Dear Me

dear me 1

 

“On average we lose 1 young Western Australian to suicide each week.”  (WA State Coroner).    “More people die as a result of suicide each year in Australia than there are fatalities on our roads.”  (Australian Bureau of Statistics).    If you need to talk, Lifeline offers a 24/7 phone service 13 11 14.  Or see Black Dog’s links webpage.

I wrote this piece below reflecting on surviving dark times….

‘Dear Me’ .

There is a book out that poses the question…if you could write a letter to your 16 year old self, what would you say?  Considering, at 15, I tried to take my own life, this is what I’d say….. You’ll still be here.  You’ll survive way beyond things you believed you couldn’t.  And there will be many more times when you can’t bear the thought of living another day.   Another moment.   But know that it is but a moment.   A moment in which you have only this desperate thought.   But moments come – and they go.   Tomorrow may not feel a whole lot better but it can be a starting point – not the end. You’ll need to take some seemingly impossible steps.  Every day.  Day in and day out to get to wherever it is you’ll eventually find a sense of place.   A sense of purpose and meaning.   And you don’t necessarily have to know exactly where or when that will be.   You just need to maintain the drive and determination to find it.  Keep putting one foot in front of the other ……and thoughts of not making it behind.

 

dear me 2

And you’ll have some massive spills along the way that will lay you flat for varying lengths of time – but you’ll get up.   Eventually.  Every time.   You’ll get up.   You must.   And you’ll go another round so you can at the very least, prove to yourself you can.    Your weakest point will be to rely on someone else to do this work for you…

….Without yourself to depend on, you risk ending up lost and alone – inside.  But without accepting a hand from others, you will rob yourself of wisdom and opportunity.   And without seeking the guidance and help of others, you’ll steal from yourself the possibility of knowing and being anything different.   Or maybe even life itself.  This at 15, at 21 – I did not know.

The most life changing moments will come from the times when you’re frightened to the point of freezing over.  Hurt to the point of not wanting to ever feel again.  But remember, fear and pain can make you stick or it can force you to do the impossible.  Propel you into new places. No experience is ever wasted.  But it will be up to you to turn it into something of use to yourself – and ultimately others.   Transform it as you’ll need to continually transform yourself.

Trust yourself and dare to trust others – knowing not everyone can be trusted.   But living in fear of betrayal, rejection, disappointment and pain, can rob you of ever knowing intimacy, love friendship and a life fully lived.  One that fills you with the desire and hunger to get up tomorrow to seek and experience it some more.

 

dear me ladder

Be forever curious.  Wonder – a lot.   It will drive you to explore and challenge everything about yourself – and your world.   It will take you places you, at 15, thought unreachable, untouchable – never knew existed.    Strive to be the master of your emotions.  Emotions, unkept, untamed, will distort your perception of the world – and your self.  So get to know them.   Feel them.   Let them in – and out.   Yes, they can consume and rob and crush, but they can also teach and push us to act, to move beyond them and discover new realms.    And you’ll gain ‘must have’ strength and resilience from striving to be more comfortable and in control of your emotions.    From the practice of bossing them around.    From defying and defeating their will to consume.   Riding through them and coming out the other side – alive.  Taller and straighter for the battle.    More confident in venturing beyond your zone of comfort.

Find something outside yourself that’s bigger and harder to grasp than your own sense of being in the world.   This will give you a clearer perspective of your self – your place.    But be mindful of the trap of wanting to right all the wrongs.    Save the world and stop all the suffering.    The helplessness and sense of hopelessness and despair that can come from such a grand notion may be the very thing that prevents you from making any difference at all.    But what we can all do, is simply make kindness our faith.    Be more than just tolerant of others.    Endeavour to broaden your mind and experiences to understand more fully all that you fear.     Who you fear.     Do this and you WILL make a difference to the world. Seek out stories from others.    Be curious.    Interested.    Listen.    Feel.    Think.    Question.    Write and draw.   Use stories, pictures, art and music to create a map that will help you find your own way.    Do your own thing.    Lead you beyond your current life – and self.

 

dear me boy listening

Embrace your individuality and difference.  No-one else will value it as much as YOU need to.    And to hold on to it, to grow it beyond the confines and margins continually imposed upon you will be your toughest task.    Dream about your possible self – and put real, tangible things in place to make it happen.     Create and recreate yourself.    No-one else can do this but you. Own everything about yourself.    Everything.    Take it back if it’s been taken.    Hold it if it’s been hurt.    Believe in it even when it’s lost its way – its mind.    Foster a strong belief in your ability to survive and grow.

Accept you will make mistakes and people will tell of your failures.   Every mistake is an opportunity – but one.    The mistake of thinking you have no other choice but to cease to exist.    And it is just that – a mistake.    An opportunity forever lost.    So punch these words into your mind for times of desperation and despair….THIS TIME WILL PASS.     It does and it will.    Acknowledge your own role in getting through those tough times.    Surviving impossible moments.     Taking impossible steps.    And you’ll need to call on this time and time again to survive – beyond 15.

(Written November 2011 / Images from book ‘World of Wonder’).

Please see the links webpage for additional support.  See also a post about mending as individuals and a community here.  Princess Margaret Children’s Hospital talk here.  A photographic exhibition by Toni Wilkinson questioning if school mottos are aiming too high here.