clicks of clarity

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About 2 weeks ago, while on holiday, I had what I call, a click of clarity, I love them… those moments, when you can just see things clearly for what they really are. Sometimes they are totally unexpected and not even related to the current activity, but they just appear and you’d be stupid to ignore. This one was regarding my face, which as some of you will know has been a long term, ongoing struggle for me.

I was lying down on the sofa, and I just thought… my face is never going to change the way it looks- I have no intention of having more plastic surgery or cosmetic enhancers… my face will always look like this whether I like it or not- so actually, if the face isn’t going to change, your attitude better. CLICK. Just like that. After decades of therapy, I had that one thought and its changed me.

My face ain’t changing. So I have to. And I will.

When I don’t blog, I use a private journal. The journal is for all the stuff that is definitely not suitable for public consumption. But today, I will type out a letter I wrote to  my face on 1st August. This is uncomfortable for me, but I know I have to state the intention publicly- and for me blogging is an easier way than telling people (not sure I could do that yet). So here it is… unedited… just as it is, just as I am…

1st August 2017.

Dear Face,

I am sorry. So terribly sorry. For all I’ve put you through. Others have hurt you too, ut I know what I’ve done has been so much more damaging and deep. I have been cruel, neglectful, invalidating and abusive. So awful. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for functioning despite everything you have gone through. Thank you for being so patient with me. I place a marker in the sand- from this moment on my relationship with you changes. I give you my word and my intention. I can’t promise I won’t ever fall or slip in to old patterns, but I can promise as soon as I notice I wills stop I will not indulge the abuse. I will acknowledge it and let it pass- but I will also treat myself with compassion in these failings.

Face, I will need to develop my ability to listen to you and you will need to develop your voice. I know all the abuse has silenced you and you will need to grow in trust of me again. Again, I can’t promise I will never get it wrong but I can promise my desire and intention is to validate you and yours experiences. Keep talking and I will keep listening.

I accept you totally as you are. Your eyes and nose aren’t going to change – I’m not putting you or me through surgery so this is the way it is. I can’t change the way I look and I’m sorry that I’ve been so resistant to you. I’m sorry for the years I have been desperate to look different. I’m sorry for the way I’ve blamed you for everything. I’ve laid it all at your door. The whole lot:

  • rejection by mum
  • being single
  • the reason for my vulnerability to predators

There may be a grain of truth in all of these- but the truth is also that IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Face, you are the way you are. You didn’t ask for it- and you are not responsible for other people’s reactions to it… mum, dad, club, peers strangers and most importantly myself. I have made the choices I have- not your fault. I’m not judging myself for those responses- I have done what I’ve done usually because I’ve tried to survive. I have survived. Nut now to live. Cant change what I’ve done but I can change what I do. Wow,such an important moment. I relish this moment: my face isn’t changing so I have to- actually ‘have to’ isn’t the full picture, I choose to… I want to… I really want to…

Facce- you are amazing. You see, smell, speak, breathe, communicate- wow, you are incredible, just incredible.

I don’t want tot insult you by not being authentic, so I’m not yet able to say you are beautiful etc, but with integrity I can say, I accept you the way you are. And I really hope to grow in my love and appreciation of you. Not sure what that really looks like but its got to be better/ different to how things have been until now. I want to look at you with:

  • delight not repulsion
  • compassion not criticism
  • kindness not cruelty
  • to cherish you not to abuse you

Face- may you be safe: safe from the judgement of others and safe from the judgement of myself

may you be happy: delight in your uniqueness, celebrate your quirkiness and glory in your radiance

may you be healthy- may your eyes continue to see, your ears continue to hear, your nose continue to breathe and your out and teeth be healthy and whole.

Your face is welcoming- your smile is radiant and your laugh is infectious. Your lips are beautiful.

“People will stare. Make it worth their while.”    Harry Winston.

may your face be at peace: with itself, with me and the rest of the world.

A new adventure together- not sure where its going and what it looks  like- but things will never be the same- they can’t, because my heart has changed.

“I love you just the way you are”

Love Hepzibah.

Thanks for listening.

 

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self-compassion and how to do it

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During the last few months lots has been going on. In the midst of lots of rubbish and drama, I’ve had so much clarity which has truly been significant for me. In my sessions with Penelope, I have been doing a lot of work on loneliness- an affliction that quite regularly paralyses me if I let it. We have been working on it for years to be honest and I jut feel its one of those things that Ive never yet had any success with. It always comes back to this one, I’m stuck in it and I want to get unstuck.

Penelope always says the same things really… look at the evidence, I’m not lonely, it’s my self-talk, its the judgement I place on being by myself- its because I don’t have a relationship with myself… and I know these are all true but they don’t help!!!! I still hadn’t found the hook on which I could grasp and then work with.

unknown-2-1.jpegBut I think I might have now… in my recovery I always come back to is this definition of stupidity. If I want to be different, I have to do things differently. So simple- but so profound.

But sometimes we just need what I call, the ‘click of clarity’. The way I have been relating to myself for the past 40 years is totally screwed! Its obviously not working! You’ve got to do something different. IT AIN’T WORKING! And in that moment, I set my intention to do it differently. To relate to myself differently. Kindly, with compassion. Not berate myself. Not say the most awful things to myself. Not abuse my body or wretch in disgust. But to be kind to myself.

And then of course, once you’ve set the intention, God or the Universe seems to kick in and ‘coincidences’ start to happen. A suggested post on Facebook, a chance conversation with someone, a book crosses your path…  all three have happened for me.

I already had this book, but have never read it… but as I’m packing for a cheeky week Unknown.jpegaway it ‘pops’ out at me. I read it and I start doing it! The same with the Artist’s Way- I’ve had it for years… but now I’m ready to do it.

 

 

 

 

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Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying I read the books and things changed- it was sort of the opposite- I changed and then the books have helped put flesh on the process for me. One of the hardest things about recovery, is that it demands a different way of living to what you’ve been used to- but most of us have never experienced or seen that different way and just don’t have a clue how to do it!

If you were ever in my secret chamber you would hear my pleading to God- ‘but I don’t know what that looks like, I don’t know how to do that’. When Penelope and others would say, you need to love yourself, I would be shouting inside- WTF does that actually mean? You are talking gobbledegook. SHUT UP!

The Germer book in particular has really helped with practical suggestions- which have been intellectually credible. But the key to all this is in paragraph 4- I had to want to do it differently. And I am overwhelmed with gratitude that miraculously I’ve got to that point of wanting that. Thank you. 

Thanks for listening.

telling my story

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Sometimes an every-day type of conversation can give you a golden nugget.

I was talking with my friend Sandra and she questioned my motivation for doing something that I am currently doing. It wasn’t a negative questioning rather a genuine what do I hope to achieve from doing this…  good question. She mentioned the word ‘justice’ in the process and since that time I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

Justice just wasn’t ticking the boxes for me. Firstly, I’m not entirely sure what justice actually is and whether it ever makes any one feel better. But also, why would I want justice… the concept doesn’t yet feel like it relates to me. However, what was amazing, was that in that process of thinking about justice I did begin to clarify what I did want from this process.

Unknown-1.jpegI want to be heard.

I want to tell my story.

I want my story to be validated.

Ideally, I would like my story to be believed- but I can’t control other’s response to my story.

Ironically, I am surrounded by friends who hear me, listen to me and validate me. But this isn’t about other people- this is about me hearing myself, validating my story and believing myself. Oh my word- if I can do that- (and I will) my life will be transformed!

Currently, I have people who don’t know me doing the above- and it is sooo powerful. They have no reason to believe me, listen to me, take me seriously- but they are. (not sure if they believe me but they are certainly taking me seriously). The impact for me is quite incredible. I can feel myself standing a little taller. I can feel a lessening of the pain in my chest.

I can’t control whether others choose to hear my story but I can control my own response to it, and I think my own response to myself will be one of the most healing things I can do for myself.

Thanks for listening.

Seize the opportunity

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Talking with my friend, Fiona last week, she challenged me to seize the opportunity I was currently in. An opportunity to not just get through this current season of my life but also an opportunity to make a lasting difference to my life.

I have chosen to seize the opportunity with everything I have. It’s a slightly rocky ride with some very difficult bits. But I am seizing it with everything I have. Would love to encourage you to do the same. Take hold of what life is giving you- the good, bad and the ugly.

Thanks for listening.

 

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be careful what you wish for…

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Graham Cooke refers to them as ‘grace-growers’. Others might call them irritants. A thorn in the side might be apt. I refer to those people who basically get under your skin and brings out the most horrible parts of your self- and if you’re like me I just sit in the corner, saying Lord have mercy on me, because I want to smash their face in. (Sorry)images-1.jpeg

I have been on three residentials for my Masters Programme and I have allowed Andrea to totally intimidate me. My issue not hers.

The lecturer sat us together as we are both serving Head teachers. However, I am only really a pretend Head Teacher because I co-own the school. She on the other hand is a ‘proper’ one. She, like me, is fairly strong-willed and opinionated. However, unlike me, she would often just mutter negative things under her breath. I HATE THAT. Either speak up or shut up. I HATE people that don’t have the balls to own their stuff. I REALLY HATE IT.

However, she was an extremely smooth operator and clever cookie and spoke just enough, showing off her ball-breaking style, and in her own words, ‘I’m really hard-core.”

Weekend 1, day 1, I held my own with her. When we disagreed I could justify my stance. By the end of day 2 I had retreated in to myself, living in fear that everyone would find out what a fraud I was, and that even though I had opinions, I had no substance. By day 3, she called in sick with food poisoning and my relief was palpable. The men were in awe of her, the lecturer seemed to hang on her every word… I on the other hand, was caught in that, I wish I was as strong as you, married with I think you are really not a very nice person and I don’t want to be that kind of leader.

Weekend 2, she was absent. (School couldn’t possibly do without her). Weekend 3 she returned with gusto. I tried to make conversation. I felt like I was far too common and unimportant for her. I shrivelled before my own eyes. I couldn’t understand why everyone else seemed to think she was so amazing. (including myself at times).

It was clear she was having a hard time at work and was very tearful. (She had been head hunted for a prestigious school and her current bosses were really upset she was going and were making her life a misery…) They had bad-mouthed her and she was suing them for 2 years salary, she was doing blah, blah, blah…. And then my self-loathing creeps in- why am I so judgemental? why can’t I be more supportive? why am I always so jealous? why don’t you believe her? why do you resent someone else’s success?

This battle in my mind was raging for two days.

At the end of the second day, she went home. She had been suspended from her post for serious mis-conduct. My colleagues all took the stance she was being bullied and vilified… except 1. In a tongue loosened by alcohol, someone else let it slip that may be I wasn’t alone in my feelings.

I had spent all this time, wishing I was more like her… more knowledgeable, strong like her, more gutsy… and actually just may be the facade was as false as my own one is. Sometimes you really do have to be careful what you wish for! Unknown.jpeg

 

 

 

surrender

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I was chatting with my friend Fiona while in France. She mentioned a friend of hers who describes herself as a recovering alcoholic. I identify with addicts- regardless of the flavour. All addiction is addiction. Thankfully some of my behaviours are far more socially acceptable and one could argue not quite so harmful to my own body- but the process is the same. Addicts escape. And the desire to escape is sometimes so strong that it is literally all-encompassing. Sorry, I digress.

Her friend, will often talk about the need to surrender. She doesn’t drink because she surrenders to God. Her God, happens to be the Christian Jesus, I am aware that in the 12 step programme the ‘Higher Power’ is less prescriptive. I personally relate to Jesus and when Fiona mentioned it, I felt quite a peace in my heart. I knew who I could surrender to. I have taken those moments of peace with me. I am fully aware that surrender is a continual process. Its not one moment of surrender and that’s done. Any one in recovery knows that it is continual. Moment by moment, step by step, tear by tear surrender. And its quite liberating.

On my ill-fated walk up a French mountain, which happened to be the same day as this conversation. I may have missed the proper destination. But instead I found this.

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I am not very good at measurements, but it was massive. The picture doesn’t do it justice. Much much bigger than a person. Majestic. Surveying the land.

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I stopped and lay down in front of it and sung to Jesus. It was the only thing I could really do. As I stood up, a saw a tiny crocus, that thankfully I hadn’t squashed. It made me smile.

I didn’t have a Damascus moment. I didn’t hear voices, I didn’t see visions. But I had a few moments of peace- and let me tell you, in the turmoil of my mind, that is the greatest miracle of all.

As I trudge through things at the moment. I constantly think of Fiona’s friend who has to surrender so as not to drink. I think of her as I try and do the same.

And to every brave soul who has to surrender to survive- I totally salute you. You are amazing.

Thanks for listening.

 

around the corner…

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Following on from my holiday moments, I was away at the weekend on a study residential. It is located in a beautiful hotel and setting. The previous two times, my only wondering has been from the car park to the reception. As this was my last one, and following my missed moments in France, I thought I would see what I could find. IMG_2550.JPG

I stirred myself in to going out for a work… a comfy sofa and cross-stitch was far more appealing- but I decided that I really should not be so lazy all the time.

I have travelled to a variety of countries, but Im not really an explorer. I always travelled with intention- to visit someone, work in a project, do a certain thing… I’ve never travelled for the adventure. There aren’t really any things I want to see either. My usual goal in life is to do as little as possible, preferably with cup of tea in hand and being horizontal. A book or yarn in hand is the Brucie Bonus.

But I decided to ‘explore’. I turned left instead of right and walked. And I quite literally came across the most gorgeous lake. One moment it wasn’t there- the next moment it was. It was such a gift. A true gift. IMG_2552.JPG

So may be sometimes, its good not to accept the status quo and perhaps see if there is more out there?

Thanks for listening.