Guest post by 40AndEverythingAfter
I finally gave up on having a family 8 years ago. We had been trying for a baby for 5 years and, after 3 failed IVF treatments, I was finally succumbing to the depression I had been fending off for some time, unaware of its lurking until my walls gave way entirely.
In many ways it was a blessing that they did. It led me to finally seek help. I went to the doctor who proceeded to prescribe me with anti-depressant medication and signed me up for a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Unsurprisingly (to everyone but me apparently), I was struggling with my ‘Oh so carefully planned life’ not coming to fruition. I honestly thought I was fine – that I had come to terms with it. I believed (incredibly naively) that this was now safely put away in a box marked “Done Deal”.
Of course this was not the case.
My therapist sign-posted me to the online community of other childless women. It hadn’t even occurred to me that such a thing existed. As an introvert (and the product of a family who valued keeping all family matters private) it wouldn’t have entered my head to look for likeminded people or share my own story. And yet, here were all these people, with experiences of a similar kind, talking about it openly. Imagine that?!
It took a while for me to build up the courage to take a peek. I was scared, I was hurting, and was worried that venturing there might hurt me more.
Eventually I took the plunge.
And this is how I found Lesley’s site. Of all the sites I visited, Lesley’s’ was and remains my favourite. I found her non-gimmicky, very down to earth approach a very reassuring place to be. No grandstanding or whooping or overbearing self-empowerment going on here. Just normal people, having experienced abnormal sadness and pain. And they were sharing this for the benefit of others. I suddenly felt that the sadness and anger, isolation and emotional outbursts might perhaps be valid after all. Perhaps I wasn’t completely barmy. I was grieving, and it was normal, and other people understood.
Over time, and having read many of the inspiring stories people shared, I felt a bubbling up in my own stomach that perhaps I wanted to say out loud what I had been through. I had loved writing from an early age, but I had never (God forbid!) shared any of this writing with the outside world. It was just for me. Not good enough for others to consume, but a firm friend to me when I needed it most.
I decided I would write my story, but was not at all certain I would ever submit it. However, it did occur to me that it might be cathartic to acknowledge out loud, (even just to myself) that I had experienced something big, something powerful and painful, and that I was justified in finding it difficult to deal with.
And so I set to work. And my God was it messy!
Setting down in black and white the difficult journey my husband and I had been on was extraordinarily hard. But then what I was writing down was a story of something that had been extremely hard, and here was the proof. The fact it had me in tears as I wrote it only confirmed that it was valid to feel as overwhelmed by it as I had.
But now came the big decision.
Do I release this story into the wild? The thought of people I knew seeing my story was excruciating. That said, I felt in some ways that if I could share my journey more widely, perhaps it might help someone else who was going through similar difficulties (as other people’s stories had helped me).
And perhaps releasing this story from my grasp might release some of the pain that went along with it. Perhaps it would help me to move forward from it – take the lessons I had learned and launch myself into a more positive future?
I was on the verge of taking the plunge. I decided to use an alias, but that did not alleviate the panic of letting such a personal story out of my own hands. I almost pulled out at the eleventh hour. But something in my gut told me I had to let it go, and this was the most positive way I knew how.
And so, in April 2015 Lesley published the first piece of writing I ever plucked up the courage to share.
And I exhaled. A huge release of pent up energy, self-denial and naked truth.
There it is. That happened to you. It was a real thing, not a dream. You lived it. You survived it. Here is the proof. And you know what? Well done you! It was a relief of immense proportions to have faced it all finally, and saying it out loud felt like a positive and liberating step.
But of course, life does not run on tracks, it wasn’t all onwards and upwards from there on in. Life continues to throw curve balls, and they hit you in unexpected ways. 2015 had some new and unusual predicaments up its sleeve. Some immensely challenging, some intensely spiritual.
But this time I had new tools in my armoury. I could write it all down.
And so, for example, I had a profoundly spiritual encounter with a tortoise on a mountainside in Turkey. The friend I was on holiday with suggested I write about it in the form of a conversation between myself and the tortoise. And so this is what I did. What I learned from the writing down of that conversation -about myself, my relationship with God, the planet and life’s journey itself, was one of the most enlightening moments of my life to date.
Not long after my return from that holiday I started a course of counselling.The CBT I had undergone previously was incredibly helpful to me but there were still some underlying issues that were a barrier to me finding piece in my heart. This counselling helped me reconnect with my true voice. A voice that had been drowned out over for many years before. Having described my tortoise conversation to my counsellor, we both agreed that this might be a very constructive tool for me to re-engage with my inner-self. And so, I once again turned to writing to help hear myself more clearly and make sense of the emotions, thoughts and fables that journeyed across my mind.
The insights and eureka moments this writing uncovered were, and continue to be life changing for me. (I write about this in fairy-tale form in a piece I wrote called ‘The Path To Wise Counsel – A Tale’).
And, during the course of this counselling, after one particular sleepless night, I was gifted with another story. There were words emanating from me, determined to be let out. I had to get up and write it down there and then. The words seemed to flow through me, not from me, and were urgently demanding to be expressed.
Once down on the paper though, that was not enough.
There was something missing. The words had not completed their journey. I remembered the sense of release and completeness I felt when I had written my story for Lesley the year before and I knew what had to be done. I had to share my writing with the world. And so a blog was born.
I have been writing my own blog for a little under a year now.
And writing a lot more besides (inspired by my now completed counselling). This writing has proved to be the greatest therapist, friend, confidant and inspiration I have ever been blessed with. And it is thanks to having found Lesley’s site, reading the inspirational stories of others, and somehow finding the courage to tell my own out loud, that I have been presented with this most wonderful of gifts.
The healing power of writing has proved to be the most compelling force.
My gratitude for having found my voice in this way is unbounded. I would encourage anyone who is struggling, to try and write it down. Not necessarily to share it, but just to see it, to own it, acknowledge its worth and give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling. You have a right to feel what you are feeling, to struggle as you struggle, and nobody else gets to judge that. It is your truth. Write it down. You’ll be very glad you did.
A few words to end (from Lesley)
When I asked 40AndEverythingAfter if she’d write a blog for me, I didn’t realise she’d already written her story. And I certainly didn’t realise that publishing her story here had started her on the path to writing. I do this to make a difference to others and am beyond grateful to read her kind words and how writing has helped her.
I also believe in the power of writing and I write almost every day – maybe that’s for another blog 🙂
What do you think?
Do you write and if so how does it help you? Please comment below (you don’t have to use your real name).
If you would like to take control of your life and your story and inspire others I’d love to feature you. You can use your real name or any other that you chose to give me, and if you have a website or blog I’ll happily promote it. Please drop me a line at info@LesleyPyne.co.uk if you’d like to discuss this further.