You may look successful on the outside, BUT is it an allusion?
Are you nailing it by day at the office, but at home it’s a different story? Is your private life crumbling and is it about to invade your corporate life or maybe your reputation. Are you struggling alone?
To the outside world looking in, so many people appear to be highly successful yet behind closed doors sadly their world is falling apart. You might be lying awake at night wondering ‘how long can I keep the balls juggling in the air. How long can I keep the façade up before my corporate life comes crashing down’.
Or are you a class act balancer? Keeping appearances propped up at almost any cost.
What do they look like anyway. Everyone’s definition is different. For some blinded by the shiny reels of social media and the expectations weighing down heavily upon them, one might think success looks like earning a lot of money, beautiful people, a wonderful house, the perfect children, holidays all over the world, nice clothes and a fancy car. OR DOES IT?
Sure there is absolutely nothing wrong with pursuing the pleasures of life that come along with working hard for what you earn, as long as it doesn’t come at the cost of the things that you hold the dearest in your heart. In the never ending search for fulfilment, in a society that says we should have everything NOW, things are not always as they seem. When I talk to business owners about their staffs mental health, many reply, ‘I’m not coping myself. I don’t how long I can keep going like this. My staff are relying on me. I’m the one who is meant to keep it all together. ‘ Sounds like a lot of pressure, doesn’t it?
THE BALANCING ACT
I Have met so many people in my many years in the twelve step rooms where outside the rooms people mistakingly believe they have it all together. They are deemed successful because they are being judged on outward appearances Yet, inside they are crushed. If you talked to them yourself, they would say their life was a total failure and that money does NOT bring happiness. In every case, alcohol, drugs, gambling, work, food, sex, shopping and other addictions stripped them away from their loved ones. Many had it all and lost it all only to say that in the end, they came to realise that it’s the RELATIONSHIPS in their life that meant the most.
THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE
If you are struggling with any kind of addiction or just with the pressures of life itself, GET HELP before it’s too late. Don’t let pride kill you and don’t let shame be the reason you didn’t find the right support. There is always HOPE. The relief of spilling all to someone you trust just could be lifesaving. As the saying goes, a problem shared, is a problem halved. And it really is. In my many years working as a recovery counsellor I have seen so many people hit rock bottom because of the secrets they had been holding onto. To see the relief they experience after they become honest about their situation and talk it out, is like the weight of the world has been lifted off their shoulders.
And lastly, realise this ‘you are not the only one’. Imagine being in a room and realising that at least half the people in that room were also struggling only you were ALL DOING IT ALONE. How amazing would it be to be able to support one another in your greatest time of need.
I’m sure many of you have heard this poem written by John Whittier. I hope you are encouraged greatly as you read it.
“When things go wrong as they sometimes will, and the road you’re trudging seems all up hill, the funds are low and the debts are high, and you want to smile but you have to sigh. When care is pressing you down a bit, rest if you must but don’t you quit.
Life is strange with its’s twists and turns as every one of us sometimes learns. Many a failure comes about when you might have won had you stuck it out. Success is failure turned inside out, the silver tint of the clouds of doubt. And you never can tell just how close you are, It may be near when it seems so far. So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit, It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit”.
Finding joy through adversity was what we heard all about at last months event as Dean and Sharlene (pictured below) shared their phenomenal stories of triumphing over hard times. Dean who was born with the debilitating disease ‘EB’ Epidermolysis Bullosa is one of the world’s oldest survivors at age 41. He considers himself to be very positive and is always looking forward with anticipation. The age expectancy of someone with EB is not usually beyond two years old. Dean who was born with the worst form of EB has outlived all those battling this disease in Australia. His zest for life despite his pain and the arduous routine which takes around four hours preparation just to get out the front door each morning, something many of us take for granted, is written all over his face when you see him smile.
Sharlene who shared her moving story of recovery described what life was like living as a hopeless helpless alcoholic. When you look at her, you could be forgiven for thinking that she looks nothing like an alcoholic. The same has often been said to me in my many years of sobriety but we are the faces of alcoholism. We appear in all forms shapes and sizes. The well-dressed corporate CEO, someone on a park bench, or as in Sharlene’s case, the mum of four next door. Finding Joy Through Adversity comes in all shapes, sizes and demographics.
Dark Days always come before we can find ourselves Finding Joy Through Adversity
Sharlene’s alcoholism took her to the darkest and most desperate place. Into the hands of violence, arrests, psych wards, and emergency departments. A Myriad of horrendous twists and turns, heartbreak and hysteria. Rock bottom eventually struck with the fatal blow, having her young children taken away in the family court system. For Dean ‘it was around three years ago when for no reason his body started shutting down. He said, ‘It was a frightening time but I never let go of hope’.
INCLUSION BRINGS JOY
For Dean, JOY came through finding a purpose and people who loved, accepted and included him despite his outward appearance. People who were drawn to the gold on the inside and saw him for the person he was underneath his coat of damaged skin.
One of those people who made a huge contribution to Deans life was NRL player Shane Webcke. He along with some of the other NRL players such as Brad Thorn from his much-loved football team the Brisbane Broncos gave Dean a sense of belonging. Rejection is heartbreaking for someone who is already struggling and Inclusion can make all the difference. For Dean a make it was!
MOMENTS OF JOY
Since that day Sharlene put down the alcohol, she has found so many moments of joy. In fact the day her children were returned to her was one of the most joyous days of her life and was the very thing that motivated her to keep sober one day at a time. It was the goal that kept propelling her forward.
Other moments of joy she said were ‘the day I paid cash for my car. ‘It’s and old car and nothing fancy but it means the world to me. ‘Its something I finally own’, and the day she enrolled at university to become a midwife’. These are the ‘moments of joy and celebration in her life that have kept her going through the days, weeks and months of adversity.
For both Dean and Sharlene, gratitude for the small things have helped them the most in Finding Joy Through Adversity. Just when life seemed the hardest, a moment of joy shone through and showed them that life truly is for living. Tangible proof that even greater moments await in the future if they don’t give up.
GRATITUDE BRINGS JOY
For Dean it was the day he set a goal to bench press 150kgs and achieved it! What an amazing accomplishment for a person where even a bump to the skin can set off a cascade of catastrophic and damaging effects and even threaten to end his life.
Next time you think you are having a hard day; I encourage you to think about Dean and Sharlene and take some inspiration from their lives. The way they have risen from absolute devastation and continue to walk forward each and every day with gratitude even through adversity is remarkable. They are living proof that even though life is not perfect we can find perfect moments in every day. To read more remarkable stories of everyday inspirational people visit https://storiesofhope.com.au/product/stories-of-hope-australia-books/
LEADING THE WAY
Leading the way has not been something that has come easily to me nor was it something I sought. It all started when I intentionally allowed myself as hard as it was to become vulnerable. The harsh events of life cause a vulnerability in so many that is raw and uncomfortable, but for me it was intolerable and unbearable. The feeling and fear of being vulnerable was something that in former days caused me to numb myself out on alcohol and prescription. Anything but face life and pain in its true form. But not today.
I was so afraid that if people really found out who I was on the inside, I would be rejected. I did everything I could to mask the true me because i literally hated myself. As hard as I tried, I could never hide because I wore a veil of shame. The shame of growing up in an alcoholic home and the secrets I felt I had to keep to protect not only me but those around me. The social anxiety and the intense loneliness I felt on the inside, caused me to wear masks and many of them. I didn’t want people to know how desperate I really felt. The only problem with wearing masks was that when I was with a group of people, i had no idea of how to act. Because I wore a different mask for different people, i would render myself silent for fear of being found out.
I literally started becoming clean in every sense of the word, the day I got sober in a twelve step recovery meeting. Night after night i was asked to share my story, my struggles and about my sobriety. I felt humiliated unveiling the layers of shame publicly and public humiliation was the very thing I feared the most. But, I knew my recovery depended on it. Besides I was in a safe environment and one where everyone else in the room were also sharing their deepest darkest pain but maybe like me, not ALL their secrets. I still had one I rarely talked about. One where every time it would even enter my mind I became angry and one where even the thought of saying the words made me feel so shattered and so ashamed.
SILENT NO MORE
I remember the day so clearly that I finally came to terms with being raped at 17 years of age. When it happened all those years ago, I told no one. After all I had been molested by a pedophile when I was nine and there was no justice. So I figured there would be no justice if I did tell. What we ‘KEEP IN THE DARKNESS CAN NEVER BE DEALT WITH. IT IS ONLY WHEN WE BRING SOMETHING OUT INTO THE LIGHT THAT WE CAN FINALLY BEGIN TO HEAL’. I realised that the shame was not mine to carry any longer. That was the day I found the keys to freedom. The day I decided I would be SILENT NO MORE! When I finally became vulnerable enough to talk about this publicly, i realised there was no longer anything to hide and nothing holding me back. The fear of rejection no longer has a hold on me. Today I share all my stories so that other people my know that they too can recover from trauma. I can be a voice of HOPE for all those who are still suffering in silence and I can truly connect with people because I am prepared to be vulnerable.
This week I have been so saddened to hear of 2 young guys on the coast commit suicide. They were both friends of friends of mine.
When I was 18, I planned my suicide. At that moment, A loud voice said (‘don’t do it, if you hang on a bit longer you will find happiness one day’). I listened, I didn’t, and I have. I have found so much happiness. When I used to walk down the street in the midst of the darkest depression I would see people walking together, talking and smiling.
That was all I wanted. Was to feel that joy that I saw on the faces of so many people, yet deep down I was trapped. My soul was in darkness. I wrote this a few years after.
This is for anyone struggling out there with hopelessness. PLEASE HANG ON – HAPPINESS IS on the way.
My life was full of devastation I was going my own way. Continually doing my thing Was never going to pay. My life was spiralling downward My mind out of control. Searching in all the wrong places, for something to make me whole. I thought that I would take my life away, then the voice from heaven, said, hold on for a better day is coming. Will you just stop running, don’t throw your life away. I’l give you the solution And you’ll see a better day. Suicide’s a permanent solution to a problem that is only temporary. If you hold on, and you are strong, you’ll see a BETTER day is coming and it won’t be very long.
If you are feeling alone there are people out there who care. I’m here for anyone that needs someone.
Beyond blue and lifeline are also amazing support.
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!
When I started my journey of recovery from alcoholism and pill addiction after wanting to commit suicide at 18, I was working near Circular Quay in Sydney. I was struggling with severe depression and every morning I woke up, With a huge black cloud hanging over my head. One of the sayings I had heard in Alcoholics Anonymous was ‘Count your blessings’. As I walked past the ferries every morning to get to work feeling so sorry for myself and how my life had ended up, a homeless man with no legs would sit in his wheelchair looking down at the water as everyone stared at him. Immediately there it was!
I would think to myself, COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS. I thought, Yes life may be hard, but at least I have legs to walk. I can get up and shower every morning. I have a place to live, I can still work and earn a living so I can eat. I have family who love me. I may have lost my spirit but I haven’t lost everything! I felt so sad for this man but I was so grateful to him for the daily reminder of ‘just how BLESSED I really was’. He didn’t know it but he helped me look at my life through a different lens. He helped me get through the darkest time of my life.
GRATITUDE IS A HEALER FOR THE SOUL!
What I would give for one more I love you!
Such a special time for many but for others a time of sadness. This is my first Father’s day without my dad. No card will be sent or received and no phone call just to say “I love you”. I have learnt that when the times of sadness hit the hardest, I can either lie down and be immobilised, OR have a quick visit, feel the pain and then get up and focus on the things that bring me JOY. I do not want to camp in a place of heartache for too long. I prefer to choose JOY!
If you are someone who will find fathers day difficult, let me encourage you, to plan something to look forward to. To look after yourself and surround yourself with whoever and whatever is good for your soul and whatever will bring you peace and happiness.