gratitude…

A couple of years ago, I was battling with uncharacteristically dark thoughts. Most of the people I know and love had no idea how to react to this as it was uncharted territory for me and those that know me.

I am accustomed to keeping my struggles somewhat bottled, so it was new to me to have suddenly lost the ability to contain my feelings or mask my emotions. People who were used to seeing me stand proud, were unsure what to say or do when I appeared broken.

Luckily for me though, I have by my side an army of beautiful souls whose love, support and encouragement pushed and pulled me through to a place where I am more “together” than I’ve ever been.

Today, without diminishing the contribution of everybody else, I want to spotlight one person in particular. A person who I’m almost certain, up until this point, has NO idea what an important role he played in helping me find my way back to myself. The most unassuming people often are the ones that make a lasting and profound difference.

At the time, “stay busy and keep your mind off things” was probably the one piece of advice I heard daily. Taking this to the next level, one of my kind friends decided to take it upon herself to throw “distractions” my way. Call it kismet if you will but I happened to also be grappling with that existential dilemma: iPhone vs Blackberry (iPhone!!!!!!!!!!) so the aforementioned “distractions” were by way of boys… more specifically, boys with Blackberries who could potentially occupy my every waking moment with BBM messages so I wouldn’t have a single second to think about anything. Ridiculous as it sounds, this turned out to be quite possibly the best thing anyone did for me. (Thank you Jimena!)

I spoke to so many random people over the course of a few weeks and I cannot remember a single name of anyone I ever BBM’d during that time. Bar one.

Introducing…. Ron Jeanniton aka RJ.

I always considered myself an excellent judge of character and I think that making the conscious decision to continue talking to RJ is possibly a huge testament to that.

Don’t get me wrong, he isn’t perfect. But he is inherently good, wise and intelligent. Add some brutal honesty and a wicked sense of humour to that and you have, in essence, a person I am proud to call my friend.

At first, RJ would tell me some incredibly inane shit. From his pride at buying a new wrench, to the glories of Android. But then he began to share his political views, his thoughts on religion, his ideas and in bits and pieces and somewhat reluctantly in the beginning, he told me a little bit about his story.

We’re stupidly similar and yet completely different. But he has become a part of my every day. And every time he shares something he has learnt with me, I feel blessed to be considered someone worthy of this knowledge.

Ultimately, RJ won’t tolerate my self-pitying bullshit. And his overarching message of resilience and determination hit me at the time I needed it most. I know it was never his intention, but he succeeded in unknowingly giving me the shove I needed to steer myself back on to the right track.

He inspired me to empower myself again and for that I will always be grateful.

So.. a toast to my friend, cheers to RJ. Have fun in TX and THANK YOU for being you and sharing that with me.

The most important man in my life…

I had a conversation with an old friend in which we spoke about our relationships with our fathers. After the conversation was over, I reflected and came to the conclusion that I’d spoken to him about the wrong person.

I told my friend about my biological father and our strained relationship. I shouldn’t have because in all honesty it isn’t even worth discussing. But there is a man who is.

My grandfather.

He’s the man who has been there since as long as I can remember. A part of my every day because he wanted to be and not just simply because biology dictated that he should be.

He’s a man of few words, who rarely shows emotion and yet through his actions, I’ve known my entire life that he is proud of who I am and what I have achieved. He was there for every milestone, giving me advice when I needed it and reprimanding me when I deserved it.

Even when I chose paths he didn’t agree with, he was right behind me. Silently shaking his head while he helped me do whatever it was that he didn’t want me to do.

There’s a certain comfort that exists when you know that there is someone who is going to catch you, every single time you fall. There’s an incredible freedom, an empowering confidence, in knowing that no matter what you do there will be someone there to help you get up.

I always said I didn’t feel like I was missing anything by my father not being around. Now I realise that’s because I always had my incredible grandfather doing a job that wasn’t his, but that he wanted to do anyway. And that’s what I should have told my friend.

bienvenido…

At the end of what is possibly one of the most challenging periods in my life, this is where I am.

As a kid, I wanted to be a writer. I got lost along the way and awkwardly stumbled along on a journey of bad choices and worse consequences. Nothing dramatically interesting enough to write about… but difficult to overcome all the same.

Somewhere throughout the adventure I got lost in other people. I cringe at the term “people-pleaser” because not only have I never wanted to be that, but there are plenty of people to whom I represent the opposite. I’m extreme, I hate or I love. Apathy never sits well here, so it is usually the fence-sitters that find me impossible.

I made choices because I wanted people to be happy with them. Or I chose to make sacrifices that made my life almost unbearable at times, because I preferred to live with that than impose discomfort on someone else, particularly, someone I cared about.

Today, after many tears, much heartache and enough disappointment, I can at least take comfort in knowing that the growth I have experienced from these times of despair has made me a better person, a stronger person and ultimately has shone a light on the blessings…the gifts which bring a smile to my face no matter how much of my world has crumbled.

I am not sad, I am not angry or bitter or seeking retribution for wrongs done unto me.

I am blessed. I am humbled and I am incredibly lucky to be here, standing, smiling and safe in the knowledge that I am surrounded by extraordinary people for whom I am always grateful.

So this is Step 1: Writing. A simple pleasure that once brought me much happiness. I let it be carried away in a storm of conflicting priorities and the ridiculous belief that my dwindling free time shouldn’t be wasted on trivialities.

I will write. It won’t always be about me or my life but it will always be for me.