The New Year has come and gone and I have no idea what the coming year will bring.
This last year has been amazing, heart breaking, exhilarating, frustrating, confusing, and beautiful and challenging. It’s had its highs and lows, but the one theme that has been throughout is growth, and the things that comes with growth, is change.
I feel like I have spent the last year on a home restoration on myself.
Years ago when I first started therapy, I remember writing in my journal that my work would be like rebuilding my foundation. I had just been diagnosed with Complex P.T.S.D. and my world had fallen apart. I could no longer work, we had lost our house, our credit and my husband small pension was $50 a month more than if we were on social assistance. We were using the food bank, and had to make choices between buying bread or milk. We had managed to rent an old small house, -that my sons friend called “The Hobbit House”- The floor in the bathroom would sag as you walked on it, it had an old oil stove for cooking, and heat-which only heated up the tiny kitchen.
Some of the floor board were rotting out and in the spring you could hear a frog singing his song under the floor in the corner of my bed room floor. There was no basement, just a small foundation above the dirt.
As I started doing my work I realized all my beliefs that I was bad, no good, and worthless, a piece of shit etc. came from what I was told growing up, and I believed it. With the help of my psychiatrist I was learning otherwise and I realized I needed to work on changing those beliefs, create new ways of thinking, challenge and get rid of those “old tapes” that would play in my head. I thought of it as building a new foundation, and this visual helped me.
Before rebuilding a foundation you need to make sure the building is supported. Sometimes this means lifting the house up to assess the damages. The damage of my foundation- belief in myself, cognitive errors etc., was so bad, it required to lift the whole house up, and be supported while I worked on the foundation.
It was a lot of work, the whole thing had to be dismantled, carefully- rubble taken away, the ground leveled out and prepared for a new foundation.
It was a lot of work, blood, sweat and tears, but I am happy to say it was all worth it, and I have a very solid, and healthy foundation. And the house now sits firmly and solidly on that foundation
So, what’s the issue you might ask? Well, I was asking myself this very same question this past year.
Life would seem to be plugging along, but something was just not right. I could not write my blogs like I wanted too, things seemed to take so much energy, it was hard for me to read, and then there was the huge mental health challenge last year when I could not get into the hospital. I sent out a request for help from friends and they came running and could not do enough for me. When the crisis was over, I thought I would just bounce back up and get on with life. I did on many levels, but quietly in the background, things were still being worked on and sorted out.
I went on two amazing Outward Bound Canada, Women of Courage courses, http://www.outwardbound.ca/course_index.asp?Category=111
One on the North Coast Trail, and the other in the Selkirk Mountains at the Bobby Burns Lodge. It was amazing and challenging times that allowed me to dig deeper and discover and retrieve more of my lost self. But I was exhausted long after the trips were over. I realized it was more mental than physical.
I gave 7 presentation to High school students, and 3 presentations to teachers and educators in two different school districts about Connecting with Students with Mental Health Challenges.
I volunteered with the installation and de installation of the Walking with Our Sisters Memorial, it was an intense and amazing experience
My last year has been full and amazing, but also challenging. This past week a thought came to me….”This last year you have been doing a house restoration on yourself. ”
Restoring a house is different than renovating a house. Restoration, means to take back to its original self.
According to Merriam Webster restoration is The act or process of returning something to its original condition by repairing it, cleaning it etc.
: The act of bringing back something that existed before
: The act of returning something that was stolen or taken.
I think I have been spending the last year doing all of the above.
This past year, while my house was sitting safely and securely on is great foundation, I have been working away till the wee hours of the night restoring myself back to my original condition, repairing, cleaning etc.
Think of an old 150-200 year old house. It has been raised and then set back down on new foundations, the outside work and restoration has been done, and now, it’s time to restore the inside.
This is a lot of work and I have not done it alone.
Think about the work it takes to remove decades of old paint, leaded paint without harming the original finish, taking up old carpets and sanding and restoring the amazing old growth wood flooring. Pulling down the brick to find the original flagstone fireplace. Discovering the original old beams and stained glass windows, and the original curved doorways. Many people have helped me to do this in the past year. To work delicately to find the original door handles, rot iron railings, carved wood and designs under all the decades of paint, wallpaper and plaster. Times when I was frustrated and wanted to hurry it up- they reassured me that it takes time and a gentle hand.
There have also been times when I have to use force and be as strong as I can, ask for help and together we broke through false walls, and discovered boarded up rooms, where nothing had changed in 50 years. These rooms were covered in dust, stagnant and where just waiting for the light to break in, and when it did, we found amazing treasures.
Restoring a house takes time and energy, it’s an ongoing work of love,but it's worth it.
So am I. So are You!!!!
I will have moments when I need to take time to focus on some new issue, wax the hardwood floors, polish the wood and metal and all round general upkeep. I will not have the time and energy of others who live in a modern house with little upkeep, but that’s ok. Because, what I have discovered, retrieved and found, is my authentic self. Like the restored old house, it’s full of beauty, warmth and has an authenticity that is hard to find, but once found will enrich your life beyond belief.
I don’t know what this New Year will bring, but I am open to whatever comes my way. There will be good times, there will be bad times, times of discovery and dreams, times of grief and sadness. But the one thing I do know, is that I am safe in myself, and my home.
And when spring comes and the frogs start singing again, I will once more be reminded of how far I have come.
Those are my thoughts for today, I wish you all wellness and safety in your journeys.
Cheers and be well