R U Ok? My life, three years on.

Three years ago, my life was very different.
Three years ago, my life was very different.

This photo recently came up on my Facebook page and it floored me. I was speechless, with my mouth actually hanging open as I stared at it. And because this week, it was R U OK day here in Australia, I thought I’d talk about why it had such an effect on me.

R U OK day is about suicide prevention, specifically, about asking us to engage with the people around us with meaningful conversations about life and how we feel about it. I don’t normally write posts like this, but this image, randomly generated by Facebook in a ‘your memories from three years ago’ way, moved me.

This is not me in the photo, it my Friend, holding my son, then three-months old. I remember that day; I remember it so clearly. I remember where we were, what we talked about, the things we said, the anger and sadness and grief we vented, and also the hope we held that the light at the end of the tunnel we were in must surely be coming.

This baby was everything and he was wonderful and I wanted everything to be perfect for him. But right on this day of this photo, I was living in an isolated town with a newborn. I had post-natal depression. I had post-traumatic stress from a birth that went badly and a litany of physical problems for myself and my baby (and what seemed like endless medical appointments and all-day trips from the country to the city) that followed. I had insane levels of sleep deprivation (quite seriously, in hindsight, I should never have been on the road, let alone driving the highway as much as we were). My husband and I had just received notice that an enormous mobile phone tower was to be built right next to our house, something we found very distressing. (We lived on six acres and our neighbour had over 100 acres but still the tower would be right outside our lounge room window.) I was in the middle of a soul-destroying, heartbreaking, messy, bitter breakdown and breakup of relationships with several women I had considered to be close friends. I was losing a significant business/life calling I had created from scratch (my first ‘baby’, with my identity all over it). I was gutted. My heart was in pieces. My world was falling apart.

And of course, I was trying to keep it together so that no one could tell how much pain I was in, especially the women with whom I was ‘breaking up’ and especially from my precious baby. I couldn’t possibly be vulnerable… I had to be strong!

As for my Friend, her life was in a very dark place as well. I won’t speak of her troubles as they are hers to share with the world if she wishes. But they were even greater, and more difficult, and more life-changing than what I was going through. I was so worried about her that day. I could see the stress and the trauma all over her face and body.

But we had tea (and hot chips and probably some cake). Many cups of tea. And we talked for hours while we sipped that tea, and I fed the baby, and we rocked the baby to sleep, and we talked some more. We could be vulnerable in that space. We were each other’s life preservers that day, holding each other’s heads above water for a bit longer so that help could come to us eventually. We trusted Light would come to us somehow. That it had to get better. It just had to.

So the other day, Facebook pulled out this photo and this sea of emotions from the technological ether washed over me. I was viscerally shocked. Why? Because my life is completely different now. And so is my Friend’s. Our lives couldn’t possibly be any more opposite than what they were that day.

And I think this is important to note: neither of us could see it coming. Neither of us could have predicted it. Neither of us had a plan.

All we were doing was getting through each hour of each day, trusting, hoping, trusting, listening, drinking tea and trusting some more.

And it happened. Now, we are both living our dream lives. Three years on.

I have my dream career that I’d worked so hard for and wonderful publishers I am blessed to call my friends. I have published three books in three years, all of them best-sellers, two of them internationally so, and I have contracts for two more. The success of these books has paid for the renovations on the seriously rundown house we took a huge chance on buying. Yes, we moved house and re-located to acreage on the Sunshine Coast, with all of our horses, which had been my childhood dream. My husband’s business has gone from strength to strength, as has our health and our level of joy, creativity and connections to wonderful people. We are happy, every day.

Now, I’m not saying the past three years hasn’t been the most intense and frantic of my life. But I could never have imagined this life on that day three years ago. So I’m thinking you don’t always need to be able to see the Light on the other side. You don’t always need a plan. You don’t always have to know the answer. I think we just need to keep talking to our friends and family, and drinking tea and hugging and laughing and crying and be able to borrow their strength when we don’t have enough for ourselves.

Sometimes, just drinking tea with your best mate (or mum, or neighbour, or aunt, or pastor, or your kid’s teacher) might be all you need to make it through the day. And you only need to make it through this day. If you look too far ahead it gets scary. So just get through this day. And take on tomorrow with fresh eyes.

Wishing you love.

The Light will come. It always does.

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12 thoughts on “R U Ok? My life, three years on.

  1. The wristband for the Suicide Prevention Awareness Network reads “Tough times pass, Death is forever”. Sometimes we need to be reminded of where we have come from in order to be able to see how far we have come.
    Great post. Thanks, Josephine.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story, Josephine. I am so grateful that you had a friend to talk to through such a challenging time. As women, we all need to work at lifting each other up, rather than competing against each other. Imagine how powerful we could be if we all knew we were supported by a village of friends who will never let us fall (alone). While the road that got you where you are was rocky, I am so glad you are in such a good place now. You have earned it. xx

  3. You have brought tears to my eyes Josephine. Not just your description of those early, sleep deprived days with a new baby (that baby is now 18), but talking about getting through the day, having faith that there truly is a light at the end of the tunnel. I have a great life with wonderful family and friends but recently I have been truly struggling, weary from being all things to all people all the time. My writing has been firmly parked on the back seat. My novel lays gathering cobwebs (and this was to be MY year to finish it) and my newly created blog from late last year, that started with flourish, found itself post-less for 6 months.

    I finally broke the drought and wrote a post last week. It was very cathartic and talked of my feeling of anger, stress and resentment. The response to it from friends has been a barrage of emails and texts asking “R U OK?” They said that they couldn’t comment on the post because they felt it was so raw that they decided to message me personally. I was truly touched and actually a little bit surprised by their reaction as I actually felt really good after writing it. Maybe my vulnerability and fragility was more evident than I had intended. Pushing that post button, I felt like a weight had lifted from my shoulders, by the simple action of releasing my words to the universe. Sure, the problems remained unchanged but I was able to sit with the emotions in a better headspace. I have included the link if you would like to read it. I am so glad that you and your precious friend are in a happy space now. Wishing you continued light, love and success. Shell.x

    http://ordinarymagic.me/2015/09/04/sitting-with-anger-stress-resentment/

  4. Beautiful! So happy that you and your friend survived your journeys and you were then able to write such wonderful books! Thank you for sharing your story Josephine and thank you for writing! I have always believed that almost anything can be ‘solved’ over a cup of tea! My answer to anyone that has a problem or no problem at all has been, ‘Let’s have a cuppa!’ It’s not about the tea or the food (although I do love my tea sweet, strong and tanned like my man!) it truly is about connecting, opening up and not feeling alone! xx

  5. That drew tears. Life can be horrendous, luckily some of us make it to the next day and then the next. I’m glad you came through it, though not unscathed. Breathe and enjoy.

    Suzanne

    Sent from Samsung tablet

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