Tag Archives: self-reflection

You can run…

28 Apr

I’ve always been a bit of a nomadic soul. For many, many years I moved house about once a year. I enjoy change. I get bored quite quickly. I like “new”.

So, whilst most of my friends and peers seem established – with a family, a mortgage and steady employment – I find myself two months into a three-month trip to South Africa. And with no home to return to.

My hubster and I decided to come out here to volunteer at a project and explore future possibilities in Durban – a place very close to my heart. I love South Africa – the people, the sunshine, the optimism and opportunities. I love it, and yet I find myself feeling strangely displaced. Not-quite-at-home.

It’s a feeling I am accustomed to.

I tend to gravitate towards the periphery, towards the outsiders. I often feel not-quite-at-home.

I am realising, however, that being-at-home is much more about the inside than the outside. Much more about feeling at peace and settled in myself than whether I live in Durban, London, Mumbai or Texas.

I can “move home” as many times as I choose, yet one thing remains constant – me. I can relocate anywhere in the world, but I cannot escape from “Becca”. I cannot hide from the flaws, doubts and insecurities; they refuse to stay in the garage with my belongings.

Being away from the life-I-got-used-to-in-London has taken me out of my comfort zone. In some ways, there are less distractions here – no internet in our home, no TV, fewer phone calls and text messages. This makes it harder to hide from myself.

So I find myself searching for definitive answers and, as yet, uncovering frustratingly little that is certain or absolute. I am desperate to know what is next – to find some comfort and security – and, yet, this is eluding me right now.

I am learning, once again, that maybe it’s not “what we do” that matters most anyway.

Maybe a better question is: “who am I?”. It requires more soul-searching and wrestling, but the discipline of facing ourselves – looking in the mirror – is far more important than “what we do”.

This is a hard lesson for me – I am, by nature, an activist, a doer. I like to be busy, to feel productive. I find it hard to just sit and “be”.

All the running, though, has made me tired.

So I am choosing, once again, to look in the mirror, to face the deeper questions and doubts, and ask again: “who am I?”.

It is, I think, only when we choose to move on from our futile attempts at hiding – from myself, from others and from this world – that we will find “home”.

Words, they elude

19 Oct

As I chatted with a friend the other day, I realised – again – how much life has changed over the last twelve months.

October 2011 was a truly bleak month, followed by several more. No work. No money. Life felt like a weight, a burden, rather than a joy. And my coping methods didn’t seem to help.

October 2012 is here and I feel so different. Work is abundant, we are financially more secure, we have a new home and are starting on a new adventure.

I am so grateful that the darkness – the days of depression and despair – are no longer my ever-present companion.

Grateful for life itself.

Have all the “problems” disappeared? No.

Of course not.

They just feel less overwhelming at the moment.

And I want to celebrate this – the fun times, the joys and gift of life itself.

And yet, these times seem harder to write about.

I am struggling to know what to write here on the blog.

I struggle to find words, they elude.

I don’t want to stop writing. I don’t want to write only occasionally. I don’t want to write only when life is painful.

It feels as though my blog about failure is failing.

What can I do?

We all struggle

11 Oct

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day.

Yesterday, a very brave friend of mine spoke out about being diagnosed with bipolar earlier this year.

Yesterday I was reminded of Elyn Saks Ted Talk – one of the most open, compelling narratives I have ever heard from someone living with a long-term, isn’t-going-to-go-away mental illness.

Elyn Sacks is a legal scholar. A highly-qualified, highly-respected woman who does not want to be defined by her condition. A woman who doesn’t want to be labelled ‘schizophrenic’, preferring to be understood as ‘a person with schizophrenia’.

I love this distinction. It helps us all. Who, after all, wants to be defined by their struggles or scars? Who wants to look in the mirror and see the label ‘depressive’ or ‘loner’ or ‘addict’ or ‘loser’ stamped on their forehead (and all over their heart – where no-one else sees it)?

Who wants to be ‘the other’ when we are all, actually, in the same boat?

As Elyn says – so beautifully – “there’s a tremendous need to implode the myths of mental illness, to put a face on it, to show people that a diagnosis does not have to lead to a painful and oblique life … we are people, not diagnoses”.

How true.

Yet how we forget this: that we are people, each of us brimming with hopes and fears, dreams, struggles and potential. We are people who need to be loved, accepted and included. We are people. Human beings. And all of us struggle – some with physical ailments, some with emotional heartache and others with mental illness.

Let us not forget. We are all human, whatever our struggles.

We might try to cover them up. Yet we all struggle.

We all struggle. Maybe every day should be World Mental Health Day.

Letting go

1 Oct

I am surrounded by boxes, piles of paper, chaos.

We move house this week.

I’ve moved house almost every year since I was 18. I am used to it.

Or not.

If I am honest, I may never get used to it. Isn’t it only human to want to be settled? To long for a “safe space”?

Each move necessitates some refining-downsizing-letting go. Each move requires me to remove my tight grip on that which I own, those things I tend to call “mine”. Each move challenges me to loosen my hold. To let go.

So I try to let go. And in doing so, I start thinking that life is a constant journey of acquiring and letting go. Embracing new possibilities. Letting go of old dreams. Purchasing new things in the belief they will make us happier. Then letting them go when we realise they are only things. Making new friendships, and letting go of those who were, it seems, never really “friends” after all.

I must let go. Whether of things, people or hopes. You see, I get weighed down when I don’t let go. I carry my baggage, I carry my “dream future” and in doing so, I cannot make space for the unexpected, the surprises.

So I let go. And I may weep as I do so. For life does not often turn out as we expect. Instead it brings unpredicted joy. And little sadnesses too – which sometimes mount up and merge to create a big sadness.

I let go. I say goodbye. I pack my life up once more.

And as I leave – with fewer boxes, I feel lighter somehow.

Moments of redemption

21 Aug

This evening I experienced redemption. A moment of grace. Unseen scars, the sort that can reside for years within the heart, seemed to dissipate. And I am deeply grateful.

Four years ago, life became unrecognizable for me. Dreams shattered, hope destroyed. I had a vision, a dream, to work with street children and see their lives transformed. I wanted to create family for those without, a safe place for those always on the run. And somehow, in a few short months, it all fell apart. Somehow, despite many, many months of planning, praying and preparing, it went horribly wrong. And I was left bewildered, bemused, confused.

Somehow, by the grace of God, I find myself in a very different place four years later. The daily relentless struggle I used to experience – the conviction that I was a failure, the longing to hide away – did not remain forever (although, at times, it seemed like it might). Healing has been gradual, not immediate. A combination of faithful and faith-filled family and friends, an amazing husband, a made-to-talk-to-Becca counsellor, the wisdom of others, and many, many hours of processing on my own.  This journey has been shaped by occasionally progress and then seeming regression. The scars, once so bright, had – over time – faded. But they had not disappeared.

Today, right now, I feel pleased that I have these faded scars – the reminders that failure can be survived, that hope does emerge from the most hopeless places. I am at peace with these reminders, because tonight a few words were spoken that brought a deeper healing to the faded wounds. I am pleased because I have remembered that there is a plan and purpose bigger than myself. And, it would seem, I still have a part to play.

This time, however, it feels healthy and good and right. I have nothing to prove. I can risk again. I can give – not because I need to be liked or needed or a “success”, but simply because there is an opportunity to do so. I can dare to go to a place where I might meet “failure”, because I know such things can be survived.

And so, this evening, I feel grateful. Not only for this new opportunity, but also for the jagged, pain-to-hope story that has got me to this moment. I am grateful for my failure, for it has made me who I am today. It has brought me to a beautiful moment of deep redemption. And now, after all the struggles and doubts, I feel amazing. I feel free.

Fresh perspective

11 Aug

Today I return, with slight trepidation, to the blogosphere. My “blogoliday” has rather taken me by surprise – a result of both busyness and intentional time out. I wanted to take a bit of time to reflect on why I am here. Why I put myself out there via this blog. Why I might continue to do so, or not. And (I think) I am back. For now at least.

I’ve been reflecting, of late, on the question: “what really matters?”. The London Olympics has been a wondrous staycation – a fortnight of multiple-hours-in-front-of-TV, a collective joy and pride in our city, amazement at the human spirit, inspiration to “get off the sofa more” (once Olympics is over obviously!) and a sense that “real life” has been suspended for a while. This unexpected, joy-filled time has – I think – helped me to put life into perspective. To remember that work is not always the number one priority. To remember that community and shared experience is often much more fun than “solo viewing”. To remember that, around the world, many athletes overcome extraordinary adversity to represent their country at this global party/competition.

And, in some strange way, this new sense of (forgotten) perspective has helped me as I’ve reflected on blogging too. For a while, number of readers really mattered to me. Now it doesn’t. For a while, I worried too much about what people thought. Now I won’t. For a while, it stopped being fun – a hobby – and became a chore. A pressure.

At times during my blog-break, I have wondered why I would blog at all – after all,  I thought (in my bleaker moments),what do I have to contribute? Why would anyone want to read my words? Is it helping anyone, in any small way, at all?

For now, I sense that I will carry on – until it stops being fun, until it stops being a forum for honesty and transparency, until it becomes a noose rather than a joy.

My hope is that this blog creates a space – for myself and others – to talk openly instead of in whispers. To say the difficult things – rather than pretend they don’t exist. To challenge, provoke, question, encourage and, maybe occasionally, inspire. To come back, again and again, to the question: “what really matters?”.

Writing is, for me, a therapeutic balm. I hope that reading it will, every now and again, be that balm for your soul too.

To blog or not to blog…

30 Jun

… that is my question.

I’ve been fretting about the blog for a little while now. Last night, chatting to a friend, I spoke about how I don’t feel I give it enough time anymore. Yesterday morning, someone asked how many people read it. Last weekend, I confided in a friend that I worry people might misunderstand some of what I write about here. And over the last two weeks, several people have asked if I am “ok”. They had read recent posts and worried. Which, for me, adds to the catalogue of confusion.

You see – I have been feeling insecure about it for a few weeks. In a “hovering-in-the-background” way. In a “can’t-quite-shake-the-feeling” way.

Is it too gloomy (or as a friend commented to my husband “more gloomy than usual”!)?

Is it egotistical online therapy – or does it serve a bigger purpose?

I started the blog to open up conversation – about failure. About daily, almost-mundane failures. And bigger, catastrophic ones too. I wanted to be able to talk about things-that-remain-taboo. To break the power of shame, silence and sorrow. Of disappointment.

But I worry that the blog no longer does this.

And whilst I love writing, and find it therapeutic too, I could go back to just writing a private journal. Rather than hanging it all out to dry on the online washing line.

So – what I would love to know, particularly from any of you who read regularly, is:

Which posts have you most liked/appreciated on the blog?

Which are less appealing? (I know that preferences are very personal, but I’d love to know)

Are there any that really turn you off?

How often do you read the blog?

Do you ever comment on posts? If not – is there a reason why? Would a more interactive set-up be a good thing?

Are there any specific issues/subjects you would like to see on here? Would you be interested in doing a “guest post”?

So.

To blog or not to blog…

That is still the question.

 

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