I have spent too long deciding how to approach this, which version of me to present to you strangers (and you friends who know me offline and are here to see what kind of oddity I produce online). I have given up deciding, given up on any ‘approach’, and will simply write whatever comes to me – for the first year at least – and you must put up with it being fairly random. After it is written (in quantity, in all its muddly exorbitant waffly exuberant extravagant waffleness), I expect I’ll impose some structure on it, so that you can find your way around. Or newcomers can, at least. For now, though, it’s going to be shapeless. 🙂
My own experiences so far – the relevant ones, that is:
- long-term illness which isolated me;
- post-traumatic stress, from several experiences (half resolved);
- long-term depression, which no longer troubles me – yes, you CAN be a recovered depressive (and no, I’m not kidding myself;
- bereavements, some of the identity-changing kind;
- and more, which no doubt I’ll think of as soon as I walk away from the laptop.
I spent seven years as an invalid …
… dependent on others for almost everything. I didn’t need my bottom wiping (thank goodness) but as for meals, social life, knowing what was happening tomorrow, income – my very identity – I was helpless. This teaches you A Lot. I learnt about people, including myself; about strength, and courage. I learnt that hope is essential but can destroy us too. I discovered my own values… and I learnt how to be happy.
But I definitely didn’t learn everything there is to know! Please join me as I continue along the learning curve. You’re even welcome to point out (gently!) the bits I haven’t got the hang of yet. This needs to be a joint project.
It turns out that when you’re unable to be independent, many things are unavailable to you but one of the greatest losses is the power to give. Maybe this isn’t the same for everyone, but I found that to be healthy, I need to give. I’m using the broadest definition: giving is to be generous with what you have: love, understanding, wisdom – even if you haven’t much of it. (We all have wisdom; we each have our unique mix of wisdoms. Far more use when shared!)
It’s not surprising that people who lose their their future often find their strength and their values. I want you to find yours, your value and your happiness – without undergoing the losses. I’m here to show you the shortcut, in effect. What’s the point of all that trouble if only one of us gains from it? 🙂 To be perfectly honest I don’t know if you can take the shortcut; perhaps the learning can only happen through the experiences (equivalent, not these exact ones) – but I’ll throw what I know at you, and I hope you’ll throw questions back at me until I manage to communicate what I really mean… and maybe I can save you the trouble of all that heartache and insecurity, all those body-blows.
So please take as much as you can. In return I ask that you pass it on to others.
And another thing …
… Working to look after myself, keeping my happiness and health at their maximum, is not selfish. Giving all that attention and energy to myself, to keeping myself happy and well, is not selfish. In fact, it’s a duty! It’s my responsibility; it’s the way to make my role in the world a giving one rather than being forced to take. (To take: care, time, money, allowances, attention, and all other kinds of input…) We know this in theory, at least some of us do. But we should all commit to practising it! How many do?
Looking after Number One is not selfish, in a sense it’s an obligation. We have no right to be poor, poverty is an indulgence (and I don’t only mean material poverty, I include all the other kinds too). BEING POOR IS AN INDULGENCE.
Think about it.
For me, it was illness that taught me this, and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to see it; I feel blessed. I used to think you had to be a saint to feel blessed to undergo hardship and illness, but I’m certainly no saint – you only have to learn. Learn a way of looking at things, a way of waiting through some of them and non-acceptance of some others, and learn how to wait – and whether to wait… well, it’s complicated. This is the skeleton of why I’m writing, what I want to give. I can explain this to you.
If I’m making no sense so far, or a sort of sense that you can’t make sense of – please ask…
… So I made giving a central goal for the rest of my life, having learnt what I learnt – or rather, I recognised that giving was central and always had been. I’m still finding ways to do more than the everyday, small-scale giving. I’m still not well enough to write on a consistent schedule. After hiding behind that excuse for too long, I have decided to start putting out whatever comes to mind – when it comes to mind. It’s against all advice to bloggers, but there you go, I’m doing it. Bear with me!
The more you let me know what you find helpful, the better I’ll get at this blogging thing.
I am still on the journey towards being an independent grown-up (OK, I’m fifty. So?). I have got pretty good at supporting my health and happiness but haven’t mastered it. This means I must ask your support and let you know how you can help.
Please share my thoughts more widely when they strike you as worth sharing. That is, giving. Sharing something of value is a form of giving. Also, please tell me when I miss the mark and when I’m helpful.
Please, also, now and then, use my PayPal button. 🙂
With love, Mand x