Mental Wellness Challenge – 2020, February 06

Mental Wellness Challenge – 2020, February 6

My challenges for your last week were to:

  1. This week I challenge you to 3 random acts of kindness. 100% – totally random.  Big, small – it doesn’t matter.  But do 3.
  2. This week I challenge you to drink 3 large glasses of water every day. LARGE GLASSES.  Hydrate your system.  (I know I don’t do this well enough….)
  3. This week I challenge you to share something you have learned along the way – relating to mental health – with three different friends.

I did a good job of my challenges last week.  I made a point of doing a random, anonymous act of kindness each day of the week, for 6 of the 7 days of the challenge – I was able to drink at least 3 large glasses of water in addition to what I normally drink – and I have to say… After a few days – I really do feel the difference the extra hydration makes… I’m thinking I’ll try for that again on my own this week too… it might even become a new habit. Lastly – I was able to find opportunities to share something about mental health with lots of people. So – how did you do?  I hope you had great success!

This week, I’d like to share about stuff.  Stuff I have in my life that I pack around with me all the time – in my “not so ticklish – tickle trunk”.  You see – I have this part of my life, my experiences, that I pack around with me that I really, sincerely believe I’d be better off just being able to lose somewhere.  Its stuff that is clutter in my life and most of the time I really don’t even know its there… until something requires me to go digging through my “not so ticklish – Tickle trunk” looking for something and in the process – I stir up all these other things that I’ve just left there.

I’m going to call this “not so ticklish – tickle trunk” just my trunk… There’s all sorts of stuff in there…  but – to be honest – most of the stuff in my trunk is sticky, gooey, prickly stuff that I don’t like to play with.  In fact, most of the time, my trunk just gathers dust sitting on the sidelines… its not really a place where I like to play.  Digging through my trunk is most often only done in circumstances where I have to relate to something… something hard usually.

I can almost see myself digging through this trunk – looking for a specific piece of my experience – something that I’ve lived years ago – that needs to be connected with for one reason or another – much like I see my grand babies digging through the big toybox we have outside on the deck full of “outside toys”  The kids are elbow deep, rummaging through this big storage box on our patio, looking for something to play with.  They don’t necessarily know what it is they want to play with – and as they dig their way through the toys in the box, they examine each of the toys they come across.  Some they test out, some they just move out of the way, others they take out of the box and leave on the ground beside the toy box and then finally – they find the object of their attention.  Most often leaving a bit of a trail of carnage in their paths… toys left out, the order and organization that existed in the box is now “helter skelter” and will need to be re-ordered before everything will fit back into the box.

I needed to get into my trunk and look for a piece of my experience to share as part of an exercise for a program that I am going to be working with.  This program is one where a change in culture related to gender-based bullying and violence is the goal.  I was looking for something that I could share to relate my personal experience of this violence, to others.  While I personally have had lots of experience as the recipient of teasing, bullying, harassment and abuse… I also have loved ones whom have had experiences of gender-based abuse and violence – perpetrated by others.  It was one of these experiences that I was going into the trunk to dig up – recollect.

Without getting into specifics – I have a family member who was assaulted and in this instance – there was ZERO I could do about it at the time.  Nuff said.

Now, for me to get that piece out of my trunk, I had to put my hands on lots and lots of other sticky, gooey, thorny, ugly pieces of my experience.  So in that process – I had “stuff” all over my hands, on my clothes, my face, my heart and – well – all over myself.

The piece that I currently struggle with is that while I was able to address the specific piece of my loved one being assaulted with the person who it happened to… (we were able to talk a bit about it, she’s pretty much dismissed it totally as being ineffectually significant in her life – she’s OK)… I continue to struggle with the guilt I continue to feel – the internal shame I hold – for the actions that someone else took.

So – jump ahead a couple of days.  I had the awesome opportunity to share my journey with two different groups.  Incredible people.  In my talk I lay out some definitions that are important to the understanding of my journey.  Two definitions that I lay out are guilt and shame.  Guilt being the feeling that I experience when I do something wrong – don’t do something when I could have.  Shame being the feeling I have when I see myself as “bad”.

I had an – ah ha – moment in the space after my second presentation about the guilt and shame pieces that I have.  I felt shame (disgust really) for my perceived “fact” that I was a failure because I did nothing.  I felt guilt that I didn’t do anything.  In my reflections I had a freeing moment.  For this specific instance – there was nothing I could do – PERIOD.  So then, the very real shame that I was feeling was wrong and the guilt that I was experiencing was wrong.  There was simply nothing that I could do to have stopped the event from happening…

I get it!  Now – somehow I have to figure out a way to pin this new – reckoning/understanding – to the experience and then I can put it back – well – hang on a second… I don’t have to put this piece of my life back into my trunk.  I can leave it out of the trunk… and while – I might not leave the specific experience out on the coffee table to share with any who visit – I don’t have to “stuff” it away.

And this is a new understanding for me… You see – I have this huge trunk full of things that I have shame, guilt, disgust, fear, anger over – and they are all stuffed into this trunk.  I believe I have found the way to “clean the gooey stuff” off the experiences, so that they don’t have to be shadows in my past or skeletons in my closet.

Up to this place in my life – I’ve truly never been able to reckon with so much of what’s in that trunk.  When I am depressed I sometimes see myself plunked down in the middle of my trunk – going through all of those “things, failures, shortcomings, negatives”.  If I can now clean my shame and guilt off of those things – I can liberate them…  I can free them.  These pieces of my experience are threads in the fabric of my life.  I know that I can’t cut them out, I know that they will always be there.

I am learning…. Constantly learning… (I often think to myself – this is stuff I should have learned in grade school – but I didn’t.)  I don’t know that my washing the ick off process will work for everything that is in my trunk – but I do know that I won’t have the same fear and reservations about looking into that part of my life anymore – or more honestly – as much.

The good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the right, the wrong, the truth and even the lies… they are all part of my experience… all part of that fabric of my life.  My understanding and acceptance of ALL OF IT, is making my life richer – truer.

This piece really speaks to so very much of “living to my model”.  The 8 facets of my model represent the pieces of my life that I need to pay attention to stay well.  The learning that I experienced this week was a big thing for me… so thanks for letting me share it with you.

Values, Purpose, Connections, Supports, Action, Awareness/vigilance, Acceptance/understanding, Persistence…

these are the facets of my model – my roadmap to wellness.

My challenge for the week:

  1. Be grateful. Be as grateful as you can for as many things as you can.  Gratitude helps to build perspective.  Be grateful for things like – living in Canada, having food in the larder, having friends, little birds that chirp and sing their songs… be grateful.  Maybe even write some of these things you are grateful for down… but take time to be intentionally grateful.
  2. Have a meaningful conversation with a friend about – love, or family, or wellness. We spend time in conversation – but a bunch of it is just noise.  Take some time to have a touching conversation with someone in your life.
  3. Be intentionally kind. For the whole week – do your very best to be intentionally kind.  We CAN be the change that the world needs.  It starts with each and every one of use.  Be an instrument of change by exercising kindness.