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and the Art of Slowing it Down
In praise of feather’s
September 5, 2014Posted by on
Being an expat can be lonely. A stay-at-home mom and housewife lonelier still. But being mentally ill is the loneliest of all, in my humble experience… until you learn how to accept it and come out of the closet!
Seriously, if you are reading this & you suffer from mental illness, you should consider, at the very least, talking to someone about it! It’s liberating!! People crawl out of the woodwork when you are raw and honest and they reach back to you. They share their stories; get intimate for a moment or two. It’s great, if your lucky like me, you get more support than you ever dreamed of! It couldn’t be more rewarding.
Pay close attention; it comes in all shapes and sizes. One friend recently went so far as to tell me that I was being “open/real”. Another just volunteered to help me with one of my many Mommy projects. Another thankfully shared some funny jokes about my psychotic disposition. They were compliments really. Another, my favorite one, took up her gauntlet and matched my risk by confiding in me her albeit different but deep dark secret?! That was incredibly humbling and gratifying.
Note to Reader: It’s only been a few short weeks but it’s been fabulous! I find that I am quickly becoming a natural advocate. I am grateful to the Source of all things to be in a place that finally enabled ME to accept the responsibility!
Before I go on, I’d like to take the time to thank the Mentally Ill, Bisexuals, Homosexuals, Gamblers, Alcoholics and Drug Addicts etc. for coming out before me. They blazed the path; I merely jumped on the bandwagon!
In my experience “coming out” is an inexplicable sense of pride, freedom & hope all beautifully packaged into one. I wish I had known sooner! You don’t see that package in Keith Haring’s graphic above… instead to show his support I believe he depicts a cautious (yellow) thrilling rite of passage. I can appreciate where he was coming from. It’s an unnerving experience but knowing what I know now, I would encourage anyone to just go for it!
That said however, I think that it’s really important to recognize that living in secret can be debilitating. Hiding in a cave doesn’t help anyone at all. Namely yourself. Wiki can explain the pitfalls of loneliness on one’s mental health better than me. Listen. Scroll down & try to listen? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loneliness
To add, what I’ve learned by coming out to my ‘closet’ friends and extended family is that I have suddenly picked up the sword, joined the fight, to help them understand ME. And surprisingly I’m less lonely now. For years I’ve operated under the false expectation that it was their job to understand ME. In conversation after conversation I found myself internally pleading “PLEASE UNDERSTAND ME!!!”. You can imagine, I didn’t get very far… Duh, no one could hear ME!
But now that I have opened up I feel like I am starting to peel deeper into the onion. I have dropped my armor and am embracing my vulnerability. Yes my vulnerability. Brene Brown is right. “Vulnerability is not about fear and grief and disappointment; it is the birthplace of everything we’re hungry for.”
In part my previous narrow-minded perspective is a reflection on my my self centered point of view, POV… I realize now that I wasn’t even giving my ‘closet’ friends and extended family the benefit of the doubt. How stupid is that? I wasted so much time; so many opportunities to connect! In hindsight I fell into thinking that sometimes my particular psychological and emotional disposition made ME so special/different that the mass majority could never really truly understand ME. So, like many sober rational people walking this planet, I didn’t bother to try to be understood. But what I was doing, by hiding, was not making myself available to be understood.
Hiding away in my closet, only made matters worse. For me, of course, but perhaps more importantly for those that I love the most! How depressing is that? What I realize now is that we should really be talking more about what makes us unique, what makes us different. The world needs to know. The world deserves to know. I whole heartedly believe a mindset to the effect of “we’re all in this together” would be mutually benefical.
In “Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types” Dr. Keirsey challenges the reader to “Abandon the Pygmalion Project”, that endless and fruitless attempt to change the Other into a carbon copy of Oneself. I have great respect and appreciation for his work and I hope that stem cell cloning never progresses to that stage. I’d be so very bored of a bunch of mini ME’s running around… Maybe we can learn from the late great Joan Rivers. She said: “I have no methods; all I do is accept people as they are.” Let’s follow her advice and wake up today and eagerly celebrate our differences.
One of the things that I like best about family, friendship and marriage is that we get to hold up the mirror to one another and try to help each other see ourselves as we really are. Obviously, we have our differences but at the end of the day we are simply all shades of one and the same. We just need to put on our feathers, to remind us to tread lightly, and open up and dare to confront with each other just which aspect we really are!