Also in this series
I began this series by saying I didn’t know where to start – there didn’t seem to be a beginning or an end; just a place of messy in-between. Brene Brown suggests that the messy middle is where the magic happens. While I know in my head this holds a great deal of perspective and potential healing weight my heart argues it’s the most un-magical and unpleasant place to be lost in… but yes, it’s the only place you can work from because you can’t jump ahead to where you want to be and how you want to feel. You can only start from where you are at.
Having the courage to reckon with our emotions and to rumble with our stories is the path to writing our brave new ending.
What if you don’t feel courageous?
I had to re-define my definition of courage when I read this quote. For some it’s not about facing each day with a smile and steely determination. For me it’s about living each day to the best of my ability and really that should be more than enough to ask of myself and give to myself. It looks different each day… and it also plays out differently for everyone.
If I’m not happy with my attempts on any given day I make peace with the hostile thoughts the best I can, acknowledge and accept that effort was all I could manage and when tomorrow ticks over I leave yesterday’s perceived shortfalls in yesterday.
In the early days of my breakdown if all I could manage was to make it to the shower I considered that an accomplishment for the day. Then, in time, I moved on to being able to pull a meal together. Having the confidence after a few more months to drive the car again was a huge step in a healing direction for me.
Gawd your confidence ends up in a million shattered bizarre pieces.
It is such an uphill battle.
The path to the new normal (whatever that may be) is fraught with obstacle demons and physical, mental and emotional challenges. At times these challenges lap at my feet like quiet waves on a calm still day – I know they are there – I can feel them and slightly hear them but I can wade on through. Other times those demons and challenges are in a stormed frenzy knocking me over and sending me tumbling and thrashing fighting to find the surface.
All I can do when this happens is let the tears flow, cough the salt water out of my lungs, crawl up the beach a way, maybe even collapse for a little while – then, when I’ve finished picking myself up from that dumping, I brush off the sand and put one weary foot in front of the other and continue on.
Courage is very rarely pretty – it’s just courage – in whatever shape it takes for you.
Thankfully, the big waves don’t come as often now. You know, because tides change, the moon does its’ thing of influence and nothing ever really stays the same for long. Just like the weather can give you four seasons in one day so can life. Learning how to dress appropriately for the weather of life is an art – some days you get the emotional attire choice wrong – and that’s okay.
Is there ever really brave new endings?
As much as I’d love to offer you a whole heap of meaningful profound words that describe my written brave new ending to the last few years I’m sorry, I have none.
May be one day I’ll write an end chapter to this part of my life with the words THE END significantly staring back at me… but you know what? Right now I really doubt it.
Sometime ago I wrote about some experiences concerning disturbing memories of my husband’s chronic illness being like chapters we wish could be ripped out and discarded from existence. I went on to say that for me that will never be… each volume is permanently scribed and held securely by the bindings of my memory; the lessons serving my stride and the tears aiding clarity of perception amidst deep despair.
I still feel that way about life up to this point. May be it’s not about writing brave new endings? May be it’s about the chapters of our lives developing and morphing into free flowing on-going volumes that you should never want to write an ending to? If you write the ending may be that’s when you stop living life? Maybe there is no brave new endings we should be striving towards writing? Maybe it should only ever be a wobbly courageous lead in to the next chapter?
Wonder if I’ll ever change my mind? Wonder if I’ll ever know the answer?
So where am I at now?
As the quotes in this series have suggested…
I’m working on not letting my story define me.
I’m acknowledging that having depression and anxiety is like hell.
I’m working on walking into my story and owning my truth every day without engaging in the need to hustle for my worthiness.
I’m giving myself permission to rest and not feel so responsible for fixing everything I believe to be broken and trying to make everyone happy in the process.
I’m embracing the gift of angels willing to sit in the dark with me.
I’m reckoning with my emotions and rumbling with my stories endeavouring to write new chapters.
What does that look like in my every day?
I struggle with routine, commitment and consistency.
Exercise is spasmodic. I struggle with completing tasks and being organised. I either have a semi handle on the house and garden or it’s a disaster area… and there is only the two of us at home most of the time (three if you include granny up the other end of the veranda).
My relationship with food is still a tumultuous one to say the least. At times I can’t get my head around a shopping list let alone being in a supermarket so nourishment suffers. This is a continual work in progress.
I’ll be energetic and motivated for a week concerning all aspects of life and then for no rhyme or reason the wheels fall off and I’m fatigued and ‘just totally out of whack’.
My demons and fears lurk in the shadows and that negative committee we all have in our heads screams at me to pay attention some days.
Every now and again I feel like there is no stable ground to stand on. Every thing and every circumstance feels so fragile it could all shatter again before my eyes in an instant.
Sometimes I’m just sad. Sometimes I just cry. Some days I’m just quiet. Some days I just breathe.
Every day I am grateful to be alive.
I have to live with the fact that I had cancer.
I have to live with the fear of my breast cancer coming back. I have to live with the fact that I have lived through that fear once already, thankfully with a favourable outcome, and possibly will have to live through that fearful ride again someday.
I have to live with the evilness of two emotional breakdowns in three years. I have to live with the fact that some choices I have made over the years have influenced our present in a way that I can’t change. I have to live with the challenges that all these experiences have had on me physically, mentally and emotionally. I also have to live with the knowledge that these experiences have brought about uninvited change for other people in my life.
But the common word here is LIVE. I’m alive. I am living. How I live my life from here on in is purely individual.
Just like courage looks and feels different for everybody so does survival and meaningful living. I try to do that each day with a smile but you know what? It’s a struggle. As grateful as I am it’s just a struggle. So I choose to thoughtfully and purposefully do this each day.
Live each day with meaning and a splash of joy.
Because unless you are Ken and fecking Barbie I don’t believe you can live each moment of each day with exuberant happiness. If you can I tip my hat to you and back away gracefully in complete admiration and awe.
This doesn’t mean I am not grateful every minute for my privileged life. I am. I am so, so grateful that I can’t find the words kind of grateful. I just can’t and don’t feel happy every single second of the day. But what I am happy with is choosing to live each day with as much meaning as I can muster while adoring and truly feeling every precious splash of joy that comes my way with an enormous grateful heart.
It’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to say I’m not okay. It’s okay to be JUST okay.
And I’m more than okay at the moment with all of that.
Thank you for reading my series. Hopefully you may feel a little easier when needing to fall into your own soft places. I appreciate your support and your time.
If you would like to receive all the quotes in this series (designed by the lovely Robyna) in printable form please send me a message via my contact page and I’ll send you an email with the details. This will be a limited time offer.
Thanks to Jo, Majella, Emily and Sonia for your individual influence and inspiration during the writing of this series and for being part of the woven fabric of strength that is my soft place to fall.