HEART/SLEEVE

Today has been a day for expressing and feeling other people’s emotion, in both positive and destructive ways. In only I had a membrane to allow only the positive emotions reaching me from others and getting into my heart, and not also the negative energies.

I am a heart on sleeve wearer generally, but I am also very accomplished at exhibiting emotional control at certain times, not always on demand, but just when I’m in a strong frame of mind.

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Today I did something nice for my husband, as it’s our wedding anniversary and I wanted to express how much I appreciate him and how I’d be lost without him. I posted a video (which I designed and made on the computer for him,) on his Facebook page. I’d been planning it for a few days and spent a long time making the video, so although the present didn’t cost anything, I had spent several hours making it, so it was home-made with love :)

My husband isn’t generally into public displays of affection, so I didn’t make it too ‘American rom com’ in style for him ;) He really loved it. He loved the surprise element, and making him happy made me happy. My kids loved it too, as they understood it is not all about expensive gifts…that thoughtfulness is everything.

Expressing my feelings and telling him what a saint he is for putting up with me made him feel appreciated and special, as I don’t always make him feel like the most special person.

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Having been together as long as we have,  and me having the PTSD-induced emotional glitches I have, romance and fun has been low down on the agenda over recent years which is sad. One half of the partnership having had a complete psychological breakdown is going to pressurise any relationship, soul mates or not..and that is exactly what has happened…but we’re getting back on track now, and me wearing my heart on my sleeve and putting that video out there was a good thing. **He bought me the three-foot flamingo btw for my anniversary present which I mentioned and pictured in an earlier post ;) Here it is again…. there is a flamingo theme-I’m kinda an obsessive ;)

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So, the morning, pre-school run went by really nice..and buoyed up by the lovey dovey-ness of the anniversary I thought I’d broach the subject of my daughter’s impending school transfer to the head teacher of her existing school.

Oops… from happy vibes to awkward vibes…she wore her heart on her sleeve in a slightly lesser-than-friendly way. She wasn’t unkind in what she said, it was more the ‘easy for even an emotionally illiterate to read’ hostile body language and facial expressions, and what she didn’t say, that made me pretty well aware of her feelings about us moving our child away from the school.

The thing is, when you are nice to someone, and polite and friendly and inoffensive, but they still fundamentally don’t like the content of what you’re saying, their emotions can’t help but leak out of them, and as an empathic person, I detect them easily. Their emotions get into my heart, even though they are not my emotions to own…and a few hours later, I’m still brooding about it, which is a pity, after my lovely morning.

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I knew what I was saying wasn’t going down well, in real time. My social skills were extended to their maximum, and my diplomacy was at 100%…but still it is impossible to please everyone, if what you’re thinking or feeling or believing conflicts with what they are thinking or wanting or believing.

I do understand it from her point of view though, and I didn’t panic. I stayed cool and calm and gently assertive. I am quite proud of how I handled it communication wise, and if I had my time over again I wouldn’t have said it any differently…but still I feel a little provoked and frustrated that the person I spoke to didn’t handle her reaction with as much emotional control as I did.

But I am only responsible for me, and not other people’s reactions…I intellectually know that…so why then do I continue to feel bad a few hours after that conversation? Why can’t I just brush it off? Why can’t I think of the happy appreciation from my husband?… my soul-mate, instead of the unfriendly vibes directed towards me from someone who after a few weeks time I will never see again.

This is something I need to work on…allowing the good to sink in and stick, and filtering out the bad and the unhelpful so it cannot affect my emotional peace of mind. If anyone knows of any tips of how they do this, please let me know in the comments section! as I have been trying to learn this skill all 35 years of my life!!! :) That’d be awesome-share your secrets please with me :) X

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Summer (learning to shine). xxx

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BRUTALLY BEAUTIFUL

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Living is an art-form. It’s beautiful. Art evokes emotion in the person viewing it. You become part of the art, because you emotionally invest in the art. You cannot live without participating in the art of living. If you are unable to participate in the life of living, you are depressed. Depressed people (and I often sit in-comfortably with that label so include myself in that category) cannot participate fully in life and cannot appreciate life’s beauty. Life does not appear as an art form of beauty when you are depressed. Life is painful. You live in emotionally treacherous crocodile infested waters. Or you feel the numbness of nothing at all-the purgatory of being half way between heaven and hell-the dead but alive zone.

I’ve been there myself, and earlier this week suicidal ideation made an appearance. I was very much not seeing life as an art form back then.

But it comes and goes. Suicidal ideation is ‘depressed person thinking’, so I try and write it off as such- a temporary state of mind created by temporary emotional agony and hopelessness. Suicidal thinking is not something to be invited and entertained, suicidal pain is the worst kind of mental anguish imaginable…but it is not something that is readily or easily dismissed by our depressed brains.

Art is a good metaphor for life, as art is double edged, just as life is double-edged. Black and white, and all the colours of the rainbow.

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Art can arrest immediate attention, shock, invoke revulsion and disgust, it can visually assault our senses and overwhelm us on sensory and emotional levels-and that is exactly what life can do. Art is not all beautiful.

Take this for instance…gross isn’t it…

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The infamous bathrooms of CBGB’s

Life is not plain sailing. Life is sometimes a big MESS. More graffiti than oil painting.

But we are all artists creating and manufacturing and reflecting our reality, making something of it, and changing artistic direction at all times. That is how we evolve.

Artists evolve in style, just as life evolves. This can be spontaneous and unchosen, or we can actively create our own evolution and momentum and change.

We use the word “LIFE STYLE” to describe how we live, because there is a style to living, and a beauty to it, even a dramatic gruesome form of beauty. It is all beauty. Sometimes there is a beauty to pain, though we don’t see it when we are feeling it. But in my view, pain plus creativity equals beauty.

PAIN + CREATIVITY = BEAUTY

Think about that for a moment.

Think of all the greatly successful people who have used their pain and created glory/success-there are people who completed highly coveted works of art, those who have written best selling books/founded charities to benefit others etc. They found the beauty in the pain, or at least created beauty from their pain.

How great it is, to create beauty from pain, and to possess the tenacity to tackle life head on, however it pans out, whatever circumstantial cards we may be dealt and just fucking OWN IT. Shape it. Enjoy it, at times when enjoyment is possible. We were never meant to be happy all the time. Suffering is part of being human. Shit happens. But to see life as an art-form can be a way to slightly reduce the suffering you feel.

I emailed an author idol of mine yesterday Carolyn Spring and got a very kind and extremely helpful and inspiring personal reply back from her. I am still glowing from it :) She advised me, if you aspire to create something where you will be in the public eye (which I want to do, as I want to do something to support adult survivors of childhood abuse,) you have to ignore ALL the press about yourself, the bad press AND the good press. You have to take it all on the chin without attaching personal significance to it or attaching it to your personal sense of self-worth. You have to exist independent of criticism or positive validation, and just remain you, unaffected. That is something I will struggle with as I am sensitive to criticism…but it is good advice. Maybe there is a beauty attached to social rejection or failure or being challenged. Maybe the brutality of it is beautiful and creates inner strength….I don’t know…I’m just rambling here, bleeding out my thoughts on paper…trying to make some sense of things.

But I am sure that mental creativity, open mindedness, and imagination can convert anything negative into some form of artistic beauty. That is what I am to do, to make my life into a work of living art. Will it be a masterpiece? Nope, I doubt it, but wherever there is beauty, I will find it and live it and own it :)

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GOING DEEP s.oc

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Deep sea diving for pearls of wisdom. Alone, like a speck of dust floating in an empty banqueting hall with tables, chairs, tablecloths, napkins, cutlery and sustaining food to feast on absent. I am an intro-speck… intro-vert…a hermit-crab. Can you see how I’ve closed up? I feel it. I am it. The ‘it’ girl? part of ‘the in crowd’? Not likely. ‘Out group’ is more my scene. Out-crop, outward/a life of inward living, an psychiatric inpatient?-yes, three times. On the ward with all the others who thought they had reached the end of the road, only to be first institutionalised, then rehabilitated, then discharged. I walk round that town, leaves blowing around my ankles, and still see them, but not released as free citizens such as I, on leave, accompanied by nurses. They did not fare as well as I did. Their struggle is different to mine though we share that strand of struggle within us. They are childless, non prescription drug dependent, alcohol dependent. I am outpatient, but growing impatient of it. Impatient for discharge, but knowing there is still healing work to be done. It drains my batteries. Therapy is so sometimes therapeutic, and sometimes like walking through a dark forest with no navigation and no lighting, tripping over fallen branches and sometimes giant obstructive logs that block my path-the only thing keeping me walking is my therapist’s voice, but she is distant. She is different to me. She is mentally well. She is my guide towards wellness and recovery. She has attained what I aspire to. She is already there. She is a clinical psychologist who helps people for a living and is well rewarded financially for her skills. I am an amateur psychologist who tries to help my friends with no renumeration, apart from internal satisfaction. Internal satisfaction fuels me. I see the pound signs associated with the career lost to mental ill health, and resentment sidles in like a pleasure sapping serpent. But still I go on because I have to. I will charm that snake and hyponotise it into submission. I will pursue my path, just as soon as I’ve figured out what it is. When I was severely poorly, living was my goal-which I achieved. I lived through it. I hit rock bottom and stayed there, on the floor of the sea bed. I sat it out. I learned to breathe deep underwater. I learned to live with the constant emotional water pressure, and the panic of gulping down occasional influxes of water. Crisis was my norm. But now I am settling into a calmer way of living. I am not sat on the sea bed. I swam up breast stroke, frogs legs and all, and am now maybe a few feet from the surface. Close, ever closer-just not close enough. Where I want to be is on the surface, naturally. I want my head to be above the water, not under it. I have ropes round my ankles keeping me beneath the surface. The ropes are attached to the anchors on the bottom of the sea bed. My abusers do not wish me to ever reach the surface of the sea. For me to have got a few feet beneath the surface must irritate them. If I’m going to irritate anyone by choice, it would be them. Recovery is great revenge yes? I think so. That is what drives me. I want my anchors to be attached to a safe harbour, not the bottom of the sea bed, but my traumatic past ensures I was anchored unfavourably. I just have to lengthen the ropes I guess, or cut myself free somehow. Can anyone pass me a swiss army knife? One of those would be very helpful.

…This is what happens when my mind goes deep. I wrote this in a stream, very quickly. I don’t know if it makes sense, but this is me, Summer, feeling wet, and cold and empty, with lung fulls of water, sick of the under water breathing that is depression and PTSD.

Things will get better. I’m just sad today. I’m allowed to feel sad sometimes. There is lots to be sad about. There is also much to be encouraged by.

Life is a game of two halves. Yin and yang. Happy and sad. Black and white.

Today I am yang, sad, black. I wanna be yin, happy & white.

I’m working on it :)

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I will do my SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD later-that should help :)

Just needed to extract this darkness out of me first.

Thanks for sitting with me while I spill this out. To everyone who reads my posts-THANK YOU X

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YOU DON’T SEE

Look at a person. Draw an imaginary cartoon picture in your head of the outline of a person. Who actually is that person? What do you know of them? Is what you know about them all there is to know about them? Nope.

Every person has a proportion of them which is public and a proportion which is private.

The public/private distinction within a person shifts according to who we are with and what we are comfortable allowing them to see. Some people who we are close to and we trust will see a large proportion of what make us, ‘us’. Strangers, or people we don’t know as well are left to make assumptions on wo we really are from very scant knowledge. Maybe they will know only five or ten percent of us, or maybe that’s over-generous.

This is because as human beings we like to keep ourselves psychologically safe. We are social animals who live in fear of being pushed out of the herd, so therefore we look at others for cues about how to behave and conform to what we think others want of us accordingly. We reason if we do this we will fit in, we will be liked, we will belong, and we will not face the ultimate human defeat (worse than any other)-social rejection.

Who can forget the pain of being a little child in the playground who is set apart from the crowd? seeing your classmates playing and laughing and ‘belonging’ together, while you’re left holding the hand of the dinner lady for comfort, bottom lip trembling, eyes downcast, trying your hardest not to cry.

So we learn as adults to conform to the crowd, to blend in, to not make a scene, to get along with people, to hide the bits we don’t want people to see-the vulnerable bits, the emotional bits, the sore bits, the unshiney bits, the bits that are very much part of us, but parts we would rather deny were there.

We are masters of the fake smile. We excel at feigning interest in people we are not in truth interested in. We put on a show of our best bits and keep the lesser good bits firmly behind closed doors.

In my previous blogs I explicitly wrote about the bits you don’t see. The embarrassing bits. The vulnerable bits. The nervous bits. The shameful bits. The sad bits. In other words, the bits that are real.

I write to publicly give out the message that it is perfectly okay to be unacceptable. It is okay to not fit in with the crowd. It is okay to be authentically you, even if the authentic you is falling apart, which is pretty much exactly what happened to me.

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But then I joined Facebook, and learned people do not write about the unseen bits on there. People write about the socially acceptable bits, the nice bits, the cute videos posted of pets, the trophies, the life highlights. I am not excluding myself from this by the way. If I’m on Facebook, I’ll act like I’m on Facebook. I’ll do ‘the whole Facebook thing’. I’ll post the filtered and perfect selfies (the ones which I bothered to put makeup on for). I’ll try and be acceptable in what I write.

But you know what, that’s not really me. Which is why I began this blog.

I like being different.

I also love the idea of starting to shine in my own right, but I haven’t figured out how to do it yet because my mindset has for a long time been centred on the unseen bits, the rubbish bits, the socially unacceptable bits. I’ve been lost in the clutches of depression for a really long time, so walking in the light is blinding and disorientating to me.

I don’t know quite what to do with it and how to be this way. I don’t know how to write about happy things as well as I can write about sad things, but I know I have much happiness here in me. I just don’t know quite how to access it, but I will learn.

Everytime I face a moment in life, my mind can go in one of two ways-it can either take the sad route (faster & more automatic,) or the happy route (forced- I have to really concentrate to take this path). So I am going to try and force myself down the happy path at every moment.

We all have choices. Life can sometimes be great, like cloud nine was designed just for us, and other times it can be plain un-dressed up shit, but we can tame the mind to go down happier pathways. That is what I will be experimenting with here :)

SummerSHINES, learning to shine X