Words on my Mind: Kindness…

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We’d escape into the evening in just our pyjamas, climbing over the broken gate to the neighbours yard where she’d stand in her doorway clutching her tea. Our parents would wander out soon to investigate as we jumped through twilight skies to catch fireflies. They’d of course slip through our fingers and twirl away in the moonlight. In my mind they were tinkering a laugh and playing along with us. They were trickster fairies delighting in our young hearts. Maybe none of it was in my head. “Don’t hurt them, dance with them. Be friends.” She’d say, a kind smile on her aged face.

In the morning we’d stretch out bronzed limbs in the same garden, weeding flower beds and following her lead as she tells us to encourage the flowers to bloom with kind words and gentle hands. As a teenager she would stroll passed me in the square, my vulgar hands ripping at the leaves of a bush. “Remember kind words, encourage them to grow. No one likes a bully.” I smile and it isn’t taunting, it’s reminiscent of golden days and soft hours chasing magic in every corner of her yard. Now the summers are long and lonely, cinema dates with friends and afternoons with my head buried in books.

Today I pass a garden over run in natural bliss, somewhere in New Zealand, magic manifested in colours and blossoms that I can’t identify and I smile and whisper “You’re beautiful, keep blooming.” As I hurry on past. It’s spoken spontaneously, barely a thought before it’s a phrase but it loops around me for the rest of the day. If a kind word can encourage the plants to grow, imagine what it could do for a human.

N x

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jameshighland

 

So your mind is against you? It picked today to made you squirm under the scrutiny of stranger eyes, familiar eyes. It taunts you with images of the past but most prominently nightmares of the future. What will happen terrifies you and it’s all your own fault. Every birthday is a reminder of how “mature” you are, how “together” your life should be. But you still escape in fairytales and write yourself into other worlds. Every day you contemplate the worst of outcomes and fear has taken permanent residency in your heart. They say to stop caring like it’s that easy. All you do is care, it’s exhausting.

So you hate your body? They called you fat a few names in school, nothing brutal, and planted that seed of self hatred inside. You’re grown up now but you still don’t look down past your shoulders in the mirror and your love of swimming in the ocean is marred by your fear of exposed skin in swim wear. They planted the seed but those were just words. What battles with you now are thoughts and they aren’t in the voices of school kids, they’re in your voice. You’re self assured in this, the torturing of yourself.

So they make you feel like “everyone else”, yeah? You’ll open up and let your anxiety take release in confessions and scrawl it in poetry. You even right a detailed letter to the university councillor. But the reception is startling and they think you’re dramatic. Every young adult is confused about the future, every girl disappointed in their bodies. But you can’t help but wonder why they make it sound okay because last night you cried yourself to sleep because you feared growing old without giving enough to the world, you feared losing your dear ones and you feared no one could love your destructive mind and tragic body. This wasn’t just a one night thing but an almost every night thing and sometimes you remind yourself that if this feeling gets that little bit too much again, if you can’t leave the house without hiding in a public toilet cubicle with your head between your knees, then you have the power to take it all away. And it isn’t a continuous contemplation, though you’ve imagined your end before it only comes at the darkest of times when you’re being lives more in the tremors of anxiety than out in the world, you know that it isn’t “normal” to feel that.

Even when we talk our symptoms can be ignored, I’ve suffered that. This isn’t an easy thing to confess and I know so many of you are sitting alone and baring the same burden. Never have I ever been able to express the torture of living with me without my troubles seeming mundane. How do I tell people I don’t at all feel like I belong in this world, that I never really connect with anyone, that I spend most of my time with people fully focused on how ugly of a human I am inside and out? I know it sounds like angsty bullshit but at one point not too far in my past it was enough to make me think the unthinkable, more than once.

We’re getting better with it, celebrities speak out about it and bloggers and social media influencers share themselves in such a raw and beautiful way. There are still doubters, people who will say you’re doing it for “attention”, that you should “get over it” or, my personal favourite, “just be happy” like you wouldn’t be doing just that if you could. Honest, that’s what I chastise myself with everyday, I have every ingredient for a happy life and still I have the audacity to want more. It’s hard because that kind of backlash is exactly what fuels my not enoughness. I’ve read awful things about mental illness in so many different forms, including supposed academic articles.

Just know that whatever you’re suffering I would never judge you for it. My email is in my contacts and though I’m not qualified, I’ve been told I’m good at listening and I wouldn’t ever make you feel inferior.

Sending love and healing to all of you. Being your own worst enemy is a burden no one deserves to bare but you’re a warrior and I stand with you.

N x

 

by the water-2

 

This is my greatest anxiety.

I’m eight years old clutching a large stuffed bunny to my chest with watering eyes telling my mam that I don’t want to get so grown up I have to give my bunny up. I still find comfort in hugging that bunny now. I’m fourteen years old enamoured by the art of acting and I cry to my mam because if I don’t make it in the business now I’ll never make it. I still find love in that art and consider it even more plausible now. I’m sixteen years old and my parents encourage my first job, I sit in a heap on the floor in heaving tears because the grown up world has hit and I can already feel the magic withering. I still believe wholeheartedly in that magic now. I’m nineteen years old and I sob in front of my counsellor because I’m balancing a soul destroying part time job with a severely restricting study of literature, a topic so full of freedom to me before university. I still find my escape in the pages of a book now. I’m twenty one years old and I cry on my birthday because the numbers scream out at me from every card with despairing responsibility. I’m yet to take on that ominous ‘adult responsibility’ even now.

I’m twenty two years old and I grip my anxiety with grateful hands because I know I’m growing older and all too quick but my fear is the driving force behind living and that living is proving to me that age really is just a number. My age is as defining as my name. It’s obsolete, abstract, holds no credible meaning. Human’s created time to control because we have to control everything. Age gives a framework to order and so long as we abide by that we’re easier to categorise and influence. I’m not any kind of number, least of all that twenty two. I have the magical energy of childhood me, that angsty creative drive of teenage me and the sheer determination of young adult me and we’re all coexisting and learning with every number that adds itself to us.

You are not your age. There is no ‘should’ be doing, just ‘want’ to be doing. Disconnect from the laborious task of meeting the number and just grow at your own pace instead, less anxiety, more living.

N x