Tag Archives: learning

Baa Baa Black Sheep

“We are the sum total of our experiences. Those experiences – be they positive or negative – make us the person we are, at any given point in our lives. And, like a flowing river, those same experiences, and those yet to come, continue to influence and reshape the person we are, and the person we become. None of us are the same as we were yesterday, nor will be tomorrow.”

B.J. Neblett

So following on from yesterday’s free fall, I woke up today with the incredibly dark humid cloud over me once again. The reason, the trigger was a message I received from my sister last night.  The message was everything that is wrong with my relationship with my family in a nut shell.  The content of the message  is unimportant to this post, what is important is why it was sent and the answer as you may have guessed is because I am the black sheep of my family.  What does that mean?  It means that my family are constantly trying to squeeze me into boxes of their creation and design that I simply do not fit in to.

Here is a recent family portrait, that’s me lying down.

blacksheep

My relationship with them lives in a constant cycle and 3 months seems to be the boiling point.  By this I mean that they are fully supportive and loving for stretches of approximately 3 months.  The terms and conditions of our relationship are that they will love and support me so long as I am living to their standards.  If I parent my kids the way they think I should and how they parent theirs, if I act, speak and live they way they do.  The support is conditional and they love nothing more than bringing up every mistake I ever made, and constantly regurgitating the past.  Every moment of support is thrown back in my face.  If I colour outside of their lines all hell breaks loose.

What makes me the black sheep?

Well, that quote at the beginning has a lot to do with it, however perhaps the question is incorrectly phrased. Perhaps the real question is why does my family think of me as the black sheep?  The answer is pretty fucking simple.  Ignorance.

I’m not saying they are ignorant in an evil sort of way, what I mean is that they have absolutely no idea what my experiences were or what memories I have and since those are the building blocks of who I am today it is impossible for them to understand why I am not exactly like them. After all, in their eyes, my siblings and I had the same parents, the same home, the same schools, the same upbringing, the same relatives, the same holidays.  They naturally assume therefore that our equations are all the same and if that’s true then  by rights we should all have turned out the same way, save perhaps different physical abilities and characteristics.

They have no idea that my brain developed very differently to my brothers and sisters. They do not know the suffering, the pain, the sadness that I lived with.  They are unaware of the abuse I suffered.  All they see is a square peg.  A fuck up, a crazy, unstable, messy person.  I’m far to free spirited and that scares the shit out of them.  During a session with my counsellor she suggested that it was quite possible in fact that they harbour some jealousy because they would like to be as free spirited as I am and that perhaps seeing me and my life is a trigger for their own anxieties and insecurities.

I spoke about core memories in a previous post. Those memories are the lessons we learn and take onboard at such an incredibly deep level that they impact your entire outlook.  While my siblings think we should all have the same or similar core memories in reality we had very different experiences of childhood.  The lessons I learned were different to theirs.

These are the lessons I learned in childhood and they are very difficult to unlearn;

Distrust – Trust no one, depend on no one.  Keep your problems to yourself cos no one gives a flying fuck anyway.  “Just smile and wave boys, just smile and wave”

Guilt – The world’s problems are all somehow my fault.  I didn’t behave myself, I didn’t pray today, I didn’t go to church, I moaned about going to church.  I felt guilty about everything, still do.  Not just little things in my own little world but far reaching and global.  My parents finances, my mums emotional wellbeing, my mum being tired from a night shift, kids being bullied at school, old people who couldn’t walk very well, people dying of starvation in third world countries, children dying of preventable diseases, animal abuse you name it, if it was causing someone pain, I felt an enormous amount of guilt, an 8 year old shouldn’t be worrying about any of that,

Fear – I feared my mum, she could go from Carol Brady mum to oh my fucking god Dexter would shit his pants mum in less than a second.  She taught me albeit unintentionally that when you are angry, upset or unable to control a situation violence and rage was the answer.  In her calm moments she would say things like violence doesn’t solve anything.  I think the irony was lost on her.

Unworthiness – As an adult something I hear a lot is that I need to learn to value myself, know my worth.  That’s pretty fucking difficult when you grew up feeling as unimportant and worthless as I did.  Feeling like nothing I ever did was good enough.  Constantly being compared to my siblings or cousins or even friends.  Why can’t you be more like him or her?  I was even compared against both my abusers.  Imagine that!  “Why can you be more like her?“  and in my mind im thinking “what her, the one who takes me to her room and does things to me and makes me do things to her that are unspeakable?  That’s who you want me to be more like?”

During one of my counselling sessions my counsellor asked me to think about the child me. What did I think about her?  What would I say to her if she were standing in front of me now?  I hadn’t thought about “little me” as a separate person before and suddenly this wave of emotions roared over me.  I wish I could go back to those days as an adult and go find little me.  I would pick her up and hug her so tight, I would whisper how very proud I was of her, how incredibly brave she was, how strong she was.  I would also tell her that she didn’t need to be, that she could let it all out, she didn’t need to carry such pain, such heavy burdens.  I would tell her she was amazing just the way she was and that she should never forget that.  I would go find her abusers and beat the ever living shit out of them; I would drag them up in front of my parents and tell them what they were doing.  I would stand between little me and my mother and tell her what she was doing to her daughter.   I would tell little me that I love her.

My core memories are blue. Inside me there is great sadness but not many people know this.  So how could they possibly understand why I am so different to them?  They can’t.  And they’re not even awake enough to consider that maybe, just maybe they should stop being so judgemental and just accept that we’re all different.  But that would be too easy that would mean level pegging and that would require them to get down from their mighty fine looking high horses.  It’s much easier to call me the black sheep; it helps make their whites look whiter.  Trying to understand me would require far too much introspection and when you grew up thinking you were the best thing since sliced bread introspection is a scary prospect, I mean fuck, what if you suddenly realised you were actually quite an arrogant asshole?  Your entire world view might be completely shattered and then where would you be?  Right down here with me and the other black sheep.

blacksheep 1

For what its worth, I’m proud to be a damaged black sheep who cares too much, loves too deeply, and feels so much she might burst.

 

 

Free Falling

Highs are great aren’t they?

Euphoric, wonderfully empowering almost majestic feeling that you can do anything be anything, go anywhere. I’m not talking about drug induced highs, (they have their own benefits and downsides lol but that’s another blog altogether)  I’m talking about the feeling you get after a few days of feeling like total shit and suddenly the dark humid clouds seem to have parted.  You think WOW, this is great, the storm has passed, I feel better.  All of a sudden, your fears are blown away by a new found courage, your procrastination is set aside by determination, the sadness is a distant memory and you’re wondering if only for a minute, why the fuck you felt so shitty yesterday.  Now you’re ready to take on the world.  You start planning all the wonderful amazing carpe diem stuff you are going to do to make your life awesome.  You look in the mirror and you think “DAIIIIM I LOOK GREAT TODAY”, maybe even give yourself a little wink.  You throw on some clothes and hit the road.  This is my day, this is it, this is the first day of the rest of my life, WOOHOOOOOOO!  You join a dating site, start a blog, tell your friends all the great ideas you’ve had, start looking for spiritual retreats, subscribe to 100 YouTube meditation videos you sincerely plan to do every night.  Life doesn’t get any better than this……  and then BOOOOOM you’re free falling without a fucking shute!

ARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

There is no fluffy bouncy pad at the bottom, in fact you’re not even sure there is a fucking bottom.   All you know is that you’re falling, and each moment is more painful and scarier than the last.  WTF is going on, what just happened?

If this only happened once, it would scare the shit out of you but you could move along and get on with things. What confuses the heck out of me is that this has happened to me so many fucking times and STILL, I don’t recognise it when its happening.  When im having the high or the climb, its like the part of my brain that knows what happens next decides to fuck off on holiday for a few days without so much as leaving a note.  So I climb and climb and climb like the cliff hanger on the price is right, remember him?

cliff hanger

Only I don’t stop near the top and take home a luxury holiday in Cancun and $10,000 in cash. I climb and then base jump off the top.  FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK

hole

Right about here I’d love to write some wonderful words of wisdom, something to provide hope to anyone reading this looking for answers.  I’m still trying to figure it out myself.

For the record, I haven’t been diagnosed with any particular disorder. I know this blog screams of bipolar, or Cyclothymia.  Over the last 20 years I have suffered with generalised anxiety, depression, postnatal depression, derealisation, depersonalisation, health anxiety, (the little known) relationship obsessive compulsive disorder and grief.   I’ll venture deeper into the historical side of my journey in another post.

My shining light and glimmer of hope is my current counsellor. Ive been seeing her for 2 months now and she has a way of making me look at myself from perspectives I didn’t even know existed.  Here’s to hoping I can sort my head out once and for all.  Find some balance, some peace and find me.
 

Let it go. Let it go?

What am I doing?

Why am I holding on to so many hurts?

Im not who you think I am.

I have picked myself up, dusted myself off and moved on so many times its pretty much my super power.  But here’s the thing, that super power is also my kryptonite.

Ask anyone who knows me or thinks they know me to describe me in five words and I’d put money on the following reply: Crazy, Fun, Strong, Loyal and Caring.

Am I?

Well, yes I think I am all those things, but there is another version of me, a version few people have ever seen, yet alone had a chance to get to know. The dark me.  The hurt me.  The incredibly lonely, utterly sad and endlessly scared me.

I don’t tend to cry a lot, I haven’t exactly figured out why, but my brain rejects the emotions that would make any normal person wail. It’s not that I don’t cry, it’s just that my crying lasts about 10 seconds before something forces me to suck it up, get it together and stop being so damn silly.  I wish I could cry properly.  Sometimes I think if I truly started to cry for all the hurt and sadness I feel inside, I might never stop.  I might cause a flood.

The division between the me that they see and the me that I see is so huge that I pretty much feel like a total fraud which pours thick curdled guilt into my already overflowing cup of self-loathing but we’ll put that aside for now.

Sadness. The recent pixar movie Inside Out, really struck a nerve when I watched it with my kids.  It was a wonderful way to put emotions and mental health across to kids.  However watching it  I couldn’t help but feel robbed, cheated out of Joy entirely.  I don’t think an animated movie or any movie for that matter has ever had such an impact on me.  It made me go on a time travelling mission, which im not actually back from yet (so yes I’m writing this to you from somewhere between 1983 and 2016).  While the movie depicted Joy as the main character, the leader in the minds control centre, I couldn’t help but think that for me, sadness has been taking the reins for pretty much my whole life.  Remember the Core Memories, the ones that were yellow and joyful until Sadness touched them and turned them blue, I think mine are all blue.

This isn’t about feeling sorry for myself, or seeking pity.   This is about self-discovery, realisations, learning and growing.  And after 36 years of life, I have only just acknowledged through the help of my counsellor, the true depth of the sadness that I carry, the weight of the hurt and the burden it is on my life.  It’s been strangling me for years.  The root of my anxieties, depression and even physical illness.

So the first thing I am told is that I need to “let go”. HAHAHAAHAHAH.  If only it were that simple hu?

I thought I was very much the hippie, go with the flow, deep and meaningful butterfly woman. I was wrong.  All this time I thought I was letting go, I was actually burying.  Pushing each hurt, each sadness, each tear, way down inside so that I wouldn’t have to feel it.  The problem with this? It’s much like sweeping things under a rug; eventually the rug is just floating on a great big pile of shit.   It begs the questions, why haven’t I let it go?  Why haven’t you let it go?  I’m not entirely certain just yet but one possibility is that holding on to the pain, to the hurt, allows us to live in some kind of sick fantasy land where we can continuously punish ourselves while also remaining well and truly in the bargaining stage of grief.  This is the stage where you are convinced there is still something you can do, say, feel or think that might undo the hurt, or change the past.  One of my biggest pains and deepest sadness was the loss of someone I loved very deeply and I recognise now that after 8 years I still haven’t let go, not really, I still feel like I can undo his passing and make it so he never went away.  How insane is that?

So what the fuck does letting go actually mean? Well my counsellor and I are going to talk about that next week.  In the meantime, being the impatient  git that I am, I decided to start looking into it myself.  The general consensus from various sources implies a period of grieving is required in order to effectively “let go”.   Many people think grieving is only about dealing with the death of a loved one, however the process of grieving can follow any situation where a sense of loss is felt.  Loss of innocence, loss of love etc.   The reason why we fail to let go is because as I already mentioned above, we get stuck in the bargaining stage.  Back in the 60s Elisabeth Kübler Ross’s book, On Death and Dying, set out the stages of Grief, completely changing our view and understanding of the process.

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. To be clear, even by Kübler Ross’s own admission, the stages are not set in stone, not everyone will experience each stage and even when they do they won’t come in any particular order and worse still just when you think you’re in the clear you can slip right back to one of the stageskind of a lather, rinse, repeat affair. There is no structuring grief, each process is as individual as the person navigating it.

My list of things to let go is pretty fucking long so in order to deal with my grief as a whole, I’m going to have to break down the list and try to find a way to grieve each loss one at a time.

I must admit I’m pretty bloody terrified about what this process will be like and who I will be when I get to the other side. After 36 years of holding it together, keeping a smile on my face, being the life and soul of the party, I wonder what will be left of the me people think they know.