Posts tagged ‘connection’

BRIGHT EYES.

I love this blog. For over six years now I have come here to write out my heart and soul and pour myself into the Universe. I’m not always regular with my posts and there are varying reasons for that. Although I primarily write here for myself the fact that others read my words and are kind enough to say they find something of value here is a bonus really. I’d write anyway. It is how I process things and words are pleasurable to me. It’s not been an especially long gap since I last wrote but it’s worth mentioning  because there was half a thought in the back of my head that I’d not write again until I had something fun and happy and upbeat to write about because things have been a bit bleak. I don’t want all my posts to be sad.

The truth is though that I am sad. I’m very sad a lot of the time and I also feel stuck and powerless. Not a great combination, really. I’m not enjoying it much and I’m in the frame of mind where I feel like a liability to those around me, like I am inflicting myself on others, so am loath to do it. But I realised something yesterday, that I was discounting two things I know to be true. The first thing is one I know about myself and that is that I make the best I can of what I have. Secondly, that once you put forth your energy into the Universe it has a life of it’s own. People will make of it what they will and although you can try to guide it’s path the truth is that you cannot control how it will be received by the big wide world. A bit like giving birth to a child really.

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Two very significant things have happened in the time since we last connected and they are what bring me to you today. They were very different events but they resonated with the same message for me. My connections with others, the love of varying flavours, that is what it is all about for me. My facebook friends list is an interesting blend of my before and after lives; Daughter Number One’s friends, all grown up now, friends from my own school days, parents of my children’s friends. Friends from my life on the other side of the country. My former psychologist, colleagues from my previous life, other mothers of murdered children, the police officer who worked my daughter’s case. Old friends, new friends, dear friends, true friends. All these people who were strangers once.

During the worst time of my life I met the detective who was investigating my Daughter’s death. The day after she died and several times after that he was the one who interviewed me, at my home and at his station. He attended my Daughter’s funeral. He took me to the crash site and the police car lot to see what there was left to see and answered my questions.He was at the inquest, not just in his official capacity but he was really there for me during that whole process, walking me through. His wife was pregnant with their first child when my Daughter died and their daughter was born the same year. I so appreciated the work, the really above and beyond efforts, of this man that I nominated him for ‘Police Officer of the year’ and do you know? He actually won! And he generously shared with me the pleasure he had in telling his family of his award and how he looked forward to telling his own daughter about it in the future. He protested that he only did his job, only did what many, many others would do, did do, every day. In the dense blackness following my Daughter’s death this guy was a beacon. We emailed. He and his wife had a son. I had a second Daughter. Life moved on.

Nearly two years ago I found him on Facebook. He isn’t in the police force any more and I felt so glad to find that out. As good as he was at his job I can only imagine the toll that work takes on you, day after day, when you do it properly. So, I was glad for him, and for his family. I’ve seen the family photo’s his wife tags him in – beautiful, accomplished children, extended family celebrations, holidays – and all of them, without fail, bring me joy. Because even if the only work he ever did was with me and on behalf of my Daughter, all the respect and compassion and humanity he showed, then he deserves all the happiness in the world, every single day for the rest of eternity. Of course that wasn’t all he ever did and life doesn’t work like that.

So it happened that almost two weeks ago now I read a post this former police officer wrote in tribute after the death of his ten year old nephew, to his nephew and his family and about the decision to donate his organs, made during DonateLife Week. Despite the fact I avoid mainstream news I happened upon more information in the days that followed; this posting was on a website I follow and it summed up my own feelings and intense grief. I now know so much more about this family and yet, really, know nothing. But I will never forget this boy’s smile or his name. Sweet dreams Banjo, live on in happiness.

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At the opposite end of the spectrum came the other event that rocked my world and went partway to re-establishing my equilibrium (Oh, let’s not get too excited! There’s still a way to go!). Last Friday made five years since a chance encounter and a simple question combined to change the course of my life and brought me into contact with someone whose significance and value to me only increases with the passage of time. So much has passed between us and so far we have travelled together, not all of it easy, not all of it fun but he is someone who can always reach me no matter how detached I become from everything else. In that way he keeps me tethered to the present. He was the safe place I ran to when Daughter Number One’s father killed himself and even during hard times between us I have never lost sight of the fact he is a gift to me.

And this is it you see, a word we write, a question we ask, everything we do in our lives has the potential to impact on others. Lives changed. Events of various significance but all attesting to the fact it is a short life and a small world and no man is an island. We are all connected to each other. It is not just the one police officer I remember. It is also the guy at my local station who kept answer my calls on the very long night my Daughter didn’t come home. The same officer I spoke to much later who told me how it felt to speak to me the during the final call, when he knew that she was almost definitely dead, but when I didn’t know. Not then. Not yet. I also remember the newly minted officer who wrote about the intense smell of the crash site but who kept doing his job anyway. Whether it is quite literally by donating organs or by the love, kindness, respect and compassion we share we leave pieces of ourselves with the people whose lives we touch. Those are the things that burn brightly, long after we are gone. I try to go gently, with myself, with others. It is my very real experience that, truly, everyone is fighting a battle you can know nothing about.

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NO MAN IS AN ISLAND.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

John Donne

Make the best you can of what you have. Travel safe my friends x 

SAY SOMETHING, I’M GIVING UP ON YOU.

I’ve been reading some stuff about PTSD and the actual brain changes that occur. It’s sobering stuff but it also makes so much sense to me. The brain changes thing just tells me what I’ve known for a long time; I am not the same person I once was. I’ve had people suggest this is a lifestyle choice – because, obviously, what better fun could you have? – or that I should have moved on by now. Or the insightful and deeply profound ‘the past is the past’!

Except sometimes the past is very present and that’s not a choice. Anything and nothing can ‘trigger’ me, sending me back to places I’d rather not ever revisit, so that I physically feel like I am there. I feel things as if they are happening right now. My heart pounds, my thoughts race, panic and terror build, an overwhelming desire to flee – the fight or flight reflex at full force. Once this happens I don’t have much control. I can talk myself down but depending on how big the response that takes time. The Love of My Life helps. He can make me laugh through tears. Touching him centres me and brings me back to the here and now. He can reach always me when I get lost in the fog.

Some things are logical triggers; a white cross by a roadside, a charred accident site marked with tape, the news that bodies have been found in the search for a missing father and daughter, the screech of tyres, the crunch of metal – and these just in the last week. Do you know how many car crashes there are in films? Lots. In almost every movie it seems. And scenes when a doctor or a police officer is informing someone that their loved one has died. Missing children. Murdered children. Children. Mother’s Day. Phones that repeatedly ring out unanswered or go to voicemail time after time. But all of these are logical triggers and so, to a certain extent predictable and expected, easier to avoid and/or manage if they occur. Others are not so clear cut and sneak up on you. An expression on someone’s face, a song playing on the supermarket sound system, a street name mentioned in passing.

I’m on high alert all the time. They call it ‘hypervigilance’. From Wikipedia (so it must be true 🙂 but hey, any further information required you guys have Google too):

“Hypervigilance is an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity accompanied by an exaggerated intensity of behaviours whose purpose is to detect threats. Hypervigilance is also accompanied by a state of increased anxiety which can cause exhaustion. Other symptoms include: abnormally increased arousal, a high responsiveness to stimuli, and a constant scanning of the environment for threats.

In hypervigilance, there is a perpetual scanning of the environment to search for sights, sounds, people, behaviours, smells, or anything else that is reminiscent of threat or trauma. The individual is placed on high alert in order to be certain danger is not near. Hypervigilance can lead to a variety of obsessive behaviour patterns, as well as producing difficulties with social interaction and relationships.”

I’ve spoken here about constantly assessing my own reactions, my own thoughts, other peoples words, actions and motivations. ALL THE TIME. Every waking minute of each and every single day. I’ve told you that trusting is so hard. Trusting my own instincts. Trusting other people. Because fool me once shame on you but fool me twice, shame on me. And oh I’ve been fooled before. The next punch that puts me down I want to at least see coming. But it is so fucking EXHAUSTING! Getting through the day still takes so much effort. That’s not even counting the nights, when it’s either sleeplessness caused by racing thoughts or sleeping which brings nightmares. Why would anyone think I’d CHOOSE it?

Some days are better than others and I have more acceptance now that it is what it is. I cannot go back or change anything that happened. What is done is done and I will never be who I once was. I am ok with that. I’m ok with who I am, with all my flaws. I walk the road less travelled but I’ve met some really interesting people along the way and I’ve truly seen the best of human nature. Those connections, they are what sustain me.

I’ve always been good at connections. Making them, keeping them. It’s just harder now. It takes so much more effort and that effort is so much harder to sustain. But I try, because to me that is the difference between living and existing. Today I had an email that someone had responded to a comment I’d left on their blog. My words had touched them and their appreciation touched me. Like I said last post, to feel heard, that is really something. I heard her and she heard me. I love the internet for that reason. I’ve spoken here about the gifts the internet has brought me. For me it is another avenue for connecting but it is on such a very grand scale. It still involves putting yourself out there though. Taking a risk. Being vulnerable.

I was talking to a new friend’s new girlfriend online the other day and she said “It’s so nice to finally meet a real man!”. I’m not going to get into a discussion about what constitutes a ‘real’ man, or a ‘real’ woman for that matter, but the guy in question wears his heart on his sleeve and I think that is what she meant. How he feels, what he thinks; he says so. He takes risks and leaves himself open. He seems happy at the moment with his new love and I’m very happy to be able to share in his happiness because he puts it out there. And so it multiplies. Another friend is proposing to their love tonight. Theirs is an awesome love story which I’ve been privileged to watch unfold and I’m beyond excited about this proposal. My lovely friend, who has always been generous of spirit, shared the secret with me so I’ve had the excitement and anticipation building and I’m looking forward to the expected facebook proposal photographs sometime soon. It makes me do an internal happy dance each time I think about it. Proposals are just so damn hopeful. When you think about the proposer and the proposee, their daughter, their families, their friends; that’s many, many people who are going to gain happiness from one person’s choice to remain open to life’s possibilities and to share themselves with others.

So the moral for today is this:

Tell people how you feel, dare to risk looking stupid, say what you think, dare to dream, make new friends, leave yourself open, try new things, explore – yourself, others, places, ideas. Because it’s hard this life, but these are the bits that make it worth it. Connect with others and find yourself. Go ahead, reach out and touch someone.

Life is short. Travel safe x

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