Wellness Matters 23.04.2021
Forgiveness, Tolerance and Love
I was often considered to be impatient when I was growing up by others and, I suppose, by me. I wanted to be older, wiser, more popular. I wanted to be somewhere else and be someone else. I wanted things to happen quickly, and I wanted to be in the thick of things. I probably came across as bossy, wanting to be in charge and seemingly have things my own way.
Although the term fear of missing out (FOMO) wasn’t used in the same way, when I was approaching my teen years, I know that it was an issue for me. I had a need to be surrounded by others.
I recognise now that much of that impatience was driven by anxiety, and furthermore I now know that the route of that anxiety was being locked in the dining room by a family friend, known as D, who was in the midst of a breakdown when I was 6yrs old.
D had arrived for Sunday lunch, dressed as a wizard and we were all to be involved in his magical spells. I was singled out to be his helper, which was initially exciting, none of the adults being aware of how ill he was. I was asked to put on a special dress and the rest of the family were told to leave the room. I had to hide under the table, which was fun at first, waiting for the magic to begin, but then a strange sensation of embarrassment, creeping fear and shame started to consume me.
D had left the room, but I had to remain. I don’t know how long it was but it felt like an eternity. Eventually, I plucked up the courage to knock and then thump on the locked door before Dad heard me, opened the door allowing me to fall gratefully into his arms. But the story was far from over: D had to be driven to a specialist hospital in Glasgow by Dad and I had to go with them. Apparently I was the only thing to keep him stable for he feared that, without me, the magic would kill us all. The hospital was a 40 minute drive from our home in Rhu, near Helensburgh, and as I recall, it was excruciating.
I know I’m not alone, too many of us are afflicted, sometimes unwittingly, sometimes deliberately by early childhood events which leave us suffering from anxiety, and struggling with mental health. It can be challenging, alienating, confusing and heart breaking. The ramifications can be huge. There is hard evidence to show that patterns of childhood abuse are often repeated in adulthood.
There is no doubt in my mind that that incident changed my life, almost irreparably. Sadly, there are other events, two more devastating but still too painful to share here, but I want to focus on my recovery which occurred over a 40 year period.
My journey to get to where I am today, has taken years of reading, research, training, therapy and bloody-mindedness to identify the roots of my anxiety, and slowly but surely I am learning to forgive in order to move on. It is not easy and I can be thrown a curve ball at any given point - usually by a sexist comment, or threatening male behaviour and this can and does send me into a tailspin of pain, hurt and sadness.
As time goes on I am learning to be more tolerant, but not accepting of those men, who in particular, might be a trigger for me. I am well loved by a special man, I have good male friends, and I feel safe in their company.
But I will not be held to account by men who, through bad upbringing, drink, drugs, indifference and belligerence choose to undermine or threaten me, or who choose to throw a ‘flippant’ sexist comment my way.
I will not allow my path or destination to be dictated by men who should know better. I will not acquiesce, I will not be a bystander, I will not tolerate sexist or misogynistic behaviours whether aimed at me or others.
What happened to me as a 6 year old was unfortunate, but the impact has been long lasting.
As pandemic restrictions begin to relax on Monday 26th April, we will be in situations we have not faced for a long time and we need to be brave and determined not to allow the door on patriarchal sexism to be opened.
We all want to see a fairer, more tolerant and unified society. Let’s create it.
B.D. Perry describes Post Traumatic Wisdom as belonging to those, like me and many others, who still carry the pain, but have learned to live with it, learn from it and allow it to guide and inform us. We are stronger, we are empathetic. We are not alone. We can have an impact on how society develops. We have forgiven.
Perhaps a coaching conversation can help you to move forward with forgiveness, tolerance and love.
If your wounds are deeper, please call Samaritans or seek professional counselling.