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Entries in perseverance (14)

Tuesday
Feb052013

How am I making it through?

Apparently, the key to overcoming a long-held fear is to begin ... and so I did.  (here is what I did)

It helps to have important dates and milestones along the way: tests and assignments due regularly, and the grande finale of an exam in a couple of weeks that marks the end - except for the bit about waiting to see if I passed!. Some of the dates near the start were about giving up, pulling out, deferring. They were opportunities to bail on the whole mad scheme – to give into the fear. 

Make a start – that’s the hard part. 

Turn around and face the thing you fear. Diminish its power over you.

Name what scares you the most. Share it somewhere – write it down, tell someone, say it to the wind – whatever! Just get it out.

Then put one foot in front of the other. Each day do something little that helps you towards your goal. 

When (not if – cos it will!) looking at the big goal makes you feel queasy, glance away and decide on how you will proceed for today only. 

When the distractions arrive, or the self-talk creeps in telling you “it can wait” or “this is more important” – tell yourself “you made a start, this other stuff is resistance, you are on the path towards a goal and the only thing for it is to keep going”.

And the big distraction I was offered was impressive.

A couple of weeks into the course my son broke his leg. In our case, this meant that he needed to have three weeks off school, then it was two weeks school holidays. When he could finally return to school, I needed to go four times a day to help him up and down three flights of stairs (no lift). I had to pull back on my work hours, change appointments, stop doing as much writing, socialising, reduce my “free” time and dig in for a month.

When I was sitting in the hospital for two days while they sorted out his leg, I thought to myself “oh no, I just started … maybe I should pull out, this is going to be too hard to manage all at the same time”. It would have a been a decent excuse. But I knew it was just that!

An excuse. It was my fear talking.  So I kept going. 

And here I am, with two and a half weeks to go before the exam (THAT’S a whole other experience!) and while I am feeling quite anxious about the exam experience, I know that I am almost there. I know that I am closer to my goal than I would have been if I'd never started… that I am one big step closer to the thing I have wanted for so long.

I say a big step closer because this wasn't simply a case of studying a subject that doesn't enthrall me, this was about overcoming a fear that has plagued me for twenty-five years.

And now I am free - not because I passed (I don't know how this all ends) but because I am beyond the point where the fear has control of my life and my choices.  

Name the fear that is standing in your way ...

sarah xx

Monday
Nov192012

Motivation vs ability.

Two days ago I signed up to do something that terrifies me - something that has held me back for years. I decided I'd had enough. As the saying goes "change only occurs when the pain of staying the same becomes too great" ... I guess I'm there cos I fear not following this dream more than I fear doing this course.

I was fourteen when I began to realise that my grasp of Maths was not great ... my Maths teacher when I was fifteen gave me enough of a push that I studied extra hard to pass my exams of that year. When Math morphed into Statistics and Calculus in later years I was completely lost. I recall sitting in the Basic Maths course during my first year at university (college) with 500 other students and an uncomprehendable lecturer writing on an overhead projector screen and thinking to myself "nah, can't do it", leaving and never returning. 

After that, I just managed around it. Mathematics at that level never really came into my life - I was gratified of course to find that I didnt "need that silly course anyway!!" ... but the truth is I do. And I want it. I want to banish this idea that I can not do Math. I want to move on in my career and education and I need Maths to do it. I am no longer enjoying this limitation I have placed on myself and my development.

Can't or cannot implies a lack of ability to do something. I don't believe I lack the ability to apply myself to most things. What I have definitely lacked up until now was the motivation to do it. 

Ability or know-how and motivation are very different things. Without motivation, know-how is pretty useless. 

My motivation for putting myself through this potentially excruciating experience is that, like the chicken or the Billy Goats Gruff, I want to get to the other side. I want what is on offer over there. To get there I have to go through - after years of going around this one I can finally admit that.

So it's not, and has never been, a lack of ability. It's always been a lack of motivation. The HOW of things is most often very easy - these days even easier than before! 

It's the MOTIVATION that takes time to find. Without motivation, ability or know-how is nothing. 

Sarah xx

 

Monday
Jul162012

Shut-down vs sharing into the big, loud, silence.

The responses to this recent post have been few and varied: private emails; public posts; one or two phonecalls; and the rest has been about big, loud, silence.  While that silence could be enough to convince many of us that shut-down is preferable, there is a point at which shut-down becomes scarier than sharing. 

Many of us take the plunge and tell someone about the ‘stuff’ inside us… in the hope of being heard.  Many of us take that risk only to find that we are free falling into the big, loud, silence – or the discomfort of others as they change the subject, grapple for words to respond to us, tell us about their experiences instead, avoid us, tell us we are imagining it or that someone else has it worse than us, or that we just need to ‘get over it’. 

Once we have risked it once and found the vulnerability and silence too much to bear – what next? We push it down, we deny it, we take it to mean there is something wrong with us, we resolve to ‘sort it out’, we make a note-to-self not to tell anyone else … we begin the shut-down. 

Gradually we become skilled at the shut-down … until the day when we are not. The day when it starts to leak. The day when we turn to alcohol, drugs, food, work, sex, co-dependent relationships, self-harm in all its forms, anything we can find that stops the leak – even temporarily. 

Even with our new ‘coping skills’ we struggle along, battling the truth at every turn, convincing ourselves that shut-down is the only solution – because telling someone, sharing, sitting in the discomfort of our feelings is waaaaay too scary...

... until shut-down becomes scarier than sharing. Until we cannot stem the leaks anymore. Until we are watching as our life starts morph around us.

Then we realise that that shut-down is no longer a solution.

Change only occurs when the pain of staying the same becomes too great.

Are you there yet? 


Sarahxx

Thursday
May312012

My annual journey into the dark.

Last Saturday, my youngest child turned 8 years old. One of the most remarkable things about this event each year is that it provides me with a moment of recall and reflection: of a different, tougher time in my life - a time when I barely held on...

... a time when I was in so much pain that taking my life, or leaving my family was the only solution I could see to saving them all. 

Each year on my daughter's birthday I am reminded of her first year of life. I had barely finished breast-feeding her older brother before she was showing in my body.  There was little time (for me at least) to get a handle on the new world I was living in, the choice I had made and the consequences/results of that choice. There was little time for my relationship to catch up and right itself enough to handle a second child. Little time to re-find Sarah to the extent that I could find her again easily enough after a second child arrived.

Each year I recall the people around me who "saw" me. I remember the ones whe reached out to me in small ways to encourage me to hang in there (what for exactly I had no idea at the time), the people who told me it would get easier. 

It was a terrifying place to be. A place of such disconnection from my Self, my partner, my children and my place in the world around me. A lot of it felt familiar: I recognised the signs from feelings I had after the birth of my son.

I stood in my kitchen crying at 3am night after night, imagining my departure from the family and my death, or both. I came up with ways to distance myself further from my children and partner - to ensure that they would not have to put up with me any longer: not suffer my messiness, my anger, my pain, my abhorrence of those parts of my Self I found faulted, lacking, imperfect.

I wanted to run and hide from my incompetence, my inability to feel, my numbness, my psychotic moments. I wanted to save them all from me. I was certain my death would be a better all-round solution. I would do the one thing I could do to help them all - I would take myself out of the equation for good

I believed it was something that so many Mothers had no experience of ... and now I know that SO MANY do.

I didn't talk to anyone about how I was feeling: that would have been the ultimate failure ... to show the crazy shit that was in my mind? No way!

Then one of those 3am mornings I decided that I had to hang on: that an imperfect mother was better than no mother at all, that my 3am madness was just that ... a sickness, a dis-ease. 

I went in and woke up my partner (now husband). I told him the crazy stuff I had been thinking for months. I let it all tumble out into the darkness and cold. I let him see my insides. I risked it: I showed him my dirty, nasty guts, my diseased mind.

(He's a great sleeper and 3am wake-ups are not his forte - so you can imagine what it was like for him!!!)

I talked out all the acid and hate. I shared the black, dark poison inside me. I dumped it all upon him, unable to take responsibility for it all (at that point) or to know what to do with it: I knew I had to get it out into the light if I was going to be able to hang on. 

It was the moment I began the journey back. I knew by my actions that I wanted to live and love more than I wanted to die or leave.

I know now that I always wanted that and always will - but that mental illness has a way of making us think things that are not true. 

I know the value of having someone to turn to in the wee small hours of terror.

I know the importance of facing the fear, shining a light upon it, baring its core, sifting through the pieces to see what is, and what isn't real. 

I know the courage it takes. I understand the risk that it is. I honor and value that journey. 

I take it every year ... to remind myself of how far I went and how far I've come. 

Where does your journey take you? 

Sarahxx

 

Wednesday
May022012

Magical Questions: what if things were different?

In an effort to re-focus myself and my life, I have been asking myself the above question: What if things were different? ... the answers are a relevation to me, and provide a plan for making changes in my life.

In my case I decided to ask myself "What if I was single? - how would I live my life?

I hasten to add that I am NOT imagining yukky things happening to my lovely husband ... or the disappearance of my children.

I love them all but I know that the role I play as Mother and Wife is easy enough to hide behind at times ... I mean by raising children I am already "doing" something right?

No. I suspect that at times the busy-ness of these two roles, along with my work, leave me feeling little energy or inspiration for working out if the way I am living my life is how I really want it to be.  

If I could wave a magic wand and change things, what would I change about my life now?

The extension of that question is the concept that if there are things I would change (waving a magic wand seems like a great, easy way to proceed don't you think?) then why don't I change them anyway?

With vulnerabililty, I share with you my list. I wrote it in full indulgence of my imagination ... 

  • I would still raise my children

  • I would continue my education

  • I would diversify my income sources 

  • I would travel more

  • I would see more movies

  • I would switch to a more ecological lifestyle (with coffee and chocolate always included)

  • I would live in the countryside and go walking all the time – a good sized town with mountains all around, or a smallish place near the beach/lake

  • I would have a garden and grow my own veges

  • I would ride a bike whenever I could

  • I would swim each day

It's not an exhaustive list.

It's a 'first go' list. I wonder what I will add as time passes.

Above all, I found myself looking at the list and wondering exactly what it is that stops me from having the life I want right now - it's certainly not my married status I can tell you!!!

I wonder what question you would ask?

 

  • What would I do if I wasn't scared?
  • What would I do if I had the money to do it?
  • What would I change if I could re-start my education?
  • What would I do/change if I cared less what other people think?

 

Take a moment, a piece of paper and a pen ... and write down your question. Then, with courage, write down your answers.

... this is where you find your voice, what you really want ... this is where it begins. 

 

sarahxx