Journey to Wholeness

The resource on this page is a product of my own journey. If one person is helped because it is here then it is worth having shared it. I am sure that I will be editing this over time. Please keep comments on this page directed toward the issues as there are many in this world who need to know that there are those who share the journey both through the empathy of their own upward climb or the compassion of hearts who understand what it means to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.

May you be granted moments of peace on your journey to wholeness.

“A fault is a fracture or zone of fractures between two blocks of rock. Faults allow the blocks to move relative to each other. This movement may occur rapidly, in the form of an earthquake – or may occur slowly, in the form of creep. Faults may range in length from a few millimeters to thousands of kilometers. Most faults produce repeated displacements over geologic time. During an earthquake, the rock on one side of the fault suddenly slips with respect to the other. The fault surface can be horizontal or vertical or some arbitrary angle in between.”

http://www.openhazards.com/faq/earthquakes-faults-plate-tectonics-earth-structure/what-fault-and-what-are-different-types

I make no claim to being a medical or psychological specialist. I am simply a person who has gone through years of depression and has found something in my life that helps my own depression and anxiety is helping me climb out of the darkest caverns of severe depression and anxiety in the light of a life more open to living whole.  This only speaks to a few of the many resources that I have been taught or that is being used to help others who struggle on this same journey.  I have read that people like me who have made it through the suicidal portions of depression and are still alive might have something to offer those struggling with this decision. For that reason, writing and posting this is worth the risk.

Suicide is initially a violence toward yourself but also is an emotional violence toward anyone who encounters the reality of that act. In the some way you can’t numb hurtful emotions without numbing the emotions that energize us toward joyful living, you cannot selectively decide who is affected by your action. When I first found it an active option in my life, it was the reality of not being able to find a way to do it that wouldn’t hurt somebody else held my hand back from the act. Twenty-seven years later, I believe there is no such thing.

The day four years ago, I heard of the suicide of the son of a person I knew I was miles from home. Driving the isolated roads I had to stop so many times to scream out my grief at the death of this young man I didn’t really know. I learned the side roads well on that long journey. Those around him made comments about how God must have known he would never get well so kept anyone from stopping him.

My mind flashed back to 27 years before when words of a song during a time I was giving in to that choice stopped me from making the same decision. Why him? I thought. Why not me:? Why did you keep me alive? I have been fighting this battle for longer than he lived? Why did you let me live?

The comfort in that day were other flashback memories of places my being there made a difference in the life of others. It flashed back to the questions I was left with from those who committed suicide in my own life. I arrived home knowing that I would never truly come to terms with the young man’s death or the way those around him chose to understand what he did. I only knew that to really live, I had to continue the journey of coming to terms with my own life.

 

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT TO WRITE AT THIS POINT IN MY LIFE?

I began writing in a company of others at the beginning of this year. I am sure those in my writing circles tire sometimes of the length and solemn nature of my posts finding some of my lighter ones a nice surprise.

There is a reason for this. In January I hit a Flashback and Fault line zone. Compared to the past, it was a minor tremor, one of those that settles the earth after the more major ones, but that did not keep it from impacting my life. It illuminated for me places in which I was still acting out of the past in the way I relate to the world. Life has taught me that these learning moments are friends, if I let them be and if I am willing to do the work of facing where it is I need to grow.

Since we live in a society that encourages even people who are struggling with emotional and mental illnesses and trauma points to look for the positive people to make relationships with, it is easy to retreat and isolate when you most need help. This is especially true if there have been significant people in your life whose masks as positive people hid an investment in you staying ill. When you have had to move away from enough “positive” people who took off their masks in private, you begin to realize that your very condition keeps you from recognizing what is truly healthy and begin to doubt yourself.

Writing and images in nature have always been the two aspects of my life that cleared the channels of my mind. They offer the similes, the analogies and the tools that have helped me keep reaching outward to others and inward to the deepest parts of the pain. They have helped me to not decide quickly whether a person is a positive or negative person but to allow each person to be both, to be who they are.

They have also helped me to be enough of my own friend that I keep risking that there are others, like me, who can be broken and yet choose growth instead of giving in to the despair. We may struggle with those areas that many see as red flag. But we also recognize the models in our world, such as Jesus Christ whose red meant redemption, whose brokenness led to promise. Whether or not you are of a belief system to accept that analogy, when I walked in the dark the resurrection part of the story, gave hope to the story of Jesus. Looking for his reflection throughout the Bible became one of the resources that helped me begin to hear the story of my own life.

It was in learning to listen with compassion to the story, not only of others but of the broken places in myself that I began to heal. Whether shared with others as I do here, written privately in journals kept like those piled around me or thrown away like those I realize now would have been better kept until the light was reached, whether spoken to a professional, whether screamed or whispered into the air, speaking our own story has the power of helping us find the flashback or fault line moments in our lives that brought us to the cavern. What we do with these moments help us determine whether we stay on the edge, take the plunge or start climbing out.

 

FLASHBACKS

Flashback moments are those that you can see through your own eyes. In the imagery of earth fractures, the events these held, were slower, creeping fault lines that characterizes earthquake zones. They are memories that you can look at to understand their impact on your present choices and help you find new solutions.

They do not come with redo buttons so are moments to speak through to release their poison and learn what they have to teach. They are moments to release and let heal like the thorns from some prickly bush we walked through or the bitter juices of a poisonous plant. If we are wise, that walk through will also help us to recognize that this exposure created an allergic reaction in our spirits and take the time to acknowledge those elements that were harmful to our spirits.

Having worked through many flashbacks in my journey that were painful, there are those that I feel are pertinent to this article. I have had people in my life commit suicide. There are also other whose significance in my life allowed their maladaptive coping mechanisms to impact my own adaption to the impacts and relationships in my life.

In my junior high and high school years the deaths of two male friends committed suicide. Both had stories I guessed at in comments and later were confirmed after they died far away enough that I could no longer have contact with them. These boys acknowledged for me how the physical and/or emotional violence of others and the lack of support resources can create conditions where a person may see this as their only resource. Though I never realized it until now, they are the ones who taught me to run, not walk, to the nearest emergency ward the night when suicide became a viable option in my life.

The suicide of my cousin in my young adult years reiterated this with an added dimension. In anger, this cousin shared our home one summer in my teens and camping trips or family gatherings on countless occasions throughout my growing years. He was a handsome young boy who on the surface had everything but wore the brittle armor of anger. Steve pushed away anyone who would try to be his friend. Though he would talk to the horse in the acre beside the large home our family lived in at that time, he would only grudgingly accept any friendly overtures I would offer. He taught me that if I want support I have to take responsibility for not quitting. No one can help me unless I am willing to let them help. I needed to create openings for others even as I held defenses from those who had shown investment in me being ill.

My mother taught me another lesson, not burying the past does not stop it from being true. It also increases the likelihood of us choosing violence to others since so much energy is exerted in maintaining our inner defenses that we have less room to handle emotional triggers from the outside. I became hyper aware of her emotions when she came home from work or interacted with others. I became well versed in things I could do to lower the threat by calming her.

I also learned in my young adult years that when you threaten the defenses of someone who is tightly holding to this defense by letting them know you are getting your own help to get well, they can become violent or harmful in their reactions to the possibility of changes in the relationship by your own healing. My lesson here? Don’t try to confront those who are in this dance of maladaptation with you without support or a plan of how you can put distance between you. If you have not yet developed the inner resources to stand up to this violence then, though you may be able to put distance between you and the original source, you are likely to get into other relationships that follow the same patterns.

She also taught me that denial of the past can allow us to put those who are dependent on us into similar threatening situations. As the story is not my own to tell I can’ t share the details here. What I can tell is my part of the story. The truth was outed by someone who did not feel this confidence was one that should be kept, a friend of the victim who shared the story with her parents.

Since I was staying in the home of my grandparents when this happened, I was the child in the line of fire when the tsunami of truth hit my grandmother, who had denied its existence the longest. I loved my grandfather, the accused of the crime, and felt my own anger at the accuser for destroying my innocent adoration of him. Yet I was the one who followed my grandmother around as all the mementoes of our family were being thrown into a box so mom could pick it up with me to wipe our memory out of her home. I was the one who cried and pleaded with her not to throw me out too.

On that day, my mother when I asked my mother how she could believe the story, she told me the same had happened to them when they were children. Her words faded as we were then sent back into the situation that had created the conditions for the in the first place. Since the one who had harmed was a less “positive” person in my memories at the time then my grandfather, my own denial allowed me to ignore the continued harassment she received from the  abuser for trying to out him. Spending my energy on trying to deny what was in my own life, I was unable to accept her pain and became a part of the shaming around her. My lesson? When we deny the violence or pain in our own lives, we can become a part of the violence, whether actively or passively, toward others.

It would not be until my 50’s, near the end of my healing journey that I would see the discrepancy in a story and a memento from my grandfather,  to see that the violence toward this other wasn’t isolated My denial had roots within my own life. When we choose to close our eyes to the pain in others, we often choose to close our eyes to our own pain.

I would cover my denials by trying to control the wellbeing of those around me.  I accept the illusion of my ability to negotiate the edge of being who I was and being pulled into the harmful dance. Those who needed my participation used words and actions to tear down my defenses until I got back into the negative relational routine that would allow them to ignore their own brokenness.

I would first seek counseling when on my own in university after high school. I would run from counseling when it bumped up against my carefully constructed beliefs in my parents good will or any raised any uncertainties about the religious structures that almost obscured the Christ in my life. When my father let me know that he didn’t raise me to be a career woman, I would give up the hope of my dreams. When relational choices I made seemed to confirm my failure as a person, the angry judging God of my childhood would lead me to choose a marriage that had the guise of having left that fear behind.

I would begin to realize that the person I was married might also be broken like my parents even before we got married. However my continued love for them and hopes that our relationships would get better would allow me to move ahead with the marriage. I would take an interpersonal communications course before the day to learn how I could effect positive change in the relationship through communications.

Even a depression that reached the severity of suicidal thought would not be enough to get me to accept my inability to change others. I came to the point in that depression when I let go of my tight hold on my religious beliefs and started to hold on to the idea of God instead. Seeing my faith in terms of a relationship instead of a doctrinal statement gave me the strength to find my way through the months of recovery.  I also began seeing a new image of myself in the mirrors held up by both professionals and those who were in the groups with me. I would begin to change myself but was resistant to the recognition that my changes could not the relationship unless he was willing to seek help as well. I again accepted the lie that I was strong enough to make the marriage work and left counseling behind.

I would continue to numb and fight my mother’s choices in an ongoing struggle. But I would also begin to build a structure for myself outside of the marriage as I found a way into volunteer organizations aimed at helping at risk learners.

Within the last decade of our marriage, a crisis event would disrupt my descent into forgetfulness and I would run for counselling again. At that time in my mid 30’s, a counselor would tell me my behaviors and coping skills mirrored someone who had had the same type of abuse as that done by my grandfather to the other. The blankness of so much of my memories would lead me to ask my mother about that day she told me what had happened in her youth. Not only would she deny any possibility that the same could have happened in my life, she also seemed mystified about where I could have gotten the idea that it happened in her childhood. I had to learn to trust my own memories.

When significant memory holes began to appear in my years of marriage, it would be finding hidden journals that would fill in those blanks. I had written down the events. Some part of me knew it was important to remember in the future. When I reached the place where I recognized the desire to die had grown great enough that I had to either leave or risk my children permanently losing any chance of having a mother in their later years , those journals would keep me from opting to return to the numbness of forgetting and to take the plunge into the unknown and the possibility of full healing.

I made many hurtful mistakes at the time of my separation and divorce as I tried to mirror my childhood coping mechanisms. I kept trying to be my own solution in some areas and exposing my neediness to those who would invite me back into the dance of maladaptation for their own reasons. I could not rely on those I knew from religious organizations to help me. Those who were distant enough from the family to not feel torn apart by their relationship with the two of us were also distant enough from me to ostracize me for looking anxious instead of having the proper expression on my face. I also made the choice to pull away from the setting where we were both known for what seemed like caring reasons at the time.

I followed the pattern I had taken in the marriage, letting my other relationships fall victim to misplaced beliefs from the past that if I could find some golden key, I could create a world from the dust left behind. I could make better choices in relationships before I had fully faced the impact of my own set of beleIt didn’t work and when I would seek to get help for myself any growth I would make would escalate negating words and actions until I would give in to the syndrome and fall back into the patterns of numbing myself instead of working to change what was wrong. I would struggle against becoming the model my mother had given me, but would often find myself having to pull back from the edge of her choices in order to keep living.

Lessons learned, Hold on to the positive relationships with your life for new ones and keep seeking ways to developing new positive relationships. Letting go of others will only give an appearance of pacifying significant others in your life who need you to be out of control in yourself in the dance of relationship.

 

CHANGEPOINT

Once I myself was no longer in the dance that excused my illness, I began to recognize one of my own coping mechanisms in the past. It began with my memory of what I read and how it helped me understand how I left my home that night my passive suicidal imaging became an active search for a way that “would not just be a cry for help but wouldn’t hurt anyone else either.”

My journalled memory had held my inner reaction to the words and attitudes expressed the night .  I only had the image of the me of that evening and the words of the emergency nurse that helped me go back home. For years I had been left with the memory of an event on a timeline but a hole in my memories as to why I young mother who loved her children could become a mother who could believe she was a detriment to them by living.

The negative view of myself I carried after it was not different than the one that I had held before that night. It would only be two weeks later that I would begin to grasp on to the belief that I could be of more worth more than the spreading part of me that wanted to die believed in.  My poor self worth would carry on as an hidden force wearing away the edges as I began to rebuild other more positive areas of my life. It would open me to accepting harm from others in the days my husband’s career as a pastor was threatened and finally collapsed. It would carry me through the years when everything I was building was partitioned off from my home in order to survive. I would fight it tooth and nail to build some kind of positive into the lives of my children. The blank space in my memories would stand as a questions when I would try to defend my growth as a person.

My journal would hold the story of the words that tilted the balance toward death. I think it was by some form of grace that the words stayed hidden until I came to a place where I could make a new choice. I seemed to have the supports in my life that would help me end the depression if I could get to a place where I had some distance from the destructive dance of the relationship. The words would help me believe in myself enough to get help in that last year. The journal entry would tip the balance toward life when I realized to choose life was to choose to go.

It would be three years of counselling until I reached a place of feeling strong enough to go on without it.

 

FAULT LINES

The healing journey would not be over though as even in counseling there were parts of myself that I was still not ready to unmask, parts I couldn’t unmask because they were frozen in the moments they occurred. These moments were like self-portraits in my mind, pictures of myself with a memory of how I felt yet a story of events that was more like talking about a person outside of myself — stories like that of a young mother who could consider leaving her children behind or worse with the memory of her choice of death over them. Others would be video clips without context.

When the first of these opened, I was catapulted into the girl in the image and could see through her eyes. Since I was behind the wheel when this happened at one of the most congested and confusing intersections in our city, this caused a wreck in which I could have killed or harmed someone else if their car hadn’t been a highly armored luxury model while mine was a collapsible less high end model. I walked away from that wreck that collapsed the engine of my car into the drivers foot space leaving only enough room for my legs to get out.

At the time the horror of the thought that I might have seriously harmed another sent me into a massive panic attack. But that was the only casualty of that accident. I walked away with the realization that I had to pay attention to my anxiety level and not allow myself to be behind the wheel if I was aware of any impairment to my thinking. That I could have harmed someone else because I had not carefully enough monitored what was going on in myself is still a nightmare in my mind. It is a flashback though, not another frozen fault line. I could learn from it.

Having been able to confirm what I saw with someone from my past, the experience that day showed me the memory of the event still existed inside of me. At these “fault lines” I had chosen to fragment off a part of myself so that I could go on. That part of me was left trapped in the past holding the deepest parts of the pain and yet, the life I lived was connected to those pieces by cords that could be stretched to a point of anxiety but not broken.

I realized I would have to let these images emerge if I was to keep from risking others. These parts of me had not deserved the isolation I had created for them to preserve myself. I had to find a way to make myself safe enough for these parts to come back into the whole of myself. I needed a healing place.

The relationships that I had in my life at that time were not ones that could offer the safety I needed so a story and an online friend who stuck with me through the mistakes in my journey gave me a way to begin to build such a place inside. The story, One Last Magic, had imaged an island connected to the writer through the magic of its caretaker, Shahara. This story allowed me to bridge my imagination with my life to create a safe garden where the awakened images could find peace. The new inner safety creates an environment where the frozen places began to open more quickly.

I was taking a workshop in relating our story in images when one of the inner children in my life came forward in her shame. In the poem I wrote for that workshop I chose to let myself feel the fear this little 4 or 5 year old girl felt. She truly believed that the action she had done would cause the others to keep her out.

As I imaged this girl through the poem, two of the other child images in that garden came up to the little girl. Their eyes understood. They took each of the little girl’s hands, looked at the me inside who also expected the shaming and said the words I hadn’t expected. “Can we go play now?”

As I watched the little girl smile and run off with her new friends I wept. I wept again as I wrote these words on the page. The healing pieces of me had found a garden of safety that I still did not know how to live in. Though we still needed to connect to the outside world, imagery can help our way to healing.

Full circle

Two summers ago, I went to my parents’ home to participate with the hospice care of my father who had been diagnosed with a form of stage 4 cancer and had reacted poorly to chemo treatment and hospitalization. It would be three months between the news of the diagnosis and my journey home. It would be a time of stumbling through the appearances of being strong enough as grief over the years between us rolled just below the surface. The confusions that had characterized out relationship would be held under the surface. During that time, I would dive back into my old patterns of numbing the pain instead of facing it, something I had unconsciously continued doing in lesser ways through those years.

I tried to push the island into line and make it a safe place for me to numb into but the healing part of me pushed back by not letting that place be manipulated into a two-dimensionally escape. Those healing parts of me didn’t want to be pulled back into my continuing harmful cycle built on the old scripts that had kept them bound for so long.

Through dreams and images, they would stay at the edges of my conscious mind though. I would hold on to the chords of these parts of me when I finally came to the realization that this was a journey I had to take whether I met with rejection or not when I got there. I didn’t know if I was strong enough to deal with whatever I found there. I just knew that I had to go to help him die. He needed the chance to make whatever peace he could make with me. I had to have the chance to make whatever peace I could make with him. When we listen to our souls, there are some risks we have to take even without knowing what the outcome would be.

After well over a decade of not seeing my family due to distance and words of condemnation and ostracization, it would be a 12,000 km journey before it brought me back home. Emotionally it would be much longer.

The first days were days that met my hopes of reunion. They were days of rebuilding in which my father shared his past with me and I heard stories from my parents that I had not heard before. My confusion in our relationships would be set aside as I drank up the moments of seeing them with the eyes of meeting someone new.

This dad would be so different from the one of the past years that I wanted to clutch the moments. The mother of these days related to me as a friend confiding stories that no one else had known but dad. But three days was all he could handle before his strength began to wain and after a week of dementia allowing him to act as if his illness wasn’t terminal, he went into a time when we believed we were saying our goodbyes.

That he would wake from this sleep a different man, showing the face of the one who had rejected me for so long would be a crushing experience. Though intensely painful, it would be a time that would lead me to confront my past for those parts of me that had lost their voices. It would give me what I would need to finally accept the members of my family that the relationships we have as what they are. In the end, I would also be given the gift of understanding some of the reasons for what existed between us. If we look at some of the darkest moments of our lives, they often hold the lights to help us move ahead.

There was some knowing, that I think of as God’s leading, that led me through this journey home in ways that go beyond even my unconscious self’s ability to know events. Sometimes, this knowing would lead to something beautiful. Some of these knowings led to pain. In the end, the knowings would lead to a talk with my dad that opened something in him.

That final morning of the visit would have the makings of a new fault line but instead became a time when in speaking for and to my dad to help him come out of an angry phase of his dementia, I also spoke for some of the pieces in me. Somehow this reached through to something buried in my dad.

In the strange twistings of dementia trying to push through into something real he would relate to a nurse a story of his mother mixed with the story of me. I would learn that his little boy heart never did let go of the hurt and anger at his broken home and the blame for it that he laid on his mom. I would hear him try to piece this resentment into his memory of being a pastor who deeply cared for others and his image of me as his daughter that he was proud of for accomplishment but did not know how to accept as the person she was.

I would come to realize that in his desire to relate as the caring Christian man he was in so much of his life, he had pushed this resentment down and clothed it in doctrines about a womans’ proper role. I would learn that he saw his mother in me.

When we don’t deal with the past, it has its way of finding a hold in our present. What we don’t honestly work through can impact our children. Being open to the questions our children have about our lives can help them find healing in their own lives.

The nurse confirmed my realization that my father’s relationship with the kind of person I would be born to be began years before I was even born.  These events in which I played no part, helped form the relationship I had with my father, and in a way, my whole family.

It was a revelation that called into question the old scripts  stating that something was so wrong with me that I was harmful to anyone I let close to me. His mother, my granny was a woman who I loved. She was also a woman I admired who also held the admiration of the older children in his family.

On the night he died while I slept fitfully in the house of a stranger, I had a semi-waking dream of a celebration on my island. All the images from my past were gathered around someone who had come. The were reaching out to this person and the person was greeting them with smiles of joy.  It was my father, and hidden behind him was my granny. He was introducing all the pieces of me to her. Then the island flashed out like a broken move and left just a dark quietness behind.

AFTERSHOCKS

What I didn’t realize at that time was how much I had come to depend on that island. I needed my own broken pieces to deal with the place my life was at when I came home with a different perspective on the past. Returning to work less than a month later, I found the relational difficulties that had been there were still present. The difference was, I no longer had the island to retreat to in my mind to give me rest from them. My grief would not hold to the timeline expressed by those around me. Though I tried to be strong I could feel my life on autopilot as I tried to deal with the new ways of thinking.

I had no stable church or community network to call on. There was only my children, a daughter who lived up north and two who were in town. All were busy building their lives and careers, with struggles of their own that needed me to be the mother in relationship to them. I didn’t feel I could call on their help. I even tried to fake strength for my friend who lived at a distance. My old patterns of being the strong care taker were still intact.

The aftershocks were on their way though and I had not put resources in place to help me deal with them.

When less than two months after I left my parents and faced the death of my dad, my friend called me with the news that he was in a hospital in town. He had suffered a major heart attack. In the next weeks I would go to work each day then to the hospital. His family lived at a distance and a delay in surgery meant that they had to leave before then. I would come home only to sleep after he was resting. The day of the surgery was the only day I would take off.

His time in the hospital and my desire to be a support to him unearthed other fault lines affecting relationships beyond my family of origin. When he left to go back to his home up north, his brother went with him. He was not safely out of danger thought his condition had stabilized and his brother, a doctor, would be with him for these next weeks of his recovery.

Two days later, normal encounters for any teacher would become that one emotional point that would push me over the edge into tears that didn’t stop for a week and a period of recovery with supports that would last 5 months before I would even return to part time work.

I learned to find the calm of more mindfully living each day during that time. Reading and writing and painting myself through the grief I would begin to heal while pushing myself to get back to the career I loved. I also began seeking a wider network of connections in my life even though I was wary of letting others get too close because of the doubts that had taken root through the flashbacks during my friend’s hospital stay.

Returning to work half time was more difficult emotionally and mentally then my return to full time work the next fall. It was hard to allow others to carry some of the load and make choices with the students that were different than mine. It was difficult to hold my head up knowing that others knew about my brokenness. My energy would be torn between healing and doing my job. I would compare myself to those holding up the other part of my position and struggle with wondering if the other employees would rather they were there than me.

The broken community of others that I had developed in a community center for those who lived with emotional and mental illness became my community that helped me through that time. I also found some solace in the inclusive message of the church I was attending even if the relational qualities of the group didn’t match that message.

However, I allowed certain voices that matched my original family’s view of faith living lead me into trying to help someone who was stuck on the spiral of helplessness in her emotions and began falling down in the hole again. My son’s relationship had also collapsed during that time because of his partner’s choices in acting out her mental illness and I felt torn between wanting to prove I could be supportive even though the conversation was one directional and the feelings of my family. I still had much to learn about boundaries.

When I went back to fulltime work in the fall, it was exhausting mentally and emotionally. The emotional climate at work did not feel any safer but I loved being back with my students in my music classes. I had worked through enough of the grief from the year before that I was able to productively contribute in my position.

For a year and a half I continued working with blinders on to the way I was slowly pulling away from others on the edge of my life. Negotiate the climate at work, the demanding but fulfilling work with the children I taught, trying to be involved in the relationships with my children and grandchildren took all the energy I felt I had. Without realizing it, I sacrificed relationship building and pursuit of my own creative interests to trying to fulfill the roles of my life.

THE QUEST FOR THE INNER ARTIST OR FINDING MY WAY HOME

In the fall of 2013, I began the year hopefully. I was taking guitar lessons not realizing that this free time pursuit was another choice to try to fit myself into the roles where I thought I had value in life. I found one more set of expectations to meet as the teacher did not have the flexibility to match expectations to the student he was teaching and the other roles in my life. I found myself closing down one more creative avenue in myself. I found my anxiety growing.

In January 2014, a chance invite to a group called 500 Word Challenge made me realize that I had closed my life down so much that I wasn’t even journaling nor was I connecting with others in any way that could build community. Remembering my love to write, I clicked “join”. I didn’t know where it would take me but the journey had begun. I missed that inner island and the writing about it that had allowed me to find safety within. Perhaps I could connect with that more creative part of me if I began writing again.

That tenacious part of me that won’t let me fully numb must have been prodding me that day. through my writing in that group I encountered the part of me that was becoming unstable before I crashed again. The writing gave me a way to speak out what was happening in a way that at least I was hearing. When I found the tears below the surface were welling up and spilling over so that it began affecting my job, I was able to get help in place before it reached a crisis state.

Looking within during the past months of what I can hope is my final round of counselling, I have encountered more fault line — parts of me that were still hiding deep in closets from feelings of shame I had at their parts in my story. Through writing I gave them voice inviting them to become a part of the more whole me.

The first I let speak for herself as she wrote to the teacher in that class where I had first began feeling the full effects of depression. The second I had to write too as that place in me had lost her voice. Instead of censor, I found that there were others who related to these stories. I found a community of thought that has begun to empower me in a more active pursuit of a community of others in this place I live.

My journey is not complete. There are still fault lines I shy away from expressing. My mind even clamps down when I try ti write this much about them. I will listen though to my inner self. Beyond my consciousness, the memories that need to surface are there. They will do so at the right time if I can mindfully allow them to be a part of the reality of who I am.

What is difficult but necessary to admit is that when I opened my eyes to the weakening inside of me, I found that the option of suicide was still passively there and had begun taking a more active hold on me.
Yet, as strong as I found that urge in the still hurting part of me, I knew that I was safe. I have come to know myself enough that I could live with those thoughts as a part of me. Though I may be a person who in my passions and enthusiasms will often make glaring errors in my relationships with others, I am not a person who would intentionally harm another person in the way suicides in my past were harmful to me or to others I have met throughout my journey.

There is much of me that is a stranger to myself because of the change of perspective on my past that I found in my daddy’s revelation. I have learned that I am capable of things that had been locked away with the broken pieces I had imprisoned in me. There are breaks in relationships that have grown into chasms I don’t know how to cross. There are other relationships that I have to accept as harmful in my life if they are unwilling to get help in theirs.

Most of my life is spent alone. My children have lives to build and my closest friend lives miles away with a life of his own there. Building a stronger community is only in the infancy. Even my faith in God struggles between belief and experience on one side and the rigid religious views that formed the structure of my conceptions about my place in the world in my earlier years. It is not always an easy place to live in mindfully.

But the thing is I AM LIVING. I am not just existing. That knowing which I call God continues to play a part in this journey toward wholeness, toward the truth that sets me free.

In accepting myself just as I am, I am finding the capacity to choose life and the tenacity to keep reaching toward wholeness. I don’t regret my decision to live.

___________________________________________

If you would like to learn more about mindful living and learning to hear your inner voice, here are some of the resourcess that have helped me on the journey:

BOOKS:(These only cover some those I have encountered in the past 10 years of this journey. I don’t even know where to find the information of others that have helped me along this road.)

Brown, Brene
– The Gifts of Imperfections

Palmer, Parker
– Let Your Life Speak
– A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey toward an Undivided Life

Reeves, Paula M., PhD
– Heart Sense

Ricci, David on mindful living:
The Five Things We Cannot Change … and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them
– When the Past is Present
– Daring to Trust

Rukeyser, Muriel
– The Life of Poetry

Sue Monk Kidd
– When the Heart Waits

Some of these writers can also be heard through videos on the internet.

With thanks to the many who contributed to my journey in so many different ways. We don’t always know the angels in our lifes. Sometimes we only feel the current of their wings departing long after they have left their impact on our lives.

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4 thoughts on “Journey to Wholeness

  1. Edward Klassen

    I am somewhat lost for words. This is so well written it reminded me ( my flashbacks) of myself in some ways. I will mention this here only briefly. I am a victim of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. When I was 19 (1964) I came very, very close to committing suicide. Prior to this I had two very close friends commit suicide. I had my share of battles with demons of an unhappy life. The one verse I chose at that time for comfort was Phil.4:13 and since have added verse 19. This reply is about your article not about me but I can oh so relate. God truly has been with you continues to be with you. But again I repeat your article reminds me so much of myself.

    Reply
    1. ljandrie57 Post author

      If you meet others who you feel could relate to this in a way that will support their own journey, I would love to know it can make a difference for others.

      Reply
  2. Annette

    Linda, I am so proud of you, the journey you have gone through and are continuing on. You have such a gift of writing. You should be writing a book. I am so happy you are still here to tell and help others with your story.

    Reply

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