I have been overwhelmed by the amount of love and good wishes that have come my way over the past couple of weeks. Not only because of the work thing, but also the parent thing. Friends who I know are crazy-busy have emailed me, great long sweeping emails that I re-read. The tweets, the texts, the cards, the comments on here. All remind me that I am blessed.
Last night I had a massive ‘a-ha!’ moment. I mean HUGE. One that took my breath away, made me stare in silence at the wall and rethink my whole life. Funnily enough, it came from a book that I have read before, will read again and recommend to anyone who struggles with depression. Richard Carlson’s Stop Thinking Start Living. I found the book one day in Waterstones, I was walking around Camberley town lost, changing my address with the opticians, the bank etc. after my ex-husband had left me. I was in a right muddle, kept crying and thought ‘I need help with this’. I walked in, stood in front of the self-help section and saw this book. At £8.99, I could barely afford it, but I certainly couldn’t afford the £12, £15 or £20 books, so I brought it. Within a couple of chapters, I could feel the pain leaving me. It was the first book I turned to this time when I was signed off work, and slowly worked my way through, highlighting passages in blue biro. When I first read it, I used a pencil, little faint lines show what spoke to me then, bold blue lines show what shouted to me now.
Last night I read this: Unhappiness is your curriculum. …You can think of your central issue or issues as your ‘curriculum’, an education that you must go through to make your life feel complete. …The name of the game is learning how to deal effectively with, and eventually conquer, the central issues in your life. Sometimes conquering your curriculum means making the symptom go away. …. When you understand where your depression is coming from, and when you view it from a distance, the ‘game’ begins to change. Depression is no longer an emergency, something that is destroying your life, but rather a part of your ‘course work’, a necessary part of your education in life, something that you must learn to conquer. You can conquer it. … While every curriculum is unique, every solution is identical. … I must acknowledge my struggle yet choose my healthy functioning instead of my destructive urge. I must remind myself I have a choice. I must have faith that my inner strength is more powerful than my helpless feeling of struggle. Each time I choose peace instead of fear, love instead of hate, happiness instead of struggle, I solidify my faith in my healthy functioning and it gets easier.
I realised that all my life I have been searching for approval. Searching for validation from my actions. I have to be told, I am good enough, I have to be told that I am ok. Because inside me, there is a voice telling me that no matter I do, it isn’t good enough. How long has this been going on for? I came home from a junior school fete, with a butterfly face painted on me, I showed it to my Mum, then washed it off before Dad came home, in case he didn’t like it. I would have been 7 or 8 – I am now 35 years old.
It is a long time to search for approval, it is a long time to wait for praise, it is a long time to have that spectre hang over you. I am good enough, and I am going to show up in my life as myself, not as an imitation of myself or what you think I should be.
This constant need for approval leapt from my father to the man who has been bullying me, because no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough. If it was close, he’d change his mind. Constantly making me work harder, try harder to anticipate and achieve what he wanted me to do, then constantly setting me up to fail. And like an idiot, for months I kept trying to work it out, kept thinking it was a communication problem. It wasn’t a communication problem, he is insecure so uses his position to enhance his power. I am insecure, so let him. Then came the line in the sand. Where my body and my mind said ‘Enough’.
It is just a shame I had to fall apart to be rebuilt for me to learn this. People out there, learn from me, learn that what you are struggling with needs to be addressed and tackled, not thought over and over until you collapse. Learn that when you stop, be still and quiet your mind, answers will come. Learn to listen to your gut and your body, they will guide you where you need to go. If something doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right. Don’t put up with it. Be strong and stand up for yourself. No-one else will. If people get hurt along the way, remember, you teach people how to treat you. If you make yourself a door-mat, people will wipe their feet on you.