I touched base with a friend of mine earlier today – time seems to just fly lately and we don’t get to talk as much as we used to. Not a bad thing, mind you, given that the business she opened two months ago is flourishing and I am busy working on a new manuscript. Or trying to at least…
Ever since I got off the anti-depressants years ago, I still have bouts of deep, dark sadness. A sadness so oppressive that I can’t see the wood for the trees. Combine that with the fact that I can no longer afford to go the gym (which was the best therapy ever) and well, it is the proverbial time bomb just waiting to go tick-tock-tick-tock-tick-tock-Boom!
The people that know the real me know that I believe that tears are cathartic, but when I’m in the grips of an episode, I don’t cry because I’m sad. How’s that for irony? When the device explodes, tears of anger and frustration flow. Like rivers. I find myself wanting to punch something. And scream. Or just run away. I’ve learned to keep the suicidal thoughts at bay because I know that one of the biggest battles I personally face is in my mind and I will myself not to go that far. Not. Ever. Again.
I know someone who is going through a great deal of trouble at the moment and who simply has this attitude of I wish I could just gas myself (verbatim) or the like… I am relatively sure these kinds of thoughts may have cropped up with this person, but there is help available. I know, because I’ve been there, and because I got that help. The problem I have though is not the fact that the words have been expressed either – the fact is that they’ve been uttered to get at another party. It incenses me and saddens me at the same time. Those words have power – over the person saying them, and the person to whom they’re being said. It’s irresponsible at best. It leaves that person feeling worthless and hollow.
To further express my point, one thing I learned in the little bit of counselling (not psychiatric therapy) I had is to accept criticism. The idea of seeing a shrink absolutely terrifies me, despite a good friend of mine’s husband being in the profession himself. I’ve often told his wife that I’m scared to talk about my issues with her in front of him for fear that he is psychoanalyzing me. She’s assured me often that he isn’t, but I sometimes think he’s mentally picking out the colour of the padding for my walls.
Jokes aside, I won’t lie. It’s hard. Really hard. I am naturally someone who wants to do a thing her way. Not necessarily to be the best at what I do, but to prove that I can. It is just how I’m put together. So, you can imagine my shock and horror when someone told me, not long after my counsellor’s advice, “I know you mean well, but you really work on my nerves when you do that.” My immediate reaction was pretty much well, screw you too then, which I followed through on. Grabbing my keys, I got in my car and left. Who the hell does (s)he think (s)he is? It came up in a session a while later and the counsellor turned the tables on me unexpectedly, asking me to tell him something about him I didn’t like. I ran through the mental rolodex in my brain thinking he has this habit of rubbing his lips together to moisten them, which really irritates me, but how do I tell him? Without hurting his feelings? I couldn’t. I sat there, speechless. Eventually I plucked up the courage and said, as politely as I could, “With all due respect, the way you purse your lips sometimes while I’m talking to you is a bit distracting.” There, I’d said it.
With a raised eyebrow, he made a note and said, “Okay, I’ll try not to do it, but if it happens again, point it out. It’s obviously something I have to work on.” And that was that. Granted, he’s obviously had years of practice in dealing with people and their idiosyncrasies that it was easy for him not to take what I’d said, as personal in nature as it was, as a personal affront.
Over the years, it has got easier for me too, but I often forget that some people haven’t had the benefit of learning the skills I have. It’s natural for anyone not to want their faults pointed out to them, but if they take it in their stride, the outcome in the long-term could be spectacular. But for that lightbulb to go on…that is the true assignment.
You’re probably wondering where I’m going with all this; with this somewhat troubling subject. I’m getting there…
In chatting with my friend, she mentioned her shop as her safe place. It got me thinking. Where is my safe place? I suppose I have two – my parents’ house and my flat (most days the silence is the biggest solace of all).
It’s not something I generally do because random just because trips, with or without coffee are a luxury that I can ill afford, but I asked a friend to join me for a chat at the Point over a cuppa Joe, to watch the waves and the sunset (which was hidden behind dense clouds). She ended up treating me to a light supper as well, which was really good.
I ate enough garlic to ward off a coven of witches and its entourage of vampires!
My spirit knew I needed a chat, with the waves crashing in the background long before my mind caught on. Tonight The Point, (with my friend at my side) was my safe place.
I’m keen to know. Where/What is your safe place?