When we open our hearts and our souls to our very selves, we can try to learn who we are as people and as human beings.
Being ourselves in all our shapes, sizes, ages, genders and orientations. Acknowledging and celebrating our differences. To know that it’s okay to be me and it’s also okay for you to be you.
I had never looked at myself in any great depth before. Instead, I had tried escaping who I was and how I felt. Spending years desperately trying to be who and what ‘I thought’ other people wanted me to be. I realise now that I constantly looked outwards for acceptance, trying to fit in from an early age.
In primary school I tried to show prowess at football, all the kids seemed to like football, support the local team. I remember learning the names of some of the players so that I could join in conversations. Later on, as a young adult, going out drinking and clubbing, I smoked, as did others, and I would buy a packet of cigarettes for me, and I would buy an extra packet of a different brand that I knew people liked so that I could offer them one should the need arise. I wanted and yearned to be liked, needed and loved by others, to justify my existence, give me a purpose. I see now that at that time, the idea that people would really me, like the true me, the nerd, the geek who liked weird music like ‘the Cure’ was a laughable notion. How could anyone respect a weirdo, an oddball like that? Of course, the irony of not accepting myself and trying to be somebody else, trying to be a carbon amalgam of these other people is not lost in me today…
One of my all time favourite movies is ‘Harvey’. A wonderful film starring James Stewart about Elwood P. Dowd, who ambles around the liquor bars with his friend. A six foot white rabbit called Harvey! Of course, to the townsfolk, his family and the psychiatric hospital, Elwood is suffering from Mental illness, probably from an unresolved trauma, and they feel he needs to be locked up and treated for his hallucinations. Yet the film unfolds like a gentle walk and it becomes clear, that imaginary or not. Elwood’s demeanour is greater served by having Harvey in his life. He is relaxed, gentle, caring and has time for others. The final message is that people prefer Elwood exactly the way he is. Even with Harvey. It is in fact ‘okay’ for Elwood to be himself.
The therapeutic conversation facilitates that phenomenon. That it is okay ‘be’ ourselves, whatever ‘ourselves’ might be. It is also empowering to be with another that they may know through our own personal acceptance that it is also okay for ‘them’ to be ‘themselves’. Whatever that may be.
It has been an important lesson for me to know that what I have done in the past does in no way define who I am today. However, it has helped shape me into who I am becoming. I have in the past done and said terrible things. Yet as I have opened myself, I have learned to forgive myself for past choices and I grow from the lessons I choose to learn. I was once told, “Look back. Don’t stare!” it was a good lesson, because looking at our past allows us to ‘see’ our journey, and by recognising and seeing our journey can solidify where we have arrived at, which in turn allows us space to gather our thoughts and feelings about the here and now and help us to choose where we go in the future.
in the next chapter of this little blog book, we will try SEEING a way forward.
A Thirsk Counsellor
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hi there. I’m Paul Cullen. A Thirsk Counsellor registered with the BACP. I’m interested in all aspects of mental health and well-being and feel it’s important that we each find our way to our own journey.
Originally a Lancashire Lad, I know live in my adopted county of North Yorkshire, with my family.
Have a mentally healthy day.