The story of my journey.
A year ago, almost to the day, I sat crying with my parents and brother at the dining table in my family home.
I had everything. Two children who make my heart burst with pride, a keeper of a husband, an incredible job in education, a beautiful home in a stunning location, the love of my family.
But I sat and cried because I felt desperately sad inside.
And then came the catalyst that propelled me into the journey which I have taken this year and which has been a slow journey from darkness into light.
“You don’t need to feel like this. It is obvious why you do, after what happened to you when you were seven, but you can feel better. You just need to face up to it and talk about it. It’s simple. Life can get better.”
And with that, something shifted. Hearing my brother talk out loud about the thing that has hung over me for forty years was like a shift in the space-time continuum and suddenly I could see that what he had said made perfect sense.
I decided to write the Story of My Self.
I got out the diaries, letters and writing that help to pull together the pieces of that story and I connected them together, reflecting and analysing as I did.
As I wrote, I also read and found the words of four key voices inspired me to keep going:
Dr Tim O Brien
And in writing, I began truly to heal.
Taking time to stop, to see, to realise that all the things I know, as a teacher and therapist, about how to help and heal other children are the the things that will finally help and heal me.
Through writing, I shaped and developed my mantra:
“Life is not perfect. Bad things happen and we can’t always control events around us. There are good feelings as well as bad. But we can have control over our thoughts and our actions if we understand, deeply, who we are and why we have behaved in certain ways in the past.”
In August, I put my Story out into the world. The trepidation and anxiety that went with that were considerable but I did it anyway and slowly began to use social networks to share it.
And the sharing has enabled me to connect, be supported by and support others in way that was unimaginable to me until I did it.
You can try (as some have) to tell me that these connections are not real, that these relationships are shallow, that I am replacing human connection with false, electronic pseudo-attachment.
But these connections have saved me over the past year. I do not write that lightly.
I am someone who could never previously have talked to people in the room with me about the things I have shared through writing and virtual communication. But because I have have made connections virtually, I am beginning to get braver in the real world.
How many of us misfits and outsiders have stood in a room full of people and felt completely detached and alone?
But here, in this world, I have found my tribe, I have found kindness, I have found love.
It might not work for you. If so, don’t do it.
Over the past year I have continued to write and to heal and to connect.
It has not been an easy year by any means: there have been almost unbearable situations at work, personal challenges relating to family and dilemmas that in the past would have sent me into a tailspin of anxiety, depression and addictive behaviours.
But as I sit here in the sunshine (with just a few showers) of my parents’ garden, forty years on, I am ok. I am ok because of you, reading this. And I hope that maybe you might be a little bit more ok because of me.