Return of the Prodigal Daughter

In exactly 8 weeks tomorrow my eldest daughter will be setting off back to Blighty for the first of two visits.  I can hardly contain my excitement at the prospect.  Where has that time gone?  She left here last May and I can remember the trepidation at the thought of her leaving and yes it was a very painful experience and I had to control my emotions immensely at the airport.  Once she had gone the floodgates opened.  The pain was awful but I had to let go and move on.  Now less than a year later I have survived that ordeal and realised that it doesn’t matter where they are you can still be close thanks to technology. Even then not being in touch is not a problem but just knowing and trusting that she has done the right thing for herself.  I’d far rather see her realise her aspirations than stay in a place which made her so obviously unhappy.  It’s true your troubles follow you everywhere but unless you challenge yourself, how are you ever going to find out your strengths and weaknesses?

I have the utmost respect for her and wish that I had had half the courage to have done the same.  Instead of which I was always afraid of living my life mainly because the people surrounding me weren’t adventurous and usually played safe.  My brother did go to Spain for a few months until he ran out of money but sadly I never got to travel for any length of time which is what I wished I had done.  Instead decided to get married and have children. You might say: ‘what a harsh thing to say and that sounds like sour grapes’ but looking back I should have done much more before I settled down.  However having said that I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever because I met a wonderful man to whom I have been married almost 35 years and love dearly.  What a great partner he has been.  Also my three beautiful daughters – what absolute treasures.  So if I had followed my original plans I wouldn’t be sitting here now writing about my daughter returning from New Zealand.

So the next few weeks are going to be pretty awesome with the countdown to ‘Liz Day’.  As usual she has picked the perfect time of day to land and an early start for me and my husband to pick her up.  Typical! But that is what is so special about her she doesn’t do things by halves.  ‘Life is a circus!’ I’ve always said when she is around and to be honest it always has been.  She is one hell of a character too.  Funny, life and soul of the party, well-liked, clever and I am very proud of her achievements.  Yet despite all this she has suffered badly from lack of self-worth and self-confidence.  Why does it happen?  I know only too well how that feels and how it holds you back and that is what held me back many times and in many situations and it still does.  I have watched her fight tooth and nail to help herself feel better, struggle with work and most of all relationships.  She has taken herself of to Australia for best part of a year, returned to the UK and lived with us a few months before leaving for New Zealand as well as completing her accountancy qualification.  She found herself a job and also surprise… surprise a new partner.

After despairing for years following the break up with her former boyfriend she has managed to land herself a really nice guy from Ireland who will be accompanying her on her second visit.  I can’t wait.  I’m pleased because I love the Irish.  I went to a school that had mostly Irish pupils and so I kind of grew up with that culture and understood their way of thinking .  I also found out that I am part Irish which was a real surprise and I was really thrilled about it.  There is something about the Irish that makes me feel welcome and very at home.  They just seem to accept you and life as it comes.  Such a great philosophy and great nation of people.  We could learn a lot from them.

So today the sun is shining after Storm Doris came and went, Brexit means Brexit apparently so I wash my hands of it now.  The world has turned crazy with politics and whatever but when I see the sun shine and go down the Buddhist monastery  to meditate I realise that my world is okay after all.  We are not at war and we have a roof over our head and food in the cupboard and most of all I have a wonderful family and friends and my Prodigal Daughter returning on 26th April.  What more could I want?

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When you feel like running away……

So Christmas has been and gone, not that I remember much about it as I spent a lot of my time either sleeping or doing something else.  It’s not a good time of year for me at the best of times and the only highlight for me is just before the holiday sets in and we reach Winter Solstice.  Then I know it can’t get any darker and so I hang on to that knowledge to give me a boost. It was good having my two daughters at home here with my husband of course but we were all out of energy or enthusiasm.  If I hadn’t made the effort I could have quite easily not bothered to cook dinner or open presents.  Not that we had many as we do Secret Santa and keep our spending to an absolute minimum.  The absence of our eldest was pretty obvious and so it did shed a bit of a shadow on the day.  I tried hard not to notice but I couldn’t settle until I had that phone call.  We didn’t Skype this time as they are 12 hours ahead of us in New Zealand.

This has been my first proper winter not working and now it is actually a year since I quit my job.  I still don’t regret it and judging by the improvement in my general disposition it was the right thing to do.  I guess I have just reached the age where I don’t want people telling me what to do or how to do it.  Well depends how they do it and what it is.  With years of experience under my belt I got tired of being treated like a Girl Friday with no common sense or initiative.  Looking back I am pretty sure they just wanted to get rid of me and so they succeeded in the end.

So now here we are and it’s already nearly halfway through January. Where did that go?  I went on a retreat just after Christmas which finished New Year’s Day and I am glad I did it.  I came home a bit more positive and refreshed despite the early mornings and gruelling meditation sessions.  It’s a great discipline and I know it helps me to concentrate and get things in proportion.  It’s the routine that I have lacked and so getting up every day is a bit of an ordeal.  I have to persuade myself to get up and shower and then find something useful to do for the rest of the day.  In these winter months it has been really difficult to get some motivation but I guess I do have plenty of things to turn to.  I live quite an isolated life during the day which doesn’t bother me that much but of course I get a bit set in my ways and it isn’t so easy to fit in with other people.

I am  usually quite a sociable person but during the winter months I am definitely less outgoing and tend to retreat into myself a bit.  It’s hard to describe really but all I want to do is stay at home in the warm and enjoy the peace and quiet.  In summer it’s a totally different setup and I tend to go out more.  I guess I’m not the only one.  One thing that does affect me though is sensitivity to what others say, especially when I am not feeling so great.  Last week I went to my German class and as usual greeted the teacher in German.  Then she told me I had said it wrong.  I hadn’t even sat down and somehow it got to me.  I felt quite put out in fact.  ‘So what?’  I thought ‘is it so important?’  Then I realised I was feeling out of sorts.  I knew it had been an effort to go out anyway as I had felt tired all day but I had at least gone to the class.  It was the first time in ages that I felt this way and when the teacher had gone out of the room I asked someone what it was I had got wrong.  It seemed so trivial and despite three explanations I still didn’t get the point.In the end I just gave up and said… ‘does it really matter anyway? I’m not feeling that well’.  I realised it and the person said… ‘Good for you for making the effort to get here!’  I appreciated that and sat down to the rest of the class realising how touchy I had been feeling.  Once I recognised it I was able to get on with the rest of the lesson and in fact did quite well with the grammar exercise.

At the moment I am teaching or rather training myself to be an Insight Dialogue facilitator.  There are no official training schedules available but I have been in touch with the powers that be and have been encouraged to do whatever I can to learn about the practice.  I have a set of audio recordings from the first retreat I ever went to and I decided to transcribe them and print out the copies for my own use and for the use of the people who run Insight Dialogue.  It has been a very beneficial lesson in self awareness and recognising when things aren’t quite right.  Half the problem is knowing when you are feeling bad for some reason and then being able to find a way of doing something about it.

I still suffer from low self esteem and am constantly battling to feel really comfortable in my own skin.  I dislike the way I look and sound.  In fact I have never really completely liked myself as a person and again it has helped me by meditating and studying the Buddhist teachings as a way of learning how to cope with depression, stress and generally feeling at peace with myself.  It has taken me five years to get where I am and I have moved on to make quite a bit of progress.  I find these days that I am far less anxious, have less temper tantrums and generally try to take everything in my stride by just accepting what is.  Of course I still have my moments of feeling bad and upset and affected by things that people say or do etc. but I try to let it go instead of hanging on to it like I once did.  I realise how it just gains nothing but pain and suffering.

It has been quite a transition too not working any more and the longer I am unemployed the less I can be bothered to even try applying for jobs.  Age is against me anyway and the most difficult thing would be getting a reference now after more than a year out of work.  So I can at least dedicate more time to the things I love doing for Amaravati Buddhist Monastery and Insight Dialogue as well as giving myself more TLC.  I have felt that at times I have run away from things I don’t like doing.  Last year I cancelled two meditation retreats because I couldn’t face sharing a room with someone else.  Agreed at the time it was just before my daughter left for New Zealand and it didn’t give me much time to see her before she went, but I couldn’t help punishing myself by thinking I had been a coward and backed out because it didn’t suit me.

I genuinely had a fear of sharing with a group of people because the previous year when I had ,they had kept me awake by snoring.  I didn’t get much sleep and that made me very miserable.  Somehow though I finished this retreat and felt really good at the end of it.  It’s not just that though.  Sometimes I feel I’m running away from responsibility, commitment and doing things that make me feel uncomfortable.  My mind is constantly tormenting me by telling me I’m a coward.  It leads me to believe that other people are actually telling me this and I mis-read what is being said to me when in fact it is my own mind that is putting ideas of negativity in my own head.

Just last night I missed my German class because it was too cold and I couldn’t be bothered to go out and scrape the ice off of my car.  This morning I decided to go to my art class because I felt guilty about not going to my class last night.  I opened the door of my car only to find the floor covered with icy water and the seat soaking wet.  It had let in rain somehow and frozen overnight.  In a way I was disappointed and then relieved because I hadn’t felt like going in the first place.  Then the guilt set in.  I had found a good reason not to go because it was quite frankly a mess.  I had to dry it out somehow and remove the ice from the floor.  By the time I had done all this it was literally too late to get to my class on time and get a decent parking space.  I had found a good excuse not to go.  ‘How cowardly’ I thought to myself.  But what was the point of beating myself up?

Sometimes it is good though to avoid doing certain things especially if you aren’t in the right frame of mind because sooner or later you will be.  It’s a case of getting to know and trust yourself and realise that your intuitions were right all along.  If you aren’t in the mood or you’re tired there’s a very good reason.  Your body is telling you.  It’s so important to listen to the body and feel what is going on otherwise we push ourselves far too hard and eventually we stress ourselves out and suffer.  It really is far better I have discovered to just listen or notice what is going on physically before decided to take action on anything when I am not sure.  I know when I really want to do something and if I am more honest with myself and admit I don’t want to do it then I feel more at peace with myself.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or says.  At the end of the day it rests with you yourself.  So if you feel you are running away from something, you aren’t.  You are just doing what is right for you at the time and that is all that matters.

Can I do it or not?

It’s been an interesting year and it’s almost over.  One way and another a lot has happened personally and worldwide.  I thought maybe I was going to retire but after almost a year of trying to adapt I have come the conclusion that maybe I’m not quite ready;  in other words there is still life in the old dog yet.  I am finished with what I used to do that is for sure but I wouldn’t mind trying something different.  I applied for a job last week in a charity shop in the hope I might get a few hours paid work a week but if that doesn’t happen I will start looking around in the New Year.  I have felt quite lost at times despite finding some things to keep me occupied, but routine and purpose are so important to keep me motivated.  It’s not like years ago when I had young children and my routine worked around them as I took them to school each day.  Once they grew up and became independent my job was pretty much over and empty nest syndrome set in.  So I went back to work for at least 10 years before realising that I had had enough of what I was doing or at least I didn’t feel appreciated any more by a system that is governed by too much red tape.

It doesn’t bother me much if I don’t earn a lot if anything but just to find something I can turn my hand to and keep me occupied on a regular basis would I think be of great benefit. I’ve taken up an art class and a German language class and enjoying the social side immensely as well as the progress I have made.  I’m not sure what will happen with my other plans.  I was due to do some voluntary for MIND but it hasn’t quite worked out somehow.  I’ve had my own issues to address I suppose and taking on other people’s problems is not really what I want right now.  It may sound a bit selfish but I realised recently that I wasn’t in the best place to offer to support other people whilst I was ignoring my own needs.  I still have some work to do.  It probably was a good thing that the counselling course fell through.  If I had really wanted to continue I might have put up more of a fight and been a bit more determined rather than lick my wounds.

I still have my voluntary work at the monastery and that as far as I am concerned will continue for as long as I am needed.  Another thing I want to try is Insight Dialogue.  When I returned from the retreat it occurred to me that maybe I could train as a facilitator and run my own group somewhere between Chesham and Berkhamsted, within the catchment of the monastery itself.  I made enquiries and found some support online from the people who run the organisation and found that I could start to train in the near future.  With the practice I am doing regularly on a Monday with an online group I feel that maybe this is an area I could perhaps flourish.  It’s a big ask of myself but I guess if I have the drive and desire to do it I will.  I have been told I can have the support of a mentor from the facilitators in the London group.  I have also spoken to one of the Sangha at the monastery so things are on course.  The only thing left is belief in myself and my ability to carry this project forward.  This is where I have to overcome the the inner critic which constantly tells me I am incapable and that it won’t last.  That will be the hardest obstacle of all to overcome.

Insight DialogueInsight Dialogue

Winter Blues or SAD

It’s that time of year again.  The clocks went back a few weeks ago, the nights have drawn in, Christmas is approaching and I am in the doldrums as usual although I have to say because of the reasonable summer we had and the lateness of the warmth, I am not as bad as I have been in the past.  It is such an effort to get up in the morning particularly now I have retired.  It’s been almost a year and the transition hasn’t been as easy as I expected.  I have no regrets though. This time last year I remember how miserable I was at work and how bad I was feeling just going in for two days a week.  That in itself was purgatory.  In January of this year I decided enough was enough and handed in my notice.  Within a few days I was gone thanks to some annual leave owing to me.

The summer has been okay and the year has flown by especially with my eldest settling in New Zealand.  In just six months she will be returning to the UK and potentially I could have two of my daughters living here with us old fogeys again.  From the point of view of having them here this year it’s been a real bonus and absolute pleasure.  The youngest daughter visits from time to time as well.  As we entered the Autumn I was aware of the impending darker evenings, in fact as soon as summer solstice arrived and passed  I was aware.  Now we are approaching winter solstice I can feel cheerful that the shortest day will arrive and it won’t get any darker; it can get colder but not darker.  I jokingly say to my daughter in New Zealand it’s your turn soon to tilt back the other way and our turn to get lighter evenings.

In the meantime Christmas approaches.  As far as I’m concerned it’s a non-event and apart from our dinner and Secret Santa we don’t bother to do a lot else.  For us it’s a time of reflection and rest from everybody and everything especially the hype.  A family time and that is all.  It’s simple and comfortable.  I can’t be doing with parties and tons of food and noise just for one day of the year which is insignificant to me.  Spoilt by commercialism and all the other trimmings that go with it.  My idea of Christmas is to take a nice walk outside and look at what is going on with the natural world around me and not the awful racket of the usual songs on TV and in the shops.  This year I will be going on a meditation retreat straight after Christmas and the thought of escape and refuge is very encouraging for the spirit.

I suppose winter blues can be defined as having little or no energy and just about coping with everyday life.  The cold is enough to drain the energy of a gnat and it seems hard to comprehend that just a few months ago it was summer and I was outside in the garden every day soaking up the sun and here I was this morning scraping ice off the windows of my car.  It’s not nice though having winter blues and it creates a very negative perspective of life if I’m not mindful of it.  I misjudge situations and over-react at times.  I feel quite frustrated too and get very irritable with myself and others.  The only thing I can do is ride the storm as nothing is permanent.  I know that once the winter solstice arrives, then Christmas will soon be over and I can then look forward to the evenings getting lighter in the New Year.  I suppose if I think about it from the time that the clocks go back until 21st December, it’s not really a long time and that lifts my spirits and helps me get through the dark and bleak evenings.

Having interests is a great help though and I have always found something to keep me and my mind occupied.  German has been a real passion over the last two years and now art has become my other passion.  I always enjoy art and crafts and being creative and it has been a real life saver at times getting me through periods of uncertainty and depression.  I can only say that it does help to do something you really enjoy and see the fruits of your labour.  Music is another passion and my taste is very unusual – I like heavy metal.  I call it my angry music and it just keeps my moods in check.  I avoid emotional music like the plague and lively, heavy bands keep things in perspective.  Bands like Rammstein, Korn and Marilyn Manson are always a favourite in winter months – especially at Christmas when everyone else is listening to Slade and Bing Crosby!  Whatever works use it to the full and keep those winter blues away.

Obsession

“The more we’re obsessed with someone else, the more of ourselves we lose”.

A quote I read on the web and how true this really is.  I should know as I’ve spent a large proportion of my life obsessing about various different people and things since I was a child.  What causes a person to become obsessed with another human being or object?  From my personal experience it is lack of self esteem, self worth and self confidence.  When we feel lost and don’t have faith in ourselves or our decisions, we latch on to somebody who appears to be very confident and in control or perhaps gives us the attention we long for.  As for an object it is a means to take away the pain that is being caused by reality by focusing on that object.  It is what I perceive as co-dependency.  It’s very sad in a way because it makes us feel inferior and inadequate.  It also leads us into misjudging ourselves and others.  Everything becomes unbalanced and the truth is lost. Probably the worst thing of all is that the person you obsess about has feet of clay and if you are in touch with them they enjoy feeding off your vulnerability because you are as transparent as glass.  The object well depends what it is really.   If it’s something wholesome that you can benefit from then it’s not so bad but if it is unwholesome then not so good.

I remember being at school and admiring a girl who seemed to be a gifted actress.  She was a lot older than me but I became obsessed with her to the extent that I wanted to be her. I could never bring myself to speak to her because I felt unworthy of her attention.  I lived in a fantasy world to be honest.  I was a lonely child and not really given to joining in with others.  I can’t go into it now because it would take ages but I guess it was part of the problem.  I spent a lot of my time at home alone in the garden or in my room amusing myself with things that interested me rather than mixing with other children.  My Mum was house-bound and her view of other children wasn’t particularly flattering.  It seemed that whoever I fetched home always seemed to meet with her disapproval and in the end I gave up trying.  Once I got to a more independent age I made friends with a girl nearby and the relationship became obsessive of course.  I was so pleased to have found someone who wanted to be my friend that I went overboard and we were round each others houses every day and on the phone every evening for best part of two years.

When this friendship suddenly ended I was mortified.  In fact I was beside myself and it was as if my world had come to an abrupt end. It was I guess a form of bereavement.  I can remember how terrible I felt and the rejection and my reaction.  I ended up self-harming because I hated myself so much.  Everything seemed so bleak and hopeless and I realise now that I was subject to depression at a young age.  In those days it wasn’t even considered but I know now that I definitely suffered from it and quite badly.  I felt very isolated and nobody really understood why I was the way I was until now.  It was quite frightening and how I coped I just don’t know but somehow I did just by isolating myself and throwing myself into activities that kept me occupied.  I was creative and I had an active mind ;probably had it been now I would have been diagnosed with ADHD.  For sure I couldn’t sit still in a classroom and I was quite disruptive mostly because I was so bored most of the time.

Unfortunately in those days, which were in the 60’s, teachers were quite cruel and spiteful and enjoyed showing pupils up in class.  On many occasions I was sent out of the classroom, sometimes had blackboard rubbers thrown at me, rulers across my knuckles and worst of all a teacher who pulled my hair so hard that she made my head bleed.  Yes that was what it could be like.  I hated school and probably a couple of teachers were okay and it showed in my exam results.  I wasn’t particularly popular either so you could say I was a bit of a ‘sad sack’.  Once I left school it got easier but of course I was still not particularly confident.  I went to college and made a few friends and became obsessed with a football team this time.  It virtually took over my studies and I should have done a course in a completely different subject but I was stuck with something very boring.  I enjoyed drama and performing arts and so most of my time was either spent going to football matches or performing in the latest play or musical at the college.

Obsession what is it?  Going overboard with something until it excludes all else including yourself.  That’s my view of obsession.  It ruins things, people and most of all yourself. Completely gets things out of perspective.  But what do you do to combat this issue?  I thought I had knocked it on the head but it seems I still have the same problem.  It’s not just embarrassing listening to yourself banging on about the subject of your obsession but the fact you become an absolute bore to those around you.  On numerous occasions I have all but ruined things for myself.  What started out to be a really great relationship ended up turning very sour and meaningless.  It’s like I pressed the self-destruct button.  It’s quite sad really because now when I look back all can see is what a fool I have made of myself and the people I have obsessed about are now nothing more than a figment of my imagination as regards importance.

I think obsession for me has been the result of a failure to succeed or  perhaps a need to feel fulfilled.  I have spent most of my working life trying to find something I enjoy but that in itself is an obsession because let’s face it how many people really love the jobs they do?  It’s unrealistic for a start.  It’s a means to an end.  I’ve retired now because I realised I couldn’t stand working in an office any more or with people who didn’t seem to tolerate my moods and depression.  I’m not sure what’s worse to be honest; being at home alone again and obsessing or working to earn a living rather than rely on my partner to support me.  Whatever it is I have to find a way of not obsessing about obsession and try to forgive myself for my weaknesses.  It’s very hard to take the self out of things especially when you suffer from anxiety and depression but recognising it is at least part of the solution.  I guess it will grow less but at least I am seeing that I do have this problem and can address it for future reference.

It has been so easy to lose sight of myself though this year I thought I had it all sewn up but when I look back over the past three years it became apparent to me just how obsessed I had become again about a particular person I know.  I can’t really say how it started except that I got very emotional about the way I was behaving.  The obsession turned into an obstacle towards me being able to communicate.  I had feelings of guilt because I had to speak to this person and it made things quite awkward that I had been obsessing over them.  No matter how hard I tried to be realistic and not put them on a pedestal it just didn’t seem to go away.  Avoiding them made it worse too.  In fact nothing I tried to do could compensate.  I was my own worst enemy in the end and that was when I realised how foolish I had been.  It came as a shock this self realisation when I came up against this person on a retreat.  I had expectations and those expectations fell down into a big hole.  It wasn’t this person’s problem but mine.

I tried to speak to them but I just couldn’t communicate properly and the whole session went pear-shaped for me.  I just sat there unable to say anything and anything I seemed to say was utter rubbish in my own eyes.  I felt a total failure.  Of course I wasn’t because all this was going on in my own head and not anyone else’s.  It was the self-destruct button being pressed again.  Once I realised what I was doing I got up and left and took myself off for a good cry.  I felt terrible.  All this had been created in my own mind.  What was worse was that this person who I had obsessed about and put on a pedestal I had created in my own mind as well.  It wasn’t realistic; not a true picture of who they really were and that was disrespectful and unkind.  It had put up such a barrier between us as friends that I had blocked my own permission to get along with them let alone communicate all because my own mind had said what a bad person I was.

I left that retreat a much wiser person and although the truth hurt me I had to accept my problem with obsession once more and try to learn to deal with it.  I still feel very foolish but how else can we learn but from our mistakes time and time again.  The relationship with this person hasn’t changed and they are none the wiser but from my point of view it has changed as my perspective now is one of reality and groundedness.  The only way is to find out the hard way is through self realisation and pain otherwise it’s like returning to a fire where you learn not to keep putting your fingers back in for fear of being burned.

How I Find Solace in Art

I’ve always enjoyed art since I was at school and regretfully never passed GCE.  However, who needs an exam and over the years I have dabbled occasionally in various fields of artwork.  These go back as far as I can remember 30 years or more perhaps.  Who’s counting.  Here are a few in acrylics, watercolour, graphite and chalk pastels.  It was all good fun and the more I lose inhibition the better it gets.  I no longer worry about how good they look.  All I care is that I enjoy producing something.

 

My Art Gallery

Grounding and self realisation

I recently returned from a week-long meditation retreat in Devon. It wasn’t your usual retreat but one where you engage in dialogue and meditation.  It is a very fulfilling practice and teaches you how to look inside yourself and speak your truth. You spend 30 mins in meditation then walk around until you stop and find a partner. Then you are encouraged to sit down and close your eyes until you are told to open them.  Here comes the challenge .. you then have to sit and look into your partners eyes for several minutes to make connection by exploring any reactions or signs of mutual empathy.  This is the hardest part but as you gain more confidence it becomes less intimidating as you find most people are sharing the same experience of discomfort.

I only really started to do this practice properly two years ago after having been introduced to it by a monastic I had met at a local monastery.  I was going through some heavy stuff at the time and after having experienced it at a retreat of his I decided to give it a try. With some trepidation I embarked on my second week-long retreat after a period of what I would call a transition.  I retired or at least withdrew from employment earlier this year because I had tired of the bullying nature of the employers where I worked. At 61 I decided enough was enough. My self-esteem had plummeted and I felt that I was no longer a really useful engine any more.  Sadly this is the depths to which employers have declined in its treatment of its employees regardless of whether you suffer mental health problems. Some managers talk a good word but quite frankly don’t have a clue how to deal with depression. They aren’t trained that way and so my only course was to get out and quickly.

I spent several months adjusting to the fact that no longer would I be getting my own income but that I would be isolated from society in general. This was the hardest part. We are social animals and I am no exception in that I enjoy engaging with like-minded human beings.  I love my cat but after a while his company is rather limited in discourse.  With the support and re-assurance of my husband I began to move on.  What I learned on this retreat was how I have a habit of looking up to people and creating them in my own mind.  What I mean is that I probably give them more creedence than  what they are worth and I suffer as a result.  I had expectations on this retreat of someone I knew and had hoped that I would have them as a meditation partner but it didn’t happen until the very last session of the retreat.  When it did finally come about it was in a quad and I just froze.  I did the eye contact which I found very uncomfortable and then I felt isolated, embarrassed and excluded.  I couldn’t speak.  It was an awful feeling and it was my own fault really for having expectations.

I sat there not saying very much and I was aware of the emotions welling up inside.  I felt a total idiot.  My self esteem plummeted and I just wanted to leave.  I realised just how stupid I had been.  It hurt so much and I was so disappointed in myself that I couldn’t wait to get out and let these emotions flow.  Once I escaped at the end the floodgates burst and I felt liberated.  It was a very hard lesson to learn and one I keep having to learn over and over again.  I think this was the turning point for me and I came back from the retreat a bit wiser.

When you feel the world is against you

Right now I feel like shit – not that I know what shit would actually feel like but I can imagine it would feel like excess material; waste that is not needed. That sounds rather strong if you look at it in those terms but it is just a saying that aptly describes a poor state of mind. I can honestly say that I’ve felt like shit many times. When you feel like that there is nothing you can do to make it feel better and you just have to ride the storm and tell yourself it’s just a state of mind and not a fact. Easier said than done.

What causes it?  A series of what you perceive to be negative events.  Things not turning out how you had hoped.  Well that happens to everyone, so what is so different about me?  Nothing except I’ve lost the plot a bit and I’m hanging on to past events. In other words my brain has been wired since childhood to think this way so I automatically blame myself when things go wrong. 

Interesting Times

Tomorrow will be a significant day for me. After months of disappointment  and low self esteem I am finally going on a training day with Bucks Mind to become a volunteer.  Hopefully it will lead me on a path to other things.  I have applied to go back to college to resume the Level 4 Diploma in Counselling.  If I am accepted I will start in September.

This is an update a few months later.  Sadly I wasn’t accepted on the Counselling course and it was the pits.  I felt so angry and humiliated and rejected but then I thought what can I learn from this?  The tutor wasn’t right, she made a mistake and as a result I wouldn’t return now on principle.  I can offer things in other directions and besides why would I want to spend loads of money on something I might never use.  So thank you it has done me a favour and made me all the more determined to go elsewhere.

Back to nature

If there was one thing I learned as a child when I was unhappy that I knew I could rely on to comfort me when all else failed and that was to turn to nature.  There is something innocent and neutral about nature whether it be a cat or butterfly or just the wind in the trees.  All in all it took away any pain and grounded me in such a way that no person could ever do.