I find it particularly curious where pearls of wisdom come from. Equally so, the form in which they arrive when you do find them. From great and inspirational literary works, through advice from friends, all the way down to shonky song lyrics from questionable artists.
There have been many that have stuck with me over the years. One such example; Robbie Williams was an artist that never really did anything for me. He was never terrible, but I never really cared much for anything he did either. However, just one tiny segment from one of his songs has always resonated with me…
“I don’t want to die, but I ain’t keen on living either”
This sums things up pretty neatly for me. While a sudden end to everything would be a welcome break – from my perspective – I recognise that it’s not going to do a lot of other people much good. But if I’m to remain ‘trapped’ in this life until nature decides otherwise, something needs to change.
It’s for this reason that I’ve chosen to reach out for help and accept it from wherever possible. Who knows… Maybe I’ll even get better one day.
Another little pearl came from family; someone said to me recently that life will often present you with a big green frog. This frog needs to be eaten, but it’s going to be unpleasant; it won’t taste good and it certainly won’t go down easily. Because we know that it will be a horrible experience, we put it off. But each moment we delay eating the frog, it grows a bit.
If we leave the frog for long enough, it becomes a huge, monstrous thing that we can’t possibly hope to swallow, and we look back and wish we had dealt with it back when it was tiny and could have been gotten rid of quickly and easily.
It’s a wonderful little analogy. Problems grow the longer we delay them. Whether it’s a project for work, handling a difficulty with a friend or partner, or tackling big life issues, the frog could have been despatched with much more cleanly if it was handled as soon as we became aware of it. By letting it sit and grow, by putting too much thought into the task at hand without actually taking action, it becomes scarier and more daunting.
Also, if you do the worst thing you can think of right at the start when it first shows up, you only have better things to fill your time with thereafter. If you have to eat a frog for breakfast, have cheesecake for lunch!
In hindsight, when I was given my first frog, I didn’t realise it needed to be eaten. Instead, I kept it as a companion. And because it seemed so comfortable to have it there, whenever more frogs turned up, I sat them down next to the first one and then started feeding them.
Now I have an entire army of frogs sitting on my porch and all of them are the size of trucks! I can’t see a way past them and I sure as hell don’t have the appetite to start chewing my way through that lot.
I suspect the secret now is to not try and eat the frogs in their current state, but rather to understand how they got so big and to use that knowledge to shrink them back down to a point where they can be digested and eradicated. It’ll be a long process, but I suppose not one outside the realm of possibility.
A pearl with interactive properties came via a psychologist appointment. I recently was told that a way of grounding oneself during times of extreme anxiety – when the giant frogs are staring at you expectantly – is to create a sensory pack. Take a box (or a bag – any sort of container) and put in one thing for each of the senses.
Something that: –
- Is visually appealing (art, photo, etc)
- Smells comforting (candle, coffee beans, fart in a jar)
- Tastes good (Posh chocolates, sweets)
- Feels nice (soft fabric, comfort blanket, TASER)
- Sounds relaxing (Favourite CD, MP3 player loaded with soothing music or sounds of nature)
While I was away from home, this was a little tricky to complete, but now that I’m, once again, back in my place and experiencing the mounting anxiety, I have every intention of putting one together imminently.
But I worry that this is a very short-term fix. For I can find comfort in the moment, I can even experience a little joy and happiness, but it’s like farting into a hurricane; the moment you let go of it, it’s gone, dissipated into a vortex of negativity.
In one of my appointments, when discussing the difficulties I experienced in my youth, I had someone say to me something like, “So, you had nobody, really, whom you could look to for support?”
“Not at all,” I replied. Of course, I still had a mother and father who loved me greatly and did their very best to give me the support, encouragement and guidance that a child needs when growing up. Even my sister, a little older then me and was discovering the joys of adulthood and independence, still found time for me; to be silly, make me laugh and keep me in safe company. But anything they did, the moments of happiness and the positivity they made me feel, were like tiny islands in an endless ocean.
And when you’re being propelled at ballistic speeds by the hate, negativity and contempt of a single – but powerful – individual, those islands whizz by so quickly that you find it increasingly hard to remember what they looked like.
I think the real problem there was that much of the trauma I was subjected to happened away from them. It was done in such a way that I grew up assuming it was normal and that I was merely an awful child who deserved such treatment or that every house experienced those sorts of behaviours, and I was being difficult for not being able to live with it properly.
So, I didn’t go telling people about it, because I thought everyone already knew about it. I mean, they ‘had’ to know about it. Because it was normal. And since nothing was being done to stop it, ‘I was the problem and ‘he’ wasn’t.
Only much, much later did I discover the horrifying truth that the level of abuse I experienced was largely hidden. A few times, I’ve had people say to me, “If you could go back and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?”
The answer it short and simple; “Tell someone!”
That is the biggest pearl of them all. Though it’s too late for me to prevent the lasting damage from being done, there are others out there right now experiencing the same thing.
Maybe someone has an idea that something ‘might’ be going on. Maybe someone knows something but is afraid to speak up…
For god’s sake! Tell someone! Now!
Like, right now!
Every moment that it carries on happening, is more damage and more trauma for the soul experiencing the abuse. It can’t be allowed. Regardless of who the abuser is; how closely related they may be, how dangerous you worry they could become ‘if they ever found out you spoke up’, it’s totally irrelevant. The damage that abuse can do to an adult mind is unspeakable…
To a child’s mind, it’s potentially irreversible.
Don’t let silence be the frog you fail to eat. It’s better to swallow the frog, suffer the little bit of discomfort that it brings on and know you’ve done the right thing – even if it turns out to be a false alarm – and that you tried. But don’t let that frog grow to be something that will haunt you.
But, for goodness sake, don’t throw around allegations with reckless abandon. If there is real, genuine concern, fine. But, if you haven’t thought it through and the accused is actually innocent, the anguish and the distress caused as they are investigated, and the repercussions and the fallout thereafter could be catastrophic.
Be safe, not sorry. But be balanced and be sensible.
Finally, to round things out, I want to share another discovered pearl of wisdom. This one comes from American poet, Delmore Schwartz…
May memory restore again and again
The smallest color of the smallest day:
Time is the school in which we learn,
Time is the fire in which we burn.
With my interpretation of the words, I see the realisation that those fleeting moments of happiness need not be lost forever. I see that I have opportunities for discovery and empowerment. And I see that if I’m not careful, I could lose myself to the hellish fires of negativity.
How will you use your time?