Tag: gratitude

Exhausted unrest

I am very frustrated that basic activities are taking so much of my strength and taking a massive amount of planning.

Just going out is exhausting. I’m desperately needing more time to rest physically. Also, desperately wanting more time to properly order my home and take care of it. I have had a constant stream of appointments and commitments that I’m struggling through, feeling more and more frustrated by exhaustion, mobility problems, pain I can’t cope with, and anger with myself and unrest about my home being disordered and messy.

There are a couple of friends I really want to spend time with or do things for. I’m scared of taking from others and not giving back. Yet meeting someone, or going to their house, or cooking a meal for them, totally wipe me put afterwards for days after. I think that’s through a mixture of my pain and pushing myself too far physically, and my anxiety and the voices and feeling overwhelmed in a sensory way. Talking, others’ emotions, noise, new places, everything happening around me, can be just too much coming in to cope. Sometimes I think I have sensory processing disorder or at least sensory processing difficulties!

All this leads to despair, being cut off, and being unable to give thanks or try to open my heart to learn gratitude. I need to make a change. I don’t know what.

Ginny xxx

“See what a morning, gloriously bright…”

Autumn is my favourite season. We’ve had loads of blackberries this year. Here are some pictures from a little earlier when they were ripening, along with some rosehips, which are still brilliant red in the hedges:

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The trees are turning gorgeous colours and I enjoy them on cold sunny mornings. Though I may not like having to get out to early morning appointments when I’m feeling bad, the glimpses of beautiful scenery make me smile. I live near a lovely park as well and I’m fortunate to have the chance to appreciate it.

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Ginny xxx

 

Saying a last goodbye to my dear friend

Saying a last goodbye to my dear friend

The dear friend I wrote of in my last post, Father S, passed away last Saturday, a day after I had last visited him. Today was his funeral. It was a very hard but beautiful goodbye.

Father S was a Priest at my friend’s church. He was long retired however continued to serve and minister to his congregation – and to so many more, such as me. I came to know him through another good friend (the same who initially brought me to the faith); I have never lived in his Parish however he took such care of me and I know he prayed for me daily.  I can only imagine how much he is missed by those who knew him longer and more than I did.

Father S was an extremely humble, quiet and private person. He drew no importance or attention to himself. He worked, prayed, cared and gave of himself generously, not seeking recognition, never appearing discouraged, astoundingly giving continually even when there came nothing tangible in return. I think, indeed the Priest who gave the homily at the funeral said, that Father S has no doubt reached and helped far more people than we yet know or than he himself even knew.

I do not think his path was ever smooth. He moved between continents. He converted between churches and subsequently felt the call to become a Priest and dared to answer. I do not think he had many people to care for him in his early life, and he has lost and left behind many family members since. He suffered greatly, physically, mentally and emotionally, throughout I believe, the majority of his life, particularly in his later years. He faced intense physical pain and weakness, major health problems, increasing fatigue, struggles to get around. He suffered not only the mental cost and hurt of those things, but also deep distress, fear and sadness. Through all this, he continued to work and to give so much in friendship.

Only very occasionally did he brush the surface of what he went through, physically and psychologically. I knew and gathered a little from prayer, conversations and letters exchanged with him, and learned more today at the funeral. Though he did not make much of his suffering, he did not sugar coat things either. He did not pretend everything was fine, or not to care, or that he did not struggle, or that he had all the answers, or that we must be strong and healthy, or that all is happiness when we walk in the way of Our Lord. He lived and gave in every moment, acknowledging what exactly it brought, never turning his gaze away from Jesus and never fleeing. He taught me to begin to hold fast to Our Lord of love – seek Him in whatever is happening right now and hold fast (rather than running in fear from an image of a God I have created from all my fears and the torment going on in my head in my illness).

When I visited him the day before he died, all the more than ever, I sensed that he was very close to God. He had become much sicker very quickly at the end. On the way to see him that last day, primarily I was desperately hoping I would be in time. I was not afraid, but I did feel some uncertainty and anxiety as well as the sadness. How would I find him and what would be the right things to do? I have sat with the dying before, having worked in a hospice and having lost other elderly friends at a nursing home I used to volunteer at. Time somehow seems to change; it is not a bad thing, but indescribable; perhaps it is a result of so much that can pose a barrier to communicating, giving and loving, being stripped away. We are left bare and vulnerable faced with the finality of the separation of death. It need not be all sad. Somehow, in precious time like that, what we cannot express as we may wish to in words, can perhaps be communicated between our souls as we are held together by the Love that encompasses all of us. In our defencelessness, the stronger hold the love of God has.

In that visit as I talked with Father S, knelt and prayed with him, I felt I knew heaven was near and Mother Mary’s arms were around us. Kneeling beside him I told him some of the truest things I have been so afraid to admit. I thanked him as I should have thanked him much, much earlier and more often. Father S is one of the people whose encouragement, prayer and friendship has held me up when I have been at the very darkest times and he has played no small part in saving my life when I was at a point that I was going to try to end it. Kneeling beside his bed I prayed as I have not been able to pray for many long months. I felt that already, in the footsteps of Our Lord Jesus, Father S was drawing me after him, just as Jesus draws us after Him. In his prayer and his life that he had offered totally to God, he was drawing me out of fear to learn to know, perhaps for the first time, a God of love.

There was no ceremony, no astounding event in the moment when Father S passed. There were no visions, no glorious rays of light, no voice from heaven, no odour of roses. There was quiet, and love, and friendship, and hearts reaching out in prayer and thanksgiving to God alone. In the same way as he lived, he died, quietly, with those who loved Him, everything offered and united to the God of love He told us so plainly about in his words and his life. He died on the feast of St John Paul II (whom he loved), just before 3.00pm, the same hour at which Our Lord Jesus died. I feel that Our Lady and St John Paul came to carry him to Jesus.

I pray that now he knows in heaven the fullness of joy with the Lord he has reached out for, for so long; that he also now sees all the good he has done, especially that which remained hidden whilst he was on earth. I know so many hearts here below are full of thanks for him.

May the choirs of angels come to greet you,

May they speed you to paradise;

May the Lord enfold you in His mercy,

May you find eternal life.

(From Song of Farewell, by Ernest Sands)

Image thanks to pixabay.com – https://pixabay.com/en/banner-header-christmas-candles-880323/

All change…

Officially, my last day of work at the department store was yesterday, although as I am currently signed off sick, I was not actually in work. Last week I had my exit meeting with my manager (handing back my ID and keys etc) and said goodbye to my closest colleagues. I’ll be popping in again this week to say bye in person to a few people I was not able to see, and deliver some notes of thanks. They gave me a reed diffuser in a summery freesia scent, which is already providing a perfect calming aroma in my lounge, as well as a card wishing me well. I hope that I keep in touch, in particular with a few people from the department where I worked. We found a lot in common in the months I was there.

So it’s all change again now. I’m sad to leave. I’ll miss people – colleagues and some customers. I’ll miss the creativity. I’ll miss some aspects of the routine and order. I feel bad for having to go after I’d got to grips with things, received training and my colleagues and manager had put time in to show me what to do and support me into my role. They are all incredibly understanding and caring over my situation that has led me to need to leave and that helped me a lot; I still feel bad for leaving the team and leaving more work back on other people. I guess the good side of that is I must have had some confidence, in the end, that whilst I was there I did manage to do some good. Before I started this job I felt utterly useless, unable to trust that I could do any good because my previous employer seemed to find me so deficient. I see now that at the store I gained a tiny bit of confidence, as well as knowledge.

I’m amazingly anxious and I’m not quite sure why. I’m feeling it physically and feeling shaken and near crumbling and crying and really wishing someone could hold me and tell me it would be alright. I don’t know exactly what is causing this. I’m teetering on the edge of dissociating but I’m staying on this fragile edge instead of slipping over. On the edge are raw and exhausting emotions and I’m spinning and spiralling rather than falling into the safety in the hidden mist of dissociating. It’s painful. I’m trying to use my grounding techniques and self soothing and trying, if only in tiny moments, to avoid falling over that edge. Dissociating may be a relief but the pain it causes me afterwards, and others during, is even worse.

I’m trying to find the way through the next steps now that I will not be working for a while (on my GP’ s and support worker’s and others’ advice). I’m confused about all the forms I have to complete and assessments I have to go through. I’m scared of how they’ll judge me. Scared of whether I’ll manage financially. Scared of so many things that are making me feel trapped, not believed, going into the unknown…. I’m so thankful I have my support worker guiding me through, otherwise I’d implode and go back to shutting down and hurting myself out of fear and pain and flashbacks. I’m so thankful I’m not alone. I’m trying to find ways that this instance of having to leave work – because I’ve lost or head to leave more jobs than I can cope with counting, for the same reasons every time – is not yet another repeat of this cycle and is not only another failure, loss, or let down to those who have tried to help me. I’m trying to find ways I can make this different. I have therapy now. I have my doctors and support worker. I have a home. God willing I am soon going to have some more social interaction and a place to contribute something, in a mental health charity I’ve been referred to. These all count for a lot in stopping me going so deep over the edge and now I pray I can build something good from this place.

Ginny xxx

For the first time in forever

“There’ll be actual real live people, it’ll be totally strange

But, boy am I so ready for this change!”

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Yesterday was another little but notable step for me. It was my birthday recently and to celebrate, a small number of close friends came over for a bring-and-share lunch. This was the first time in a very long time I have done anything like this. The few close relationships I have are a very precious blessing to me. I never usually mark my birthday in any way and find it too embarrassing and uncomfortable. I am not used to having a home that I can invite other people to. Thankful as I am to be here, it has taken me a long time to get the courage to invite people over and this is the first time I have invited more than one person at a time. Actually, it is the first time for years I have been in a group of people in this kind of social situation, where I’m interacting with everyone for a substantial period of time. Also, it was my first attempt at a gathering where I’d be hosting and caring for everyone.

Building up to the day, I was excited and very touched that my friends cared enough to give the time to come and were spending such an effort to celebrate with me. In particular my dear friend L. was coming from over two hours away with her little girl to be here. I was also very anxious and feeling overwhelmed by worrying that I’d do everything okay, be able to make it nice for everyone, help everyone get along well (not everyone knew each other) and be able to do well enough with everything practically needed since I can’t stand or walk much right now. With everything that has happened in the last couple of weeks with work and my health, I was repeatedly tempted to cancel, but not wanting to let people down or hurt them, stopped me, and so the day came.

I was so grateful L. was there. Her presence gave me confidence and her beautiful little girl, overflowing with interest and happiness, made me feel better. L. helped me finish setting things out and without her being there I don’t think there’s any way I’d have had the confidence to go through with it.

It was a beautiful day of blessings. The food seemed to be well received and appreciated and everyone brought something to add to the meal (actually, leading to plenty more inspiration for my future Ten Dishes posts!). A lot of the simple practical things I had worried about, like whether everyone would be comfortable in my small flat where decoration and furnishing are still something of a work in progress, were actually okay. I’m very fortunate to have friends who are understanding of the time it takes to bring a home together. Everyone chatted easily together and it was possible to find common ground and interests surprisingly quickly given that not everyone had met each other before. The two beautiful children (one 9 months, the other nearly 3 years old) were adored and delighted in.

I was full to overflowing with thankfulness and the lovely illustration that people wanted to be there and cared enough to come and join in generously. The shame, worry and embarrassment I had felt beforehand was steadily taken away during the afternoon. I was struggling physically after a time and the pain was bad but I was helped and nobody was angry or expressed that they thought I should be doing more or was a bad hostess. I hope they really were happy not just saying nothing out of kindness. Mentally I felt drained and was aware that I could not concentrate as well as I wanted to, because I was “missing” things, not able to take in what people were saying or dissociating very briefly but repeatedly. However, nobody reacted as though they noticed or thought I was being weird. I wonder if they did notice or not. Were they actually being considerate and accepting of what was happening or could they not tell? I wish they could not tell but I don’t know… I’m sure they must have…perhaps I can check this with someone I trust most, like L. Nevertheless, things still seemed to be okay. I hope.

Afterwards, in the evening after everyone had gone, the pain and exhaustion were severe but I my heart was still brimming with the surprised joy of the gathering and the kindness everyone had shown. The gifts of God in friendship mean so much to me right now and help me believe things will be okay.

For now, I have several thank-you cards to write, as well as this very happy memory to think on!

“Because for the first time in forever

There’ll be music, there’ll be light…”

Frozen_Anna_Wallpaper_2

Ginny xxx

Lyrics from “For the first time in forever”  from Disney’s “Frozen” as sung by Kristen Bell. (How much my little goddaughters would approve!) Images with thanks to wikipedia.org and disney.wikia.com respectively.

 

Walking this Borderland #12: 5 4 3 2 1 steps

A family member gave a women’s wellbeing workshop recently. I wasn’t able to go but I helped her look over some of her materials. Many of the daily challenges she suggested to improve our wellbeing incorporated elements of mindfulness  (in a loose sense at least – I’m not yet very knowledgeable about mindfulness so you may correct me). For example, becoming aware of our emotions, or being curious about our environment, perhaps taking a little time to be present in each moment and noticing new things in places that are familiar to us which we might often pass on “autopilot”, such as the beauty of a tree coming into bloom on our route to work.

I came across The 5 3 1 Technique to improve your daily wellbeing, of which you can easily find various versions online, for example here *. All credit for the idea behind this post goes to that technique. I do not know who first invented it and I’ve seen a couple of different versions.

Inspired by this, I developed my own version, which I’m going to try to practice daily. I’ve called mine simply “5 4 3 2 1” (this being more memorable than 5 3 1, perhaps?!):

FIVE – the original 531 technique suggests 5 minutes of meditation at the start of each day. I think starting each day with meditation or prayer is a great idea but it can be really difficult if you have never done it before or if you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed. I find it helps to give the time more structure, for example, finding 5 things or people you are thankful for and thinking about them for a minute or so each. Or you could write a list of 5 things that happened in the previous day that you enjoyed or are thankful for. I’m Catholic and another way I sometimes do this is to pray a decade of the rosary really slowly. On each bead, I say the prayer in gratitude for a particular person or event, trying to be open to let the thankfulness fill my heart. This can be a good way to calm down when I’m feeling very anxious or a good way to pray when I’m struggling to be still.

FOUR – find 4 ways to connect to the outside world. For instance. … Go for a walk. Write a letter to someone. Pray for someone. In your work or chores, find a tiny way to do something with a little more concentration than normal, or with a little more care than normal. The simplest task done with love and attention has value and grounds you in the present moment, turning your thoughts and energy outwards rather than inwards to anxiety and fears.

THREE – notice 3 things in the world around you that are different or beautiful. It could be something new you’ve learnt, a conversation that made you think, something beautiful in nature, a sensory experience like a soothing scent or touch, and so on.

TWO – look in the mirror and tell yourself 2 good things about yourself. For example: you are beautiful; you are loved; today you are going to help people; you deserve to take care of yourself… (wow, for me at least it’s incredibly hard to come up with these things for myself 😉 !)

ONE – do one small act of kindness for another person. This need not be a big action. It could be simply smiling at them, allowing them to go before you in a queue, or asking them about their day and really listening. Just something to make them feel valued.

All these steps are intended to be small things which all work towards grounding us in the present moment and increasing our sense of wellbeing. I’m giving it a go. ..

Ginny xxx

*I have not followed up all the links on the mindfulness site myself so am not advocating their contents / saying that the techniques or information there will be useful for everyone. I just intended it as a description of the original 531 Technique.

Losing her

Warning: this post contains one very brief mention of suicidal thoughts and overdose.

(Also I’ve a feeling it’s a load of rambling junk. Sorry.)

I’ve lost my friend. It really feels like a loss and hurts like she’s gone away, disappeared, except it’s worse because it’s entirely because of me that she’s chosen to go. She doesn’t want to be close anymore, she said; not close like she says she tried to be or like she says I wanted us to be. My personality disorder, me, my thoughts and needs, have made our relationship something stressful she doesn’t want.

I really care for her, I still do. My feelings for her haven’t changed. I still love her as a friend, want to thank her for all the times she has been there, want to do something to make right the hurt I caused, want to be able to be there for her when she wants or needs me – except she didn’t and doesn’t.

I don’t know exactly how long she’d been feeling she didn’t want to be close anymore before she told me. I’d suspected it for a long time. I really hate what I’ve done to her and that I’ve stressed her and been no good to her. I hate that my illness, essentially, me (my thought, my feelings, my needs, my actions) have been too much. Another person has gone away. Another relationship has gone. I’ve hurt someone else.

You can read a bit morehere (around paragraphs 5, 6, 7) and  here and here about some of the history of what happened with N. Our contact had been strained for several months.

After another period of not hearing from her following my last letter, call and texts, last week before my operation I decided to be more open than usual. I sent N an email, thanking her for forgiving me and explaining I was still really worried about the hurt and upset if caused her, and saying that as I wasn’t hearing from her and she hadn’t said anything beyond that she forgave me,  I was not sure if she wanted to stay in touch. The way I see it, N forgiving me for the hurt I caused did not have to mean she wanted to have contact with me going forward. I directly said I wasn’t sure what she wanted, and asked her.

Also, I took quite a risk and explained to her some of the thought process I talked about in my last post on this topic. I explained how when I don’t hear back from someone I really care about, when they stop communicating, or cancel plans, or don’t show without making any contact,  my thoughts are instantly either: that this proves how they can’t possibly want me around really (who would?) and as soon as I start trusting they leave because all along they knew I’m an evil fake really;  or that they are seriously hurt, or ill,  or got in an accident, and it’s my fault. Often both one after the other. Usually I never admit to these thoughts. I know it’s crazy. I know it’s weird. I know it doesn’t make sense I have these thoughts then get angry with people. I don’t want my friends to feel obliged to take into consideration my weird ill thought processes and make allowances for them in what they do. For example, I don’t want them to feel they have to be more careful what they say to me or to keep in touch more regularly with me than they would with another friend. (Paradoxically I don’t know if, in the way I think and what I need, I do require of people an abnormal level of contact. I’m diagnosed Borderline but I think I have features of dependent personality disorder too!) However things had reached such a point with N that I felt I had to be explicit about what I was feeling and why I had found it so hard to cope when over a few months she stopped keeping in touch and seemed to be restricting contact and canceled or altered several plans to meet (this was one of the things we first fell out over a few weeks ago).

I explained all this as well, as my hesitancy to explain it because I didn’t want to pressure her. I said I know that I make it too complicated and I need too much and my illness makes it too hard to be friends. That I really wanted to be there for her but it was clear I totally failed at that and it’s my fault there’s nothing good for her in the relationship. I said I’d rather know straight if it would be better for her not to be in touch with me.

I’ve never been that open with someone about my thought processes about my relationship with them, outside of my therapy group.

N wrote back a few days later. She was empathic – she said she is sorry there is so much distress going on for me. She said she doesn’t keep in touch regularly across the board when she’s busy. She said it’s stressful for both of us to communicate, when there is so much meaning for me in each interaction. She thinks it’s too distressing for me to cope with the likelihood of her changing plans. She said she can’t be as close a friend as she tried to be or as I want her to be. She offered that we can still meet sometimes or email – which surprised me, actually.

I know it isn’t a total end of the relationship. I’m hoping we can in some way keep in touch and I can remember she doesn’t want to be as close. I hope I can do that and not need too much. But I always need too much. Maybe this whole thing wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t. Never would have happened if I didn’t.

One of the things that hurts the most is that I can never now make right the hurt I’ve caused N. I have made her and needed her to be closer than she wanted to be. I have made her stressed and upset when she’s done so much for me. It has been as I feared. I was too much, yet again;  I needed too much, asked too much, my thoughts and my behaviour made everything too much for the other person.

I told N some of that briefly too, and I thanked her for telling me honestly. I tried to tell her I’m sorry and thank you. I fear it appears it has little meaning now. I really meant it. I need to thank her for so much over the years I’ve known her. I don’t know if she knows. It seems to me all I’ve done is stress her. I don’t know exactly how long I’ve been making her be closer than she wanted. She doesn’t know it but she has possibly literally saved my life. One night I was on the brink of a massive overdose. She happened to call me at that time and as we spoke, she and her husband gave me some hope back and pulled me back from the edge. She knew I was distressed but not how close to ending it I was. I didn’t tell her explicitly at the time or afterwards, because I didn’t want to scare her or make her feel responsible for keeping me safe from that in the future if she knew how unstable I was and the potential influence ordinarily insignificant interactions and events could have on me. Now I wish I had told her.

Some while ago someone I care about told me, “look at what your friends do for you, why isn’t it enough for you? It’s nobody else’s responsibility to make you feel better,” and they told me I have to be more together so my emotions don’t dominate everything. Yet again I’ve acted on the basis of my weird thoughts, I’ve needed other people to do more than they wanted to, more than normal, and I’ve needed them to make it better.

I’m going to stop now. This post is a mess. I’m feeling so empty, hurting for losing N, hurting and angry for the harm I’ve done her, desperate because of how my PD and just …me….wrecks relationships and makes me too much.

Ginny xxx

 

This week, I will…

I’m trying to turn things around. It feels as though things have been spiralling down and down since Christmas. Since I spoke to the police, I think things are starting to shift almost imperceptibly. It is true it hasn’t been easy and I cannot change the hurt, but I think there are a few positive things I can try to keep doing, which I have given up on in the last months because it was just too dark and painful.

Inspired by one of a2eternity’s posts (you can visit her wonderfully frank and brave blog at https://a2eternity.wordpress.com/ ) I am making a list of some things that I am going to commit to trying to do this week:

  • Every day before bed, I will write down 5 things that I am thankful for in that day.
  • I will do something creative every day – a bit of my colouring books, make a card, take a photo, write a card to a friend, whatever it be.
  • I will do something positive for my body every day (like do my makeup, have a nice bath with some bath foam, put on some moisturiser) even when I am hearing voices telling me how ugly, foul and disgusting I am.
  • I will choose a passage from the Bible that encourages me with hope in God’s unconditional love for us. Whenever the voices tell me to hurt myself, whenever I hear them saying I’m evil and a fake, when the flashbacks come, I will repeat this line in place of what the voices say.
  • Something that I have meant to do for a long time: I will think about what I could put in my memory box and find a box to use (I’ll post again about what this is for, later in the week).

Here’s to thankfulness.

Ginny xxx