Do not succeed – the internal Parent

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Do not succeed my love
do not grow bold
try as you may my love
success will be cold

Do not worry my dear
I will hold your hand
as your weakness appears
only I will understand

Do not succeed my love
and I will be there
to soothe and comfort you
when you break I will care

For when you fail my love
I will hold you and you’ll see
that all your broken pieces
will be safe within me

Do not succeed my dear
even though you are stronger
for I fear when you succeed my child
you will need me no longer

loss

The truth is
that worlds end and we create new ones
that love dies and we get over
people disappear and we mend
and we move on

The truth is
that scars don’t disappear
that missing seems to linger
that grief forever aches
still we move on

The truth is
that wrinkles don’t unwrinkle
abandoned chairs stay empty
the pillow remains cold
and we move on

The truth is
that loss is without reason
time moves only forward
we don’t have another choice
and so we move on

The death of a fear

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The death of a fear
it can only explode
as it grows into something big
bigger than the brain
bigger than courage
that’s when it tips over
and it explodes into a thousand pieces
a thousand little fears
fears we can succumb
the fear dies

And the explosion rips
it tears and it burns
it deafens and blinds
and as the fear is lost
so is what contains it
safely within
I no longer hold the fear
but it is still shattered within me
the fear has died

The death of a fear
is the death of all fears
but the dread of its death remains
its carcass lingers within
it spreads and reminds
there is no way back now
there is no fear to hold
and it holds me no longer
the fear is dead

AFLOG

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‘AFLOG… what?’ you’ll ask. I asked the same when my first year counselling trainer and supervisor Morag said it for the first time, 3 years ago. She’s a lovely lady in her 60s, who wears floral dresses and is motherly and funny and at times rude enough to make me blush. It stands for ‘Another Fucking Learning Opportunity for Growth’. We have lots of those in counselling training, as in life I guess. The last 4 odd years has seen many an AFLOG, and I’m coming to terms with being grateful for it, instead of just lying on the floor in agony yelling out ‘why?!?’ and shaking my fist to the heavens John Cleese style. AFLOG’s, are by definition, incredibly unpleasant within its whole existence, and it is up to the recipient to not just make it an AFO (Another Fucking Opportunity) and add the LOG (Learning Opportunity for Growth). 

I’ve moved a lot in life, but no bigger move could have been from being a single survivor to being a part of a team, a couple, a joint future. To complement that we of course moved to the other side of the world. All went well. I’ve learned through this the value of bonding, mutual support and compromising. I’ve learned experiencing wonderful things in a shared unity, and missing out on others in the same set-up. It’s a wonderful thing. I learned that the relationships I build do not have to be the same as my elder’s relationships, nor do they have to be the same as my peers. I have in the past few years received a very ample and steady flow of love from a few very solid sources and it nourished me to a level where I could push myself up and think about serious things; education, work, identity. I did, and I will be forever wholly grateful.

The inevitable happened though, this push and exploration changed me. And I think it’s generally a lot easier to accept and flow with a change in others, than it is to see that within you something is changing, and it’s making things difficult, but there is no way to stop it. I’ve gone through many AFLOG’s and was determined to do the full circle, instead of stopping at the AFO. I was determined to grow. And when you grow, like a tree, the view changes. And sometimes when you grow, and who knows, grow to fast (or sideways?), you find yourself alone, with all your development and experiences under you belt, and just the horizon to stare at.

The AFLOG’s have facilitated a space for me within which I’ve grown into practising as a counsellor, providing general therapy for depression and anxiety, HIV support and suicide intervention. I am grateful for the AFLOG’s to have made me into a person who is comfortable working with such serious issues. Dare I say I am proud to do so. My John Cleese fist comes up often though, because the anger in the ‘F’ description of an AFLOG is real. My AFLOG’s changed my life, and caused me to lose many things that initially facilitated the growth. My friend Brian encourages me often to kick fuck out of a beer bottle bin at work. That is where my frustration at AFLOG’s go, that and the occasional crying into a pillow until it hurts. Because where else could it go but inanimate objects.

Growing pains are a real and ruthless symptom of AFLOG. Sometimes a soul gets stretch marks, and sometimes they become scars. The growing is necessary though, if I’m curious about the view from the top. As my belt becomes heavier, so does my heart. And that heavy heart can be used in my work, as well as in my love to others. I am learning a hard lesson to love the growth, regardless of what it has brought upon me, but there are always beer bottle bins to kick fuck out of I suppose. Sometimes however, I wish AFLOG was more of a friend, and less of a harsh and ruthless teacher. The growing continues.

Endings and new beginnings

1962628_10152709152298849_1352050072_nThere is a sadness in endings, end of the school year, a holiday, end of a relationship, or job. The endings of life events, like childhood, first love, marriage, retirement, death. They are all occassions where it feels allowed to be sad, sometimes deeply so. There are so many endings during a life, that sometimes it seems to be ongoing and ongoing, piling up sadness upon sadness and grief. Sometimes it feels like there is no time to breathe in between endings, creating a lump in the throat, a stone in the stomach, a veil over the eyes.

And then, for a while, there are no endings, no sadnesses, no grief, and I realise that no endings means no new beginnings. There are no transitions, within which to rediscover, re-decide, restart. And I find this creates sadness as well, one that is quite fearful. It is understandable to be sad about endings, but is it understandable to be sad over not having endings or new beginnings?

During endings there seems to be a permission to feel, to defragment, and forgive. It is the moment where I can cry hugging a friend, or tell a colleague ‘thank you for all you’ve done for me’, without the fear that they might think I want something from them. It’s where there is the space to think ‘I’ve chosen to be an architect, but I actually really want to be a tattoo artist (or a body piercer, as I thought 4 years ago… don’t know what happened there… ). During the unraveling of the connections is when I no longer feel just the hands and strings that held me up in my place and position, but the actual sensation of my own two feet, firmly on the ground.

The endings where we have to say goodbye to people, out of choice or because we have to, are different.  There is a deeper sadness over losing a person who means something, or even everything to us.  The cruelty of moving on, having to move on without someone. But in that sadness, there is the permission to feel and maybe even show appreciation and gratitude. As we disconnect, we also become aware of how and where we connected, and although the letting go can feel like ripping, shredding, tearing, the former intertwinement of the two lives is also revealed. There has to be something there, some comfort, something beautiful.

Maybe that’s why I like rituals around endings; goodbye drinks, hugs, tears, songs, talks, they are good, sad and good. For me the appreciation, gratitude and genuine awareness of connections make goodbyes bearable. Endings are sad moments, with feelings of loss and grief, but to realise the beauty of what is lost, can sometimes make me feel like I will never really lose these experiences, lessons and loving relationships. I might have disconnected from the source, but I remember and will never be the same.

Ch-ch-changes

1780945_10152674067628849_1841355149_oChanges come, and go, leaving the permanent traces all over a life, without a manual on how to adapt to the shift. The timelessness of routine, only vaguely disillusioned by aging (but only if we pay attention to it), is suddenly shattered as changes happen and we realise we can never go back. Changes just occur sometimes, and other times changes are made by us ourselves. We then carry full responsibility for not being able to go back, undo, unchange. We can only regret or accept. It is this permanence, this responsibility that makes changing so frightening, so big, so important. Being stuck, and merely aging, if anything, is at least safe and structured, no responsibility for unhappiness or boredom is really held. If it happens that we find ourselves unhappy, this is merely because we allowed it, and what else could we have done?

And then the decision to change, the confidence that is needed to say ‘I don’t know if this is right, but I am going to give it a try` is not easy or readily available, it’s not small, and it’s not just about overcoming the fear of change for me either. It’s about the fear of responsibility for the change and its consequences (whatever they may be), as well as the confrontation with the permanent forward movement of time. What if I make the wrong choice? Am I competent enough for this, do I have all the information?

And of course these feelings are relative to what is being left behind, but leaving a job that is just not right, leaving a partner we don’t want to grow old with, quitting a course for lack of motivation, yet also going into an exciting new job, starting a relationship with someone and enrolling into education are quite life changing events. If they don’t work out, the impact is significant, as it is the fact these changes were made by choice, and didn’t just happen to us, that makes them our full responsibility. Almost always someone will ask if you thought about it well enough. But how can you know if you did? If there is always more time that you can spend thinking about it, is there ever going to be a moment where you have really thought about it enough? It’s quite intimidating.

Yet  change is necessary, it is unhelpful for me personally to stay in the same routine because of the illusion that time is not moving forward this way, that changes can always be made later on, that nothing will be lost. Yet we do lose time, opportunity, ourselves even, and we lose the space to allow ourselves to dream and imagine our own potential.

The idea that changing can only happen if we’re sure we’ll do it right this time, that we cannot make the wrong decision and even that it is selfish and immature to make decisions when unsure, is what can keep us stuck. Nothing is black and white, yet often I find it hard to make a decision when working with gray, when I’m not 100% sure. Welcome to my familiar impasse, don’t take me to a pizza restaurant, you’ll be there all night.

So it’s frightening to change, and it is exciting. I think it is only within that long or short moment during change, and not before, where you can see who you are, what you want and what feels right. It’s an exhilarating place to be, where you can realise that you are responsible for yourself, and that’s great, (yet scary)! Time is moving forward (and I am aging…) and this is not where I want to stay as the story unfolds because I am bored and getting older.

We are the writers of our own story, and if the story becomes boring, or cringe worthy, it’s our own responsibility. And with responsibility I do not mean fault, I mean it is within our power to change things, make new choices, even though we might deny that we indeed have this ability. Courage to change comes with a bit of confidence. Confidence comes with experience, but also with aspiration, and wanting to taste a bit more joy, get to know myself a bit better. And maybe most of all, my desire to change comes with knowing that I am (probably) only going to live once, time is pushing forward, I am getting some wrinkles, and getting bored with some parts of my story. How exciting…

 

Edit: one of the changes I’ll hope to make is get in touch with my head a bit more and write… because it’s fun. I don’t think it’ll just come to me if I sit here and wait for it to happen… so here goes

Needing and waiting (and kittens)

IMG_20131027_173327Last night I had a dream, well two actually, where the first one was about kittens being killed by twisting their necks (a definite ‘what is wrong with me?’ brain production) but this piece is about the second one. So, the second dream I think was a little less shocking than the first one, although I don’t remember it as vividly as the kittens (really, what is wrong with me). I remember it was about waiting, needing, yearning, craving something and having to wait until the need/yearning/craving becomes so big and painful that my body could not deal with it any longer and wanted to scream. I’m sure I was waiting on something important but almost nothing could really justify this feeling of such a massive NEED. It was almost like a poison that redirected any attention towards anything, straight to the ‘need’. And I don’t even remember what it was.

I remember waking up with the though ‘what is wrong with me (kittens) and then, ‘needs and waiting are the same’. Great thought, and I believe it even made sense at the time. This morning, not so much, but I’ve been trying to make sense of it a bit better and I think I meant ‘unmet needs and waiting are connected’. Or something…. I haven’t fully figured it out yet but here goes.

When I crave something that I really want, when having to wait for it patiently, this feeling of need grows and grows until I can hardly contain it. This goes from really wanting to have a sandwich/biscuit/coffee to really wanting to kiss someone that doesn’t know my desire yet, to wanting some help because I can’t cope with X. The pain of the need grows when I have to wait, either because I can’t get the thing I want myself and need to wait for someone to give it to me, or because I feel I need to restrain and control myself out of decency/pride. And sometimes I wait because I want ‘it’ to happen without me needing to ask for, or push it. Sometimes I will wait for someone to stop doing something, and as I wait this need for them to stop grows and grows and grows until it becomes so painful that I need to scream ‘please stop making so much noise when you brush your teeth!!! ‘. At the same time, when asking for something we really want (like kissing someone we hardly know), this direct expression of our needs could very well chase them away. So we wait, wait until the time is right, or for it to just… happen.

And I realise that waiting for certain things is perfectly appropriate, we can’t be like little kids that will, without filter, tell others exactly what they want (‘I want a lolly/ pee/see grandma in Australia’) even when it’s not really appropriate or realistic. To tell someone what I want even feels a little bit childlike and egocentric. I think there might even be a bit of a feeling that if I want something that I need help with getting, I might not really deserve it? Let’s say I need help, not with simple things, but big things that affect my life greatly. Now, I’m not sure if I need the help of my friends or family, in a way I feel I need to be able to do this by myself, but I kind of want their help, yet I haven’t asked for it. I’ve waited for a very long time for help to arrive, such a long time that the feeling of wanting things to change, for something to arrive to end the waiting,  grew into something that was bigger than me. And then I asked for help,  and that feeling of waiting for something to arrive popped like a bubble, because I had put all my effort in blowing it up so much.  Even though I’m not much further ahead than I was, at least now I am focussing on the actual things I’m working on, instead of sitting here waiting, for this big thing to go away, and this other big thing (like ‘being okay’) to arrive.

And sitting there waiting and wanting, needing, it could become all that I thought about. Waiting for a change, instead of changing, waiting for help instead of helping myself or just asking. Waiting to feel better, and not realising that sometimes/often I already felt better. I managed to discount feeling better because I didn’t feel better ‘enough’ yet to justify how long and hard I’ve waited for it. I wanted fucking ‘Disney world on drugs’ feeling better, not just ‘ hah, the sun is out’-better. As this need and wait for change grew and grew and grew, I felt that the only change that was going to satisfy and justify this need/want, had to be a big change. Another flat, job, country, yet again. As the feeling of need grew with waiting, I blocked my ability to make small changes, one step at a time and ask for help along the way. Even though I think that’s the way things change and how ‘feeling better’ arrives, instead of expecting ‘it’ to just land on my doorstep, complete with instructions.

So wait, and need. I still don’t know what my dream was about (including the one on kittens… what is wrong with me?!), but it had to do with the pain of waiting on the thing that I need, a pain that grows and grows and grows until it is bigger than the need and getting the thing I need doesn’t satisfy anymore. And at the same time, waiting is sometimes necessary to get what we need. Sometimes things need patience, like a casserole sometimes things need time to get ready. I guess the thing that is valuable to work with is knowing when to wait and knowing when to get/ask for the thing I want or need. And making mistakes on the way is kind of the only way to learn. And there is no shame in that.

 

 

 

 

What I need.

needsIn my course we have spoken a lot about needs, and unmet needs in particular, as they are so closely connected to our behaviour. Unmet needs in this context are often very basic needs, like care, feeling important, or being recognised as capable. In the TA-counseling world, unmet needs are thought to stem from not having these particular needs met in our developmental stage, and because of this we carry them on into adulthood. If a need for care is not met, a child can be very crafty in manipulating the situation into being cared for by a parent anyway, for example by getting hurt a lot or being really sad and quiet. Different things for different children. This is clever, and helps a child get their needs met by a parent, even when the parent might be busy/distracted/in need of care themselves.

The problem occurs when this becomes a pattern, and the need is only met when the child behaves a certain way towards the person they want care from. When she finds that this same kind of behaviour works on other caretakers as well, it might become a behaviour that she decides is the best way to get (for example) care. In the TA world it is thought that we decide on a script about what life and our relationships are going to be like when we’re very young, practise and perfect these decisions in childhood, and play it out in adulthood. This all to get the things we need with the highest success rate. When it comes to having needs, when someone is taught through experience that the best way to get these met is through a certain behaviour, it might seem to her that this is also the only way to get what she needs. And if this child is me, it doesn’t mean that my parents have neglected me, it means that they have reacted to certain behaviour, and I have made a decision based on that. No ill intend, just me acting like a little professor.

Now going through all this theory, the question arises on how we get out of this. How do we avoid ‘the game’ (Eric Berne 1964 (yes, let’s harvard style it)). How do we get a need met without having to behave a certain way to get it. By asking? I think so… There is a lot of trust involved in asking however, and in a way we might want our partners/family to KNOW what we need, without us having to ask for it. Still, if I sulk because I feel unimportant, this might result in attention. But it’s not the exact attention that I need and usually ends in both parties feeling like crap, as well as unimportant. If I sulk because I want someone to say ‘yes Jude, you are important to me and I will do this thing for you that you haven’t asked me for’, that’s a wee bit demanding, I realise that. But it’s hard to ask someone for our basic needs. And I think that is because the idea that if someone will reject such a core heartfelt need, it would be shattering. At least, it would if we were still 5 years old when these needs first arose…

I think it’s easy to carry around this fear of rejection, because it is so closely tied to survival. There are TA writers that theorised on rejection and negative attention being so much more potent than positive attention because they are warning signals for life threatening situations. Therefore, whatever I do, I don’t want to be rejected, because if I’m rejected, I will be alone and I will die. Well… that’s very final, but maybe you get the meaning. This was definitely true when I was 4 or 5 years old, without my parents I would not have a home, or food or shelter. Rejection would mean a lot more than feeling a bit miffed. I think children do realise how dependent they are on their parents, they make the world turn round and magically know things, like that bad dreams won’t come true, and that we will get better when we’re sick. They are powerful forces, possibly the most powerful in the mind of a 4 year old, so rejection is to be avoided at all cost. I think it’s quite easy to carry around this survival instinct that used to tell us that rejection = life threatening, and possibly quite valuable to realise that this is now no longer the case.

And there is another side to the difficulty of verbalising our needs I think.  Telling someone that I need something from them is scary because the receiver of this request might feel they are not doing well enough. Another thing that I really really want to avoid is sadness in the person that I need, because sadness in my mother or father meant sadness in the house, air, water, food. The person that I need most now, if he is sad, then the house, air, water and food is sad and I don’t want that for either of us. Silly enough I don’t think about how nice it is when someone tells me they need me. It means that I have enough worth to care for them, or even the power to help them feel better. It means our relationship is valuable enough to put work into it if it needs improving. That’s ace!

I need certain people to see me as important, and the wishes that I have to be important. I need to also realise that I should tell them my wishes first and ask them what their wishes are in our relationship. This is with everyone that I have an intimate relationship with, where with ‘intimate’ I don’t mean sex-intimate, but a relationship were we share feelings and open ourselves in a way that allows us to make the other person feel different. Intimate relationships happen when needs and longings occur and can be expressed. They’re pretty cool and also a bit of hard work. And scary, because once you’re in them, that whole primal fear of rejection starts happening. I think that’s why it’s so easy to go into games and behaviour that we think might get us what we need without having to ask.

Saying ‘I need you’ seems so scary, but I’ve been trying to say it a bit more to the people that I love. Maybe because I’m in a bit of needy situation, but also because it feels good, empowering. I think I also need them to tell me what they need, in order to feel like we have an equal relationship. Needs now are not so much about survival, but about feeling good, secure and emotionally confident. Games are tiring and just never get me what I need as much as ‘I need you’ would do. And still… writing this gives me a bit of fear as well. Going off the script, ignoring all that I have decided on and doing the opposite is scary. But I think I’m deciding that’s it’s okay to need people, not because I would be lost without them, but because life is so much better with them.

Language is a metaphor

metaphorLanguage is a metaphor. Words are an inadequate but courageous attempt to describe the things we want to share with the world. My name, pronounced completely different in another language means all of me and none of me. It’s merely an arrow above my head that makes it easier to point out the ‘me’ in the ‘us’ or ‘them’.

The words I use to describe my feelings are the ones that my parents and other teachers have taught me to use. I have learned to apply them to different situations, with their approval or by using them as an example, to then accept them as true. For example, I have boxed up a feeling and labelled it ‘frustration’ or ‘anxiety’ and left it at that. When opening the box, a long time after the labeling happened, I might find that there is quite a lot in the box that I’ve labelled wrong. An example is that when I was about 6 years old, I used to tell my mum I felt ‘dizzy’ after dinner. My mother was very worried about this, but what I actually meant was ‘nauseous’, which is slightly less worrying. This went on for a few weeks and doctor’s visits, all because I simply could not think of the right word for the uncomfortable feeling I had, but thought ‘dizzy’ was close enough. woops…

If language is a metaphor, it tries to use a figure of speech to label something beyond words, so that we, or others might find it more recognizable. I think we have a desire to share what we feel or think, and we really need language for that at some point. Sometimes labeling thoughts or feelings makes it easier for others to understand and empathize.

In Biology we label plants for example by classifying it, so we can then recognise its properties and character. This gives us a better idea of how to treat the plant, but also tends to restrict us in seeing how it interacts with the rest of its particular and unique ecosystem. Talking about feelings is often experienced as restrictive and might feel like it minimizes whatever is in our heads. I think this is because it’s hard to also explain the entire context in which they occur (our life).

I think when feeling frustration, or anxious for example, I can label it as such and be done with it. When doing a deeper and very honest attempt to explore these feelings however, I might find that there are other labels that I could have used. Anger maybe, or disappointment. There might even be sadness because I have lost or missed out on something I really wanted. The same might go for anxiety. Behind that one big (and paralyzing) label, there might be insecurity, anger, sadness. They are emotions that might even have something to do with someone else, and  not having one’s needs met by these other people (intentional or unintentional). They are harder projects to deal with, and harder labels to carry around, so sometimes it’s easier to dump them all in my big personal box with a big personal label on it. (“don’t worry about me, I’m working on it”)

Feeling depression for a long time is another very personal problem. Recognising what is behind that word (which describes a syndrome) I might find sadness, or anger or a desire for something that should have been given to me (like care, or comfort). This makes it a problem that might possible mostly lie in the past, and which I have carried with me all this time. It might have been a survival strategy from back when I needed it, but is now sabotaging my life because I never tested its use within my reality now. And although it goes from being hidden in a box to merely being wrapped up in other metaphorical words, they might become packages that are more movable, less obscure and might even be opened because they are no longer that scary.

If I would label a feeling as depression, it can become an unresolved thick blanket-like label that is acceptable, recognisable, as well as un-identifiable. It means I can dump all the ugly feelings I go through in that one big box and put a neon arrow above it which I can point to when wondering or being asked about what the hell is wrong with me.

If I label that feeling as anger for being neglected when I really needed care, anger for being taught the wrong things when I was younger, sadness over never having the attention of a certain parent, and possibly even a child-like feeling that I am not supposed to be proud of myself and happy, then that becomes something to work with. They are again labels, but they represent the actual feeling better, they are again just a figure of speech, but they might be closer to what is actually going on. They make the feelings I have more recognizable and therefore hopefully easier to understand and approach.

And I might find other words yet again for those feelings after looking at them for a while. As in biology, classifying is infinite. At some point though, I might have to stop classifying when I have a pretty good idea of what is going on, and start working on them and how they affect me. A good start is to explore what makes me feel better, using the little packages I uncovered as a guide.

I guess I use metaphors a lot, I think it makes me understand myself and others better. It is all just a figure of speech for things that I, in all honesty, have no way of perfectly describing. My sadness, joy, anger, may feel nothing like yours either, but I hope you can relate.

I think, just to milk this metaphor for what it’s worth, the idea of carrying around a big labelled box full of feelings makes it hard to move, and hard to resolve. Taking away that label and seeing what is actually going on inside the box is hard as well, but at least I can work on it one bit at a time. Then possibly at the very end of it, when the big box is finally empty, I can flatten it and chuck it out*, leaving room to breathe.

 

Jude

 

*I meant ‘recycle’ but it didn’t fit the metaphor :-S …

Who I am

who-am-iI tend to make old mistakes, again and again. Sometimes I think it’s because they are less scary than making new ones. One of them is trying to find out ‘who I am’.

I try to blend in with the culture I blame for my twisted thoughts, my presumptions, my obsessions. Like a chameleon I change my dress sense every time I change environment; nonchalant, hippie, sexy, feminine, outdoorsy, there is no end. And none of them are me, yet all of them are. Who am I? How do I dress/behave/feel to express my original self? Who even cares besides me?

I have my coffees in cafes that allow my laptop as a canvas for my futile attempts to poetry and thought trains that go in circles. No one really needs to read my verbal excretions, but god I do need to get it out of my system. But when I try to be a writer, a poet I fail. ‘what would I have to do, what should the quality be for me to BE this thing?’ When can I honestly say to people ‘yes, I write’. The question itself castrates me, and everything I’m trying to verbalise freezes into other people’s words and writing styles. I get stuck in writing the thing I think you might want to read. I get stuck in trying to portray myself as smart, clever, sympathetic, strong, optimistic, all-knowing.

I’ve had many jobs and job-titles, have moved around in different cities, different countries and never found myself in any of them. I think I wanted to be something/someone but could never find the right setting to become that person. I looked for other settings, without really knowing what it was that I wanted to be. ‘If If find the right setting, will I then automatically and finally become ‘me’?’

So there is the old questions: ‘Who am I, who do I want to be?’. And I’m growing to dislike this question because the answer is always going to be crap. I don’t want to be a manager or an employee of the month,  not a lady or a rebel, not a servant or a mistress, not promiscuous or a saint. And at the same time I want to be all of these things every now and then. But why should I aspire to be things I can define myself by with just one word?

If I NEED to define myself as something, in order for me to know how I am supposed to behave, what does this mean if I become sick, or poor or depressed. If this means that I can only be one or two things at a time (and include the appropriate behaviour) it could then mean that my whole being could be defined as sick, poor or depressed. I think this would not be helpful in any way.  I think a better alternative to this would be to perceive myself as a (complex, ever-developing, emotional) person and maybe suffer from these things every now and then.

If I feel like I need to behave a certain way because I decided that this definition is ‘me’, I am restricting myself and my creativity starves. It means I can never write a thought unless it makes for good reading. It means I cannot behave in a way that is going to provoke change. Defining myself as something pacifies me and makes me feel that I have no choice but to behave as expected.

Maybe I’m already who I want to be, who I wanted to grow up as. I’m not a manager, or employee of the month, not a lady, a rebel, a servant or mistress, promiscuous or a saint. I’m not even a writer. Maybe I am merely capable of being these things with different amounts of success and satisfaction when I choose to be. Maybe I should stop searching for who or what I am and explore the things I’m capable of and enjoy being capable of. The things that are helpful, satisfying, and make me feel happy with what I’m doing. The most important thing about the outcome of my actions should be that it is helpful for me and my place in the world (incl. relationships, health etc) and not about whether I fit the definition I was trying to become.

My dad died 4 years ago today. I think he was searching his entire life for who he was or what he was supposed to be, and consequently became a person who did not enjoy his life, family and job. I think he only found the non-importance of this question, and started searching for the things that made him feel proud of his capabilities after we stopped speaking to each other almost 7 years ago. I think this year is the first time I can admit that I am glad that he did realise this eventually.

And I am sad that I missed it.