As I close my eyes to rest the whirlwind of thoughts that swirl around my head, I take a few minutes to breathe deeply and know that everything is as it should be. Most times I don’t understand how or why things happen in my life, but I do know this: Things have been put on my path to create in me what I am unable to see for myself. Every decision I make, every choice I choose, every thought I think when faced with a problem will create my reality. I am the Master & Commander of my ship and everything I do will determine where I will end up. I know this now.
But it wasn’t always so. 10 years ago I battled with “Chaos of the Mind” The struggle was real. It was hard. It was painful. I was easily confused as to what path to take. Indecision rippled throughout my body; what do I do? Where do I go? Who will help me? How will I get there when I don’t even know where I am going? One thousand endless thoughts continuously spun round and round on the wheel in my head, keeping me up for days trying to find solutions to my problems in life. I cried enough tears to replenish Niagara Falls. I was lost beyond measure and had to take time off of life to nurture myself back to health. Medications are not the answer. People jump to the use of medications because they think it will be an easy fix to their symptoms. Deep self-reflection was my answer to the great mystery of Kathy and why I kept doing the things I was doing. I had so many hidden layers buried deep inside that I didn’t even know where they kept popping out of. I would deal with one major issue in life, such as sexual assault and all that goes with it, and think I had mastered it fully and completely letting it go, when all of a sudden, a repressed memory from an entirely separate incident would slam me from left field. I would be left shaking with fear and insecurity as to where in the world was that hiding? Is there more I should be aware of? What is going on?
Initially when I went to a 21 day treatment center, my counsellor gave me homework the first week. She gave me a picture of an empty water bottle and told me to start at the bottom and work my way to the top. She had me write every single that has ever happened to me in life starting from the bottom and working my way up. Every incident and approximate age or date would help. Everything from being bullied at school, fights with siblings that profoundly affected you, name calling from parents, abandonment issues, deaths in the family, pets that died, any abuse I was subjected to, etc.…She told me not to leave anything out even how minor it may seem in the grand scale of things. I had one week to do this.
Although I knew what I had lived through, I had shrugged it all off and told myself, “Whatever….what happened in the past should stay in the past.” Boy was I ever wrong about that one…..
When I actually sat down to tackle this new homework from the counsellor, I kind of laughed it off thinking, “How stupid it this? What will be accomplished by my writing down what I already know to be true? Not to mention around a picture of an empty water bottle? This is so stupid and a complete waste of time and effort!”
Deep inside me, however, I was desperate at wanting to figure a few things about myself, so I gave it a shot. Besides, I really had nothing other to do because I sure didn’t want to hang around the weirdos in treatment….I isolated myself in my room, closed my eyes to calm my mind and bring some peace to the Chaos inside my head, and sat down to write. I truly wasn’t prepared for the volume of pain that was about to erupt like a volcano deep from within me. I had no idea it was even there I had buried it so well!
This ever so simple exercise that I will leave you with at the end of this blog marked the beginning of a whole series of changes that have been instrumental along the way. Change HAS to start from within you; a deep resonance that hangs on to your every thought during not only your waking hours, but at night while you dream of changes.
Once I gave myself over the idea that I may as well give it my best shot, I put pen to paper and began writing every single thing I could remember at the time (many more hidden and repressed memories unexpectedly showed up at a much later date). I need to express here that it did not come out all at once during that first initial sitting. I had one week to finish the homework and give it back to my counsellor. This is a VERY PAINFUL AND EMOTIONAL EXERCISE! Not to be taken lightly either! Please note that I had to take many breaks, crying sessions, naps and walks outside to curb the intense pain I was feeling.
Some people can sit there closed off completely and write everything down as if they were a robot. I had decided from the beginning, that if I truly wanted change, then I had better apply myself to understanding the “whys” of my behaviours. I had to sit there and feel it. What I realized as I began writing the events besides the lines of the empty water bottle was this: WOW! There really is A LOT! Look at all the things I have lived through? Holy Smokes! No wonder I am so broken & lost!”
By the time I finished writing a week later (took me that long to be able to work through the painful events) I had definitely acknowledged for the first time that I had A LOT of work ahead of me.
I had stuff written on both sides of the bottle, on top of the page and even had to flip the page over to write some more. I stood back to look at my page once it was done and thought to myself, “OK! Is it normal to have so much? Is there something wrong with me? Did I imagine all of this? Do I have an overactive imagination or problem somewhere? I guess we shall see what the counsellor says.”
I was actually embarrassed to hand in my sheet the following week. I sat there squirming in my chair as she silently assessed my work. The silence was deafening as I sat there with my eyes cast downward in shame. After about a few minutes or so (it felt like an eternity) she quietly looks up at me, turns my sheet so I can see it and says, “Do you actually think that the 21 days here will help you with all of this?”
Her question took me by surprise because in truth I hadn’t even thought about working through it what so ever! I had only did what was asked of me which was writing it down. Who said anything about dealing with it??? That was a whole different ballgame that I wasn’t sure I wanted to attend.
With eyes filled with compassion, she told me if I ever wanted to heal and have a different way of life, then I would need to take time off of life to address all of what was written on the page. Simply put: I needed long-term treatment. No amount of medication in the world will help me deal with all that had happened to me. I needed to go get rid of the root cause of all the “Chaos in my Mind” due to the abuse. Her words to me were: “This exercise was only to have you realize to what extent you are hurting deeply. This only shows you the tip of the iceberg that lies underneath the masks you wear daily in your life. The rest of this current treatment program will only be a window as to what you really need to do. Now I need to ask if you are WILLING?”
I replied that I would think about what she said. Even though I had acknowledged that many bad things had happened to me and no wonder I was messed up, I wasn’t quite ready to go to the extent of what she was saying just yet. I thought I was tough and could handle it; besides…who can step away from life for a whole year to go to live in a women’s treatment house? Not me. I had my nursing career, my daughter ( who was very mad at me for my behaviours) and I had 100 other excuses as to why I couldn’t take the necessary time off life to heal myself. It took me a whole other year of fighting my way through my torments before I could actually surrender that I needed help. That is a story for another day…
Chaos of the Mind exists because of the many root causes of our pain. I leave you with the same exercise that was so kindly given to me. Only you can help yourself and the first step is acknowledging what indeed happened to you in this life. I highly recommend that although you may work on this in your own personal time, that you find a counsellor or therapist to assist you through it. There are many free counselling places if you only look for them. Use whatever resources you have available to you in your area or online. Help is there if you reach out to find it. Crisis lines are a good resource as they will connect you to where you need to call in your immediate area. You are NOT ALONE in this. Changes in your life begins with a first step and maybe this will be it for you. Hopefully it is. Remember to be kind to your mind during this exercise and take all the time you need to work through it.
Every bottle is filled with stories: what is yours?
Remember that at any given moment you have the power to say, “This is NOT how my story is going to end!” Whatever it is that you are going through today, will not last. The way you view your situation will ultimately help you or drag you further down the rabbit hole. If you allow yourself to be trapped in the handcuffs of fear and worry, how do you ever expect to be free to conquer your dreams? This exercise is the beginning; a starting point to help you realize there is more to you than you realize. Vibrate higher than your pain. You got this!