This week has been full of emotional challenges for me. I have had to ‘dig deep’ to keep myself focussed and get through it. Thursday was by far the worst day I have had for a long time.
I woke up after having an unpleasant dream about Denver House. In the dream I was an adult and had returned to the children’s home. I walked into the office to find that the whole of the front window had been removed. Beyond that I noticed a flower bed that was full of dead sunflowers. In my dream I climbed through the hole where the window had been. I then sat amongst the dead sunflowers and wept as I cradled their crumpled remains in my hands.
Thursday was also a very bright and sunny day. For me this can trigger very unpleasant memories and feelings about my childhood, but I was determined not to be dragged down, so I got myself out of bed and went for a run. Feeling brighter I decided to finish my workout with some kettlebell exercises. As I was finishing my last set of repetitions I happened to look up at the light fitting on the ceiling and was horrified to see my mothers living room window reflected in it instead of my own. Sometimes things like that can happen when I am having a difficult day.
I was due to attend an appointment so I tried to push the incident out of my mind and concentrate on that instead. On the way there I made the mistake of buying a magazine that contained an article about my book, based on an interview I gave. I was early for my appointment so decided to read it. I wasn’t happy with what the journalist had written and my resolve not to be dragged down dissolved.
I felt distracted during my appointment and was fighting hard not to let my emotions get the better of me. I lost that fight. I returned to my car to see that I had been given a parking ticket because I had mistakenly placed my ticket face down on the dashboard. I am smiling as I write this now, but I certainly wasn’t smiling then!
Later that evening, after taking a class at the boxing gym, I decided to call in the shop and buy something for my dinner. On the way out I noticed that I had been short changed. I returned home to find that someone had parked in my space. That almost never happens and I just couldn’t wait to go to bed. Please keep reading as there is a happy ending I promise you!
On Friday morning I attended a course designed to improve self esteem and confidence. I was dubious about it at first but as the day progressed I could feel my mood improving. On my way home I had what I can only describe as a revelation about why I struggle so much on sunny days, and it has truly been life changing for me.
I realised that the reason that a sunny day affects me is not because it reminds me of not being able to move around in my room as a child, but because it reminds me that I was not able to be myself as a child. Any form of self expression was punished so severely that I learnt to sit in the middle of my room and not move or express myself at all, and that is what causes my depression on sunny days.
I have learnt to fear being myself and it has made me desperately unhappy. I have such a strong sense of who I am, and having to keep that hidden away takes a lot of energy and focus, and it is exhausting.
I know now that it is time for me to be.
On Saturday morning the sun was shining, and for the first time in at least twenty years, I couldn’t wait to go outside and enjoy it. I was excited and as I made my way to the gym I felt blessed and allowed myself to be happy, knowing that it is safe to do so.
I imagined my four year old self sat on my knee as I drove, and in my mind I explained to her that she is now blooming and that all of her time spent in the darkness has made her light so strong, that now she has broken through, nothing will ever be able to hide it away again.
I imagined how I might have felt hearing those words as a four year old, and as I was doing so I had to stop at a crossing. A young girl of about four or five was crossing the road with what I assumed to be her father. The little girl was happily chatting away and her father was attentive and smiling and holding her hand. The girl waved at me and smiled and I waved back. I explained to my four year old self that she was free to be herself now just like the girl who had waved.
The sun has been a recurrent theme for me this week. The sun never gave up shining on me even when I had given up on the sun. Don’t ever give up on yourself, even when everything seems grey, because you never know when the sun is going to break through, and pull you through.
The roots of a flower are in constant darkness. They find nourishment in this darkness so that the flower is able to grow continuously towards the light. Like a flower, we too are in need of the ability to find nourishment in darkness if we are to blossom.