Having had this almost week long drop into anxiety I had an interesting thought. I realized that when I am there I am living in my mind. I realized that’s what we are doing when we land in OCD, depression, anxiety or any other crisis. We are not living outside but inside. Our mind is in control. It is the thing that is in charge. It doesn’t want us to move away from the grasp it has on our thoughts. We have to wrench the power away from it and move outside and be in control.
Day to day living consists of being present in the moments of our lives. Being aware of the life around us. Being able to see the grass and the sky and the trees and truly experience them. The mind is an amazing thing. It can be with us as we see the beauty around us. It can also create an environment where we dwell in the muddled and off kilter thoughts that plague us.
There are so many tools available to us to move away from those thoughts and sometimes we have to move from one to another until we find the thing that works and manage to escape.
Don’t ever give up. As we grow we learn to avoid the triggers and keep an even keel. Yes, we can have a relapse but we usually have better control and coping skills. Life is good. Don’t let the bad rule and have you miss out on the good things. There is always a way back.
Listen or your tongue will keep you deaf. Native American Proverb
For an extrovert this is a very important statement. I am always ready to talk and I have to curb myself to really listen. Most of us instead of listening are thinking of the next thing we want to say. I still have to hold my tongue and let others share.
I once visited a convent where there was a rule about discussion. Everyone sat at a table and one person spoke at a time. After that there was silence for several minutes. Then it was someone else’s time to speak. That silence left moments for the digestion of what had been said and time to reflect on what you might say that had importance for the discussion. Many conclusions were easily reached as there was little unimportant information shared.
In social situations I can really get carried away but I am working at it. I am getting better at listening. However, I know that I am not always bad at it as people have come to me for solace or advice my whole life. I do seem to know when listening is critical.
The big difference I see at my age is that I am unafraid to speak about matters that are important and frequently avoided. I will speak out for those who are in need of a voice. There are times when this is not appreciated but I never do it in anger or an emotional state. Important things need to be spoken of calmly and rationally. Listening to others in this kind of discussion is also critical and not easy. Emotions can be triggered and I have had to learn when to just back away.
My father (who was amazing) used to say: put your brain in gear before you put your mouth in motion.
Another good proverb
I don’t think we see ourselves correctly. Most of the time we see ourselves as flawed. We are flawed…that is true but we can also be beautiful. In fact, it is the flaws that make us what we are.
Those of us who struggle with some mental health issue see ourselves as even more flawed than that average person. We have to work harder to see the beauty. It is because at some point we have been set aside by others and viewed as less than.
In my life I have noticed that people who have never had a bad thing happen to them suffer real agony when something goes wrong. They have no coping skills. A bump in the road can devastate them. They have always seen themselves as managing really well. They can’t see that it is easy to do that when nothing goes wrong. These are the people who will see anyone with some physical or mental problem and say “poor John, he has problems.” It is seen as a fault in John’s makeup. Unless something changes this perception they will continue to see things from this viewpoint.
The sad part is they have little or no empathy. Empathy comes from suffering. Empathy comes from walking a path that is similar to someone else’s. We may not want to have issues in our lives but true beauty comes from them. The beauty of brokenness.
I have a vase in my house. It is very small not very exciting. My beloved friend bought it for me when we were in college. She is now gone. I accidentally knocked the vase off and broke it and I am not a good mender. However, the vase is beautiful to me. It has some flaws but they show the years that it has been with me.
Remember our chips and cracks have formed us. They have made us what we are and left us with much empathy. Don’t forget that! We are all beautiful!
Sometimes I feel like an ostrich with my head stuck in the sand. I have written recently how it seemed that I was being of little use/help to anyone and wondered if there was something else I should be doing. That was Monday or Tuesday. On Wednesday I wrote about my day with the death of a friend and my other friend’s husband having a set back.
Yesterday I spent the day helping the first friend make plans for a funeral and after arriving home the other friend called that her husband needed a procedure done and could I come. I got home last night so tired I could hardly move. I am still tired today and am shaking my head over my stupidity. God does have a sense of humor. I complained and I got what was coming to me. Not that I wanted any of this to happen to two dear friends but God certainly showed me in no uncertain terms what I need to be doing.
It is so amazing that we can’t see clearly and know that we are where we are supposed to be. God is very good about putting us in the right place at the right time. If I had things planned that couldn’t be changed I would not have been available to help where I was needed. We all need to learn that God knows best and has it all in hand.
I am at the age where so many milestones are behind me…..the events that make up our dreams and ideas when we are young. I have been to college (two different degrees). married at a wonderful wedding, given birth to three children, have 6 grandchildren and 1 great grand child. I have worked at several jobs…some fulfilling and great and some not. So, I ask myself what is the next milestone? It could be a depressing thought if you felt that there was nothing left to aim for. We all need something for a focus.
I really hadn’t thought about it but I realize that I am not depressed by the thought. In many ways it is satisfying to see so much positive behind me. I also do not feel that I am finished. This is the time of life when I have the time and, thanks be to God, the energy to look at these years as the time to give back. Our culture spends little time thinking about the wisdom gained through experience. I have written about this before but I think it is important enough to mention again.
We are here…those of us who have lived through many battles. We have the scars to prove it and the knowledge to teach others. We can show you how to fight and make it through so many trials. Why struggle when you can tap the resources in the wisdom of your elders? Maybe technology is something that some of us are less savvy about but the ups and downs of life change very little no matter the changes in how it comes about.
Many of us continue to learn ourselves and advance our own knowledge. Not all of us sit in a recliner and watch TV. We are out in the world sharing where we can. Take advantage of the wisdom available to you. We are not dead yet!
I am here if my experiences can be helpful. Believe me I have just about heard it all. I am a nurse, patient advocate, compassionate, loving person with a heart for listening. There are others like me who will understand and listen. Use us.
Perspective is a funny thing. Each of us has our own. Ours is like ourselves. It is unique. Different from anyone else. Initially our perspective came from our family. As children we were influenced by how the people around us felt about things. Probably, at least initially, accepting their point of view. As we grew and our horizons widened we began to measure that perspective against the wider world. We were influenced by our teachers, and our peers. We began to question the ideas we learned from our family and measure them against what we were learning. We began to make our own choices or match those of the people who influenced us.
When we became adults we already had a set of values that came with us. Those ideas are the perspective that we use to weigh ideas. The viewing point from which we function. For most of us the perspective glasses that we look through will change over time but for some people it is ingrained and any suggestion of change is beyond imagining.
We can see those people in our world. They are the ones who see gays as sinful, trans people as unthinkable, people of a different color as “other,” mentally ill as those who should be locked away. Sometimes life events can work their magic and these people can alter those glasses but sometimes not.
We will encounter all sorts of people in our journey through life. We have to learn to recognize those who are unable to change and let them fade from our vision. They cannot change and their aversion and hatred will just color our own view. They were shaped the way they are and we must move on and not let their negative persona influence our lives.
There are people who are open, accepting, and who offer love and support. Let the thoughts of the others roll off you and into the void where they belong. God has created only good. That includes everyone. Even those whose glasses will never change.
I have decided that I am a somewhat unorthodox Christian. I have difficulty following the rules. I am enamored of those who stepped outside of the norm: Matthew Fox, Martin Luther, Meister Eckhart, Francis of Assisi. Hildegard of Bingen, Jesus and many others. I also love the stories/parables of Anthony DeMello and the plain speaking of Marcus Borg. I grow reading them.
I grew up in an eclectic family. My grandparents were Methodist, my parents Presbyterian and my Aunt and Uncle Lutheran. I guess I decided early on that no denomination had all the answers. I still feel that way. Jesus did not follow rules but loved people. He broke the Sabbath rules and many others.
As the “church” grew throughout history it took the message of Jesus and added rules/doctrines to try and be sure that we all follow the norm…. that we are all in sync. This is not wrong in and of itself as we do struggle with the meaning of the writings in the Bible and the words of Jesus. We must listen to the teachings of others and weigh them against our own experience. We also need the community of other Christians. We learn and are supported by the stories of others. I hope that I find a middle ground in all of this.
This doesn’t mean that we can’t find our own way. It’s freedom within form. I don’t ask others to follow my path. Each of us must find our own way and I pray that God leads me in mine. May he also be with you in yours.