Silver linings and insights

I’ve just read through all my blog posts. I do that a bit. Fan of my own work? Not so much. I have always done this with any outward expression I put out ‘there’ that is more than superficial. It’s a sort of critique and a refresher of thoughts and feelings. That doesn’t really sum up why I do it properly. I don’t know exactly. I’m a perfectionist. A uni friend once nailed it saying “it’s like every word has to audition for its place with you”. I felt quite disarmingly transparent when she said that but it was true.

It’s not for others but for myself, it’s about making the bridge between my internal impressions and the words I write as narrow as possible. It’ll never be perfect but I can translate myself into language to the best of my ability. It takes me back to studying the origin of consciousness for an Anthropology subject at University, that whole thing about whether we can ever connect or know the world outside of our own perception, how subjective we are…blah blah. I want to get to the essence of a feeling or thought and catch it like an ethereal butterfly and make it real on the page. I want to make the intangible communicable. I don’t know why I want this so much.

So in rereading the blog now, what I’ve noticed is that I repeat myself a lot. I feel insecure about my lack of exciting external events to discuss, then I feel a sort of self-affirming sense that it’s actually okay because I sincerely believe anyone who I compare myself to and I paint as ‘being more interesting’ (or whatever aspect I fall short on in my own appraisal), if they went through what I am going through they’d probably feel as I do. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you get stuck on a desert island with a stick and a piece of string there’s only so much you can do with it. Why compare yourself to those in the thriving metropolis visible just across the ocean? But I do. I believe you would too. Maybe you do in your own way. Comparison is the thief of joy, isn’t that the saying?

Anyway there’s two things I want to say in this post:

  1. I can see a clear shift in my tone of writing before and after my ER admissions at the start of this year. In some ways this blog has bookended one of the most intense experiences of my life. That’s interesting. This is history – my history. I can’t seem to get back to the light-hearted tone I had before. But that’s okay, we can’t force ourselves to feel what we don’t. What I experienced was traumatic and trauma takes time to process.
  2. I want to mix things up a bit by deliberately flipping this post around to elucidate the things I’ve learned and the silver linings to this experience. Because there are alchemical shifts that have occurred in me that simply would not have been possible without this…whatever it is. Coal, pressure, diamond. You know the formula. I’m not saying I’m better than anyone because of it but I believe my insights are worth sharing so why not have at them, here. Yeah? Ok. You got it.

Okay, why I feel the urge to keep wrenching my chest open and writing about it publicly, I don’t know. At times I’ve thought if I died what legacy would I leave, would I look back (from wherever it is we go) and feel I had been authentic, brave, true, honest? What is there to be afraid of aside from rejection, judgement, misunderstanding, ridicule? If I’m honest, really honest, I have no reason to fear those things. Because that would be to deny who I am and in the end doing that just stifles me (and any of us who are slaves to the fear of those things) and who wants to look back and feel they censored their own life when there’s really no need. I had this great conversation with an acupuncturist once who I came to see more as a friend and confidante and he said that you can never please everyone. The world is too fragmented and diverse, with as many opinions to match. But even if 1% of people like you or agree with you, that’s a lot of people so why try to win the approval of the world? It’s insanity to try to do that but it feels nice to be liked so often we do try, I know I have. So now I’m politely sticking the middle finger to anyone who chooses to react to my openness with rejection, judgement, misunderstanding or ridicule and congenially request that they take it elsewhere and maybe take a look in the mirror on the way.

Silver linings – here we go.

– I’m closer to members of my family (and friends) in ways I’m not sure I would’ve been if life had gone a different way

-I’ve made the realisation that death doesn’t scare me, but suffering does

-I’ve learned that suffering can be reframed in many instances. Thanks Buddhism

-I know better who I am in the absence of any sort of ‘identity labels’ or expectations, which is liberating but also a potent insight to grapple with.

– I’m not battling myself: open mindedness fuelled by curiosity and regarding other people with a genuine interest in trying to understand them in their entirety and trying to understand life philosophically, that’s basically who I am. I like to understand what I’m drawn to as thoroughly as possible, cutting through bullshit in whatever form it takes to get to the essence of something.

– Fear is always there. I am afraid of being judged, misunderstood, rejected and alienated. Also of having no security physically in my body or materially and of losing control completely through physical debilitation.

– I’ve realised how impatient I am once I’ve decided I want something. How obsessive I can be when emotionally drawn to something. How confused I am over the way my life has gone and the grief I carry as a result. That I very efficiently cut off from my emotions when I feel overwhelmed which can be an obstacle to connecting properly with others. That I still care what other people think as a deep-set default. I am also very hard on myself and try to live up to my values despite my fears which I see as ultimately weak and purposeless.

– I am deeply driven to try to help other people heal and feel more whole in themselves by being more authentic, being honest, showing that nothing is really too taboo or shameful to bring up with the right (read: supportive) people.

– If my perspective could be summed up in one sentence it would be: the less aware we are of our ‘darker’ sides, the more likely they are to control us and bring about suffering. Second sentence: a life unexamined is a life half-lived.

– Humour can be a lifesaver. Never leave home without it, nor indeed stay home without it. Take it everywhere, like you would a favourite pen or some lip balm. They’re what I’d take but my life isn’t exactly wild as you may have gathered from visiting this blog.

-I’m much less attached to outcomes and focus more on getting through each day, hour, minute and so far no matter how shit times may have been (read: VERY) it always, always shifts in time. You just have to wait long enough.

-I’m stronger than I knew. I’m more fragile than I knew. The difference between the two isn’t as great as I once thought.

-I’ve learned that efforts to be grateful and take notice of simple joys are worthwhile and an essential tool in managing protracted difficulty

-I’m more respectful of my own time and energy and discerning in who I give it to

-I’ve discovered how much love I have in my life which is humbling and beautiful

I think that’s enough for today folks. Thanks for listening.



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