“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.