Welcome to my new whare, Douglas.
I move there in a few days.
Just looking at these images gives me such visceral pleasure and even though it was a rainy day when I went to see it, no amount of dismal outside was going to dampen that internal warmth.
I've never really had a life so my living environment is profoundly important to me. Not just because I spend so much time there but because my surroundings are my mirror that ricochet character and comfort.
Every single day I think about this book I was born and raised to write and those shades of colour and light feel like a good place to start...
a messy revelation
So I got a job really quickly after that change in mindset.
And boy, what a learning curve!
I don't know if you've noticed this yourself, but whenever I have a breakthrough, whatever transpires directly from it usually contains more lessons as a continuation of that breakthrough.
It just made me think of the that saying "Your pain is the breaking of the shell of understanding"
So this job was never going to be a generic 9-5er. I knew that from the second I met my boss.
I could write a whole post just about my boss but I'll just cut straight to the juicy stuff...
This job has been all about me cleaning up one big nasty-ass mess. I recognised it in the first day and told my boss in the first week. He had no idea. I told him that I'd seen it all before and that although I could clean it up, I warned him that his business was held together with band-aids and that my first job was to rip them all off. I'd then put all the pieces back together where they were meant to be, so that, at first, it was going to get worse before it got better but that he would notice a difference quite quickly. To which he said Do it!
Well! I could have made a bonfire out of those bandaids.
I've worked no less that 10-20 hours extra a week and while the rest of the company has taken 3 weeks off over the holiday season, I told my boss if he truly wanted me to make a difference, I would have to keep working so I could forensic the ship out of everything!
So I bought all that I needed home and I've worked so hard that some days I've just stayed in my dressing gown, turning a nasty shade of feral. I even found a boil on my butt this morning from sitting down for so many hours at a time!
However, I'm so grateful that I've been through all this before so I knew each wave of overwhelm would pass and at some stage, things would start making sense.
That happened a few days ago.
One minute I was wading through smoke and mirrors and the next I'm looking out a window where there's a reasonably clear view of the future.
That process I just novella'd? That's literally exactly how I overcame my mind, body, soul, relationship and money messes.
I gathered up all the pieces, dumped them all in a heap, took each piece out individually, either binned or cleaned them then merged the pieces until they all worked harmoniously together.
So - what I've been asking myself these past few days is could The Damned Book be about cleaning up messes?
Ironically, another insight I had was that I could use this very process for writing said book...
my best everything
This is my mum and I circa 67.
In her book #inthemeantime, #iyanlavanzant wrote that when we're in our mothers wombs, we're marinating in whatever they're going through. I rang my mum straight away and asked how she felt when she was pregnant with me. She said "I was really happy and content because you were the first thing no one could take off me!" And I've always felt that, so it broke my heart only a few years ago when she admitted she felt like she'd been a bad mum to my brother and I. I've never met another human less selfless or more humble, generous and non judgmental than my mother. She was also the purest teacher for my own mothering attempts, especially since both my grandmother's died before I was born.
Everyone needs at least one rock in their lives who has their back and, having met so many women who don't get on with their mothers, I'm so grateful I hit the jackpot with mine!
So merely days after that last post IT happened.
Well - an IT.
I was almost at the end of my money and I didn't know if I was going to have to move back to the caravan behind my parents in my hometown this weekend, when I got up to a stunning sunny Sunday morning. As I had a shower, I wished upon wish that my son would ask me to go to brunch because I didn't know when I would have to leave and wanted to have one last quality outing with him and I was just so hungry. I could have texted but his airline stewardess girlfriend was home briefly and I was aware of me costing him money as he tries to save. However, just as I was dressing a text came in.
I couldn't text back quick enough.
When he picked me up he said he was sitting at KFC trying to get hold of his friend then suddenly thought Hold on a minute! then texted me instead.
He drove me south to a small village that was brimming with markets and we went straight to the busy cottagey cafe in the middle. He treated me to the most divine brunch with wine and beer and we just relaxed as we caught up on the past week and our progress. After that he drove back another way, through farmlands, until we came to a coastal road and like everyone we passed, we couldn't help but feel excited at the onset of summer.
As we were getting closer to town I said that all I felt like now was a coffee and my day would be complete. Anything else would be a bonus so he drove me to a small coffee shop. He was distracted on his phone and I couldn't bring myself to ask him to pay for it so, trying to stay calm I pulled out the last $20 note I had. When it was ready and the Barista handed it to me, my throat started constricting and tears threatened. I could tell I wasn't going to enjoy it. It was too big and too hot. As we walked back to the car, I was holding back a bout of hyperventilation as I obsessed over what food that wasted $5.50 could have bought instead.
We stopped in at his flat and sat out on the deck as his flatmates came and went, making the most of the fine weather. I drank my not nice but not revolting enough to throw out coffee and just chilled. There was nothing I could do about any of it so there was no point ruining such a relaxing day. After an hour or so we left to pick up his girlfriend then go to a supermarket. They'd invited me to stay for the flats Sunday dinner and needed to get the ingredients. Because I'd been obsessing over my last $14.50, I knew exactly what I would get to last me the week. Two loaves of bread and a block of butter. When we got to the check out, I had to borrow 30c of my son.
So that was it. I only had the money for my last weeks rent and the storage bill due the week after that which meant if I was to move back to the caravan the next weekend, I wouldn't have a cent to get there or pay rent or buy food etc.
Then IT happened.
For many years, at some stage in every day I've felt a profound sense of bliss. I've written about it before because it took me a while to get used to it. So you can imagine my surprise as I sat in the back seat of the car as we drove back to my sons flat, absolutely broke and verging on homeless, when I felt the familiar wave of excitement course through me. Shouldn't I have been feeling the opposite? As my mind processed what was happening I had a sudden jolt of understanding that took my breath away.
In that instant I understood that the material world no longer had any impact on me or my sense of self worth. That no matter where I was, who I was with, what I had or what I was doing, I would be happy! That I would continue to feel this state of bliss no matter what my circumstances.
Can you imagine how profound the resulting sense of freedom was?
Suddenly I knew that I didn't have to WAIT for the next film contract, that I could apply for any job that interested me, because I would be happy in whatever I was accepted for.
That I didn't have to WAIT for the perfect flat. That I could live in any environment, because I would settle in and make myself comfortable wherever I ended up.
I no longer had to WAIT to meet people and be invited to things because I felt worthy of friendship and love.
Ultimately, I hadn't understood until this moment that the pool of love within us is unlimited and, like with food, when you feel full, the last thing you need to think about is your next meal.
The wait is over.
On Monday I gave myself the day to roll around in the enormity of the repurcussions and fully feel the impact then on Tuesday I went to work. I started applying for jobs all over the place and within hours, after weeks of no responses, I had two interviews set up. Then yesterday friends and family started giving me surprise gifts and now it's Thursday night, I have more interviews next week and $848.60 in my bank account.
So. It turns out that the waiting was necessary afterall because if I hadn't, I would have got work sooner and never got to the low point where I was able to join these life changing dots and now, my life CAN truly begin...
Every day for the past 5 or so years I've felt waves of overwhelming bliss and excitement - a side effect that takes a bit of getting used to, that no one tells you about when you #overcomedepression. The excitement always felt like I was just about to have a breakthrough, that something big was just around the corner.
Today my son @cmiley24 picked me up, drove me around some sights and treated me to lunch and dinner because it's probably my last weekend in Auckland. As of this minute I have $3.70 to my name, no car and only the occasional driving shift so, unless a miracle happens in the next few days, I have to go back home to my parents caravan this weekend.
BUT. Despite all this, I was surprised to find I still felt teary with bliss and anticipation.
Do you see how significant this is?! Suddenly I realised the material world no longer had any impact on my sense of wellbeing and contentment.
In other words, it doesn't matter whether I'm in New Plymouth or New York, homeless or in a hotel, with friends or friendless, I will still be profoundly happy.
a far Worse addiction...
You would think that after overcoming addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, dermatilomania (picking), body dysmorphia and, most of all, depression, that I would be making the most of the freedom. I'm an OK writer and speaker, I'm not shy of crowds or camera's and I really really want to help people but I've discovered I have one more addiction and it's more debilitating than all the others put together. I'm addicted to biding time.
To be more specific - biding time until IT happens.
I have no idea but in my mind, it's when the rest of my life will truly begin.
Some might call it procrastination but the very nature of procrastination is avoiding doing something that needs to be done. I don't do that. I spend all day doing things that need to be done, I'm the Queen of taking care of business.
I'm good at lots of things but not exceptional at anything. I have no education and because I didn't stay at school, I never learned how to learn. I take courses but they're usually only a few days long because my attention span isn't so great and I get bored easily. I'll fully immerse myself in something until the novelty wears off then I move on. And because I have such a problem with retention, I then forget everything that I did learn.
So here's the irony.
If IT did happen - like an editor wanting me to write my story or someone inviting me to speak at an event that lead on to other speaking opportunities, or an agency seeing something contract-worthy in me - I would probably get bored and want to move on anyway. And because I know this, I just carry on taking care of business.
And the worst part about perpetually waiting (which can appear as being aimless and lacking motivation) is that others sense it and avoid me. People love being around engaged, progressive people and because I'm always happy and positive, people initially think I'm 'someone' then when they realise I'm not going anywhere, really fast, they move on. Really fast.
I've been this way all my life but it was easier to function before I based my life around contract work that I absolutely love because if I got bored with a job, I would just get another one. But with contract work, I always feel in limbo waiting for the next call and this feels like it's enabling my waiting addiction.
I've tried everything including coming to terms with just settling in to existing but when I try, I get restless. There's something deep inside me that reminds me that there are millions of people suffering and I haven't been through and overcome all that I have to keep that to myself and just work to live.
I do have a personality and presence and stories that people are attracted to, albeit temporarily, and I'm not scared of giving something a go so, as I keep asking myself, is this really about faith? Do I just have to continue to believe in the breakthrough I've felt coming all my life and remain on high alert, planting seeds everyday from my keyboard, convinced I'll get the chance I've dreamed about to help people or am I deluded?
I don't have an answer but in the meantime I'll carry on doing my housework, keeping my ironing up to date, uploading to Instagram and watching movies until something breaks. And judging by my bank account, that could be very soon...
At my mums 70th. I love that one of her friends believes you're never too old for #Barbie and a #handbagdog
I wrote this article for Stuff.co.nz a few years ago...
"I battled with depression, dermatillomania and body dysmorphia from a young age. I escaped school, jobs and friendships until it seemed that escaping life was the only option left that would give me peace.
On the night I decided to take my own life, a voice reminded me that my children needed me. Through this epiphany I realised that I needed to leave my family in order to survive. I flushed all the pills I’d prepared and went to bed.
After I left my family, drug, alcohol and gambling addictions were quickly added to the list.
It took 10 years of self-analysis and self-medication to transform my mind from a cold, black, lifeless cell into a warm, rich oasis but it was worth every tear shed.
I’ve been everything-free for more than seven years now but lately my peaceful mind has become restless. It feels irresponsible to have been through the transformation that I have and not share the journey in the hope that even one troubled mind might see its own potential and start the challenging yet rewarding trek to free itself.
Where did I start?
Acceptance: Finding out this thing I had was called depression, and that others had it, helped me take small steps towards accepting it. There were also steps backwards but the steps forward became leaps once I sorted out my family life.
After having a series of almost comical interactions with professionals and the medication they prescribed, I realised I was the only one who could get myself out of it.
Changing my surroundings: After standing back and looking at my reality, I was surprised to find that no-one was forcing me to think the way I did. I had to admit to myself that it was all in my head and that maybe my illness was due to my perceptions of my reality.
I also noticed that others were living in worse conditions than me yet they seemed to be level headed and positive about their situation. Why couldn’t I be this way?
I set about overhauling everything I listened to, looked at, read, wore and did. I purged out anything dark, black or negative and surrounded myself with colour, positivity and hope. Even if my mind was still in the depths of despair, everything around me was supporting my intention to change.
Mantras: I walked everywhere and I started reciting a mantra with every step: “Every day in every way, my life keeps getting better and better”.
This was a classic ‘fake it till you make it’. I was reciting this mantra even as tears of despair were streaming down my face but what I realised was that while these words were going over and over in my mind, other more dangerous ones couldn’t.
Painting: I’d never painted before but someone gave me some paints and I found some scrap boards. I only had one rule and that was not to judge anything I did.
I went from timid scribbles to massive flourishes of colour. None of it was understood by or desirable to others but the paint may as well have been the blackness in my head and with each brush stroke I felt like I was hemorrhaging out years of darkness.
Writing: I wrote voraciously. I was living in a small caravan nestled between two beautiful big native trees on a bank overlooking the sea. While looking out over the beach, I would write endlessly until I got growths on my fingers.
I wrote about torments past and fears for the future. I wrote questions about my sanity.
I will always think of this time as The Great Purge.
I also created a Note To Self book where I would write any breakthroughs or positive comments people made that I could reflect on.
Music: I found that certain tracks triggered hours of sobbing, after which I always felt better, so I put together playlists of themes. I still have them to this day and when I hear them now, they bring back visceral feelings of that time but the tears are now of appreciation and gratitude of how far I’ve come since then.
Reading: I read every self-help book that I was offered or could find. Like the mantras, while my mind was being pre-occupied by external words, especially words of hope, there was no room for internal words of doom.
I set about learning about myself through numerology, eastern and western astrology etc and I found that a lot of the aspects I fought against or saw as negative in my make-up, I was able to reframe.
Sayings: I knew I had to cut the negative thought patterns off at the pass. So every time my mind started wandering down a dark alley of negativity, I would cut it off with an internal, non-negotiable voice saying ‘That’s not helpful!’.
Charts: I created a chart where I could monitor my ups and downs five times a day. I started noticing the correlation between those ups and downs and my monthly cycle, my diet, how much sleep I was getting, what substances I was taking and who I was associated with. I still use this tool when I go through the occasional down day just to check in if it might be because of one of these factors, or something deeper I need to look into.
Diet: When my living circumstances changed and it was my job to prepare healthy meals, the lifting of my mood changed dramatically almost overnight so I became hyper aware of my food and liquid intake.
Moving: In my darkest times I would spend 20 hours a day in bed. I had to force myself into the shower but then I would spend 20 hours alternating between bed and couch. What I noticed was that even though I was still not functioning, just the act of moving from one room to the other would often divert my attention from the constant cycle of doom.
Higher power: I knew I couldn’t afford to reject anything that might be helpful so I allowed myself to delve into spirituality. After an exceptionally moving experience one Easter, I hesitantly and skeptically asked ‘this God thing’ into my life with such profound results that I never doubted again. I went on to investigate (and reject) many different religions and just settled on the concept of God as the perfect aspect of my Self. This was probably the biggest turning point in my recovery. I’m not religious but I found that having a positive, all loving and compassionate external entity to believe in when I had nothing internal to pin my hopes on was transformative to say the least.
For ten years I was essentially in a constant one person, two-minded battle that I fought with words and images every single day. I knew I was extremely narcissistic but I was able to accept it because I needed to spend every second thinking about my Self in order just to survive.
I eventually understood that the manic episodes were just me trying to fit everything I could into the brief moments I felt normal. I would contact friends and family, apply for jobs, submit proposals, spend money I didn’t have, make massive changes to my surroundings and appearance and party with a franticness that knew it had a limited time span before the cave beckoned again.
I learnt that everything was relative to each individual’s frames of reference which helped me accept my appearance, background and skills (or lack of) as unique to me.
After I moved away from my home town for a fresh start, I had to ring my doctor back home to find out my blood type. When they admitted they’d lost my records, I suddenly saw my life as a crisp white piece of blank paper on a clipboard and it was up to me what got recorded on it from here on in.
As the depression faded away, so did every one of the other addictions. And I say ‘other addictions’ because, on hindsight, I realised that depression, for me, was an addiction to negative thinking. Once I broke that cycle, I eventually became free and today I’m a sickeningly happy and content 50 year old who wouldn’t change anything about my past because it gives me empathy and a visceral understanding of what others are going through."
What my feet taught me today...
I've moved from the easiness of living in a caravan behind my parents in my hometown of New Plymouth, and coasting on the savings from my last two film jobs, to an exquisite but expensive room in Auckland with a borrowed car and, I've realised, fast running out borrowed time till my savings vanish.
Even though I have a longer term film contract starting here in January, I know I need to find some inbetween work so I've been applying for anything that interests me. 3 temping agencies, a talent agency and a modeling agency.
But here's the thing...
After the initial high of adapting and settling in to a rampantly fascinating new environment, I came down.
Only the talent agency got back to me, I had an interview with them, then I chickened out of going any further.
I could feel my confidence retreating. Not wanting to go out and blaming the weather. Not wanting to chase up the applications and blaming inexperience. The only thing it's wanted to do is cut all my hair off, blaming boredom and restlessness.
I've been watching and listening to all the right people - Gabrielle Bernstein, Brene Brown etc and keeping up with exercise but feeling stuck. Here I am again. Busy every day doing nothing.
Then today I had one of those 'nothing fits or looks right' mornings.
I've been blessed with a filter that can only see the good in my body, no matter how many excess ripples or rolls but even I had to acknowledge that no agency would hire me if I didn't tone up a bit.
I'm going soft.
I am also, however, blessed with the ability to keep plugging on until I do feel right. Until I do get a breakthrough. Even if it's just small and personal.
So after my fifth outfit change, in desperation to break out the confines of my wardrobes stifling box, I went to change my flat practical shoes for the outrageous stiletto boots.
Two things happened.
First I saw that I now had calluses on the balls of my feet from last week when I wore my next highest boots to the interview with the talent agency. I'd developed crippling blisters so that it was either hobble or clench my teeth while walking home. And I could not bring myself to hobble!
Next, I was actually able to walk in the stilettos!
This won't sound like much to you (and probably don't look that high either) but I've been buying cheap stiletto's for years just to wear around home and practise, determined to one day walk effortlessly on the pinpoint heels. And after 20 years, today was the day! It was magic. Like when you learn to drive or type and suddenly your brain switches off and lets muscle memory do its thing.
So what my feet taught me was that, despite seeing myself as soft, I do have the ability to do serious work, to grit my teeth through the inevitable pain and that, in fact, without that pain, I wouldn't get the calluses I needed to toughen me up and carry me to the next level. And, yet again, to have faith. To switch my brain off and let my body take over. It knows what's expected of it. It will perform when it's required but it will never get the chance if my brain keeps micro-managing every potential opportunity.
As always, I'm not sure what new doors these breakthroughs will open but I'm now ready to knock on a few more to find out....
Please Like Me observations...
When on the hunt for Jonah from Tonga, I signed up for Netflix and after binge watching Jonah, Okja, Minimalism and Please Like Me, I may even keep the subscription going after the first free month. So far, it's been really worth it.
The first episode of Please Like Me is a struggle. The main character (and writer) is Josh Thomas and his awkwardness is a bit cringey to start with but right from the start you can see the brilliant acting, strong story lines, unexpected twists and gritty conversations.
That the majority of these conversations and twists are around having mental health issues and being gay (not necessarily related in this show btw), is brave enough but they're handled exceptionally well and anyone struggling with either of these issues would find this show both stimulating and refreshing in it's head-on-ness.
There's no meanness. There's no good versus evil. Everyone is just trying to get on with theirs and others dysfunctions with self awareness and humour.
Most of all, however, it's wracked with raw honesty.
If humans could learn to be honest without being mean, and learn how to take this honesty without offense, they would develop more meaningful relationships, be more courageous and not be so afraid to love.
I was shocked to see it was 3:30am when the binge spell was momentarily broken by a full bladder and also thrilled that there are two more seasons to watch and talk of more...
Jonah From Tonga observations...
It's sad that people are so racist, all they can see and react to is the brown face/Tongan aspect of Jonah from Tonga.
That is judgement at its most base. Judging something from it's external appearance without giving it a chance.
Yes, Jonah is painful to watch because he's clearly troubled but he isn't troubled because he's Tongan, he's troubled because he's an adolescent.
Chris Lilley's writing is exceptional in the way he sets up relationships, showing how complications and misunderstandings arise, especially with Jonah's naivete.
But he also shows the compassion and empathy of those who Jonah most antagonises.
It's a shame the majority of those reacting can't see that this series, as with Summer Heights High, gives adults and young teens an opportunity to view the complexities of the adolescent transition.
There are strong story lines around the characters who don't give up on them and the resulting trust and respect the young ones develop with them (reference when the boys sing the traditional Tongan song for someone who is leaving, to their favourite teacher)
This is what should be taken away from both series.
To see the children, not their behaviour and the ultimate outcome of resilience.
It's such a shame that the Maori TV Board have taken away this opportunity, projecting their 'adult' views on a series, that could have a positive impact on the adolescent viewers.
These series could be a relevant resource to use in class to draw out children experiencing difficulties. Pointing out Jonah's behaviour, why the adults react the way they do, then how they could do things differently.
Yes, I'm a sickeningly optimistic idealist and I'm hoping, for the kids sake, others are too...
I'm going to tell you a story so you may want to round up your attention span...
Over 25 years ago, I was pushing the double buggy with Charley and Gracie happily lolling around in the recline position and Jess running beside it. My best friend and confidante, Michelle was pushing Kristie-Lee and Raquel and Moomoo was mooching along beside Jess. Even though there was no-one in sight, I looked around over both my shoulders to make sure no-one could hear us and nervously said to Michelle, I've got something to tell you. Her eyes lit up and she said Ooooh - what?! Shaking and with my stomach a concrete slab of butterflies, I admitted that I really wanted to join ROCK100, the new radio station that had just started up.
I was surprised by her lack of surprise. She looked at me with an "And?!"
Her blatant faith in me gave me the courage to ring the station where I talked to the open-minded Peter. I became a volunteer copy writer within weeks then went on to be not only paid but, over the next year, I became the Promotions Manager (thanks Violet!).
Fast forward to a few years ago... I could see the sun over the other side of our office so I decided to go out and get my own lunch for a change, rather that relying on the runner to bring it to my desk.
As I was strolling in the lurid sunlight down a quaint street in Dunedin, marveling at the architecture and the unseasonal warmth on my back and feeling blissfully lucky to be there, that conversation suddenly came back to me.
Here I was, a Payroll Accountant in the film industry. On location, no less. And I wasn't even exaggerating. That's exactly what would be on the credits when they finally rolled.
Suddenly I realised that if someone had told me all those years before, as I lumbered along in my black Adidas trackies and ugg boots, dragging my suicidal depression behind me, that I was going to be doing this role in the future, I would have been devastated at their cruelty. Back then, imagining myself in the radio industry seemed ludicrous enough.
At that moment, on that blinding sunny day in Dunedin, I realised that they weren't the Delusions of Grandeur I'd been mocked mercilessly with by two family members so many years before, they were, in fact, Dreams of Greatness and that the overwhelming depression I was suffocated in back then represented the seemingly impossible divide between the reality of my current stark state and the magnificence I imagined for myself.
So, I have a message for those who feel their life is a void of nothingness and can't see any obvious path to the brilliance they secretly envisage for themselves...
That brilliance is a mere fraction of what the Universe has planned for you. Whatever you see for yourself is based on your limited perception of what you deserve and what you're capable of but if you keep pushing, regardless of your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual state, the Universe's bottom rung of the ladder will still be be a mountain above your most optimistic view for yourself.
There are only three things you need to do: be open-minded, let go of the need for perfection and have faith in yourself and your abilities to come to the party, when it's thrust upon you.
Because I can tell you from the experience of someone who had no education, no connections and no redeeming features to buy/brag/con their way into success, miracles do happen. When you see that tiny crack of light beckoning you to that world you dreamed of, you just have to back yourself and be ready to give it whatever you have, no matter how unprepared you might feel. And take my word for it, if it doesn't unfold as you imagined, ditch the GPS, put on your favourite playlist then buckle up for one mindfunk of a roadie...
Fathers moving down in the world
Tex Eric Schwass is moving down in the world, but in his world, that means closer to the front door and home.
Last night the earthquake shook his hospital bed over to the wall but apart from that, he was OK. I think he was even more OK when they moved him down to the 2nd floor today. He'll be in room 6 by himself for the next few weeks because it has a hoist thingy and the hoist game started last week.
I could hear the tears in his voice on Friday when he rang to say a few physio's turned up and told him he was going to walk. His was of describing the physio girls is that they're lucky to be 7 stone wringing wet so, having a little left over trauma from the original fall, he said No I'm not! But another 3 turned up, including a guy and with the hoist, he was up on his feet in seconds. When he walked out into the hall, all the nurses were out there waiting and clapped and cheered. No wonder he was so emotional. He's been lying there for 6 weeks dreading that he might not walk again and not walking means not going home - wherever that home might end up being so it was a real achievement and relief for him.
But almost every minute of those 6 weeks he's been obsessing about food. He went on a hunger strike weeks ago and refused to eat anything off the menu so I had to bring up lunch and dinner every day. One night I was feeding him fish from the cafeteria downstairs and he asked his room mate what he was eating for dinner. I couldn't help myself, I said Exactly the same as you except you're the only one paying for it! But that backfired didn't it because then he refused to eat anything I bought up from the cafe too.
He's been spoilt silly (and luckily he knows it too). He's had whitebait fritters, pancakes, lemon pepper seafood salad, garlic prawns from Okurukuru, about 18 chicken wings that New World put in the oven specially for him etc. What worries me is his latest obsession is getting one of those small thermowave ovens so he can cook himself chicken wings whenever he feels like it when he gets home.
Last week he asked me to pick him up some shorts because physio said he could be hoisted into the hot pool for exercise. When I got up to his room and bought out some budgie smugglers, he looked like the world had ended and taken his sense of humour with it. I can never keep a straight face for very long so I let him off the hook and bought out some shorts but he'll probably have to use the speedos anyway because he's got zero buttage now.
He still gets visitors everyday and his favourite thing to do is get one of them to wheel him down in his wheelchair to sit outside. Each day I have new requests. A few days ago it was for his dressing gown, Yesterday it was for a hat and sunglasses. Quite often he'll be sitting out in the courtyard near the front entrance with someone and other visitors will walk by and seeing them, join in - giving new meaning to Holding Court. He had me push him all over the hospital the other day so I took him to the chapel. Part of him didn't want to go near it but I could tell another part was fascinated by the wooden oasis in the middle of the sea of sterile lino.
In amongst all of this, I inadvertently started a business. It's called The E Team (www.eteam.nz) and I clean up big messes. The ones no one else wants to. This means I use Fathers truck and fire pit every single day. Some might see it as a sneaky way out of having to take him up his lunch but luckily he doesn't and he's so happy to see me every night - asking what I've done that day, how the truck's going etc. He's been so supportive and threw me into a mess of tears the other night when he said he wanted to gift me the truck and tipper trailer. I asked him if he was sure because that truck has been his pride and joy for the last year but he realistically said he wasn't likely to need it again, except to move late February. I was so moved because these past 6 weeks have had their ups and downs as you can imagine and when he said it was the least he could do for all that I'd done for him over the past 18 months, not only did I feel appreciated, but validated too. Man it feels good to be a trippy chick with a tipper truck!
The original tender fell through by the way. And the subsequent sale has had some tricky issues around it that I've put in a formal complaint about so yes, the farm is sold, but we're not sure for exactly how much, when Father has to be gone by or what the financial terms are. We don't even have any paperwork so I would give you more information but we don't have it. What we do know(ish) is that Father has to be gone sometime around the end of Feb, beginning of March which gives him plenty of time to rehab and get walking. We're not sure either if he'll have to rent or will be able to afford to buy somewhere but we'll keep you posted. It's good that Father is already planning the process and told me the other day I'd better start getting boxes and might have to arrange storage. He's not planning to get rid of any of the rust around his place though - that all comes too ;-(
So, all is well overall. Although the xrays show he's not healing very well, they're still moving forward with physical therapy and he's still his usual cheerful self and I kid you not, is gagging to get into his exercise so he can walk again but I swear it's only to get to Noel Leemings to chose that damn chicken wing cooker!
Isn't it fascinating when we know what a word means but don't truly get it till we experience it.
Now that I'm 50, I have no time to lose and have become unapologetically prolific with sharing words of love, acceptance and encouragement with every comment, post and f2f interaction. And rather than being worried about those friends who will inevitably turn off my posts on Facebook, I'm seeing a group of the same loving, accepting and supportive friends liking every post. It's that simple. You get what you give.
But it's also about relativity, yet again.
How friends react is in direct proportion to what they're attracted to or learning from right now.
I'm in no way offended by those who might ignore anything I have to say.
It's not that they don't like or respect me or what I'm saying, it's just that their attention is focused on something else right now. Just as I don't always respond to others. None of it's personal.
I used to despise Facebook and resent how reliant I'd got on it as the only way of keeping in touch with the people all over the world who I really care about but I think I just hadn't understood the system enough to get the most out of it.
I'm now able to manipulate the algorithms so they only suggest what I am in fact interested in. I finally Liked the right page to send me down a rabbit hole wonderland of links to words that mean something to me and I'm sharing the shit out of all of them and I'm even starting to share some of my own...
Documentary or Based on True Story are my go to genres lately. In that order.
Music isn't really featuring that much but what I've started calling Motivids continue to have the most influence on my progress I think I've ever had from one source.
Every time I start doubting myself, I'll put on an hour long track and feel it reinfuse me with belief. I'm even starting to know whole portions of speeches so when I talk along with them, I feel the power at an even more visceral level. I've told you before how I have trouble projecting my voice but I've been feeling stirings of these strong words coming up through my chest like a volcano.
It wasn't an oozing golden stream of strength that came out today when I yelled at my SonofaNPD father though. It was sharp, heavy rocks and black, claustrophobic ash. It was dramatic. But it was real. And it was newly articulate as I heard myself speak in the voices I'd been programming myself with. As I hung up on him I realised straight away that it was the closest I'd had to my throat opening up fully so even though I was deeply upset, I felt euphoric too. In fact, both experiences made me feel out of sorts but I told my self, in my new motivid voice, to get comfortable with the discomfort. Which I did almost as soon as it came out of where those pieces of advice come from.
Later in the afternoon Father rang back and even though my not-so-grown-up was tempted to reject his call, I felt calmer so picked up. He was ringing to find out if I'd asked my cousin to make the stuffing for all the meat he and his friends had arranged for my 50th birthday party in a few weeks.
As if nothing had happened.
I'd forgotten this part about him.
Not the generosity. Focusing entirely on that is the only way I can be in an ongoing relationship with him.
I'd forgotten his ability to forgive.
One of the beautiful anomalies about someone with NPD is that they don't have the gene that allows them to see when they're wrong. It doesn't even occur to them that they could ever be wrong so forgiveness is easy for them. They're also devoid of empathy, so their version of forgiveness is the closest thing to empathy they have to give.
So here's the Based on True Story reveal...
It took getting furious with the one person who would forgive me, to finally unshackle my voice.
I also found out this afternoon that genuine moving-right-along forgiveness is the ultimate proof of non-judgement and acceptance. And it was only when the fresh air of my fathers forgiveness floated through that I felt the holes lack of them had created.
15 years ago I was living in my office. (My 'company' provided administration services to the rest of the offices). Others might have seen my living situation as pitiful but I was in a historic building in the middle of a botanic gardens so I felt privileged. My filing cabinet was my wardrobe and I slept under my desk on a row of pillows which turned out to be really good for my back. There was a shower in the females bathroom down the hall and I had a local laundry come pick up my washing once a week. Once others in the building realised I was living there, they would leave casseroles outside my door and if they were leaving late and my lights were out, they'd tap on my door and whisper Goodnight E.
The only thing I had to avoid were the security guards who would often shine their torches through my reception window but I always arranged my pillows at just the right angle under my desk so they wouldn't see me.
A company just down the hall from me were a couple in their early 40's who worked together. She was extremely outgoing, he was extremely not. Naturally they were among the first to notice I was living there and were curious about my background. Dangerous question for anyone to ask if they've got an appointment in the next 3 days! I never hold back and went on to share that not only was I poor (obviously) but that I had severe depression. I was then really surprised when the guy admitted he suffered from depression too. I was even more surprised when he explained that it was from an overwhelming feeling of helplessness at not being able to do anything about the worlds problems. It had never occurred to me that there might be other sorts of depressions. Sure the root was helplessness - but that it was triggered by other peoples suffering was what moved me.
Ever since then, whenever my breath is taken away and replaced by a stream of tears at terminal injustice, I think of him.
Those tears had started before the first credits of this movie and my chest still feels like a block of concrete 2 hours later after watching what can only be described as inexcusable brutality to human rights.
When my colleague told me about his depression, my first response was to be relieved I didn't have that form. But ever since then I've wondered what other triggers there might be. The garden variety (if I can say that without it sounding trivialising) must be self helplessness - ie: having some view of oneself and/or ones lifestyle and feeling unable to do anything about it.
Are there any others that could be surprising to know?
I only ask because empathy grows with deeper understanding and I have no limit to how deep I'm prepared to go to get it...
An Attitude Lesson...
A few weeks ago I made a declaration in my journal that I was ready to speak and demanded that the Universe start throwing things at me. Later that night I was thinking about my step-fathers 70th coming up and suddenly drew in a sharp breath of fear and said out loud - "Oh no! Don't make me do a speech!!"
What the what?!
Hadn't I just signed up for that very thing?
Luckily, because I'm my own therapist, I was able to see the contradiction in only a few hours and nervously but happily went on to say a well received speech the next weekend.
This afternoon I went to see a dear friend I hadn't seen for many years and we talked non-stop for 3 hours. The last time we hung out 18-20 years ago I was still at my worst so I was able to give the short version of the progress I'd made then finished by relating the last post. Of course she was supportive and I left feeling heard and optimistic again.
As I was driving home I ran the conversations from the past week over in my head and realised, again, that I had been giving mixed messages and straight out contradicting myself.
PMA post 2 days ago..."...but I still hadn't felt worthy of commenting" (saying I don't comment)
PMA post today... "I just can't understand why the words I share appear to go into a black hole..." (saying I do comment but no-one notices)
An online mental health organisation to me... "I've seen 2 of your comments on the page, and you seem to know your stuff, do you think you would be interested in volunteering for us?" (someone noticing and giving wonderful feedback and asking if I want to be more involved)
The same online organisation a few weeks later..."You've given the right advice! You know exactly what to say and how to help! ...would you be interested in having a chat?" (someone else noticing and giving more wonderful feedback and asking to chat more)
My responses back to the organisation..."Thanks so much to for being so inclusive and asking me a few times to chat and even become more involved...as much as I would love to chat, I know myself well enough not to at this stage. I'll just keep commenting occasionally if that's OK with you all" (shutting down any communication)
It couldn't be clearer. I'm giving mixed messages everywhere I go - it's no wonder I go no steps forward and a few steps back.
How often do we do this with our most aching desires? Pining to be on stage yet sabotaging every free back stage pass?
When I was depressed I would have closed my curtains in shame, crawled into my duvet and these conversations would have been my new favourite Failure playlist to drown in.
Tonight though, I'll go to bed feeling satisfied that I've taken notice, hopefully learnt and keen to exercise this new understanding of giving clear messages.
As I was writing that last paragraph, the darling friend I visited sent me this poignant message just now...
"It was so lovely to catch up today, you were and are still one of the most amazing souls I have ever meet. You're a breath of fresh air to talk with and I'm blessed you're in my life. I think back to how you virtually saved my life, they were some dark days for me 😞 But bad times make you stronger and I'm thankful for my life today. Thank you for your visit, it makes me feel humble. You're a strong stunning women, and when I hear stories of struggle or hardship, it not only gives me strength and hope but also courage xxxxx"
When I read that, through tears of gratitude, I heard the Universe saying, Don't give up on those dreams to help others just yet...
A Cry To Help...
All I think about every minute of every day is how I can share the valuable, transferable information I taught myself to become free of depression and addictions. I contribute online where I can, I have an open and honest website and blog, I journal breakthroughs and observations daily, I apply for grants with the aim of writing a book, I check in with my friends and whanau/family who are struggling and I research endlessly.In a world of Likes and Shares and Referrals and Viral posts, I just can't understand why the words I share appear to go into a black hole. I'm always asking myself what I can do better, researching how I can write more engagingly, looking at my personality flaws to see if I might be self-sabotaging what feels like such a pure intent and I couldn't have made it any clearer that I want feedback, no matter what you have to say, but with 0.1% response.
My mission statement has been the same for over 30 years.
"To help people feel better about themselves"
And only recently, with a heightened sense of urgency, I added the words "en masse" at the end. A reporter even did an article of my offer to talk to groups - any groups of any size - about overcoming depression and addictions. The article was a disaster and I had her remove it from online before it could go to print but even then, it had been up for over 14 hours with no response.
What more can I do?
My ultimate goal is to meet others who've overcome adversity, identify what tools we all used and share them relentlessly but I can't seem to get past my own keyboard.
This is my last cry to help.
I'm financially comfortable, have few commitments and even though I have the same fear as anyone else about putting myself in the public eye, all I think about are those who are suffering. My fear is momentary - their pain is interminable. It feels irresponsible to have experienced that pain, overcome it to be a happy and content every day and not share that process.
It will break my heart to give up trying but at some point (and that point is my turning 50 in a few weeks) you have to acknowledge when somethings not working and move on.
If you have any suggestions or feedback, hopefully you now get an idea of how valuable they would be to me...
I watched a few documentaries about child poverty in the weekend. The kids lived (mostly) in squalor but they seemed happy enough. They were all exceptionally perceptive about themselves and their parents, knowing they were doing their best. Most of the kids went to breakfast club and often didn't get lunch or dinner but when the parents were interviewed, I couldn't help but notice the nails, jewellery, styled hair, cigarettes, alcohol etc.
At first I was horrified that it seemed I was being judgemental but I have a saying - Observation is when you notice the guy walking toward you has tattoo's on his face, judgement is crossing the street before he gets to you. In other words, I was merely observing because I didn't suddenly decide they were bad parents.
I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong in the mix. If the parents cared (which they clearly did), why were some of these children living in such horrendous conditions and missing out on food? One boy even had to wear his older sisters hand me down clothes to go to school and was bullied mercilessly.
In the early hours of the morning, the answer woke me from my sleep.
It's all about priorities.
Every member of the family was struggling and the things some of the parents spent their meagre income on were prioritised - often, obviously, their sanity (cigarettes and alcohol) being more important than groceries. I'm still not judging - I've been that person. I'm just now more aware.
So, here's where all this went...
Whenever something hits home with a whumpf like that one did, I always have to run it through my mental health database and see if it fits in somewhere and I was able to see so clearly that my climb out of the pits of despair started when I changed my priorities. I had identified that depression, for me, was an addiction to negative thinking and self-loathing so I changed my priorities overnight to focus on positivity and finding things to even just like about myself.
Even though I'm a nobody in every sense of the word - I'm 50 in a few weeks, live wayyy under the radar in my parents caravan and survive on a benefit - I'm extremely happy and content.
I had been questioning whether I was deluding myself and was in fact a loser doing nothing each week but writing and traveling between both sets of parents, but within the context of priorities, I was so relieved to see that with my priorities being to look after both sets of parents and help the few friends I have whenever I can, that I'm far from a loser. Suddenly, giving up a lucrative career in the film industry seemed a very small price to pay for all my parents safety, health and happiness.
What do you think?
When you review the issues in your life are you able to identify a priority that could be adjusted? Or are you able to see yourself in a different, more favourable light when you acknowledge your priorities?
Do you see this relating to another aspect of your life?
I'd be curious to know...
Pimp My Attitude
You need to know, right now, this is all about me. I'm not educated. I don't have any (non-driving related) qualifications therefore, I'm not about to tell you what you should do - I know my place.
And here you are.
At my place.
So - welcome.
If you're here for 10 seconds, I won't even know so I won't be offended that you left early.
If you're here for hours and keep coming back, I will consider you a friend because the only thing my diverse yet loyal friends have in common, and what I appreciate most about them, is that they just keep coming back..