Documentary or Based on True Story are my go to genres lately. In that order.
Music isn't really featuring that much but what I've started calling Motivids continue to have the most influence on my progress I think I've ever had from one source.
Every time I start doubting myself, I'll put on an hour long track and feel it reinfuse me with belief. I'm even starting to know whole portions of speeches so when I talk along with them, I feel the power at an even more visceral level. I've told you before how I have trouble projecting my voice but I've been feeling stirings of these strong words coming up through my chest like a volcano.
It wasn't an oozing golden stream of strength that came out today when I yelled at my SonofaNPD father though. It was sharp, heavy rocks and black, claustrophobic ash. It was dramatic. But it was real. And it was newly articulate as I heard myself speak in the voices I'd been programming myself with. As I hung up on him I realised straight away that it was the closest I'd had to my throat opening up fully so even though I was deeply upset, I felt euphoric too. In fact, both experiences made me feel out of sorts but I told my self, in my new motivid voice, to get comfortable with the discomfort. Which I did almost as soon as it came out of where those pieces of advice come from.
Later in the afternoon Father rang back and even though my not-so-grown-up was tempted to reject his call, I felt calmer so picked up. He was ringing to find out if I'd asked my cousin to make the stuffing for all the meat he and his friends had arranged for my 50th birthday party in a few weeks.
As if nothing had happened.
I'd forgotten this part about him.
Not the generosity. Focusing entirely on that is the only way I can be in an ongoing relationship with him.
I'd forgotten his ability to forgive.
One of the beautiful anomalies about someone with NPD is that they don't have the gene that allows them to see when they're wrong. It doesn't even occur to them that they could ever be wrong so forgiveness is easy for them. They're also devoid of empathy, so their version of forgiveness is the closest thing to empathy they have to give.
So here's the Based on True Story reveal...
It took getting furious with the one person who would forgive me, to finally unshackle my voice.
I also found out this afternoon that genuine moving-right-along forgiveness is the ultimate proof of non-judgement and acceptance. And it was only when the fresh air of my fathers forgiveness floated through that I felt the holes lack of them had created.
15 years ago I was living in my office. (My 'company' provided administration services to the rest of the offices). Others might have seen my living situation as pitiful but I was in a historic building in the middle of a botanic gardens so I felt privileged. My filing cabinet was my wardrobe and I slept under my desk on a row of pillows which turned out to be really good for my back. There was a shower in the females bathroom down the hall and I had a local laundry come pick up my washing once a week. Once others in the building realised I was living there, they would leave casseroles outside my door and if they were leaving late and my lights were out, they'd tap on my door and whisper Goodnight E.
The only thing I had to avoid were the security guards who would often shine their torches through my reception window but I always arranged my pillows at just the right angle under my desk so they wouldn't see me.
A company just down the hall from me were a couple in their early 40's who worked together. She was extremely outgoing, he was extremely not. Naturally they were among the first to notice I was living there and were curious about my background. Dangerous question for anyone to ask if they've got an appointment in the next 3 days! I never hold back and went on to share that not only was I poor (obviously) but that I had severe depression. I was then really surprised when the guy admitted he suffered from depression too. I was even more surprised when he explained that it was from an overwhelming feeling of helplessness at not being able to do anything about the worlds problems. It had never occurred to me that there might be other sorts of depressions. Sure the root was helplessness - but that it was triggered by other peoples suffering was what moved me.
Ever since then, whenever my breath is taken away and replaced by a stream of tears at terminal injustice, I think of him.
Those tears had started before the first credits of this movie and my chest still feels like a block of concrete 2 hours later after watching what can only be described as inexcusable brutality to human rights.
When my colleague told me about his depression, my first response was to be relieved I didn't have that form. But ever since then I've wondered what other triggers there might be. The garden variety (if I can say that without it sounding trivialising) must be self helplessness - ie: having some view of oneself and/or ones lifestyle and feeling unable to do anything about it.
Are there any others that could be surprising to know?
I only ask because empathy grows with deeper understanding and I have no limit to how deep I'm prepared to go to get it...
A few weeks ago I made a declaration in my journal that I was ready to speak and demanded that the Universe start throwing things at me. Later that night I was thinking about my step-fathers 70th coming up and suddenly drew in a sharp breath of fear and said out loud - "Oh no! Don't make me do a speech!!"
What the what?!
Hadn't I just signed up for that very thing?
Luckily, because I'm my own therapist, I was able to see the contradiction in only a few hours and nervously but happily went on to say a well received speech the next weekend.
This afternoon I went to see a dear friend I hadn't seen for many years and we talked non-stop for 3 hours. The last time we hung out 18-20 years ago I was still at my worst so I was able to give the short version of the progress I'd made then finished by relating the last post. Of course she was supportive and I left feeling heard and optimistic again.
As I was driving home I ran the conversations from the past week over in my head and realised, again, that I had been giving mixed messages and straight out contradicting myself.
PMA post 2 days ago..."...but I still hadn't felt worthy of commenting" (saying I don't comment)
PMA post today... "I just can't understand why the words I share appear to go into a black hole..." (saying I do comment but no-one notices)
An online mental health organisation to me... "I've seen 2 of your comments on the page, and you seem to know your stuff, do you think you would be interested in volunteering for us?" (someone noticing and giving wonderful feedback and asking if I want to be more involved)
The same online organisation a few weeks later..."You've given the right advice! You know exactly what to say and how to help! ...would you be interested in having a chat?" (someone else noticing and giving more wonderful feedback and asking to chat more)
My responses back to the organisation..."Thanks so much to for being so inclusive and asking me a few times to chat and even become more involved...as much as I would love to chat, I know myself well enough not to at this stage. I'll just keep commenting occasionally if that's OK with you all" (shutting down any communication)
It couldn't be clearer. I'm giving mixed messages everywhere I go - it's no wonder I go no steps forward and a few steps back.
How often do we do this with our most aching desires? Pining to be on stage yet sabotaging every free back stage pass?
When I was depressed I would have closed my curtains in shame, crawled into my duvet and these conversations would have been my new favourite Failure playlist to drown in.
Tonight though, I'll go to bed feeling satisfied that I've taken notice, hopefully learnt and keen to exercise this new understanding of giving clear messages.
As I was writing that last paragraph, the darling friend I visited sent me this poignant message just now...
"It was so lovely to catch up today, you were and are still one of the most amazing souls I have ever meet. You're a breath of fresh air to talk with and I'm blessed you're in my life. I think back to how you virtually saved my life, they were some dark days for me 😞 But bad times make you stronger and I'm thankful for my life today. Thank you for your visit, it makes me feel humble. You're a strong stunning women, and when I hear stories of struggle or hardship, it not only gives me strength and hope but also courage xxxxx"
When I read that, through tears of gratitude, I heard the Universe saying, Don't give up on those dreams to help others just yet...
All I think about every minute of every day is how I can share the valuable, transferable information I taught myself to become free of depression and addictions. I contribute online where I can, I have an open and honest website and blog, I journal breakthroughs and observations daily, I apply for grants with the aim of writing a book, I check in with my friends and whanau/family who are struggling and I research endlessly.In a world of Likes and Shares and Referrals and Viral posts, I just can't understand why the words I share appear to go into a black hole. I'm always asking myself what I can do better, researching how I can write more engagingly, looking at my personality flaws to see if I might be self-sabotaging what feels like such a pure intent and I couldn't have made it any clearer that I want feedback, no matter what you have to say, but with 0.1% response.
My mission statement has been the same for over 30 years.
"To help people feel better about themselves"
And only recently, with a heightened sense of urgency, I added the words "en masse" at the end. A reporter even did an article of my offer to talk to groups - any groups of any size - about overcoming depression and addictions. The article was a disaster and I had her remove it from online before it could go to print but even then, it had been up for over 14 hours with no response.
What more can I do?
My ultimate goal is to meet others who've overcome adversity, identify what tools we all used and share them relentlessly but I can't seem to get past my own keyboard.
This is my last cry to help.
I'm financially comfortable, have few commitments and even though I have the same fear as anyone else about putting myself in the public eye, all I think about are those who are suffering. My fear is momentary - their pain is interminable. It feels irresponsible to have experienced that pain, overcome it to be a happy and content every day and not share that process.
It will break my heart to give up trying but at some point (and that point is my turning 50 in a few weeks) you have to acknowledge when somethings not working and move on.
If you have any suggestions or feedback, hopefully you now get an idea of how valuable they would be to me...
I watched a few documentaries about child poverty in the weekend. The kids lived (mostly) in squalor but they seemed happy enough. They were all exceptionally perceptive about themselves and their parents, knowing they were doing their best. Most of the kids went to breakfast club and often didn't get lunch or dinner but when the parents were interviewed, I couldn't help but notice the nails, jewellery, styled hair, cigarettes, alcohol etc.
At first I was horrified that it seemed I was being judgemental but I have a saying - Observation is when you notice the guy walking toward you has tattoo's on his face, judgement is crossing the street before he gets to you. In other words, I was merely observing because I didn't suddenly decide they were bad parents.
I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong in the mix. If the parents cared (which they clearly did), why were some of these children living in such horrendous conditions and missing out on food? One boy even had to wear his older sisters hand me down clothes to go to school and was bullied mercilessly.
In the early hours of the morning, the answer woke me from my sleep.
It's all about priorities.
Every member of the family was struggling and the things some of the parents spent their meagre income on were prioritised - often, obviously, their sanity (cigarettes and alcohol) being more important than groceries. I'm still not judging - I've been that person. I'm just now more aware.
So, here's where all this went...
Whenever something hits home with a whumpf like that one did, I always have to run it through my mental health database and see if it fits in somewhere and I was able to see so clearly that my climb out of the pits of despair started when I changed my priorities. I had identified that depression, for me, was an addiction to negative thinking and self-loathing so I changed my priorities overnight to focus on positivity and finding things to even just like about myself.
Even though I'm a nobody in every sense of the word - I'm 50 in a few weeks, live wayyy under the radar in my parents caravan and survive on a benefit - I'm extremely happy and content.
I had been questioning whether I was deluding myself and was in fact a loser doing nothing each week but writing and traveling between both sets of parents, but within the context of priorities, I was so relieved to see that with my priorities being to look after both sets of parents and help the few friends I have whenever I can, that I'm far from a loser. Suddenly, giving up a lucrative career in the film industry seemed a very small price to pay for all my parents safety, health and happiness.
What do you think?
When you review the issues in your life are you able to identify a priority that could be adjusted? Or are you able to see yourself in a different, more favourable light when you acknowledge your priorities?
Do you see this relating to another aspect of your life?
I'd be curious to know...
Pimp My Attitude
This is where I think out loud as I transform my appearance, thought processes and most of all, attitude - no matter how unpretty.