I remember being eleven years old… trying to find my way…trying to make sense of my world in the midst of my parents' divorce. I felt many things – confusion, anger, shame, hurt, loss...even apathy. In short, I felt like my world had been turned upside-down and I didn’t know how to put everything ‘right’ again.
I have a distinct memory of lying on the kitchen bench of my childhood home, just staring at the ceiling. Commotion all around me. I remember my mind suddenly quiet. I remember how the world faded in that moment and I was filled with the sound of silence - as white as the ceiling, as clean as the paint untouched.
I remember the thought as it was born, “What if my world really had turned upside-down?". What if I could be the one to walk on this pure untouched ground for the first time? What if doorways were steps and lights extended from the ground up? What if this whole new, quiet, serene world had been laid out just for me ?
It was like seeing everything for the first time. Everything looked beautiful and new and pure...everything seemed possible. I learnt in that moment that sometimes we need to turn our world upside-down just to see it for how it really is.
There is always a choice - you can face your challenges with fear and resentment, or you can view them as opportunities to experience something new, to shape a better life for yourself, to live the full extent of the life you have been given. I was in for huge changes in the months and years that followed, and it was tough…but I had hope.
Through tears, and no doubt some tantrums and angst - ultimately in that moment, I chose to view my challenges as opportunities. And truth be told, the life that unfolded in front of me was full of light and shade, depth, colour, joy, and challenges….'opportunities' that would not have opened up for me should things have remained as they were.
I have carried this memory with me through my teen years and into my adult life. There are times I have needed more than ever to remember the clarity I felt in that moment. I will often lay and stare at the ceiling in times of overwhelm. It grounds me. It gives me a sense of calm. It reminds me that there’s always another perspective - another way to view your world, your challenges and the changes that are taking place in your world.
It’s so important to have ways to process your emotions in challenging times. Sometimes I forget, and I realise that my hands are shaking, I’m wearing my shoulders as earrings and my temper is short. These times have been more regular since becoming a parent. It’s a combination of many things, not the least of them being lack of sleep, shifts in priority, and the stress of being responsible for another person’s life. If there was ever a time to focus on managing my stress, it is now. I try to remind myself regularly to keep perspective, to breathe and to forgive myself when I get things wrong. And as I move through life and the challenges I face change and evolve, I remain open to new opportunities to grow, and suggestions on ways to more effectively process my emotions and manage my stress.