Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas and all that stuff

Christmas - since I'm on an upswing you're probably thinking I'd write a positive post full of the joys of the festive season; time with family, love and goodwill towards my fellow man and so on. Yeah no. Christmas is always a very bad time of year for me, too many memories of bad times that surface and make current times seem worse than they are. For sure, this year I made it to Christmas Eve before the Christmas meltdown hit, but it still hit.

Christmas to many many people is a time of joyous reunions and happy times viewing Christmas lights, attending work and family Christmas parties, preparing for the day and anticipating the wonderful time that December 25th brings (I'm not going to go into the religious aspect here, let's just take it as a given that Christmas at its core is of course the celebration of the birth of Jesus). For many more it is a time to remember people lost, a time to grieve, a time where loneliness is felt more keenly than any other time of the year. Some people choose to ignore the day altogether and go about their business quite happy to enjoy the day off from work or routine without buying into the hullabaloo. Christmas is in reality a varied experience for everyone.

When I was a child Christmas followed a strict routine. Family present opening, followed by a trip to my grandmother's house for further present opening and Christmas lunch. For my cousins and my siblings this was I think a most enjoyable day. For me it was more complex.

The house of my childhood had a verandah that went around half the house and faced the exit to my town and the mountains in the distance. It was a very nice view across the paddocks to the road out of town and those mountains (it is a small country town, the paddocks belonged to a dairy farmer). If you looked at the right time you could see the street lights turn off and on at dawn and dusk. During the school holidays I would often rise early and sit on the railing watching the street lights and waiting for that magical moment when they blinked off. On days other than Christmas, Easter and my birthday I would then go back to bed and my parents believed I was a hopeless late sleeper. Truth was I was usually awake a lot of the night after terrifying nightmares and would sleep heavily after dawn and so wake late and grumpy. But I digress.

The times I spent in the pre-dawn glow waiting for the street lights to turn off were magical to me. They were so quiet and peaceful, and I felt like I was the only soul on earth awake. Completely untrue of course because the town baker would be finishing his baking, and the dairy farmer would be milking the cows and that was only two of the early risers. It was a country town in dairy farming country, more people would be awake than asleep. But for me, in my little bubble of quiet, it seemed like I was alone. I would savour this peaceful time, thinking of nothing but watching the streetlights blink out and the greyness shrouding the countryside gradually thin and allow the colour of the day to seep into the landscape. It was a very zen time for me, although as a child I didn't think like that. I just knew I felt good about things for the time I sat on the verandah.

At Christmas I usually stayed on the verandah until the rest of the family woke, or went to my bed and waited. We would then do the present thing which was very exciting and I was always full of anticipation. My brother and I did not get on much of the time, we fought and I mean physically fought. He used to tease me unmercifully, and do terrible things to me which included an ongoing tendency to throw beetles at me at night time because he knew I was phobic about the little critters. He collected them to race at day time when they were quiet. But I digress again. On Christmas day, apart from telling me lies about my gifts which I eventually learned not to believe, we called a truce.

So Christmas morning was a good time. Going to my grandmother's for a complex variety of reasons was a very stressful time for me. I never wanted to go but I knew better than to say anything about it. I would go, act the role in which I was cast and eventually get to go home again and if I got through that time without any bad things happening it was a good day. So from childhood Christmas has been a complicated blend of excitement, anxiety, worry and fear.

As an adult that has carried forward and each year I suffer anxiety attacks, unexplained fear and worry and depression. I did think that this year, since I am changing my life and my attitude, the Christmas crash would not happen. It did, Christmas Eve was a bad time, and Christmas Day was extremely stressful for a variety of reasons. This year some of that stress was actually valid in that I had some awkward situations to negotiate during the day, but a great deal of it was self inflicted. A sleepless night the night before did not help my coping mechanisms at all.

I have vowed to myself however that this Christmas is the last one where I allow the ghosts of the past to affect my enjoyment of the present (and the presents). Next Christmas will be the first Christmas of my new life and I plan to make it the best one of my life. I am tired of being a slave to the issues of my past. Things happened that scarred me in my childhood and in the recent past also. They affected me deeply, and scars never go away. But they fade, and with the right attitude and help from valued people, they fade faster. I have gone through a lot of change this past year, and change is always painful - at least for me it is. Having gone through this change, I see no reason why I should bring the issues of my past lives to this new life. That would be self defeating.

So this new year that is coming is my year. I will continue my program of self improvement. I will continue to let the past go, bury it and not give it any more life. We are the instruments of our own lives, we make our lives what we will. Negative thinking leads to a negative life. Been there, done that, not going there again - or at least when I visit there I'll kick myself in the derrière and get myself out of there! Positive thinking has made such a huge difference to my life, it has brought me things I never thought were possible, it has given me belief in possibilities, and it has allowed me to take the steps to change myself and my life.

2013 seems to have been a difficult time for so many people. We have been forced to make changes in our lives, in my case all the doors were closed to me except the doors which I needed to go through. For someone like me for whom the familiar is comforting and change is frightening, this was the kick start I needed to begin again. And this time not only begin again externally but to start from the inside. Change within brings change to everything.

That's the secret to changing your life. Start with your internal self, that little child inside who needs to have closure and needs reassurance that it will all be ok. Feed emotional support to that internal child, give yourself permission to feel bad about things from the past. Then reassure your internal child that the future will be better, life will improve, pain does not last. Drop that negative thinking, start thinking positively and you will attract positive things. It's as simple, and as difficult as that. But it gets easier if you persist. I can be a very persistent person, just in the past I have persisted in the wrong direction and with the wrong thoughts. Now I am persisting in the right way. Nowhere in any life manual does it say life is supposed to be sad and depressing and difficult. Self belief and positive thinking are my new mantra.

Now to get that tendency for procrastination sorted.... yes I need to write

And just because it's a nice pic, a view of the beach today, which is Boxing Day :)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Another one about me

It's been a bit longer than usual for me lately, sorry about that. There's no real reason, just life getting in the way as it tends to do. It seems that every time I sit down at the laptop to get some words out of my head, something in the real world claims more importance and I have to put my internal world aside.

We all live in an internal world to some extent, some of us more than others. I'm one of the more than ones in case you hadn't already figured it out! Sometimes in this life we have people around us that totally get us, and at other times we feel completely alone in our particular brand of weirdness. I spent a large portion of my life believing there was nobody who would ever be able to understand me or even wish to. So I developed a rich internal life as I suspect most authors do - although I have absolutely no statistics on that, it's just one of the random thoughts that pop into my head from time to time and that seem to make complete sense. After all, the worlds that are built up from nothing more than imagination must surely come from a mind that spends a lot of time wandering around within itself rather than out in the real world.

I have never felt lonely in the way a lot of people do without someone to talk to or interact with. Well that has been true for most of my life anyway, perhaps not so much lately - but that's another story. I have always been comfortable with my own company, content with a good book or a notebook of clean paper to fill with words. I've spent hours daydreaming, wandering around in the countryside or along a beach. I have no problems with long haul flights (except for the jetlag) so long as I have books for my companions. I spent a large chunk of my childhood on my own and I learned very early to entertain myself.

Whilst I have made many mistakes in my life, and my coping mechanisms have led to many wrong turns on my personal path through life, I have always been content with my own company. Is there a point where that becomes a problem? I don't know. I know there are many people who actively dislike other people and dream of becoming a hermit. I know there are many people diagnosed with disorders because they do not like or cannot interact with other people. Does that make all of them deficient in some way? Am I deficient in some way because I prefer my own company? And what about the people who can't bear their own company and have to have someone else around all the time, are they deficient? We all get through this life the best way we can, and we all develop our own life coping mechanisms, whether they are good or bad ultimately has to be our own decision.

For myself, and for many many others to one degree or another, crowds are anathema. I would never go to an end of year sale, it would be hell on earth for me. I don't do people in large numbers, I get panic attacks and have to escape. If I have someone with me who I trust it is not so scary, but still I prefer to avoid the crowds, the noise, the crush. I can handle crowds when there is a reason for me to do so - airports, large cities and the like but I would never voluntarily go to a place where I know there will be large numbers of people without a reason that makes sense to me.

And yet, this new person I am becoming as I travel this path I am now on - this person finds crowds less intimidating. I find I am having less panic attacks now that I am on my path and I know it is the right one for me. Extraneous matters that once bothered and worried me seem to loom less large in my mind. I am becoming, dare I say it, serene. Not all the time of course, I am a woman after all and subject to the hormonal fluctuations that make a woman's emotions volatile. I still get myself bent out of shape when people don't act the way I think they will, I still react badly when I anticipate something happening and it doesn't go the way the script in my head has already written it. People still have that annoying habit of acting differently to my internal script and I still find that tricky. I'm still finding myself trying to control my environment, but I'm learning to stop myself most of the time.

So I am changing, becoming a better person, a calmer person (most of the time) and I am finding serenity (some of the time). It's a long process, this process of internal change. But I am doing it, I am thinking positive thoughts and that has become easier for me. The more I think positively the more comfortable I feel about doing it. The flow on effect is that I am beginning to believe that I deserve good things in my life. I feel that I deserve the life I am aiming for, and I know I am finally on the right path for me. Along with this comes the understanding that I am the only one who can control my life, the only one who can be certain which path is the right one for me and it doesn't matter if others think I am wrong. I am the only one on this path and it only matters that it is right for me.

And so the little things have ceased to be a bother to me (most of the time - gamer son will confirm that the state of his room still causes extreme parental angst!) and I am finding my serenity one step at a time, one day at a time, one challenge at a time. I have learned to trust my instincts, I have learned to change my thinking and I am feeling the benefits in my everyday life. I am feeling confident about my future and that hasn't been a mindset for me for a long long time. I really do feel that I have the right to pursue my dreams and that now is the time to take that chance, take that risk, continue that jump without a parachute. I will land exactly where I am meant to be.

Well, now to find pics for this blog - one that I had no clue I would write until here it sits, out of my head, through my fingers and onto the screen. Sometimes, most times, writing this blog helps me to know what I am thinking ;)

This last picture I have included because we should all spend time in introspection. I believe you cannot do what is right for you in your life unless you truly know who you are. For some of us that is relatively easy, as you would know it was not so easy for me - but all of us are more than we know unless we go looking deep within.