Monday, August 4, 2014

Time for change

So I discovered I'm at war with myself, I took steps to change that and understand that it will take time and determination to overcome my old self destructive habits. On the road to success in my life right? Or not...

There I was again, lying awake with no knowledge as to why. My mind drifting, thoughts swirling, a vague panic growing from a small bubble to a cyclone inside me. People, we are so complicated. We don't have just one issue, we have a lot of different but inter-related ones. Yes I'm changing my behaviour, I'm doing an internal pep talk before I get up each morning to remind myself that I deserve success in all areas of my life. I tell myself that I can do this, it's just a matter of one step at a time. I'm aware that there will be days when I take a few steps back, and I'm aware that I need to forgive myself for those days. It's hard to rewire yourself, it takes time and patience. Got that.

So why am I panicking at 3am? My mind, of its own volition, starts scrolling through my memories of my childhood. They are few and far between, like screen shots in a life which mostly had the lens cap left on. There is a lot of darkness in my childhood memories. By that I mean nothingness. I don't remember most of my life before the age of 11, and between 11 and 15 only patches. 

Some of those screen shots are good, some not so good. I can remember as a small child walking up the hill behind the house with my sister. She was determined that I would appreciate nature - we were living on a dairy farm surrounded by nature with no real option for anything else so I'm not sure why she felt this was vital. I remember being terrified of the creek because my brother told me there were toe eating eels that would get me if I went into it. This was his way of carrying out our mother's instructions that I not be allowed to go into the creek. He also told me there were such things as corrugated iron snakes that would come up the corrugated iron window shade and into my bedroom to strangle me. I'm not sure which of our mother's instructions he used as an excuse for that one... 

I remember going to our new house in town, sitting in the car with the ginger cat Charlie, looking at the house and falling instantly in love with it. I remember at this home walking to the river with the family border collie, a dog long on pedigree and short on common sense, but a wonderful companion for a troubled little girl. I remember my other brother and our cousin getting so tired of my insistence on going everywhere with them that they took me to the river and abandoned me there. I found my way back of course and remember being pissed at them but not afraid since I knew the river really well.

I remember walking to school, long summers, cold winters. I remember a couple of birthdays and a couple of Christmas'. I remember reading a library book in a cool bath to escape the summer heat and panicking on dropping it into the water. I remember sitting on the verandah watching the sun come up, waiting for the exact moment the street lights switched off.

Later, I remember living with my grandmother, two great-uncles and a great-aunt. I remember a lot of this time as it was a good time for me. Mostly I remember sitting up with my grandmother and her galah after everyone else had gone to bed. We would drink cocoa and do crossword puzzles. It was quiet and peaceful and I felt that I was sharing something special - which of course I was. 

The dark memories I have are still fractured and hard to grasp. These screen shots are stills that flash into my mind and out of it just as quickly. I used to have none at all, just black gaps in my memories. I still have black gaps; there are events from my childhood that my sister has told me about that I have no memory of at all. They were so traumatic my mind has erased them as thoroughly as it can. These memories are from times endured by my parents which have to have been a nightmare for them. 

There other other memories, from events that happened to me and these are the ones that flash in and out of my mind. These are the ones that have caused me so much difficulty in my adult life, that have been the major contributor to my lack of self love. For many years I didn't have even these flashes because I had no memory of these events either. But there was a trigger that caused what I can only describe as a dam bursting in my mind and I had memories and pictures flooding me and overwhelming me for a period of months. These memories caused my breakdown and it is these ones that I am struggling still to overcome. 

If I may digress a little, I was never beaten, starved or homeless. I was fed and clothed and cared for my whole childhood. There are millions of children in the world whose lives are far, far worse than mine ever was. There are children who are in war zones who may not even survive the day, children suffering from extreme poverty and malnutrition. There are homeless children, victims of parental abuse, children suffering unimaginable lives and I can never compare my childhood to theirs. These children have never had a childhood, never will. They will struggle their whole (probably short) lives just to survive. I cannot even imagine what their lives are like.

I am grateful for my relatively uneventful childhood, for the freedom to walk to the river with the dog or to ride my bike around the area as I pleased (apart from certain bad tempered dogs chasing me). However I was a troubled child and I never had the security and trust in adults that every child should. I, like many children going through what I did, never told anyone about what happened. I'm not going to go into details here out of respect for others not involved. But I was damaged by it, and it has taken all of this time to even recognise how it has affected me and how to try to repair my damaged self. 

Decisions I have made in my life and the directions I have gone in would most likely have been very different if my childhood had been different. There is no use in looking back and trying to second guess. I get angry, not as much now as I used to do. I get angry because my childhood was tainted and I can't ever get it back. I get angry about a life I might have lived and didn't. But there's no use in that either, the past is gone and the future is yet to come and that's the only way to think. 

But last night I realised that I really, truly, hated one person. I don't know if that's wrong, I suppose it is - you're not supposed to hate anyone. Forgiveness is the way to heal yourself. Well I don't know if I forgave as much as accepted. I didn't know until last night that I hated. But the strange thing about it is that having acknowledged that hate it lifted from me. I could feel it, like a black weight lifting from my shoulders. I felt a lightness, lying there in bed. It was both a lightness of weight gone and a lightness of being. With the blackness gone light could come in. I felt peace like I've never felt and I slept.

So maybe, just maybe, now I can really move on with my life. I can truly forgive myself for the past and I can forgive myself for decisions made when I didn't know I was damaged. Maybe now I can truly stop being self destructive. I don't know. It's going to take a lot of work, I know that much. But I think maybe now I have turned an important corner.

Want to know more? Well I did write a book, and it needs more visibility, go buy it! (please) 

So not me and Hadje (the dog) but it reminds me of the way I used to feel when he and I went to the river - like for a while the rest of the world did not exist

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