contents and piece them all together and use them as my tapestry of life.
I walked into my appointment engulfed by depression. It was so entwined with my sense of self that I had become lost under the heaviness of it. I felt my life slipping away being replaced by a shell of myself and in one last desperate bid for freedom and life I turned up for that appointment. This was to be the day that I was able to find the tools to redefine my entire life and began my journey to reclaim my self from depressions hold on me. My journey began with a simple question from this warm and very present woman. I had sat in her office for a few appointments outlying the misery of my life and parading my wounds in front of her. One simple question during one appointment stopped me in my tracks "if you want to die why are you here?". My previous attempts of disclosing suicide ideation resulted in a barrage of whys and should's. Why would you want to die, think about your children, you don’t really mean that and you need to get help, have you seen a Dr, you need medication. The simplest question "why are you here?" allowed me to stop justifying my misery and finding evidence to support my desire to escape my deep emotional pain. This question turned my thoughts away from looking for reasons to die and made me face the fact that I actually wanted to live. After that day I was not able to erase from my mind the seed of hope that had been planted. This seed represented the knowing that I had not lost hope that there were reasons to continue with my life. From that day I developed a much clearer understanding of my relationship with depression.
In my mind I see two paths. The path on my left is my past, the path on my right is my current life and my future. I cannot see the way ahead on my past path, I cannot see the way behind on my life and future path. I walk a thin line between them. At times when I walk along something will come along that will knock me onto my past path, as I can’t see forward it is hard to take the next step. It scares me to not know where the next step will take me. It also reminds me of why I can’t stay on this path. Eventually I find my way back to that place in between. I often find myself walking along the other path, my life and future path. It is clear here and the path ahead is sound and vivid. I still stumble a lot like a baby learning to walk however I keep finding my way back to the path of life and I believe that I can see up ahead my paths will separate and slowly my life and future path will go one direction and my past path will go the other. I will choice at this time to follow my future path
My most recent thought processing has reinforced the importance of not being captured by the single story. The single story relates to my life and the way that I saw myself based on my experiences. I believe that the last 2 years has led me to have a more complete understanding of how focusing on a single story led me to my relationship with depression and kept me from fully embracing other aspects of my life. I am going to need to sit down and try and put into sequence firstly how I developed my relationship with depression and then the steps and awakenings that helped me to see beyond that single story and come to a great understanding and awareness of the other stories in my life. This will be a process for another day.
I was thinking that there are themes to our stories and that like movies these themes direct the path that a movie will take. If I liken my story to a film or movie then I will put into my movie events which will reflect the theme. As the editor of my movie (my story) what would I do if I was confronted with a romance scene in the midst of a thriller or a tragic death scene in a comedy? I would probably cut that scene from my movie because it didn’t “fit” or make sense from a theme perspective. This is how I see the way that I feed my dominant story. If my story has a particular theme then anything that doesn’t fit that theme is cut or discarded along the way. However now I look at the discarded pieces of my film and can see that they have themes which I can put together and which can help me to make another story or more than one other story. By the end of this process I will hopefully have more than one movie in which I can put the scenes that I find along my path. I may have a thriller, a romance and a comedy available that I can watch. Each new piece that I find on my journey can add to movies I already have or create new ones. Am I making sense???
My epiphany this morning that the trap of my single story is that the theme may not be as obvious as I first thought. I have become so used to my theme being my history of abuse and the struggle that came form those experiences, but when I examine my entire repertoire of stories I begin to see a different theme. If I look at my story of abuse, my journey to university, twice I was homeless whilst attending, my journey to motherhood, which included many pregnancy losses, and my journey through grief and loss when first my son and then my father died, I see a new theme emerge. This theme is central to those stories and the theme is strength. Throughout these stories I have managed to find the strength to see beyond the moment and find hope that there is something more that I can journey towards. I believe that this was evident for me in my childhood as I clearly remember being able to see beyond the abuse to the future. This is evidence of my strength and of my resilience, to live a hopeful life, even if this was unrecognized by myself. I never truly succumbed to the darkness, or stopped believing that life was there for me to embrace. i continued to live, I moved forward, made goals, fought back and regained my self. I have overcome but I am not finished yet, I have many more stories to write and movies to be made.