Home.

Home.

One day the hardest thing will become the easiest, one day it will make you strong, one day the struggle will just be your strength; the one million practice rounds.. Until one day, you pause and you think no.. I won’t spiral, I won’t dig this hole deeper, I’ll look up instead of down, forwards instead of back..

I can promise you I didn’t get here on my own. I never would have. I would have stayed, capped it there. Existed.. and I can tell you that sometimes you really just get to a place where you really just get there.. exhausted and honestly, perhaps only, just grateful to be there at all.. It’s not that grateful presence.. the ‘gift’ of life that will fail you, not ever, it’s the exhausted, the exhausting, wadding through quick sand, treading water, enough is enough.. Only it isn’t.. The utter when will it be over, terrified that might be, praying that it won’t be. Making it through each day, grateful to have, again.. yet, afraid of the next, already exhausted by the monotony of it, tomorrow..

But.. You do it, because you hope, because you have to believe that there is always hope. I say I capped it, but I hoped, I did, I think secretly deep down inside I hoped that the exhausting step after step, of and through it, the ‘when it rains it’s pours’.. honestly it never felt like it would.. stop. I slipped a lot, old habits, old paths, old ways.. Until one day it all changed.. One day it felt like that rain washed me clean.. Rain, tears, black and grey.. Light to colour. and in one single moment.. It all fell away, it was a now.. A future a tomorrow, an oh my goodness kind of tomorrow, an almost couldn’t fall asleep I can’t wait to wake up, an oh my goodness I get to feel this.. tomorrow. Now. Alive.

Breathe.. You’re here.. Still. Breathe.. Feel, follow it, follow your heart, follow it home..

I don’t need to talk about it. My past. It’s precisely that. For years, and then, last year.. All of it, quicksand. I can either look at it and describe as the then to now.. The, pause.. The what I feel like I crawled out of, the how.. the how I felt afterwards, then. and every day since, honestly.. I think I crawled out of it a long time ago, but in so many ways and in every way, I never let go. I carried it with me, I felt like every moment out of it, I somehow wore it, coated and cloaked in it.. I often called it my armour, my shield.. but deep in my heart, when I felt like it beated at all, that.. What, it. It was shame. I walked inside of it, yet I never felt at home, never felt like I had arrived.. Half in half out.. Waiting.. For what.? For it to be over.. No. But in every other way, for ‘it’ to be over. And yes, there is a difference, not it all.. Never. There was always something, a little extra room in that sometimes beating heart, a little extra fight.. a little more.. louder then whisper; don’t you dare stop, don’t you dare give up.. your inner fighter. This fighter of mine; quiet.. patient. Strong, enough.. Your self worth, the part of you that loves you when you don’t, and can’t possibly think you do, or could. You do. You’re still here and it’s why your here.

My story.. my quicksand. It’s not that it doesn’t matter, or that it hasn’t shaped, hurt, destroyed, broken and perhaps, and I’ll say it, defined me. It has. It did.

But you know what.. It’s mine. but, in all of those ways.. All of those pieces it stopped mattering that I didn’t feel intact, put together. What does that even mean? I asked myself this, and in hindsight it’s so clear, it became so clear.. What if your one.. just one.. one piece? How do you bend? Where do you grow? To me.. it’s the hurt in the healing.. or maybe it’s healing in the hurt. But it’s the growth, in between and out of those pieces, it is the glue.. It is the you. You. It’s the under construction, working in progress.. an ongoing project.. And I told myself this.. You have to let it be.. Let your fighter fight for you, let you feel your worth, let you see why, let you find your own pace, your own path, whether you’re still wading, crawling out of it, half in half out.. Out.. It doesn’t entirely matter where you are.. it’s honestly that, at the end of each day, you’re there, here, now. It can’t and won’t always be where you want, but maybe that’s the point.. the journey, not the destination.. the point of arrival. For me it was the day the journey felt like home. And I didn’t expect it, I didn’t even know it could be. I don’t think I was ready.. but, that’s the point, for me anyway. In all this.. in all of that thought, those thoughts.. I didn’t.. I felt. I felt like I could breathe.. sigh. And for the very first time I wasn’t lost in the thoughts, the memories of why and when I couldn’t, or struggled to. I just did it. That’s when I knew I was out. So where am I now? What does this feel like?

You know, it changes everyday. But I am not afraid. because, I can’t look back and I won’t, because my fears; my reasons for fearing the next day, the next second.. they are past, they have.. they must and they are exactly that..past. and I can’t carry it any further, I won’t. But I need to be clear. The hurt.. I also won’t wear it, change it or let it settle into black and grey, develop it on the way to colour and let it settle, soak in anger. resent. I never could. Because how ever long it has taken and how ever much it hurt. I’m here, and it was part of it all. I mentioned earlier how it defined me.. It did, it has, but, I like to think of it in how it has strengthened me. There comes a point on any level, where you survive. and for me.. I can only be grateful.. and I would have been. Even and in every way for the ‘cap’. The plateau.. But there was still hope, still my fighter.. Still every moment out. And you know what else I am..? I say this with a smile, I’m lucky..I haven’t made it. I’m making it. And I get to. Woah! Now that’s not a breathe. Pause.. that is a breath taking, heart beating moment.. A single moment in the rest of the ‘I’m still here’ life, whether you know it or feel it, it’s the life you’ve been fighting for.. and please know that you’re worth it.. Every bit of it. Pieces, parts and glue. Growing. It’s you. The best you can be, the most you can be.

So where am I ? how do I feel? I’m home.. It feels like home.

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Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Under construction

“And in the end, letting go was a lot like finding love. I had to learn to say goodbye to the one who gave me the courage to say hello.” – R.M Drake

For months I’ve been wanting to write, to express how I have been feeling and I how have been trying to process what has been happening. How I am learning that each little stumble has been making me stronger. How losing a part of me somehow forced me to rebuild in a way I never thought I could. How I glued my broken pieces back together, despite having lost my glue, my guide, my ‘fix me’ person.

How secure I feel, yet sad at the same time.. and why I no longer feel guilty for that.

All of my jumbled thoughts suddenly fell into place and the fear of not posting a perfectly structured, hopefully helpful entry melted away into the title.

I feel and have learnt perfection is not what matters, it’s not even what I am working towards. Instead I am finding that comfort and acceptance again in being a work in progress.

Perhaps I hadn’t stopped to appreciate that my journals will never be a finished product, portrayal or version or me. They never have been.

I got so wrapped up in what I have been working through.. trying to regain control.. in a panic, the only control I could find or manage to work on was a panicked version of damage control.

Exhausting myself to fix everything, fast. I dismissed the possibility of how I could eventually learn to appreciate time as an ally.. the natural process of grief.

But, if I look back on the past few months, this afternoon I truly feel a sense of peace, in equal amounts of sadness and strength. Strangely I feel like they compliment, encourage and support each other. 

Knowing and accepting that these emotions are within me, and learning to appreciate and sit with more then one at a time, without feeling insecure in my inability to emotionally multi task. I feel safe, I finally feel like I’m not struggling to put my state of mind into just one egg inside of an emotionally worn basket. For the longest time I’ve been trying to find me, but not wanting to allow myself the space to feel too many things. Fighting this has become my exhausting pursuit for control.. My damage control.

I have finally realised that it’s okay to feel.. many things, all at once, to sit and process, and then to acknowledge that although nothing may changed, we can begin to find a freedom in the chaos, a new starting point, to heal, accept and grow.

Ever since I can remember and especially during the last 12 years, in these moments, having my grandmother on speed dial, to be with me as I tried to processed these emotions, to have her comfort, love and unconditional patience and reassurance was not only a gift and privilege, it was my favourite ‘hard hat’ as I stumbled through my emotional construction site, protecting my thoughts but encouraging me to walk through it myself. She was my favourite escape, distraction and conversational happy place.

I miss her, I miss our conversations, I miss her reassuring encouragement in my awkward stumbles and steps forward, everyday those phone calls helped me to process my hesitations.

Losing her I can honestly say has been my greatest loss and heart ache.  I have now come to realise the enormity of this loss, and the difference between what I have lost and the moments that have been painful in my past. I feel like my guilt in this grief of losing her came about because I had been wondering if I could have done more or done it all in a different way.. for me I have always found it so much easier to begin to move forward from past heartaches, if I was ready to truly accept and believe that it was something I could no longer change, or couldn’t have then. I will always find a safe place in accepting those lessons and challenges. But the loss of my grandmother.. the accident, so sudden, so in the middle of everything, we were only half way.. So unfair, so unresolved.. I lost everything in that moment, my heart, my soul.. I crumbled in the loss, spiralling into doubt, and then guilt. Why wasn’t it enough? Why? We were trying so hard. We gave each other everything, and just a few days later you were gone. I lost you. You lost me.. And as I held you in those final days, and then that day.. You stopped breathing and I lost me to..

Since her passing, I built walls around those conversations, emotions and everything that could resemble anything close to what I feel for her. I have been running, hiding, building walls.. avoiding. Trying to control and maintain a place of detachment.  

I’ve been so afraid to feel.

Until this morning.. Christmas morning, opening the cupboard and finding your Christmas pudding.. I broke.

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” – Lao Tzu

Twenty-eight Christmas’s with you and today It all hit me like train, not by surprise.. But like a wave that finally pulled me under. That made it all painfully clear that these past few months I had been waiting and wandering on the tracks.. waiting for the moment where and when I would let go and truly feel it all. It suddenly felt completely and inescapably real that you  were gone. My birthday and then today, Christmas.. whether it has been all the little things adding up, or the obvious empty seat at the table or your Christmas pudding waiting in the cupboard.

This morning, I finally broke. I really cried, and I felt like I shattered into a million pieces.. and even that if I put myself back together I would be missing all of the pieces, fragments and parts you helped me to build and to be proud of.

Usually in these moments I spiral, I find myself losing control. But, this morning I just cried, only because I just wanted to be with you, nothing else. And for the first time it was simple. A pure, clean, painfully real emotion. Not wrapped in my past or what I might sometimes still struggle with. And In that moment, those hours I let go, I missed you and I realised that these months of sitting on the tracks I hadn’t been addressing my pain or the cause. I wasn’t facing your loss, I sealed half of it away, leaving only the guilt.. I punished myself.

But today I saw the bigger picture, I regained my perspective, the picture was clear, and I only saw love. The how and the why of how I got to this place, and the how and the why of how i’m still here without you. My heart broke, but not in away that it felt irreparable or even lonely. Only in a way that I had been needing to, I needed to feel again so I could feel you. So I could again feel the good, enough that I could face the bad. I’ve been a robot, feeling the good but not completely. Perhaps only acknowledging that it was there, but still so afraid to get too close. Fighting and running from the pain, so far that I couldn’t truly feel anything.. crashing into a dark mood and not knowing why, not sitting there long enough to solve the problem or face why it hurt, why I shut the light out and chose or tried to feel nothing at all…

Since my last stumble, I’ve slipped so many more times, each of them loathing myself for what I was throwing away, each time ignoring why.. and what I still had to lose, each time wrapping myself in a thicker guilt, hating that I was tying this pain to you. I was so afraid to acknoledge how much I had been hurting.

Until today, I had been missing you, so much. But I had been refusing.. I was so afraid to acknowledge why.

All of a sudden, staring at your Christmas pudding, imagining you.. Patiently and lovingly preparing it, months in advance.. it suddenly all felt so real.. The fear fell away, I faced it, whether I chose to, or felt that I was ready, that comforting beautiful image broke something in me, and all of the good felt real again. The pain too. It was there, it was definitely there. But, the good was so present, so close that I felt completely sure of who I was and what I could feel and be again. I have never felt so overwhelmed yet so free. I have come to realise that the heaviness of these overwhelming emotions only feels that way when I exhaust myself trying to fight them.. Building walls.. hiding beneath and behind them.

“The darkness does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear that casts our joy into the shadows.” – Brene Brown

I sat on the floor and I sobbed.. My mum wheeled beside and my dad sat on the floor and held me, and what may seem like a heartbreaking moment, and it was, felt for me like the most all encompassing real emotion since you have past and honestly, probably ever. I let them see me break, I let them be there for me and I let them pick me up. My problem for so long has been not wanting to connect, with anyone, with those around me and those trying to.

This year I have felt so sure of my feelings, but when you passed away I stopped wanting to face them. I have felt so secure yet completely afraid at the same time. Not afraid of where or who I was with, but afraid of what I was running from.

I can’t change the words unsaid or the emotional risks I haven’t taken, or what I didn’t pursue.

I wasn’t ready. But that moment with my parents reminded me of the comfort you can feel and find in letting go. In being open, in being honest.

Maybe this time I had to truly break. Open and free.

“The wound is the place where the light enters you.” – Rumi

That emotional block has disappeared.. breaking, broken. I no longer feel scared and I truly don’t even feel the the frustratingly comfortable monotony of my all too familiar insecurities and doubts. Not just because I can feel you with me again but because I can truly feel and connect with myself again, completely. And it doesn’t hurt. I’ve learnt that these disconnected walls I have built have always and ultimately become far more painful.

The love and compassion my parents showed me, is something I know, I to have always felt for them, for those around me. But in so many ways, since your fall, I’ve been struggling to allow myself to feel and to find space in my heart for anyone but you.. I was afraid, afraid to feel too much.. Afraid that if I let those feelings in I would be letting you go.

I saw tears in their eyes, not because they were worried for me, because they were proud.. in a devastatingly, beautiful way, something that has been a long time coming. Even before you. And in that moment, so real, for the first time, I stopped doubting..  For those of you know me and my sometimes awkward over politeness, I didn’t apologise. I didn’t feel like I had to, I  didn’t feel guilty or feel like I had to unconsciously over compensate for causing them to feel something for me. I only felt love. I felt grateful, I felt sure. I felt so sure of myself and what I was feeling.. So sure that they knew how grateful and relieved I was. I sobbed and I was silent. No ‘sorry’s’ or ‘thank-you’s’. No uncertainties.. I just was, and I knew that they knew. This was everything I had needed. And a part of me knew that it was what they had been needing too.

I feel like I’m me again, and I don’t want to fight it. I feel secure, those walls I had been building and hiding behind, and afraid to challenge.. that If tried to pass them I can honestly say, 9 times out of 10 bumping into them I would apologise. Doubting myself, my direction, my purpose and what I have been trying to make room for. They fell away.

I know it’s not over, I’m sure I will cry again, but I only feel hopeful because I’ll keep breaking and I’ll keep growing and I’m ready for it all because all I want and have ever wanted is to truly feel. To me that is the most secure thing in the world.

 It’s not over, but it has changed, I have grown because I’ve stopped fighting,

In my previous entries, I’ve always said how I excited and inspired I have felt to feel, after feeling for years that my feelings were not entirely my own. But I can see now, how this time, in these months I fell backwards when things felt too real, to raw, to overwhelming. I found myself feeling afraid again, I doubted myself, small challenges and decisions became mountains. I’ve always felt sure of myself but not always completely sure of how to feel it. Getting from my emotional point A to B was where I got lost, In emotional limbo, I kept finding myself back in robot mode.Without you, my limbo roadmap.

There are moments in that limbo, of fighting and running from every emotion that I do regret.. not in a way that I feel anger, not even frustration. I simply feel regret because I know in those moments of unsaid words, I was struggling. I was trying to make space, I was fighting that wall.. Still afraid that I might stumble, but so motivated to still try and break down those walls, but still, a part of me felt I wasn’t ready, I was afraid to feel, too much or anything at all.. especially the good. What if I felt happy? Would that be too soon? What if I still had further to fall? What if I spiralled and pulled those close to me down with me? When faced with these questions I always found myself withdrawing, running, again hiding behind those walls. Detached. And then I read this quote, 

“We can’t selectively numb emotion. Numb the dark and you numb the light.” – Brene Brown

I stopped doubting the possibility of whether I was able or if I was ready.

I was ready. Darkness, light.. all of it. I couldn’t keep fighting the pain so hard that I would always be too exhausted or frightened to feel what could be so good, what I could find if I just let go.

This morning I cried.. and I was still crying, because I have finally come realise that those phone calls were and had always been you.. Nana; my roadmap, hard hat and limbo guide.. quietly, patiently listening, and teaching me to hear my own voice and to accept that I will always be learning. That my stumbles, sidesteps and falls, are my journey. That I can find that peace and security on my own. The conversation will not end.. those calls to me were a ‘forever lesson’.. encouraging me to self talk, to self love and accept that I am and always will be working on myself. This does not mean that I am broken, in or still my past.. and most importantly, I am not broken in a way that’s irreparable. I am healing as I learn, a little or a lot.. mistakes, lessons, heartbreak . I no longer feel alone. You taught me that we are all healing because that Is how we grow.

Under construction; It is a sign that we all post, and a sign that is nothing to be ashamed of, it is a symbol of compassion for ourselves and each other.

I don’t view it as a label, I like to see it as an umbrella of forgiveness, a shelter or our emotional hard hat. Protecting our journey, allowing us the space and time to grow.

It’s kind of like an emotional insurance policy, it’s my safety net and for now having that within me erases my doubt. 

Grief is something we all feel. We grieve our mistakes, stumbles, loses and our greatest heartaches. 

Allowing for this pain to be a process.. supports and nurtures our journey as we heal.. this is a gift to ourselves and the most compassionate step we can take forward. It’s accepting and forgiving.. it is love and it is our journey.

He said, “Love is a like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or think its going to get by itself. You’ve got to keep on watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.” – John Lennon

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Perseverance

“Although the world is full of suffering. It is full also of the overcoming of it.” – Helen Keller

The last few weeks have broken my heart. Although mentally I knew this would be a challenge, I felt prepared. I knew I would be able to be helpful and supportive as that has been a role that I have always loved and felt incredibly secure in. However, somewhere along the way the stress and a few unforeseen events, I found myself again moving through the motions in what I call my robot mode.

In the past, I have always run away and isolated myself when I have been confronted with stressful or challenging situations. Too many times have I found comfort in my own seclusion. As painful as the last few weeks have been for my family and I, I am grateful that I have finally grown into a person who, although frightened, was able to follow her heart and keep moving forward. My mind however, unconsciously slipped away into a disconnected place where I was able to observe but not react or connect. I watched desperately in frustration but I could not seem to find my way back. I struggled with the internal conflict of abandoning myself. I watched a girl drowning and as hard as my heart was fighting, my mind felt helpless.

Finding my way back is still something I am struggling with. I am starting to feel present, but a huge part of me is still fighting that connection as I feel like I am slowly suffocating beneath the pain of recent events. I continue to find some strength in the journey back, but I can honestly say even with the knowledge that I have been here before, I find myself already feeling totally exhausted and almost defeated. The journey home will always be my goal; however, in my current state of mind I am fighting the deceptive comfort of remaining numb in the darkness.

If I am being completely honest, I am almost ashamed to say right now that is what I am struggling with most. Sometimes I feel that I will always have to fight the fears and insecurities of that scared version of myself from years ago. But then I think to myself, this may always be a daily struggle, but I know I will always continue to try and each day I will grow and each day I will have something to be proud of. I may be fighting a lot harder right now, but I am holding on to the thought of the strength that I will have gained when we come out the other side of this.

When I read this next quote I envisioned my armour strengthening, I know that the grief I am experiencing now will soon be the fuel I use to carry on down my path:

“The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.”

So here I am. It’s been weeks. I am broken but I am building that tomorrow today.

Learning from the past, I always reconnect with myself by starting with the things I love. I like to imagine this as the first time you meet someone. In an effort to get to know them you may start by finding out about their interests or what is important to them. For me, my ‘go-to’ starting point will always be my family. Although right now I am struggling to connect to those emotions, I do feel the comfort and security of knowing, that is where my heart will always lie.

I love to care for them in anyway that I can, that has never stopped. But when I have lost my way and I attempt to begin my journey home, I find helping them gives me the strength I need to trace my way back or even just to remind myself of the wonderfully predictable emotion of happiness or fulfillment I experience when I know I have helped them in someway. Making them happy in the process will always be the most meaningful kind of bonus. I have come to realise that my values will always remind me who I am when I feel lost.

Sometimes I feel guilty because I procrastinate and move only in mental baby steps, if at all. Because as strong as I remind myself I have become, there are still moments where I feel terrified to be present and experience what is happening around me. In times like this I put on a smile and think of myself as this robot version of me… a Cat 2.0. I am here, I am not locking myself away, but I am all too aware that my mind is still seeking refuge and comfort in the darkness of my mental hiding place. I can still appreciate that I am a work in progress and I see this as my halfway point. This gives me plenty of room to grow. I feel my way of adapting will often be to work hard to please those around me. However, I do not see this as a negative or a hardship. I have learnt to love myself, but I can honestly say it will never be my first priority. My heart and happiness will always be with those I choose to love and care for. This happiness for me is complete and it is my way home.

I have previously referred to my new life as the light behind the door. For me that light is happiness and my happiness will always feel slightly incomplete if I experience it alone or cannot share it with my loved ones.

I said to my mum earlier this week as I sat with her in her hospital room, that as broken as I have been feeling, I knew that my heart was at peace. In that moment, I realised that even if my love and happiness is something that I will always connect to others, I finally felt secure in knowing that I could truly be my own mental happy place.

I do feel that I am walking a fine line between linking my happiness to others and depending on them for that fulfilment. However, this journey of mine is a learning process, and due to recent events I am choosing to nurture that journey rather than run from it.

Whether I sit alone with my dogs, find happiness on a mountain in New Zealand or sit in a hospital room with my mum, that inner peace is something I have learnt to travel with. This time I really depended on my family to help me find my way back, perhaps because they are what I felt I was losing.

As I begin my journey home, the doubts of who I am and where I may have gone falls back into the shadows and I strive to find that comfort in the journey again. I feel secure in knowing where I am going and who I will find there.

I am still learning what works best for me, and I could never dismiss how much I was able to grow during my time alone in New Zealand. Perhaps one day I will find a happy medium. For now I feel safe in letting someone hold my hand to help me through this. If I look a little deeper, maybe New Zealand was what I had needed to help me feel comfortable enough in myself that I could face life challenges and feel secure enough to not only be with others but to ask for their help when I need to.

I love this next quote because I feel like it highlights all of our journeys as our own individual paths of learning and discovery.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. if you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb

I have been fighting through what has felt like the hardest few weeks of my life. I was fighting to be some kind of anchor, fighting for the ones I love, fighting my way back home and for a life I could share with them.

I feel broken, I feel like I have been hit by an emotional truck. But, I am slowly rediscovering my journey and starting to remember how much I truly love being a work in progress. Right now I am in the best possible position I could be to rebuild. I am hurting but I am not lost. I am hopeful. I smile not because I am trying to hide my pain, but because I still get to be with the ones I love and that sugary smile feels so close to something real that I know I am starting to feel again, and I know I have already begun my journey home.

This morning I read this quote:

“The difference between hope and despair is a different way of telling stories from the same facts.”

This quote truly signifies how I am trying to process this struggle and how I plan to move forward. I am learning to accept that I cannot change what has taken place. However, instead of only feeling the pain of what I have been working through, I do feel hope that things will get better and day by day, my sadness will fade. I am moving forward with hope and strength.

When I wrote this entry I was concerned whether or not I would be able to process my recent weeks in a way that could be helpful or inspiring to others. I can only hope that if one day you find yourself struggling or feeling lost, you too may be able to find strength in your own baby steps and perseverance as you find your way back to your path. I have found such a freedom in forgiving myself for falling apart and allowing myself to rebuild in my own way. Whether you regain your strength through others or by yourself, I have come to realise that the fulfilment I have felt in overcoming each day continues to give me the strength to move forward, day by day it gets a little easier.

I’m not sure if anything has changed, and that’s okay. But I have gotten stronger and as I rebuild, my mood improves and I become more hopeful.

-Cat-

Perspective

 

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” – Abraham Lincoln

Why do we sometimes find it so hard to find strength in our past? If it is something that we have worked through and learnt and grown from, why can we not feel some pride in what we have overcome?

This past couple of weeks I have really struggled in accepting myself for the person I am growing into. I felt as though I was looking at myself through the eyes of the lost girl of ten years ago. I don’t think I have changed into a different person because of my past. Instead, I like to think that I have grown into a stronger version of the girl I always was. Mostly, I feel proud to be a work in progress. By recognising my journey as my own, I continue to learn and grow, steadily moving forward.

This journey of understanding and acceptance has been my process, however, during the past couple of weeks I have been finding it incredibly difficult to accept myself as a work in progress. I felt lost, not knowing if I was my past or if I was the person I have been working towards. Ultimately, I think my struggle has been accepting that I could be both.

Since I have stopped focusing on trying to change my past, I can finally appreciate that I am in a place where I can accept it. Sometimes, however, that acceptance still doesn’t make the past any less painful. I sometimes see these moments of connecting with that pain as a ‘roadblock’ in my journey to the new me. This week, for example, I felt like I was stuck in my past and that made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. I panicked and grew inpatient trying to get back to a place of acceptance. I knew I needed to turn myself around. In the haste of looking for a ‘quick fix,’ I found myself in a disturbingly familiar place of long ago.

In my last entry I wrote about how our struggles can be a never-ending battle when we fight our darkness with darkness. This week I was reminded of how fighting darkness with darkness and pain with pain will always be the same exhausting struggle. I know I will never succeed there. Choosing to fight a losing battle in a place filled with hopelessness will always keep me from my happiness.

These past few weeks, finding a way out of the darkness has been a far greater challenge than I could have anticipated. I love the life I am now living and building in the light…it gives me such strength. So, why did I find it so intimidating to look towards it from that dark place? I try so hard to disguise or ignore the struggles of my past, that when these ‘roadblocks’ pop up I feel unprepared, putting me in such a confused state of mind. I find that I start to feel safer in that predictable and familiar darkness, in spite of the pain and loneliness.

I know that I have to be careful that I don’t isolate myself there, for me the deceptive comfort I may feel in withdrawing to that place only hides the doubt and fear that will grow the longer I stay.

I do not like that I still go there, not because I think that it is weak or it is wrong, but because for me I have found it to be a place that enables and almost encourages me to give up. I am incredibly grateful that I am now able to recognise myself moving towards that place of losing hope, I now know if I lose hope I will lose my perspective.

There are two quotes that have helped me regain perspective and appreciate that my past is still a place that I can continue to grow from.

First,

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation from which I rebuilt my life.” – J.K Rowling

There is darkness behind this quote, however in my present state of mind, it motivates me to remind myself that my darkness is a place in which I can and will continue to grow from.

No matter how I may sometimes feel about my past, it is the foundation I have built my future on. Accepting that my past is an important part of me…well, that allows me to be who I am today. I am who I am today because of my past and perhaps even in spite of it.

I have been able to find happiness in a place where I am building a new life with a fresh start. I think I am able to do that because I have stopped trying to escape my past. I know I am not my past, but I can accept that it has shaped me. I do not feel that I have changed, I can just appreciate that over time I have been able to learn and grow from my experiences. Ultimately this has helped me to find a sense of balance. I am now able to use that acceptance to build a positive future on a stable foundation.

I have found it really helpful to view my struggles as a foundation. I have gained a sense of security since establishing that as a source of my strength. I believe I can continue to find a way to live above those challenges, rather then feeling resentful and struggling to manage beneath them.

This week I forgot how much I loved being a work in progress. I stopped looking at it as a journey. I felt embarrassed that I had taken so many steps back. I felt ashamed that I felt ashamed. But most of all, I found myself struggling with something that I almost never feel…anger. Once I realized what it was, I was able to begin to handle the set back. It may have taken a couple weeks, but I was finally able to remind myself that I only felt that anger because I felt like something was threatening my progress. Perhaps slipping backwards was what I needed to remind myself how far I have come. I was reminded by that ‘roadblock’ that it better to fight in the light then remaining stagnant in the dark.

 While in the midst of that realization, I thought of the following quote:

“We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.” – Anais Nin 

This quote reminded me that the struggle I have felt most recently was not with my present life, this moment or the world around me. It was the struggle that I projected out of my past, from a fragile state of mind. It is important to remind myself that the fear and doubt I am experiencing in my life today is really just a shadow of the past me. She sees shame in the fragility of these moments. I have learnt to appreciate the beauty and the strength in continuing to try. I realise that allowing myself to find comfort in the darkness only encourages that familiar fear to grow. I had been feeling so uncomfortable and insecure; it was not until I read this quote that I realised the things that I have be fighting against were only becoming an issue again because I had lost my perspective, causing me to think that my past was no longer just my foundation or something that was behind me. I let myself struggle for two weeks in a world where I thought that my past had again become the walls around me.

I felt threatened because I felt as though I was allowing something to dismantle what I have been building here in New Zealand, my happy place. However, the challenge of the past couple of weeks and this next quote has given me the insight to appreciate that it is not just New Zealand that is my happy place. It is something that is within me. I am happy and I finally allowing myself to actually experience that emotion.

“Our destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

I feel so privileged and grateful to have this life. A large part of the happiness I have found came because I allowed myself to project what I felt and wanted in my world and my future. I am allowing myself the freedom to find and thrive in that happiness. Queenstown is absolutely beautiful, the people are kind and I truly feel at peace, but that does not mean the people and places of my past are something that I love or appreciate any less. In this place, in this moment, I can truly connect with that feeling of happiness. I feel I am able to support myself enough where I can build a stable world around it. I can appreciate that my perspective has changed only because I allowed it to change.

“A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not branch but on its own wings. Always believe in yourself.” – Unknown

I felt that I was able to regain my perspective the moment I found that trust and strength in myself again.  I no longer feel I have to fear the ‘roadblocks’ I will encounter in the future. Letting go of that fear has helped me to find my way back to the state of mind where I am more then happy and even excited to still be a work in progress.

Sometimes the pain in our setbacks prevents us from remembering how far we have come since the last time we felt like this. This time, I started to find my way back when I reminded myself that I have been able to do it before. Each time I fall, I learn and my recovery time lessens. It is so important not to feel shame in these setbacks, find your strength in what you are able to learn. Know that it will help you if you ever find yourself feeling hurt or challenged in the future.

-Cat-

 

Light

 

Self Love

Once when I was running,

from all that haunted me;

to the dark I was succumbing-

to what hurt unbearably.

Searching for the one thing, that would set my sad soul free.

In time I stumbled upon it, an inner calm and peace;

and now I am beginning,

to see and to believe,

in who I am becoming- and all I’ve yet to be.

-Lang Leav

I really feel like this poem describes my life; where I have been, where I am now and where I can allow myself to go.

For years I lived in my past. I didn’t even realise that over time I had created a world that was a constant reminder of everything that I struggled with. I must have thought that if I could somehow understand the world I had built around my past I might have been able to find a way to change it. In hindsight, I can see this was false hope. But at the time I felt as though this exhausting way of managing my life could somehow give me enough understanding that I could eventually find a way to accept it.

The next quote really put into perspective how my approach really was a false hope.

“We spend our time responding to a world which we understand and recognise but which no longer exists.” – Eddie Obeng

This really resonated with me. I realised that over the years, I had been losing myself in the struggle of trying to solve the problems I could not change. I did eventually recognise my issues. I even came to a place where I almost understood them. Ultimately, though, I was only left with the knowledge that I had spent eleven years desperately trying to understand something well enough so that I could then maybe fix or change my future.

I feel like the struggle of our past at times can be incredibly painful. I understand that it is important to learn and to grow from our pain. However, in my experience I have found that journeying into the past will always close the door to my future before I even have a chance to walk through it.

I feel that getting lost in the struggles of our past can prevent us from allowing ourselves to move forward and to make a change. If we stay there long enough, we can slowly become our struggle. For the longest time, I made a home there and looking out from the past, my future seemed either completely terrifying or non-existent.

Overtime I came to realise the idea of trying to manage or build a life from only the blocks of the painful memories of my past was not going to work. I gradually became aware that I was not getting any closer to the light at the end of the tunnel.

The next quote taught me that the fight of trying to change or accept my past could never truly be accomplished if I continued to fight in the darkness.

“Darkness can not drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

It suddenly made sense that trying to fight pain whilst living in a painful place would always be an unsuccessful and never ending journey. The further I looked into my past, the further away I traveled from any kind of future happiness.

I became aware that the light at the end of the tunnel was the outline of a door that I had closed years ago when I first began my journey into the past.

Simply envisioning my future as light gave me the drive to make a change. Throughout my whole life, I have been incredibly lucky to have seen this light in my loved ones. They have always given me so much love that I became comfortable not having a light of my own.

The previous quote encouraged me to feel compassion towards my struggle and not to submit to the angst of trying to fix it. It is still helping me move forward and live in the present and work towards a future where I can build my own light.

Towards the end of last year I found myself in a place where I truly believed that I could make that happen.

I was given the most amazing opportunity to spend time in beautiful Queenstown. I have found true peace here. For the first time in my life, I feel completely comfortable and secure in myself and now I truly enjoy my own company. I felt as though I have been able to regain a connection to myself.  I feel so at ease and I have almost found a confidence in my ability to truly know the woman who I have become. Appreciating my growth rather then punishing myself for the time it has taken, brought me to a place where I could truly be my own inspiration.

My time in New Zealand has filled me with light. It has enabled me to grow into a person that I can feel proud of. I never would have thought I could enjoy and appreciate the journey of being a work in progress as much as I do now.

The next quote is how my time here has taught me to use that light when I find myself looking into my past. I know now I don’t need to go back there, I don’t need to fix it. I no longer feel a need to try to understand it. I accept that it is something I cannot change, and I accept the person I have become.

There are still those days when I find that to be a challenge. This quote somehow makes those moments a lot less intimidating.

“If you can’t get rid of the skeleton in your closet you’d best take it out and teach it to dance.” – George Bernard Shaw

The idea of using the light I have found in New Zealand to dance with my demons gives me strength. It has truly changed my perspective and my attitude towards my journey and how to travel this new path. On those days I know I can make the best of a difficult situation. And lets be honest, I am pretty sure dancing in the light isn’t a party too many of our skeletons will want to go to.

The moment I stopped trying to fix my past and instead chose only to be in this moment and to work towards a future was the most freeing experience of my life.

My hope is for you to be able to find a similar sense freedom in being able to let go of the past and look towards what can make you happier in the future.

-Cat-

Sun

 

 

 

Courage

“One of the happiest moments in life is when you find the courage to let go of what you cannot change.” – Unknown

As I travel this path, knowing how far I have come and how hard I have worked, I have almost become accustomed to the sense of security I feel as I watch my strength and determination grow. I feel inspired… I no longer feel intimidated by the challenges that lie before me.

Knowing that I am a work in progress reassures me. It has given me room to grow in a place without the expectation of perfection. I ultimately allowed myself to grow from a place of vulnerability when I started setting goals instead of trying to achieve impossible expectations.

I usually gain encouragement by looking into my past and recognizing the obstacles I have overcome. However, today feels like a day where I am unable to visualize the line between vulnerability and insecurity. Today, something is different and I am again imprisoned by the pain of my past.

I feel stuck in this mood where the acceptance and forgiveness of being vulnerable has been replaced by the shame of my insecurities. I feel incredibly intimidated by the day ahead and find myself doubting my ability to face the obstacles and challenges set before me.

In this state of mind, I find myself feeling extremely overwhelmed. I’ve come to realize over the years that this mood is never brought on by just one thought or feeling. Trying to pinpoint the trigger is pointless; in this blinding moment, the trigger is insignificant. I have allowed my pain and exhaustion to open a door for a mob of negative feelings. An overwhelming wash of emotion causes me to lose control of the original issue, and that is when things go from bad to worse. I’m drowning in my emotions.

I have found that working through a bad mood feels a lot like treading water. I am painfully aware that no matter how hard I try, I find that I haven’t moved any distance in any direction and I am suddenly aware of the exhaustion and despair that has come with the struggle.

I always try to stay ahead of my moods, but today the road I’ve started down finds me overcome with the inability to forgive myself for being vulnerable. On my good days, I gain strength from the anguish of my past. But today, I am painfully aware of how my anguish has suddenly grown into an insecurity that feeds by suffering.

I’ve questioned myself…why am I hesitating to grab ahold of my life rafts? Am I intimidated by the idea that I might not be able to hold onto it? That I might slip off and drown? Am I so lost in my thoughts that I don’t even notice the opportunity they provide to separate myself from my thoughts? Why am I not allowing myself to find comfort in this familiar struggle?

Once I realize I’m at this point, I have to make the decision to climb up on that life raft and do the hard work of moving toward a better mood. I am clinging to the following quotes today:

“In order to move on, you must understand why you felt what you did and why you no longer need to feel it.” – Mitch Albom

This quote encourages me to find a way back to the present. As I think about this quote, I close my eyes and take three deep breaths. The counting and breathing soothes me enough to be able to focus and acknowledge the initial trigger. This acknowledgement helps me understand why the mob of negative thoughts are having such a negative impact on me today.

The awareness doesn’t instantly wash away my difficult mood, but by simplifying the problem, I am able to begin processing the thoughts and my mood becomes less overwhelming. Overcoming the mood one issue at a time brings a feeling that resembles relief.

I am reminded that what I am experiencing is just a temporary emotion. Understanding why I was upset is usually the easy part. Accepting that I do not deserve to feel this way is surprisingly more of a challenge. In order to allow myself to move forward and stop punishing myself for my insecurities, it is important to remind myself that in these darker moods, it is quite normal to feel weak and doubt by ability to persevere. Finding wisdom in the struggle is something I know I’ll be able to take into future challenges.

This next quote is really inspirational; it supports everything that I am trying to learn from the previous quote:

“Courage is not having the strength to go on, it is going on when you have no strength.” – Theodore Roosevelt

I find the word “courage” to be nothing short of empowering. I truly believe that if we can remind ourselves in these moments where we are struggling that if all we have is our courage, we already have enough power to make a change.

My past, my armour, they are both part of me… A weight I am proud to carry. Knowing I have this courage gives me the strength to rebuild; I am motivated to use it to move forward. I do realize, however, that sometimes the weight of a particular emotion is too heavy to carry and I have to have the courage to let it go.

 

I was extremely hesitant to work through my dark mood in this entry. My hope in sharing the experience is to encourage others to understand that we are all working on our mental health…it is a process and a journey. We need to be proud of the accomplishment of allowing ourselves to be a work in progress. I truly hope that we can all accept our vulnerability as a place which we can grow from.

“Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.” – Brene Brown

-Cat-

 

Comfort zone

“I once had a garden filled with flowers that grew only on dark thoughts, but they needed constant attention and one day I decided I had better things to do.” – Brian Andreas

Years ago, and even more recently, I would often find comfort in my own garden of dark thoughts. I almost felt a sense of security knowing things could not get any worse. Over the years I grew my garden into a painfully beautiful reminder of everything that caused me pain. Perhaps it gave me a sense of purpose.

I created that purpose because I felt safe knowing that I alone was the one who was watering my plants. I felt I had some kind of control. Sometimes, when I look back on those years, a huge part of me wants to say that it was a waste of time, that I was miserable and that I was lost there.

I have since forgiven myself. I recognise this was part of my process and finding comfort in the darkness was my way of coping.

It was not until I came across this next quote that I was able to put it all into perspective.

“Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” – Zen Proverb

It helped me to realise that for years, in my own way, I had given myself something to do. In maintaining that control, I felt like I was accomplishing something. In hindsight, I am sure I had read similar quotes and articles about moving forward. Perhaps it just wasn’t the right time, but something about this quote really resonated with me.

I decided in that moment, I had to stop maintaining my role as the co-dependent gardener of dark thoughts. I became painfully aware that not only was I losing time, I was losing myself. All of the time and effort that I was putting into my garden was only giving it strength and power. My strength and My power.

Acknowledging that I had created that particular role for myself was the first step. Understanding why I continued to find comfort there was a harder task. I felt if I could somehow grasp why I felt drawn to that place I might be able to find a way to find that comfort in a place that would give me strength instead of taking it away.

Over time I realised I was holding onto the feeling of control. I knew deep down that my garden was a destructive environment, but having felt like that was the only place I could control, I almost felt I was safe there. It was a time when I had felt so uncomfortable and insecure around others, I suppose I found some kind of comfort in my solitude.

I found the second quote to be a ‘wake-up call’  I knew it was time to move on. I felt that If I stayed there any longer I would never leave. For the first time that possibility scared me enough to force me to realise I was allowing it to consume me.

Imagining those years as a rocking chair gave me such perspective. I felt truly motivated to let go of everything I was holding onto in the ‘garden.’ This next quote, in my mind, was the final piece of the puzzle which gave me the drive to at least try.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch

Sometimes it’s hard to believe the prospect of a fresh start outside of our comfort zone could be more intimidating or frightening than the darkness inside our gardens. I have found such courage in the journey of overcoming my fears and challenges.

My hope for this entry is to inspire you to make that change. The time it may take is not what is important. The amount of strength you gain can only build as you continue to try. Ultimately, I would love others to simply allow themselves to have the opportunity to open a new door or to start a new chapter.

In time my goal is for you to feel the warmth and light outside of your garden. Let that support and encourage you to continue to move forward on your journey beyond your comfort zone.

I used to imagine my comfort zone as a place, where I could feel safe and content. However, over time I have come to appreciate that it does not have to be a place that we seek to find our security.

I have found comfort in the challenge. As you build your strength and confidence on your own journey, I hope you will feel secure enough to appreciate that your comfort is something that can travel with you.

You do not have to leave it behind or strive to find it at your next destination. Let it grow within you. Allow yourself to find comfort in that growth. Let it be your armour.

Finding my own peace and continuing to develop my ‘internal comfort zone’ has given me the greatest sense of security… A far higher accomplishment than managing my garden of dark thoughts.

Check out today’s activity and recipe

 

 

– Cat –