Sometimes it’s only when we look back do we know the story we have written. We try to write our future, and the imagination or anticipation of it can write a sweeter present than the future it turns out to be.
I’ve had a lot of perspectives from others on my past but I haven’t been able to view it clearly for myself to make my own decision about it. Even if I did determine a story I was taught to doubt my own mind a lot. But I think I owe it to myself to at least form an opinion about my past.
It was a lot about following the guidelines put forth my those around me and suffering when I tried to follow my own judgement. I didn’t make as many mistakes and I think at the time, that was the plan I felt coerced into following, for my own good. I want the freedom to be brave and make my own mind and find out for myself what are my mistakes, successes and what is my story, when I look back.
Despite popular opinion I am at my best when I follow my heart. It might not always be practical or safe, but I’d live and die happier. I’d be in a better place to help the people and causes I care about as I’d be doing the same for me, first. It is only when I look back that I will be able to see the true story. The freedom of independence is lonely, but I’m better equipped to change that feeling when the independence teaches me who I am and what I want.
Anticipation is sweet, and I need to listen to myself right now and take some space to explore.
Travelling brings another form of safety in that you can try on different personalities and write different stories until you find something that works for you. Some say there’s a cowardice in running away but I feel braver taking on the world to colour my pages.
Sitting propped up in bed with a cup of tea this morning, scrolling through something easy to watch on Youtube, I didn’t expect to meet the great Michael Palin.
It was strange I’d never heard about him before; he seemed to have been on some of the most amazing adventures all around the world. He’d document them via television and bookshelves of journals, and BBC had made their own documentaries with Palin looking back on some of his journeys. This one was where he went Pole to Pole, through Russia, Turkey, South Asia and beyond until the Antarctic.
I realised quite quickly that this man might become a very important inspiration for me. The fact he writes down what surprises him, his feelings, the unique facts about a country and more is one thing, but his spirit is another inspiring quality. He’s daring, yet so warm, and really brings you along for the ride.
I feel a little sad at the thought that I might not experience something so great. It looked rather costly a trip as indeed any large trip does. But people manage it somehow.
I might not go on so many grand adventures, but there is adventure all around me that I can approach in a similar way Michael Palin does. There were times towards the end, hurdles that really made him feel like the end needed to be cut short. But it wasn’t. That really inspires me to keep going, and to document as much as I can about what my own adventures are but also others’. And it doesn’t have to be a physical adventure. The ones we have inside can be just as great.
I do still want to do the traditional travelling though.
Here’s to looking forward to discovering what life has to offer.
First off, writing this post made me laugh. I’m literally using pyjamas as a metaphor.
OK! So. This story begins at the search for a pair of summer suitable pyjamas. I found this super soft, organic cotton, beige coloured, shirt-style night gown, and– do you just KNOW when something will be yours? It will be mine.
I tried it on as soon as I got home and told myself “do NOT look in the mirror. This thing is so soft, you’ll just bum yourself out if it looks horrible on you.”
What is that? I’m literally prioritising how I look before comfort.
I know what I’m actually doing though, I am prioritising my happiness. Comfy pyjamas will make me happy, but looking bad in them won’t. Even though, let’s be honest, who’s seeing them right now?
But I want to feel good in what I wear, I want to “find myself.” Find what fits the character I’m trying to play in life.
Alas I looked. It was too big on me. I didn’t look like those women that looked hella fine in their man’s shirt, but I was SO COMFY. Fuck it. I’m keeping it.
And don’t I just want to approach my entire life like this. It’s what I want to do most in the world. Be myself and be happy, even with the concept of another person’s eyes on me, or being worried about how I’m perceived. It stems from the fear of being misunderstood – seen as something different to what I am, feeling something different to how I’m actually feeling. Because it breaks my mirror of my experience.
I still believe one day I will be brave to just have fun around other people. I don’t think anyone is stopping me. I think they’d encourage me. I think I’m stopping myself when I’m not what my mind imagined. Having another person there just makes it more real. All the dreamers out there have this video of how they play them self out in the future and I’m scared reality won’t quite measure up.
But letting go HAS to still be good? Better than not. So if it’s something I want most in the world, why am I being clawed back into the shadows by this evil shadow? Damn that shadow.
I could start by practicing doing something every day that I’m too scared to do because “other people will notice.”
I wanted to cartwheels in the park (shut up). I wanted to invite someone out to get ice cream and just be childish. In my current reality, I’d get ice cream, do cartwheels, but… I’d be so frozen by fear that I wouldn’t enjoy myself at all. It’d just be awkward and weird as I kept pushing myself to do fun things without feeling it. I’d have to really have fun, if this was to work. And I’d have to show them that I was happy and having fun. This felt impossible. But that’s what I have to practice, right?
But how would I relax enough to even have fun? It’s a catch 22. Isn’t it supposed to be spontaneous? But for it to be spontaneous I’m going to have to already feel comfortable having fun around others. So maybe it’s supposed to be a little forced at the beginning in order to practice it…
If cartwheels is a bit too far, I can start off smaller. Like laughing at a joke when I’m worried what it says about me, or something. Let me just see where this motivation takes me.
Ok… even if it’s just for today, I’m jumping in and I wanna make a splash.
It’s not really ok to be angry right now. Whether it seems to someone as justified or not, it’s something that can destroy things way quicker than it took to build them.
Do you often wonder if you’re a bad person? Have you given in to doubt and asked others, and were you met with phrases like, “you’re a lovely person!” How do these words hit you?
I think we’re supposed to feel great afterwards. But they can also make someone feel pressured to hold back bad feelings because… they’re such a lovely person.
(This topic is a new one to me to explore so viewpoints are initial. Like many of my feelings towards topics they will probably change with time, and I’m aware I’m only telling the world this disclaimer because I am still scared to express negative feelings when they are directed outwards to the world, rather than inwards.)
I think it’s great that speaking out about mental health seems to be the norm with younger generations now. It’s empowered people to talk about what’s going on inside themselves. I love it, most of the time. However, something that aimed to be a positive impact but I think can be problematic is the fact that there is a lot of “picture perfect” syndrome on the internet, where we are encouraged to be our best selves, are given advice on how to do it, and are shown videos of perfect lives (albeit with highs and lows) of what we can expect from the work we put into creating the life we want to live.
There are values and causes that I would one day like to have a more healthier way of expressing my anger at the injustice directed towards them. But for the mean time, we are human.
So here - for everyone feeling bad about their self over something they feel they can't fix right now, for something they've done or said that has really turned their world upside down, for those who feel hated and over looked, I see you.
We have flaws. And while the online community seem to say this sentence, I haven’t seen any stories that really go into a lot of depth about the pressure behind creating this perfect picture lifestyle when we have to face the consequences of our not-so-perfect actions on a daily basis. If we’re doing this properly (and maybe we’re getting there), we would see more stories about that time someone yelled at their mum, or that time they told someone they were the worst person alive. Not only about how they lost their confidence from a break up or something that wasn’t their fault.
Therapy Catch Up
In one of my previous posts, I explore the idea of documenting my thoughts on the usefulness of therapy as I go through it from the beginning. But there are no follow up posts because I severely underestimated the courage to do so. This highlights the fact it is much tougher being honest about things we are ashamed of.
There’s a part of me that thinks I could be that voice for people on the other side of the story. But seeing how long it takes me to be open about it and how little example I see online makes me think, “am I just a bad person, should I hide this information?”
But I wanted to share a part of a therapy session with you here because it inspired me to create this post. It regards a symptom of Boredeline Personality Disorder where there is that misunderstanding behind the emotional outbursts that can occur and lead to the person with BPD to be outcasted, even by the ones closest to them.
When we see someone “being selfish” and pushing someone away, the story is written from the viewpoint of the person who was pushed away and the support is there for them to build them self up and move on from this “toxic” person. The other person is shunned and told to work on them selves to be better.
While I agree with this, I think it doesn’t encompass the very important “it’s ok” feeling. It really isn’t ok to be mad around others.
There are a lot of reasons someone is pushing someone away, and they usually stem from the same feelings as the ones we hear in the stories from the person on the other end of the situation – feeling attacked, hurt, misunderstood for example.
I think therapists aim to help their client understand and forgive their self for flaws by saying “you’re not a bad person”, but it still doesn’t feel ok to make some mistakes. I’m not sure how to be myself without being “bad” sometimes. There is a massive pressure not to mess up, because of the consequences. There is the idea that we can’t be accepted until we have done all the work to be perfect.
I saw this pressure to be good in school when I saw how both teachers and kids treated each other for negative outbursts. I noticed I would show support to the underdogs and “bad” kids because I knew how it felt to be outcasted when you really needed the opposite.
But it’s something I’ve struggled to understand or define. I was less forgiving when I was a teenager and even less so in long term relationships as an adult. I went from internalising a lot of my partners flaws as my fault, to not forgiving anyone for anything “bad”. Sometimes holding myself to the same high standards, blaming myself a lot for being bad, and sometimes being able to excuse my behaviour while not being able to excuse theirs.
Now I want to try and find my own truth and some direction to walk down when approaching feelings of forgiveness or dismissal with myself and others. Is anyone bad, for example? What are my boundaries, what are society’s?
This topic is important because, someone may be the most giving, loving person in their network, but one outburst can send their world crumbling around them. And I want to ask people, is it still ok to have flaws in that moment?
Where is the support and encouragement for those on the other side of the story, without blaming and dismissing them to fix themselves on their own, in order to be “acceptable”. Where is the “I see you. Let’s fix this issue between us,” with a level playing field power dynamic – not one split into teacher and student. Showing negative emotions does not make someone inferior. But it does show you that something else is occurring under the surface, and it may not even be personal to the other person.
I can't help think there is something problematic about the approach of singling someone out and saying "this is why you're bad and this is how we fix you."
It is seen as a strength to walk away from bad environments that don’t serve you, and we all will need to do this sometime, but it is in truth just another coping mechanism to shut out people who could hurt us. But human beings aren’t perfect. We will hurt each other. So showering one person with support but not the other has been really difficult for me to comprehend. Everyone needs kindness.
I saw the world's reaction to outward negative emotion and asked, "would showing empathy and a kindness towards a "bad person" go further to eliminating the risk of that hurt than out casting them does?
I'm not saying we can put all of our energy into working things out with others, but if our aim is peace and happiness, is it ok that someone's entire greatness is taken away with just a moment?
Feel free to comment your thoughts or engage with conversation via emails on any of my topics.
I had been in a depressive episode for a week, trying to come to terms with the reality that I may not be able to get what I need from someone else, or from life as things stood. At least not fairly. It hit me hard, the thought of being incomplete, unhappy, for eternity.
By the time the end of the week came around, I had been entertaining the idea of making the most of the opportunities I had, and forgiving myself for failed hopes and dreams. I’d heard the word “acceptance” before, and it had always cast an envious shadow of the devil taking what is mine, and having to be ok with that. But today, acceptance felt more like, “it’s ok to be you.”
I know not everyone gets everything they want out of life. I wanted this fact to no longer make me feel defeated. I could still get a lot, while not closing the door on the possibility of having everything.
I wanted to start being ok with things not going right – practise understanding and gentleness balanced with healthy determination, rather than procrastination, to live. But forgiveness if I was not ready to. I wanted to not regret the way things end, but appreciate what life had brought to me during the journey, and all its changing waves which I may now ride instead of get pulled down by.
I didn’t choose acceptance
I think a little thought needs to occur before merely telling someone to accept things and cheer up. It’s harder than that. Acceptance is seen as something we should be choosing to do. But for me, it found me. I was not ready to choose it.
In this moment I forgive myself for any hurt I caused myself or others. To me that is acceptance.
Working out made me feel good. I think this is what I needed right now. Showing myself the respect I sought from others. I went to the park after that and found scenery that made me happy. I spotted some things that made me feel the things I wanted to feel from others. So maybe I could be enough for myself first, and anything else was a bonus.
Last week I had lost hope in the idea that we could be there for each other in this world. It was hard as I realised that I’m not sure I could do what I was asking for from others. I knew how I wasn’t there for people when I wanted to be, but wasn’t ready to be.
Donating to charity showed me there is still room in this world for kindness, both from me and others. It wasn’t outcasted entirely or seen as needy or weak by everyone. It wasn’t something we had to be all the time but that the times we were, it mattered. I knew that truth inside, but it seemed like my truth, which I saw as far more unreliable than the truth of a number of people.
If an adventure I’m seeking isn’t around me to jump into, maybe I could create my own.
I feel this peace, but I fear it is because there have been no triggers today. The change is that this weekend has put a vision of who I am and want to be around others, as I had envisioned before. But it’s different this time in that today, I got to see that person in reality.
I’ve been on both sides of the fence when it comes to whether counseling is inherently worthwhile or a means to no end. But after a lot of “what-ifs” and standing on the sidelines, I’ve made a decision to jump into the pool (of… inner wisdom?) and decided to try and bring the internet along with me.
I won’t divulge 100% of my private conversations, but I will explore how each session went. The ups and downs, with a discussion at the bottom with how satisfied I am to continue with the counseling.
My aim with this is to talk about mental health in a way that contributes it being a more normal and accepted topic of conversation. So by talking about my experience in an unapologetic, factual way, maybe I can help do this.
Note that every person and every situation is different. It’s cliche, but what works for someone may not work for someone else.
I wish everyone well on their own journeys, and you’re welcome to reach out to me.
What type of counsellor?
How do you spell counsellor?? I must have struggled with 10 different spelling variations.
Anyway. I had done some research into what I was having problems with and a few diagnosis popped up regularly, however none explained what I was feeling entirely. I did not expect that one diagnosis would, and diagnosing myself didn’t seem like an important factor until I was pressuring myself to get the right counselor first time. That being said, the more time that passed since I said I would commit to counseling, the easier it was to accept that it may take time to find the right help, especially as I’m still exploring the issue.
In the end, I reached out to maybe 10 counselors in my city from different professional backgrounds, prices, areas of specialty and at different ages and genders. I gave it a week to allow them to get back to me.
3 people called back within the week, so that was encouraging, even during these times. They all offered free consultations from 15 to 30 minutes to allow to you to meet them (video or telephone) and explore whether you were a great match for each other. This was all new to me, so I didn’t know what to ask at first, but after my first perhaps unsuccessful consultation, I did some thinking about what I wanted to know from the person before working with them.
I decided I wanted to talk about available times (since I work full time), prices, their work experience, what was troubling me, and also the guarantee that I will be able to have frequent sessions. It was important to me to meet them face to face if the consultations went well, or at the very least over a Zoom call.
There were 2 people I was happy to explore things further with, and I’ve booked a follow up consultation via Zoom with each.
That’s it for tonight!
I didn’t want to live on the sidelines of life anymore, so I’m trying to make a change. I hope you guys don’t give up on finding inner happiness, too.
You know sometimes you feel like you’ve been dropped to the bottom of a well. Sometimes there’s the white eclipse of an opening at the top as you look up, a feeling of hope that you will find a way to climb out, that someone will come to your rescue or that, given time, the well will simply disintegrate around you so you can get back onto your feet and walk onwards.
And then there are other times, where it seems like there is a big boulder trapping the opening above the well, and hope to climb out isn’t really there.
It is strange to me at this time that I don’t think someone will move the boulder, and I assume I’m not strong enough to climb the wall around me, and even if the well was to disintegrate, the boulder will fall right on top of me. This scenario feels very realistic to me when I’m in the rut. Hope is nothing to me then. In that moment, I need to be proven wrong.
Sometimes the well is full of water if I’m in heavy, desperate state. Other times it is full of buzzing bees, if anxiety is overwhelming. This time it is empty, and very quiet. I’ve not cried, vented to others, and not had a change in mood. It’s not indifference it’s just a quiet sadness.
Trying to work out how I can move forward
I’ve been feeling pretty withdrawn.. Mentally clogged and scared to go out into the world with the other people. A bit misunderstood and unfairly judged for some things.
My “growth” personality would have said “confront these thoughts, work through these issues with the person calmly and you can go back to having a lovely time with them.” In reality, I was so scared of rejection and I saw already that I shut off my phone and hid in my room from the world, convinced I wouldn’t be able to handle it if my friends disliked me for being what I thought was fair and me.
I have realised though that I am generally terrified at the thought of people being mad at me for no reason. It’s not really from fear of being alone, but more so that I’m just a bad person in some way — that I will be cast aside and rejected, our relationship tainted forever, and my self esteem broken.
I bounce back. But this fact isn’t enough to reassure me that everything is going to be ok, especially now that I move towards people to get the joy out of life, not away from them. So the sight of them disappearing in front of my eyes seems to threaten my future happiness. I can’t keep telling myself, “I’ll just make new friends” if this is a pattern of mine, right?
I tried throwing myself into some reality TV to try and empathise with other characters. Then I wrote down everything that was bothering me to try and get them out there instead of — taps head — in here. Then I indulged in bad food to try and make myself feel better. Then I tried some yoga while trying to remind myself to be my own rock. But I just wasn’t getting anywhere.
I felt defeated, like I was never going to be strong enough or have the confidence I wanted.
By about 4pm I decided to just feel through it for a while. “This too shall pass.” If I feel better after going through the storm, then I should be able to think more clearly about action plans, rather than just feel hopeless.
At about 6pm, I saw this on Instagram via one of the mental health pages:
It may not fix all the problems, but some of the questions made me think of things, and that was making me feel a little less stuck in the rutt.
What would feel good for me today?
This one was really hard to answer. When I feel this shut down, it’s hard for me to picture something that would cheer me up. I’ve had the same issue when someone has asked me how they can be there for me. So, while I can list all the things that make me feel good in general, I think it would be unproductive if I know they wouldn’t actually work their magic this time, just from experience. I wasn’t ready.
I think self care, being kind to myself and looking after my body, and trying to be my best self to people when I reemerged is the best I could come up with.
(After almost finishing this post, I thought of another one.)
Being around animals. This one works too. I may not be able to do that right now, but I could get engrossed into some animal based video or two, for sure. I could dream and look forward to future events around animals, and how great it would feel.
I found what I needed to feel something better, but I’m not sure it’s what I need right now (in the what I can only describe as “mature” sense i.e to be good for my life longterm, not just for this moment).
“Be kind to yourself.” There is a part of me that fears being the same old mess after telling people that I was moving on in order to build some self confidence. Am I being kind to myself, or excusing myself from blame?
There will be bad days and slip ups, but I can’t give up on my goal.
What do I need to hear?
This one was a hard hitting.
I realised I needed to hear support from people especially those I thought were ignoring me. It’s hard for someone to reach out when my phone is off.
I could re enter their lives softly to give them the chance, but that’s just waiting around for some acceptance and support that might not come. What if reaching out I find that they’re still mad and do not want to make amends at all? So I may just leave it and try again to pick myself up alone.
I’m not sure if I’m ignoring my needs this way or just making room for another one to come forward.
What's the next big step?
I would really like to get better at answering this question as I believe it’ll help me shorten the time of my negative feelings so I can really move on with life with some strength and a smile.
But for now, I’m exhausted.
Sleeping on it.
I think I’ll explore these questions again after letting my mind heal for a bit.
At the end of every year, I choose either a list of goals for myself or one specific resolution for the next year coming.
For example, my resolutions for 2019 were:
Take care of appearance more
Walk the dogs more
…basically, generic, unhelpful goals. They’re boring to read let alone do.
Then for 2020, my resolution was to pick up the habit of going to the gym. Try to integrate the gym into my lifestyle. I use to do a lot of sport before self doubt, self consciousness and other teen angst kicked in. But I’m a little older now. And nothing else is open during this time. This resolution could be a fun one!
I went a few times this year, which doesn’t tick the box, but I’m glad I got over the fear of going to the gym AND I had fun. Most of the time.
I had no idea what I want my resolution to be this year. But I realised it had to be more elaborate. If my resolution was instead:
“Work on your self confidence at the gym”
“Do something you want to do that you are currently scared of doing”
…it would have been much more clear a goal, and probably would have worked like a charm.
Recently I’ve been doing some reading into the Enneagram personality types, and there was a suggestion for a resolution for my personality type, which was to “strive for emotional stability.” This seemed like something I would eventually achieve 20 years from now, so I’m not sure how much progress I would make in 2021. To tell you the truth, this year was more about self development than any of my other years combined. I had spent a lot of time trying to overcome anxiety and trust issues for every part of my life. I feel a little stronger at the end of it, but there is a lot more work to do.
Since I already spend a lot of time on self development, I wanted my resolution to be different. To be fun! A project that I could escape into when I needed a break from “trying to be better” and simply live life in the present. Enjoy it. When was the last time I really enjoyed something?!
So I was thinking that my resolution should have something to do with writing. Whether that was journalling, reviewing or creative writing. I’ve enjoyed it in the past – the reading, researching, thinking, creating– and it does genuinely relax my mind. I don’t feel any pressure to be amazing at it, and I enjoy getting inspiration from others. I can just be myself and do what I want for a while.
WordPress particularly seems like a way I can learn about things I wouldn’t have necessarily found out about otherwise, and has a sense of community where you can share your thoughts and connect with others. Which is perfect during a time where we cannot always do so in real life.
So here it goes… my new resolution is to write more – sure – but specifically, to escape into something fun and just celebrate my strengths and reasons why I’m awesome, for a while, rather than worrying about my self development. It can’t be good for my self esteem if I keep reminding myself of my weaknesses and not my strengths–.
What’re your resolutions, and how can you tailor yours to be more meaningful?