Thursday 30 October 2008

In The Middle Of Somewhere?

The ominous lingering of my reclusive state is starting to whisper my name. I try to ignore the voice that tells me: 'what is the point?'
Each time I have seen the flickering glimmers of hope, my enthusiasm has been stifled. Too many times my willingless to be involved was dismissed. My proposed input was greeted with apathy and indifference. For I am a man just trying to be a part of something, yet that 'something' mostly eludes me. It teases me from a distance. What does it take to be accepted?
Yes I am the reluctant recluse. With every thread of my courage, I proceed out the front door. I try to exude kindness, compassion and I know my ability to make people laugh is infectious. Inside this man, their is a much different story. A tale of terror, a tale of pain and loneliness. Yet there is a perception that I'm okay.
Well that perception is wrong. I am not okay. Yes I do the best I can but I do it on my own. In a way, the fact that I have had to get on with it, has made me proud of what can be accomplished without support. I am a very busy recluse. I have been busy being a Father, busy acting as a Mother, busy being mentally ill. Despite all these challenges, somehow, my positive attitude glows with the thought, that soon, on that very magical day, I will realise my own inner peace.
There is a perception that I am out their social networking. I do see the occasional person and I am most grateful for this. Yet mostly I sit here and try to interact with my online community of friends. They have been a vital lifeline, in a life that is full of bizarre extremes. This virtual world has given me the chance to finally be involved with people who are becoming a circle of empathy.
To reduce the pain and anxiety of my reclusive state, during the last two Christmas days, I have stayed online in a mental health forum 'chat room'. I announced that I was there for anyone who was in a situation similar to mine, or anyone who just wanted to chat. From early morning until late at night, I stayed online. Nothing happened. I sat there in the haunting quiet of my home, stared at our dog Penny and I cried. That is my reality, a reality that may strike a chord with those of you who have been overwhelmed by relentless isolation.
Despite what I have just written, deep within me beats the possiblity that I can truly be a part of something very special. So here I am, still surrounded by own nagging self doubts. Still trying to discover some self esteem and make a positive impact in this world.
I am pleased to announce that the power of an empathetic community that is happening online, is growing. I am heartened that people are taking the time to display positive interaction. I can think of no finer example than the collaboration blog: 'A Symphony of Empathy', that I had the great privilege of doing with 'dcrelief''.
Yes I am mostly a recluse, a recluse on a mission, a recluse on a journey. The power of this empathetic community gives us the strength to challenge those who would undermine and devalue the goodness that we want to share. In the middle of somewhere? Yes I am. That 'somewhere' is a very special place in my heart.

Friday 24 October 2008

A Symphony of Empathy.

I am truly honoured that a lady I consider to be a writer of great honesty and transparency, has asked me if we could do a collaboration blog. The following is what she so kindly forwarded to me. Her portion of the blog and my continuance response, is testimony that we can indeed embrace the power of empathy. Behold: "A Symphony of Empathy."

I wonder if there would be more peacefulness in a world where people were a symphony of empathy. We need kind exchanges of understanding each other’s feelings or similar experiences.
For me I thought I might be alone with the depth of pain I felt and no one to tell me how to let the pain "roll away" from my heart. My days are mostly spent alone and the mind plays tricks to tell me that no one would ever understand. I’ve been sitting here experiencing "bad days" and wondering how to keep going. So what do you do when you’ve lost your way?
I took a sabbatical from my regular writing and posting of "let me help you articles" to find ones that would help me. Why; because I was no longer helping anyone to feel good about themselves. I had lost me along the way and that affected my writing. My posts became more negative with each passing day. My loss began to affect my "working" relationship with others… and a personal one or two as well. I didn’t search, I just wandered from place to place reading in a reading world.
That was about the time I met an individual who "talked" to me. With his own experience he was able to see the written word I spewed forth as a plea for understanding. His kind regard of my situation opened the door for me to experience a symphony of empathy, as he brought along friends to offer support for my wellness; my wholeness.
Though my initial reaction was "fear to be known," "fear to share," and "just plain fear," his demeanor was assuring and I stepped through a portal of communication. I experienced what he called, "positive interaction," no matter how much I fought to be my old self. Today it is easy to understand what he has taught me, but my explanations are not as "pat" as I’d have them for sharing with you. So maybe I should let you experience, first hand from him, the definitions of the way he brought me to a measure of peace: a symphony of empathy!

Empathy. There will be those that read the preceding writing who will experience a profound sense of understanding. If you know someone who has had a 'broken leg' and you have had a 'broken leg'; You can empathise. Many of us have had 'broken legs', broken hearts, broken spirits. Yet we can realise that that despite life's twists and turns, despite the painful ironies, we have the power to challenge a negative environment.
Positive interaction, being there for someone, caring for the wellbeing of another, empowers us. We can be a part of something. We can be involved and being involved, can give us what so many of us crave; the sense of belonging, the sense of being needed. We have the right to be valued.
The journey along my own personal road to recovery has encountered many 'potholes'. When I finally ventured out my front door, I challenged my anxiety and managed to rekindle my enthusiasm for life. Often, my enthusiasm has been greeted with indifference. This apathy almost made me give up, yet again. However, after so long being a recluse, I have discovered a resilience that will not allow me to get overwhelmed with disillusionment. For now, those that continue to undermine and devalue my good intentions, will find that their cynicism has no power over my life.
I reach out, with genuine understanding, to those who have been subjected to a negative world. We can find strength in empathy. Embrace the power of solidarity. We can support each other and relish the positive possibilities. Seek the peaceful harmony of that song we call 'contentment'. Through "A Symphony of Empathy", we will reach out to each other and know that we do have the right to a happy life.
Dcrelief, I thank you for your courage and your openness. Continue to find therapy through the power of the written word. With sincere empathy, please know that I am here for you. We embrace positive interaction. Help each other, we help ourselves. Indeed, we can all be an integral part of "A Symphony of Empathy."
Special thanks to dcrelief for her thought-provoking contribution to this collaboration blog.

Thursday 23 October 2008

Too Busy?

Too busy to give the time of day?
Too busy to watch the children play?
Too busy to hear the call of the loon?
Too busy to marvel at the waxing moon?
Too busy to help the man in need?
Too busy consumed with the thought of greed?
Too busy to observe the setting sun?
Too busy to have a bit of fun?
Too busy to listen to the wind through the trees?
Too busy to put a friend at ease?
Too busy to enjoy life's simple pleasures?
Too busy to care about the world's hidden treasures?
Too busy to stroll through the morning dew?
Too busy to say 'I love you'?
Are you too busy?
At what cost?
Think of all the times you lost.

Friday 17 October 2008

Fleeting Glimpses In The Shadows.

Fleeting glimpses in the shadows
Shadows cast across my mind
Through the haze of confusion
I cast my thoughts upon the flickering light of hope
Lost in a stormy sea of mental confusion
I reach for the threads of fading optimism
Lost in a world
Where the cynics scream my name
This man, this sad and lonely man
Defies the insincere
I travel along the pathway
That leads to empathy
I am the child that embraces
The remaining embers of hope
I seek that elusive dream
The dream of contentment
Through the fleeting glimpses in the shadows
I see the light of love

Saturday 11 October 2008

Cheque It Out

Friday, October 10th, was 'World Mental Health Day'. It was also my son Tristan's birthday. Tristan in no longer a teenager. Another phase of his life starts. I can longer call him a 'teenage rebel'. No more teenager, unless, you can call a twenty year old 'twenteen'?
World Mental Health Day was a busy day for me. My own anxiety levels went into bizarre overdrive. I took an exceptionally deep breath and headed out the front door of my home, my private world in Leek. Destination, the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle Under Lyme, twelve miles from my reclusive world in Leek.
Two hours and two packed buses later, I arrived. There I was outside the New Vic Theatre. So many people, dare I go in the entrance and 'impose' myself on all those people? Challenging my fear, this walking 'paradox' entered the building. Me, the introverted extrovert, was abandoning his uncomfortable comfort zone and attempted to interact with the vast sea of humanity that engulfed my senses.
I watched Dave Wheat's play: 'A Matter of Time'. It had been several years since I watched a play, yet being there with many people I knew, seemed to help reduce my anxiety levels. It was a thoroughly professional performance by wonderful actors. I have great admiration for all those involved and applaud their noteworthy efforts. I visualised myself standing on the stage, in front of all those people, that would be the ultimate challenge in confronting my low self-esteem.
After the show, I slipped out and headed for the bus. Two packed buses and two hours later, I was back in my other world. Heading for the kitchen, I noted the chewed up correspondence that had been flung on the counter. Before me lay the remainders of my son's birthday card and cheque that his Grandma and Grandad had sent. Before me lay what was left of my expenses cheque. Now then, what had happened? The answer was pretty obvious, unless my son had suddenly got an appetite for paper.
The perpetrator of this act of correspondence chewing was cowering in the living room. The gulity party, (pictured, named and shamed), 'Penny' the dog, made a hasty retreat behind the couch. " stay there...why the heck do you always think the post is for you?" I thought.
Back in the kitchen, I had a bit of a temper tantrum. Grabbing what was left of the mutilated mail, I proceeded to chuck it round the kitchen. My son thought I was angry at him and stormed out of the house, the dog took off to my bedroom. Oh great! What a day, what a mess.
I sat down, I calmed down. I realised it was about time I put a catchbox on my door. Tristan returned and I apologised to him. For I was angry at myself, not him, not the dog, myself, for not making allowances that when our dog hears a noise at the front door, she has to check (cheque?) it out.
We are going to attempt to take what's left of the cheques to the bank. With a little luck, the bank will be understanding. World Mental Health Day. Well, in the klahanie household, it certainly was a test on our mental health. The good thing is that instead of fretting over what happened, I decided to have a bit of a laugh instead. I think that's pretty darn positive. Must go now and check our cheques. "Oh Penny why couldn't chew up the electric bill instead?"

Saturday 4 October 2008

Pass It On.

Pass it on. A dear friend of mine, who has embraced the positive ideals of the 'Changes' ethos, has told me that I have demonstrated 'Step 12' of the Changes 12 Steps To Mental Health. 'Pass it on'. I like to think so.
Although I live a double life, when I challenge myself and go out the front door, this virtual recluse steps out into his other world. I try to be involved and when my involvement touches the lives of others in a positive way, that, to me is heartwarming achievement. For, I firmly believe that when we pass on the positive possibilities that we have experienced, we pass on that most powerful of gifts, the gift of hope.
I am involved with Changes for all the right reasons. The empathy that I have witnessed, the empathy I try to provide, is testimony that we can all be here for each other. I extol all the positive virtues that have helped turn my life around.
I have come a long way, I have a long way to go in my recovery. Yes, there are moments of great emotional torment. There are moments when I get disillusioned with the negative environment that undermines and questions my sincerity. The good news is that I work through such situations. I will not allow negative scenarios the 'oxygen', that ironically, in the past, almost suffocated me.
So to you, I 'pass it on'. I have learnt through working with Changes that, if I apply the 12 steps, my life can be so much the better. We can truly be here for each other. We have the right to a happy, positive life. We know we have a choice. If you have embraced the positive choices in your life; you too can 'pass it on'.
Here is the link for the the new Changes forum. I hope you will check it out.
Please stay positive and keep smiling.