Who am I?

About three months ago, things in my little world, for want of a better phrase, fell apart.  Things had been slipping for quite some time before that, but there was a final stressor which caused an extreme internal reaction.  I look at the few posts that I’ve published since that time, and they’ve talked of my disconnection with the world… my withdrawal from those around me.  This feeling was starting to seem chronic.  Hopelessness had settled in, and there appeared to be fewer and fewer options available to me.

Then, this past week, I started to see some glimpses of hope… lots of little things started to add up to create a bigger picture –  reading The quiet room: A journey out of the torment of madness by Lori Schiller and Amanda Bennett; reading several blogs which talked about our inner resources; and reacting to Marsha Linehan “coming out” about her own history of mental illness.  What these all created was not a new awareness, but a reaffirming of an old one… I wasn’t disconnected from the world… I was disconnected from “me”.

The rest of the world didn’t see the problem, because I was still functioning in it.  I was still going to work, doing what was required of me, and going home.  I was passing for human really well.  But because I had lost all sense of my internal resources and connection, there was no substance to anything that I was doing.  I could voice an opinion, but it came purely from an intellectual place, with no feeling behind it…  It’s only when you combine the intellectual and emotional, that you can fight for your opinion to be heard and understood.

So how do I get back to “me”?  Well, I’m not so sure.  I know that I need to bring a sense of balance, acceptance and safety, into my life.  All of these elements are in pretty short supply at the moment.  I’m aware that there’s a huge fear associated with looking inward to see what can bring me back to level ground.  I know that it’s about going back to the basics… reading, drawing, photography, reflecting…  But, I’m not so sure how to accomplish this.

Writing this post was my first step.  It’s an acknowledgement that I need to pay attention.  That I can’t keep on going as I have been…

So, in the interest of trying something different, I’m going to tell the story behind one of the photos that I took while walking around the Wellington Zoo…
Good Dad
I took this photo as we were on our way to the exit.  What captured my attention, was the chatter of the little girl.  She was talking non-stop, and part of me was expecting the Dad to tell her to be quiet and calm down… instead, he listened to her.  He responded as if he was giving her his total attention.  When she wanted to exchange hats, he went along with it… saying how cool she would look with his hat on… he even helped her with the great hat exchange.  After making sure that his hat was securely on her head, and that she was content with arrangement, he then put her hat on… all the while, he kept on walking and chatting as if it was the most normal thing in the world to do.

This man walked away, listening to the chatter of the little girl, with hats exchanged, and a pink backpack on.  Doesn’t he look like a “cool dude”?  Yet he didn’t lose patience with the girl and her innocent request… did I mention the pink backpack?

It was one of those moments where my past experiences, and what I was seeing, clashed.  It took what seemed like ages to calm the inner chaos that was created by my expectations that this man would become angry with the little girl.  I know that I could only be seeing the public front that this family put on, but I don’t think so.  The little girl was so secure in her position in his arms.  There was no stiffness in her posture, and the chatter was the free and easy chatter that I know occurs with children who are loved unconditionally.

While this scene brought hope, it also brought confusion and grief.  I was mainly aware of the hypervigilence and confusion at the time, but I know there was grief for what will never be…  I can sense that now.  That has to be progress, doesn’t it?

Now playing: Sia – Breathe Me
via FoxyTunes


30 thoughts on “Who am I?

    • Thanks Meredith,

      My question at the end was mainly rhetorical, as I need to answer that question for myself… saying that, it’s good to get the validation 🙂

      Take care go gently,

  1. Wonderful picture. As I read your post, I kept scrolling back up to look at the picture, the hats, little girl’s posture, etc. I sort of had that as a little girl – from my dad. He was always in the fields, tho, so I wasn’t really around him often when he wasn’t tired. However, one thing I did, that you might still be able to do is that I passed on what is in this picture, to my daughter. I did these things with her from the time she made her first little squeak. I talked to her like I meant it, I listened like there was nothing more important in the whole world and when I was with her – I was 100% with her. Giving love that way, gave it back to me – she gave it back to me. It is wonderful. I hope you find that kind of love because you deserve it. Your parents don’t have a clue of the absolute acceptance they could have had from you, if they’d given it to you.

    • Hi Ivory,

      I’m glad you had glimpses of what this little girl seemed to have. I wish you could have had it all the time, and that it wasn’t just glimpses though.

      It makes me smile to think of how you were able to turn your own past experiences around, and make things so much better for your daughter. That shows how strong you are. You knew that there was a better way than what you experienced, and you did it!

      Take care 🙂

  2. CG this is such a nice picture…great color and focus. I see stuff like this and I always feel sad inside that I didn’t experience it but also so relieved to see that other children do. I love seeing other children that are being loved and are happy…I could just sit and watch that for hours. It sure is progress. Anything that you can allow yourself to feel and identify with will bring you closer to yourself. Small baby steps are best with that though. Try not to look at the bigger picture and just focus on the smaller stuff that you can handle…it will eventually have a cumulative effect. Hugs!

    • Hi Nansie,

      Thanks 🙂 I took this photo really quickly after focusing on a tortoise, so it isn’t quite how I would have taken it if I’d had more time… but I couldn’t really follow them – could just see me being arrested for stalking on my birthday 🙂

      It warms the heart, doesn’t it? Seeing children playing and being happy. You wonder how something so amazing can seem so small and fragile. Yet they tear around like they invented energy 🙂 I was a nanny once, and it was the most rewarding job I’ve ever done.

      Yup, baby steps… I need to try and have patience – not my strong suit!

      (((warm safe hugs)))

  3. CG,

    I cried- the picture, I looked at, then after reading your explanation, cried – I felt it also – I felt your loss, perhaps because it is also connected to my own….

    I have also been “tettering” with the “hope”, what it really is and means – to me, – maybe that was my “intellectualizing” to find a way out of my own mess to go on, a reason, a HOPE!

    CG, what you just wrote – reminds me of something – even if I have not stopped paying COMPLETELY and still fall back – so often, maybe I have stopped just a tad……


    Maybe I feel that because when I read this, I felt that you ALSO have begun to stop paying….

    Progress, Indeed! I am so proud of you – I wish you could see my tears to prove it!

    I wish I could let the ease a bit,but for some reason, this post has me crying again more then usual – yet form a different place, a place of joy in seeing another find HOPE!

    I have to go do my “calming protocol” now! I do something called the “Wilbarger Protocol” with Deep Compressions and it somehow, eases the tears and lets me ground again!

    CG – one word: “AWESOME”!

    From, someone who HATES words’…but HAD to fight to find one to celebrate with YOU!

    • Hi Human Being HEALING,

      Thank you for commenting 🙂

      I’m glad there were tears for you. I’m a firm believer in the healing properties of tears… I hope you were able to connect to your own grief. I know that may sound awful, like I’m wishing you pain; but what I’m meaning is that tears can be good, but if we can connect those emotions with our own experiences, then that’s what healing is all about. Sometimes it’s easier to express the grief for others, and that’s good too… there’s still emotion there.

      I can understand that struggle to define what hope is. I find it difficult to understand abstract concepts… It seems to be a word that is bandied around, without much thought. Yet I do believe that there is always hope. I know that at times I’ve lost all sight of it, and I know others do too. At times I don’t know why I keep on going, and I know that others sometimes can’t. I try not to judge, but instead hold out that there is something better… that’s what this scene at the zoo showed me, that there is better out there. I might not feel as if I deserve it, or will ever get that sort of happiness, but there is better out there, and maybe one day I’ll think myself worthy of having some of those experiences myself.

      I don’t mean this to sound hollow… but my hope is that you will keep on trying to find a way through your pain and confusion. That is my hope for you.

      You mention paying, and it’s a confusing issue for me… There are parts of me who see it as our role to “pay” for our sins. There is a great amount of confusion as to what to do if we weren’t constantly atoning and seeking forgiveness – from what, I don’t really know.

      I’m truly sorry that you feel as if you must pay.

      I hadn’t heard of the Wilbargar Protocol before, but it sounds interesting. My niece has sensory issues, so I might ask my brother about it. I’m glad you’ve found a technique to help you ground…

      Thank you, and I’m glad you found the words to comment 🙂

      Take care,

  4. Absolutely, most definitely, 100 % progress. Yay for you!! 🙂

    In terms of getting back to “you”, I find myself responding in two ways. First, there is the possibility that the “you” you think you need to find your way back to isnt’ actually “you” at all, but a different “you” created out of the abuse and the strategies you used to survive it. Perhaps a new “you” is emerging through healing. She will bring parts of the old “you” with her, but may be able to leave some parts that you don’t need anymore behind. I experienced sometimes similar, and haven’t felt “me” for a year or more.

    My second line of thought is also actually about me (LOL, not really) – it’s about finding things that help you to feel like you, not necessarily the old you, but finding things that feel authentic. Photography, for example, or yoga, meditation, walks in the park, gardening, whatever it is that resonates internally and helps centre you and settle. I look forward to sharing your journey here – it’s kind of fun discovering who “you” are. 🙂

    • Thanks Kerro 🙂

      It may seem odd, but I have no expectations of what a “healed” me is going to look like. I would like to be able to go to the shops without crippling anxiety, and be able to be appropriately assertive… but I could never do that. So it’s not about going back to what I was. There are some traits that I used to have that are useful, but I don’t think they’ll be lost, so much as redefined in a more balanced way. I’m not sure. I suppose I’m uncomfortable with the idea that “healing” means changing everything about me… I know I wasn’t healthy before, but there were some good bits in there, surely.

      I can understand the pull to want to go back to super-functioning. But, isn’t it that super-functioning that landed us in therapy to start with? Something emotional would come along, and the bin that we’d been stuffing that stuff down into was full, so things sort of fell apart.

      I went for a walk with my camera today. I didn’t take many photos, but it was a start 🙂

      Thanks for the vote of confidence…

      Take care and (((warm safe hugs)))

      • The Wonder Therapist says “never say never”. She’s right. There are so many things I thought I’d never be able to do that I’ve now done – sometimes without even realising it.

        For me healing has come to mean changing in good ways – ridding myself of traits that were once useful (like super-functioning) but no longer are.

        ((warm safe ones)) for you too 🙂

  5. There’s definitely progress CG! This was in an incredibly thoughtful post. I had to sit down with it for a while before commenting because it seemed that anything I could say would be insufficient. It still is but, it’s good that you’ve figured out where the disconnect was coming from. AND you took a first step by posting! Awesome! That’s progress and the way you’re thinking things out is progress for sure.

    That zoo story had a big affect on me so I can only imagine what it felt like for you. I can’t even talk about it.

    When I read this post, it sounds like you *want* to be connected again so that’s good too. I think you should take those steps you mentioned of getting back to you. It’s like Paul’s “nuts and bults” approach.

    Really proud of you…

    • Thanks tai 🙂

      The zoo story was really special in it’s total ordinariness, if that makes sense. The man was totally at ease, and I didn’t detect a hint of annoyance with the little girl – I was checking for it! It’s like when you saw that family where the daughters were learning to ride their bike… just so surreal. Yet, you know that’s how it’s meant to be.

      I had a bit of a major hick-up with Allison yesterday, so the connection has been badly effected. It’s amazing how one thing can throw you, isn’t it? But it’s not just one thing, it’s an accumulation of lots of little things, and there’s one last straw that tips you over.

      Saying that, I do want the connection. I do want to keep on trying.

      Please take care, and (((warm safe hugs)))

  6. That’s so lovely. I get that inner turbulence in moments like that. I also get it when I see children crying or unhappy. I don’t know if one ever stops yearning for what will never be. It’s such an instinct to want to be loved by a parent. I guess being able to acknowledge the feelings and sit with them is healthy.

    • Hi Candycan,

      I’m told that this sort of grief and instinct is totally normal. It brings back old longings and confusion, and makes you wonder what would have been. Acknowledgement and sitting with the feelings, is indeed healthy. I know that when I was watching the scene, everything else in the world faded, as I concentrated on what was happening.

      It pulls at your heart strings, and pushes all sorts of buttons.

      Please take care,

  7. hi castor, i’m glad you’re feeling able to begin to attempt to reconnect with yourself, that you’re recognizing how disconnected you’ve been, and that you were able to write this post. i can relate to your story about the girl in the zoo. i know the feeling of grief and pain for the past, especially when seeing any example of positive fatherhood. i had a friend tell me once that though i would never have a good father, didn’t mean i wouldn’t get many of the things in my life that a healthy father would have provided. she told me along my way in this world, i would encounter other people who would help me feel safe, protected, offer guidance, who would listen and care, in a healthy and boundaried way. there might only be bits here and there, not everything all in one person. and it’s true, once i began to stop looking to my own father with any expectation or hope, started accepting that’s just the father i had, and began the letting go, that’s when my life began to improve.

    as for the goodness we can get from others, i’ve had to learn over and again to beware of how much i depend on external support for my happiness. because sometimes i’ve chosen unsafe others. so what i’ve found is that as i improved my own relationship with myself and my radar for safe others, the rest has also improved. so positive parenting can come from within too.

    but i guess my point overall is that what i learned in my own life is that never having had a good father, didn’t mean i would always have a void where there should have been a good parent. i could replace what was missing by myself and through connections with safe, kind others.

    i’m glad you got to see that girl and her dad behaving so positively. but of course i’m sorry for any pain you have. but i’m glad you were able to notice them and appreciate their beauty. you noticing them seems to come from a healing place within you.

    sending you positive thoughts and peaceful wishes~

  8. Hi 🙂

    It’s good to “see” you… I was wondering how you were.

    I think your friend is right, in that we may not get all that we need from a parent, but those of us who are lucky, get the things we need from others. I know that this sometimes leads children to look for attention and love in the wrong places, but sometimes we’re lucky. I had a teacher who use to give (safe) hugs when I got something right. She didn’t do it with all of the children, but possibly the ones she saw as being in extra need of love and a confidence boost.

    It takes a great deal of strength, and healing, to be able to let go of the expectations of our parents in a healthy way. It can be easy to be reactionary, and cut all ties… but so much more difficult to take that step as a necessary self-protective measure.

    What you talk about, regarding looking internally for validation and support, is where I would like to head. I’m so used to waiting for the validation from external sources, and some people are aware of that, so use it against me. It’s not a healthy place to be.

    I’m glad you mentioned positive parenting, because so often, people assume that abuse will be passed onto the next generation. But this is not always the case. Yes, this does tragically happen, but not always. I think that ties back to the individual seeing the hope for something different, and acting on that hope. Where that hope comes from is different. But I know that when I was a nanny, I never raised a hand, or my voice to the toddler I was taking care of. She always smiled the biggest grin as soon as she saw me…

    We do have the resources to fill those gaps created by poor parenting, both in ourselves, and from the safe connections we make.

    Thank you for your kindness and understanding…

    Please take care, and sending positive thoughts your way,

  9. Ahhh yes the fun of living with dissociation. I have noticed that because I am used to be being disconnected from myself, I never identify internal communications as being the source of my feeling of detachment from the world, and always seem to feel that there is something wrong externally that leaves me with that sensation of outward disconnection. In a way it does leave me detached from the world, as it’s rather improbable to be able to connect with the world when I’m not even connecting to selves through which I experience it. I hope that now that you’ve identified your challenge that it will halp you be able to re-sync and fall back into your normal stride.

    • Hi Storm Dweller,

      Thank you for understanding. I was getting so confused and frustrated trying to “be” part of the world and connect with people… all the while totally forgetting that I didn’t feel safe within myself or feel any connection internally. Just realising the problem has helped eased the confusion, so it’s looking more positive already.

      Please take care,

  10. This is just what I needed to read. This can be a jumping off point for me. Thank you for your honesty. I am amazed at how the same things bring me back to me as they do you. I really loved your story and the photo is just so tender. I wonder if a dad like him would ever suspect the impact his actions affect others observing.
    I just cant tell you enough how your courage and honesty is impacting me right now. I will try to use it to propel me into action.

    • Hi Vicki,

      It’s amazing how often the questions and doubts we experience, so often come back to us, isn’t it? It’s all too easy to get lost and confused when we’re on this healing journey.

      I suspect that a dad like this man would never suspect the impact his actions would have on others… and in a way that’s good, because that means he’s living a positive life for his family and himself as his focus. If others are affected, then that is a happy bonus. He didn’t seem aware of anything but walking and chatting with the little girl in his arms… certainly not the rather stunned woman taking his photo as he walked away 🙂

      I’m glad this post helped…

      Please take care and be gentle on yourself,

  11. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Very insightful.

    I really enjoyed your picture and your assesment of what was going on. As a parent of a 5 year old I hope I’m as patient/caring as this father is.

    • Hi Maryann,

      The danger of pictures like this, is that you can only see a glimpse into their world, and that is easy to idealise. Yes, I suspect that this little girl is growing up in a well-balanced, healthy family… but even well-balanced, healthy families have their troubles. The big difference is that they weather those troubles together. No one is perfect…

      That you have the awareness and concern about how you are parenting is a good sign… it means you care, it means you think of your child as an important individual, and that you want better for your child. There will always be mistakes made, but how we respond to those mistakes is key.

      Take care,

  12. It was quite strange, after reading this post I followed a young father chatting to his daughter on my way home. I though of you CG and this post.

    You all are quite right he is probably unaware of the positive impact he had on others by simply talking to his daughter whilst wearing a very bright shirt and his daughters hat. Most likely would be concerned about the affects of abuse. I was until I read CGs and others blogs. You are also correct that it is just a glimpse into their world, but there are a lot of healthy happy families out there. Unfortunately there are a lot who are not 😦

    From experiences and my childhood, there were problems and but they were sorted or smoothed out. The child almost always came first even if it was not within our own interests. Some mistakes were made and some issues were not noticed. But as CG said in a comment before nobody is perfect and above all a child needs love and comfort from a parent. Also from my aunts experience as a children’s nurse, if there are kids without a father, or a mother, they still can live a functional life. It is when they are present that they can cause issues.

    For those of you who read CGs blog and have kids the few who have commented and mentioned their kids and how they want to avoid them experiencing the same problems and in some ways right the wrongs. I do admire you as I can imagine it can be tough, but if you care enough to mention your children you are a good parent.

    Also one last thing and although I came from a different place; in my experience external validation and contact is great for healing, but it is hard to give and even harder to not push away and accept. Outside contact really helped me, but it took a long time.

    Anyhow take care.

    • Hi Ringonz,

      It is a bright shirt, isn’t it? I think that, and the pink backpack, certainly added to his “cool dad” image.

      I believe that a child who is loved, has a cushion to fall back on when they stumble. That cushion of love, means that they can feel secure with their place in the world. It doesn’t stop the knocks and hardship that life throws at them, but it helps give them that thing called resilience.

      Humans will make mistakes, that’s a given. But how we react to those mistakes can show a child how they are valued – if at all.

      I hear what you’re saying regarding validation, and getting help. It’s really difficult.

      Thanks for dropping by and giving your perspective – it’s always appreciated 🙂

      Take care,

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