"Acceptance of one's life has nothing to do with resignation; it does not mean running away from the struggle. On the contrary, it means accepting it as it comes, with all the handicaps of heredity, of suffering, of psychological complexes..."
~*~ Paul Tournier ~*~
I have written here for a very long time about how I wanted to live a life of service, of giving to others, using the gifts and whatever talents and experiences I have gained over a lifetime. Primarily I am a writer, so, and especially since I live a contemplative life mostly apart from the world, writing would needs be my venue. This part was easy to come to, what wasn't easy was how to ferret out what to put in, what to leave out, what I was willing to share and what I was not, and how to approach it in such a way that I could help others without writing a self-help book, but using my own life in a way that could say to others, "This is how I have done this, you will find your own way, but know that you can, and that you are not alone, and that you are okay just the way you are." I am writing to the people, like myself, who live outside the norm by choice, chance, or circumstance, people who have not turned their back on the world, but on the parts of the world that keep them from being sane and whole and balanced and able to live a life of fullness, to feel whole when in the outside world only fragmentation is possible, to create a life without being judged, to accept and embrace oneself. What I hadn't counted on is how much of myself I would have to give away, release, open up and allow to surface, the parts of myself that no one ever sees, that I never write about, that is not comfortable for others who know me to read even though I never speak about the lives of anyone close to me there is so much that they don't know, and yet if I am to help others, as I know in my heart that I must, I have to release the demons onto the page as well as the joy and the sweetness, the incredible blessings in my life and the sometimes paralyzing fear when I sleep a good bit of the day as if going deep into a cocoon only safe to rise at night when day has passed and I am under the cover of darkness. This too is part of who I am.
And I need to write about mental illness. It is easy to rattle off my diagnoses, my past whose pain and circumstances led to a complex life that has been a balancing act I've not always been able to manage, but writing about living as an adult, sometimes terrified and trying to find the balance that I need to move forward each day, I'm finding is not only much harder, and the reason I have started and stopped this book so many times, but it is exactly what I am supposed to do. Mental illness in this country carries such a stigma with myriad problems and difficulties attached, especially if one is, for all intents and purposes to the outside world, literate, intelligent, and able to give of themselves, hoping to help others, and trying, with everything that they have in them, to make a life that has meaning and substance. The outcome of having both of these things, the dis-abilities along with the abilities, is that people expect things of you that you cannot do, and you are often not only a disappointment but also the cause of much anger and angst. This is much harder to deal with. None of us, I think, want to cause anyone any pain, we simply want to survive, and in doing so we sometimes have to make choices we know will have consequences that will be difficult to bear. And so it must be.
I say this with no pity, I don't in the least feel sorry for myself or even wish I had a different kind of life. This is my life, and though hard for others to understand, especially in light of the dark and difficult times that I write about, I consider my life a gift, and the most important thing I can do is to reach out to others who, like me, carry a dark secret inside and try with all that they have in them not only to survive each day but to do it without being a burden to others, not wallowing on the hard days in an endless sea of fear, holding on to whatever they can to stay afloat, all the while knowing that it will pass and another day will come. I have more good days than bad and anymore the hard times are only part of a day, but they still exist. I believe I have too often sugar-coated it in my writing because I didn't want to be perceived as someone who did not appreciate all the good in my life, and I do, I really do, and I consider myself one of the lucky ones because I can accomplish things that I want to and build a life here that is full and purposeful, if much of it is hidden from the world. I do spend much time in contemplation, meditation, and prayer. I live very close to nature and very close to God. And those are the things that are my life raft when I plummet down, down, down as I did yesterday unable to even see the bottom and afraid there was none there. But that is what medication is for, and sleep, and the comfort of my animals, and the writing of my truth, because there are too many people like me who are living through this very thing, in their own way, and they need to know that they are not alone, and they need to know that they can survive.
I have struggled, too, with trying to figure out how to write the book and keep up with this blog because I tell my truth here as well, but I realized that it was important for me, a vital component of the experience of writing this book, to have a place to go to lean into, to breathe through the very experience of the writing itself. Since I have finally come to this, found this balance, I am able to write like I haven't been able to in years, and the sense of relief is greater than I know how to express. And so I will write here, and lean back against this blog to steady myself, before I turn to the book again and move forward. I am grateful for this blog, no matter who reads it, no matter how many might, because it helps me remember why I am doing this at all, and it reminds me that I can. It lets me see that I have come through another day, and that I have not lost my words, and I can carry them from one format to the other with greater ease.
This is my life right now. These are my thoughts, my days, my breath, my fears, my tears, and I need a place to go with all of those things so that I can write another page, and now I will move from this page to that one, and I just took a deep breath and sank down deeply into my chair. I can do this, I will do this, and if I help even one person it will all be worthwhile. This is what I carry in my heart as I move forward.