Posted in 52 Poems, Poetry

52 Poems – Week 3 – A Journey

This should have been week 2, but I got these two weeks mixed up, it doesn’t matter. The prompt was to write about a journey. So I thought about a journey in search of happiness, I thought about looking for what is already inside oneself. I’ve spent a lifetime looking for love, acceptance, reassurance, all in the wrong places because I was looking for these things outside myself. So I wrote about going on a journey looking for what you already have. Does this make sense? I hope so.

photo of person walking on pathway near rocks
Photo by Gantas Vaičiulėnas on Pexels.com

Finding home

I set off on a journey, hunched

by a heavy baggage. The path

wasn’t smooth nor wide. Nor

was it certainly, without obstacles.

I trekked up and down hills,

mountains. Crossed over

bridges – short, long, straight,

winding, firm and wobbly. Often

I turned around, often

I stopped to rest, often

I looked back wishing

I had never left home.

I’d been on the road

far too long, longing for home.

But when I stopped looking back,

I learned that I had arrived already.

 

Posted in 52 Poems, Poetry

52 Poems – Week 2 – Body

Here is my week 2 poem, this poem has had a few different versions already, but I’m still not sure this is the final one. It started as My Scars, followed by a version of mind versus body, then I remembered that I already wrote that poem; so I saved that version to go and edit the other poem. I also saved part of the scars, I might used it for another poem, who knows? In the end I decided to express gratitude to what I have put my body through over the years and for the fact that it never let me down. I don’t know if it comes across as I wish it would. Feedback welcomed, please!

 

In Praise of my Body

My body has always been there for me, but

I have not always been there for my body.

My body was there for me when I first discovered

the joys of walking and falling – getting up and

trying again. When I learned what comfort was, the sun

on my kin, the refreshing sea on a hot summer’s day,

sleeping in freshly washed bedding, resting.

My body was there for me, when I discovered love, the

excitement of another’s body against mine. Pure joy,

endless sensations kept in unforgettable memories.

My body was there for me at childbirth, when a life it created

exploded into its own existence. Miracle repeated, despite my

inability to take in the succession of life’s serendipities. It gave

me strength to carry on when I didn’t have the courage.

My body was there for me all through my long working life,

day after day, week, month, year, forever. Long shifts, adverse

conditions, sickness, accidents, successes, achievements.

Never letting me down, never letting me quit.

And how did I pay it back? With criticism, judgement, neglect.

Until I learned to love it, because I am one with my body!

 

Posted in My Planet

Why depression was the best thing that happened to me part II

This week I thought I’d develop the theme of why depression was the best thing that has happened to me. Because of the depression and anxiety, I had therapy for a long time during which I learned so much about myself, it was like I was reborn. However, I just want to make clear from the beginning of this post that this is not a linear process; I still have moments of struggle and days when I feel like a fraud and that everything I have to do requires the same amount of energy to launch a rocket into space. Lately though, most of the time I’m good.

My childhood was different from that of the other children I knew, including my siblings, as being the eldest more was required from me. My parents had a business and I had to help out from an early age, before school, after school and during the school holidays. So when most children were happy for school holidays, I always preferred the time spent in school, which for me was the equivalent to play time. My father always expected me to work in the business like an adult, he criticised every single action and every single mistake I made; nothing was ever good enough for him and he was never pleased with whatever I was doing. If all that wasn’t enough to make a little girl feel inadequate, he also loved to humiliate me in front of the customers and the other children that lived on our street and were always playing out. When I was growing up in the 70’s, my parents did things to me that make me cringe now that I had therapy and learned it wasn’t right, but all my life – although I didn’t feel good about it – I carried the weight of shame and guilt as if I could have changed things. For example one Summer my family went out for a day in Spain and I stayed at home alone because there was no room for me in the car, I was 10 years old. Can you imagine how a little 10-year-old girl would feel being left home alone waiting for her family to come back home? My parents, my brother, my sister, my auntie, my uncle and my cousin; they all went and I was left at home. What I remember most of that day was that I was at the window all day waiting for them to come back, it must have been one of the longest days of my life. I knew that I was the least worth person in the family because I was the one they left behind without a second thought, or apology, or any kind of bribe, there was no need I just had to accept the fact that there was no room for me. Today this would have been classed as child cruelty, I’m sure. Not only I worked for my parents business without any pay or recognition, I was also the least worth child in the family. This was one of many identical situations. In my parents’ mind, because I was the eldest I was almost classed as an adult, every issue between myself and any of my siblings was undeniably my fault for the simple fact that I was the eldest and therefore should know better. What they forgot was that I was only 18 months older than my brother, so also a child. My brother was good and it wasn’t his fault that he was the only one allowed to play out while I had to work or the one that got a bike while I never had one. I never got given toys for Christmas or birthdays, while the other girls exhibited their dolls on Christmas day, what I got was pajamas and chocolates from our cafe. I always felt in disadvantage and turned into an adult with an immense need for love and acceptance, but with very low standards, which lead me to very bad decisions – but I won’t go anymore into that for now.

What I want to focus now on this post is that due to the depression and anxiety, for the first time in my life I had to face all these ghosts from the past in therapy and learned that my parents were abusive towards me, not physically abusive but emotionally and mentally, which leaves long-term marks that we don’t see. I learned that it wasn’t my fault that my parents didn’t know how to love me and how to appreciate me or make me feel like a worthy human being. I love them, but I hated how they made me feel and that is ok. I learned that I did the best I could with what I had and there is nothing to be ashamed of. I did really well actually and I have raised three beautiful children who I always made sure to feel loved. After the depression, I learned my worth and I know that I deserve to be loved and respected and that allowed me to find the person that treats me the way I deserve, my lovely husband. All my relationships improved after the depression, but most importantly my relationship with myself had a massive boost. It’s still a work in progress, but everything changed for the better.

Posted in My Planet

Why depression was the best thing that happened to me

In 2010 I was diagnosed with clinical depression and I thought my life was over. I lost track of time, stopped enjoying all the things I used to enjoy, lost interest in everything and the smallest event would cause me terrible anxiety. After months of struggle, I ended up losing my job, which eventually resulted in the loss of my house, making me and my three children homeless for eleven months during which we lived in a high-security hostel. So, why do I think that this was the best thing that has happened to me?

I lived all my life being scared, feeling wrong and inadequate, most of my actions were driven by either fear or seek for approval. I made so many mistakes, from trusting the wrong people to getting into debt and everything else in between that only added to my low self-esteem and lack of self-worth. I will leave the details of those for another post. What I want to focus on today is the benefits of therapy – it is fair to say that I owe my life to CBT. Through hours of therapy, I learned to make peace with my past and consequently, I started being kinder to myself. My most valuable lessons were:

  • It’s ok not to be ok.
  • I deserve to be loved for just being me.
  • I can love my parents and still hate some of the things they did to me.
  • I am a good mother.
  • I didn’t deserve the horrible things that were done to me.
  • I am not a failure.
  • Self-love is not selfishness.
  • I’m only responsible for my actions.
  • Grieving is a process.
  • Guilt is bad and serves no purpose.
  • I am not responsible for other people’s happiness.
  • I cannot change the past.
  • The past cannot hurt me.
  • The future doesn’t matter.
  • The power is in the now.

As a result of all these lessons, I became more self-confident and my self-esteem improved massively. I became aware of my self-worth and I am not afraid of asking for what I believe I deserve. When I think about my past mistakes and bad choices, I accept responsibility without judgment; I am now more accepting of myself and of others. Before the depression, I used to get terrible anxiety about how other people felt and wanted to fix everything. I used to live under a hard mask, but now I am just me. And although I am not always over the moon, that is ok. I know when I am not ok and when a low mood is approaching and how to act unless I haven’t the energy, which is also quite alright.

Posted in My Planet

Grief – what is normal?

Some people cry when watching a film, reading a book, seeing someone else crying or even watching cute cat videos. Not me. I don’t cry easily. At times, I have wondered if I’m just an insensitive so and so as I have been in situations where everyone around me is crying and I am just there with my dignity intact. I might appear to be in control of such moments, but in fact, I’m in so much pain that my emotions just get bloated inside. Yes, I meant bloated because that’s what it feels like. With my parents’ illnesses and the loss of my mother, I have been constipated with my emotions for a long time. And that is the worst feeling; when you cry, you release the suffering and feel lighter afterward. For a year I have been so heavy with all the emotions and pain inside me, an immense sadness that I can not put into words.

Until last week I had not cried for my mother’s loss and I have felt weird about it, maybe even guilty. I see other people crying – my daughter, my sisters, cousins and friends – and I think, “what’s wrong with me?”. Let me tell you, there is nothing wrong with me – I know that now! After much writing, reading, therapy and self-search, I realised that I have been in a grieving process for a long time. It started when I found out about my father’s cancer, continued with seeing my parents becoming old and frail and the realisation that they wouldn’t be here forever. While my mother was in the hospital, I was consumed with worry about their future or my father’s future without my mother to care for him. I am a worrier and that is one of the biggest enemies of staying in the moment. I don’t think I was ‘in the moment’ when my mother died or even while she was in intensive care. All that time I was in the near future, anticipating my father’s difficulty in coping on his own and the burden that it all would be for my younger sister,  plus feeling guilty for not being able to be there to help due to living in a different country.

I went through the funeral preparation, funeral, packing up my mother’s belongings with my brain somewhere else all the time, a deep sadness was there constantly but I was too busy to deal with it – this is called denial. My worry was my way of postponing my grief. While I was worrying, I didn’t have to accept the fact that my mother wasn’t here and that I was never going to hear the sound of her voice or her wise advice and her long and very detailed account of events. I still find myself thinking of things I want to tell her next time I speak to her as if the phone is going to ring and it’ll be my mother.

Although there were positives in all of this, my mother had a beautiful send-off.  She was very religious and part of the Neocatecumenal Way for over thirty years, so her mass and funeral were truly beautiful and I got great comfort in knowing that it made her soul very happy. This is the importance of rituals during bereavement and grieving, a theme that deserves another blog post of its own. My mother was a good Christian in the real sense of Christianity and she was very well loved and seeing so many people praying with us and offering help and support during that time was such a warm comfort. I will never forget that we had lunch and dinner cared for every day during that time. And there is always someone to look out for my father and help my sister. I know it is not always easy, but my father is coping better than I anticipated and my sister is doing better than well. So all my worry was nothing but a waste of time and energy, what a surprise!

Every time I look at one of the various photos of my mother I have around the house, I feel deep sadness; but last week I look at one of these and I missed her so much. For the first time, I cried the loss of my mother. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I miss her so much and there is so much I want to share with her and so much that I relied on her for. This is the hardest part for me, learning to live without the person you lost when that person has been there for you for the most part of your life.

Posted in Poetry

Creative Portfolio (6)

The Moment

 

“I don’t know you anymore”,

you said.

“You used to go to work every day”,

you cried.

“You always found new possibilities,

always exploring, never unsure”,

your voice trembling.

“Even grandma said

you’d never stop surprising her,

it was in your DNA”

you were sobbing.

“I don’t understand”

 

“I’m still here”, I said.

“It’s like a tree in the winter, lifeless…

It’s a tree, nonetheless.

The winter will give way to spring,

the grey branches will turn green

happily bouncing with energy”,

I continued.

“Summer will follow with bright flowers,

juicy fruits, quenching and deliciously

refreshing”, I think now I was smiling.

“It will still be me in the autumn,

the leaves falling and leaving a warm tapestry

on the floor, made up with coloured patterns

and soft textures”. By now I was convinced.

“Just remember, if winter returns

and I turn blue again, it won’t be permanent”.

 

This poem refers to the moment when I realised the extent to which my depression was affecting my loved ones, and the moment I decided I had to kick it in the ass –  not easy as it sounds here, but a good start.