I grew up surrounded by books, my parents were avid readers and encouraged us all to read widely. When I was twelve, my parents purchased a set of encyclopaedias. I still recall vividly the visit by the sales rep with a few demonstration books, as we poured over the pages with such enthusiasm and anticipation. An anticipation of a world opening up to us, and those encyclopaedias were still in the bookcase, where they’d always been when I left home for the last time. Although I always remember reading, especially lazy afternoons, lying in the garden, my overwhelming passion for reading was ignited at 14, when I read for the first time ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. No other school curriculum book, or for that matter any other book I’d read prior to that, had that same hold as this gorgeous book. For the first time in my memory, I could see the book coming alive for me in pictures, in my mind. And that has been my guide to this day.
I’ve now a home and family of my own and like my childhood, books are everywhere. There have only ever been two rules regarding books, don’t scribble on them and don’t damage them in any way. They’re grown up now and I no longer have to remind them. I’m guessing like most people I have my favourites, genres and authors, and I tend to return to them over and over. However joining and belonging to a book club has opened me up to new and exciting authors and books. I have one personal rule, if a book doesn’t grab me, I won’t finish it. My time is too precious and passion for reading is too important to waste on a book, I find unworthy. The greatest of books, take me on a journey, to a new place and time. They’ve been my life line many, many times and have lifted me for the darkest hours and the darkest times in my life. I owe them everything and to me there is a sacredness in reading, a very personal journey and great privilege in being able to read. There was a time when reading only belonged to an elite few, and I wonder at how small their world and lives must have been.
Right now I’m re-reading for umpteenth time Pride and Prejudice, and before you all start saying, ‘oh she loves her romances’. The only thing Jane Austen went dewy eyed and gaga over was real estate, Pemberley and to a lesser extent Rosings. Any marriages that take place are swiftly pushed off the page to make way for Austen’s social satire, wicked wit and the glorious grotesques that grace the pages of this wonderful book. Lady Catherine de Bourgh (of the piano “If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient.”) one of her more unassuming proclamations, Mr. Collins, the loquacious and laughable parson. But then I can laugh, because I don’t have to live with him, if I did have to live with him I think I would probably have punctured my own ear drums. The delightful Mr. & Mrs. Bennett, solo or in tandem and to a lesser extent the hapless and bitchy Caroline Bingley.
There are however two proposals which get more time than one or two sentences, the painful and cringe worthy fumblings and mumblings of Mr. Collins trying to woo Elizabeth Bennett and the first attempt at a proposal by Mr. Darcy….
(Cue romantic background Baroque/Classical music)
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
………..He spoke well, but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed, and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness then of pride. His sense of her inferiority – of its being a degradation – of the family obstacles which judgement had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, …………… (music skids to a halt)
Yikes….you haven’t done this much, have you Mr. Darcy.
And just for good measure, he adds.
“……….Nor am I ashamed of the feelings I related. They are natural and just. Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections? To congratulate myself on the hope of relations, whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?”
If you want to know where the pride in Pride and Prejudice comes from, he was shocked and stunned when she says no.
Jane Austen wasn’t a romantic, she was by all accounts a practical, acid tongued and occasionally coarse woman. I think I like her. Marriage for her was a contract, one of very few options for a gentlewoman of little means. And this is very evident in her writing, Pride and Prejudice is a comedy of manners and Austen is at her greatest when she’s holding up a magnifying glass to the arrogance, vanity, stupidity and pride of many of the great characters in this wonderful and delicious book.
I tend to use my kindle a lot these days, apart from the obvious advantage of being able to store 1000’s of books in one place, it’s less likely than a mighty tome, to leave me concussed when I fall asleep reading at night. However I often return to books, there is something magical about the act of turning a page in a book, a physical and emotional response and interaction, and an empathy with the characters and story that I don’t get in using a kindle. There is a progression and immersion in books, that make you believe you’re living the story, that’s missing with an e-reader. My kindle is a moment in time, disconnected and static.
E-readers do have a purpose but I don’t believe they will ever replace the book. And thank god for that, I say.
I’ve been going back over my old posts recently, two reasons primarily, the first to reevaluate my own personal journey. The second to explore how I’ve developed as a writer. So today I’d like to revisit an old post and explore it further in light of my recent experiences, my own story rather than my growth as a writer.
I do like what I wrote back then, it spoke to me at that time, of how I wanted my life to be and I recall a feeling of being uplifted on completing it, but did writing it make any difference, the short answer is no, not then, not for a long while. We think if we say something often enough it becomes real. If only it were that simple, the reality though is that, we are what we believe we are and back then I still had to hit rock bottom before I could start believing in a better, happier, worthwhile me. Why are some people perfectionists, in a nut shell, we have low self esteem, we strive to prove our worth, to ourselves and to others by reaching for unattainable perfection. In believing in our low self worth we anxiously strive to prove ourselves, there is no in between, we’re black or white, all or nothing and success or failure. Low self esteem patterns of behaviour are extensive, but for me I’ve always listened to and analysed the words or statements of others. That was my trigger, my pattern of destruction, and believing myself to found wanting fed this cycle of perfectionism/procrastination. Words hurt, nuances and tones crush.
Harking back to an old mantra of our childhood and the schoolyard.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
If only we’d learnt to believe that, all those years ago. But words have the power to be the most inspiring or the most destructive force on earth. And the careless words of a thoughtless person, became the catalyst to all that came after for me. Do I blame her, not entirely, not even mostly, if my own worth had been strong, those words could never have held that much power, but we all need to take responsibility for what we say and the consequences that unfold. So were those words, derogatory, offensive or damning. No they were fairly innocuous in themselves, but to me, with low self esteem and reeling from having just lost my job and security, they were overwhelmingly devastating and undermined everything I had worked hard for. Those words only lost their potency in recent months, when I came to a powerful realization, so powerful that with the tears and release, went so much negative energy. That was the moment when everything started clearing for me, when I accepted and let go. In letting go of those words, everything else started falling away. The need for approval, the need for constant company, the need to always say yes and the need to be perfect, all gone.
My inner demon is quiet now, I hardly ever hear from her, and if she does make an appearance she gets ever so quickly gagged and pushed to the back of my mind. So how then too is the perfectionist in me fairing, I honestly don’t know, I haven’t been in contact with her for awhile. That feels so good to say.
I’ve completed my Advanced Diploma now, although it very nearly became another casualty, what kept me going, the support and friendship of the three very wonderful women that I met through my studies, without them I would have pulled out, without a doubt. The final part of my advanced diploma, a thesis on the practical application of hypnosis and hypnotherapy, was completed in April this year, was it perfect, no but I was happy with it. And the best part of all of this was when I stopped worrying about how good it was, it freed me up to do a paper that my teacher thought worthy of publishing on his website. Yeah I’m never doing that perfectionist rubbish again.
In letting go, I’ve also started taking more risks, and no longer living a life of ‘what ifs’, I’m ready to start working again, and to start seeing clients. And best of all, I’ve grabbed hold of nerves and doubts and reconnected with an old friend. To my memory, the sweetest and kindest boy I’ve ever known and it’s been great getting to know him all over again. I could never have done all this two years ago.
Hands up if you’ve ever had vertigo! Not the occasional head spin on standing up too quickly. I mean crawling on your hands and knees vertigo, extreme nausea vertigo, being drunk without the fun bits vertigo or reeling into doors/furniture/people just because you’re standing up vertigo. If you ever have you’ll know it. Well I found something that works, yesterday, seriously works.
My vertigo started about 14 months ago, my first episode was short but very scary and from that, they started increasing in duration and frequency, and at my worst episode my daughter thought I was having a stroke. Of course I started worrying then panicking because contrary to popular belief I am only human and like magic when you worry things instantly gets worse.
Let me just say if you haven’t had your vertigo checked out, please do yourself a favour and do so because there are a small number of particularly icky reasons for it and it’s best to rule them out early. My MRI showed a normal brain, relatively speaking, stop smirking Eilis, Phil, Dessy, Majella, my children etc., etc. It ruled out anything sinister and I was diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, a common cause for vertigo.
Now for the sciency bit, basically I have rocks in my head, only itty bitty tiny ones, but nonetheless rocks. Tiny little calcium carbonate crystals build up creating otoconia (the rocks) and may move into parts of the inner ear causing imbalance. That’s the gist of it, if you want more info talk to Mr. Google.
My episodes had settled but recently they’d started returning and yesterday, I turned over in bed, opened my eyes and the world started spinning. I had no choice, I had an early appointment and had to get up, but about 4pm after spending the day narrowly avoiding involuntarily throwing myself under vehicles, other people and furniture, I went onto youtube and typed in vertigo.
♪ ♪ Hallelujah, hallelujah ♪♪
About 4 down the page was a video entitled “Vertigo Treatment-How to treat Vertigo”. It was uploaded by an
Oringo, Otorol, Otolyng, Ear person who suffers from vertigo herself, following research she came up with the Half Somersault Manoeuvre to shift the above mentioned rocks. I know, Somersault, I panicked too, I hadn’t done one in at least 30 years. But I think I’ve already mentioned it really works. I could feel a slight improvement within 15 mins, an hour later even more and this morning I woke up to a mercifully still room.
As I look back over my 49 years, I can see clearly many peaks, I can also see troughs but as my thinking changes these are becoming ever so hazy. But you have to all the same appreciate those troughs for what they are because the peaks are ever so more delicious because of them.
This weekend brought to an end a journey, both emotional and physical, but I suppose it really started 4 1/2 years ago. A wonderful time for me, a time of exploration, trust building, a growing and deepening self-respect, in essence an opportunity to change my default setting and of seeing, really seeing new possibilities and opportunities and grabbing them with both hands.
Redundancy a year and a half ago rocked me, but made me rethink and build new dreams and the skills I learnt 4 years ago allowed to embrace them. I’ve come to the end of the formal part of my advanced diploma study in Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy but my journey continues. I feel so alive, and fulfilled and I’ve met wonderful people and we’ve supported and grown together.
Changing my default wasn’t easy and I still go back to the anxious, negative me from time to time, but now I don’t stay there so long. In fact I hit rock bottom four months ago, but I got help from my doctor and my friends old and new, and that has made this weekend all the sweeter. If you ever get a chance to look at ‘This is Water’ by David Foster Wallace on youtube, prepare to be inspired.
I think what I’ve learnt is that crap happens, you can’t ignore it, it’s part of life, embrace it, it has a lot to teach us, but don’t wallow in it, because there is only really one way to go from there, all the way up.
This is my story, my truth, my awareness and it really works for me.
Two or three months back I was thinking 2012 should have been my year, the year of the Dragon, my Chinese astrological sign. My year for wonderful things to happen. Dragon the fearsome, loyal, kind and hard working, the traits that could lead me to greatness.
In the last two weeks of 2011 I was made redundant from my job of 8 years. If you’d asked me to sit down and think about what defined me, my job would probably not have made it to my list. But losing it undermined my very core. For me it was about security in a world in recession, an income, getting out and meeting people, and in holding down that job, a belief, that what I did, I did very, very well.
At first I embraced the opportunity for change but when the shock was replaced with the reality, my optimism seemed to die. I reeled through the emotions like a woman possessed. Fear, frustration, helplessness and a loss of control over my own destiny, anger, so much anger, mainly towards my employer, someone I’d once counted as a friend and a sense of betrayal. My demon was the alter-ego who has dogged me most of my life. She ridicules me, second guesses my intuition, stamps all over my dreams, she takes me by the hand and leads me down the path of the worst imaginings my mind can create, and devours my confidence. And she always shows up when there’s a flicker of weakness. “What’s the point in trying, you know you’re going to fail”, my perfectionist/procrastinating nature chimes in.
If only I had been left to my own devices, I could have coped. Lunarcy the everyday and my alter-ego Lunarcy the superhero, righter of wrongs and with the ability to take flight and soar, working together we could have been amazing, we could of risen to the challenge, but my demon was in her element.
The turning point, my 48th birthday, end of April, all I wanted to do was sleep through it. Friends though had other plans, a surprise party (the surprise bit I spectacularly messed up – no point being a perfectionist if you don’t do something spectacularly). I went begrudgingly, annoyed with them for forcing me to acknowledge the event. Sometime during the night though something wonderful happened to me. Something shifted in me, what it was, who knows, I still don’t. Maybe it was just being in that room with people who just wanted me to be happy. I wonder do they know how important that night was to me, how much strength I gained from their presence, thoughtfulness and warm friendship, and how it helped to turn my life around.
I now have a direction, I won’t say plan, for me now, plans imply something set in stone. A direction allows me to move forward and allow for change. I’m going back to learning, am I scared, hell yes, but I won’t allow that to derail me. I want to explore an area that intrigues and energizes me. Psychology and Hypnosis, the mind, infinitely creative and destructive. The power to conquer and defy our past or to bring us to our knees. A text delivered a selection of books to me, “some summer reading” he said. Light summer reading it ain’t. I laugh, but I’ll enjoy them so much more than some soppy novel.
I still struggle with this desire to be nothing less than perfect, but the dream is strong, and hopefully enough to push me out of my comfort zone.
I know now that losing my job wasn’t the beginning of the end for me. I was never going to jump, I had to be pushed and glorious new starts often include pain, fear and doubt. Perhaps 2012 will be my year to shine after all.
Where do I see myself in October/November and beyond, will it be with my hand shooting up to answer yet another question, teeth grinding behind at the Noddy Know All in the front row, or standing behind the toilets smoking trying to look cool but in reality just terrified by life. I’m hoping closer to the know all, but without the ‘me being annoying’ bit.
For now I’m reading my books, swotting as it were. A challenge presents itself, deliciously tantalizing and I’m poised and ready. I sit relaxed, a smile comes to my face, and a sense of excitement and the beginning of my path to fulfilment, as the words swirl into my brain, like fingers massaging the little grey cells long dormant, I think ……..
“I wonder does he have any copies of these books in English”.