Not that I have a flipping clue about real DIY you understand-I wouldn’t know a wrench if it sprang out of the toolbox and starting lepping about the place performing an impromptu jig for me…just so we’re clear…
A Life After is a fresh start, a clean slate, a blank sheet of paper. Like any new structure it needs a solid foundation to build on or it will fall apart. Similarly how it’s constructed-and what it’s built upon is of huge importance. And, after epic amounts of trial and error ( my trials, errors and epic failures throughout my own journey to wellness and Life After being the very foundations this entire website is built on), I have realised that the most solid of foundations are the ones will build ourselves. a solo effort.
It’s nobody’s job to support us it’s not an automatic thing, it shouldn’t be expected and it’s not helpful. If someone offers us unwavering support, then we come to rely on it, then that person leaves, or decides they don’t want to be supportive anymore, and we’ve built the foundations of our recovery on their support? We are screwed when they go. We then have to strip back and re-build those foundations all over again. And it’s an awful thing, at a time that pretty much everything else is bloody awful too. When every moment of the day is scary and hard and wearing enough just learning how to be out in the world again, having to deal with this sort of emotional fall-out is something to try and spare ourselves if we can.
It’s such a fundamental part of building a new life that it becomes the foundation of every new experience. Every new job, every new relationship. When we build our own Life After based solely on our own support then it cannot be taken away. It’s the only real and consistent type of security that exists-and it’s what we crave the most after years of chronic doubt. It’s not the responsibility of my boss to make me happy, or my friend, or a boy, it’s my responsibility alone. Asking someone else to make me happy feels good for about 5 minutes, but it doesn’t ever last. A life full of wonderful people and exciting experiences and fulfilling work is a truly great thing. But it is not my boss’s job to make me happy; it’s not a boy’s job to make me feel special. The onus is on myself, and myself alone.
A funny thing happens when we become solely responsible for our own mental and emotional wellbeing, of letting everyone know by our own actions and behaviour that they don’t owe us anything. Life becomes a joyful experience all round. If we are so happy and so reassured by our own selves that we don’t need –but do truly enjoy-other people, without agenda. Not because of what they can give us- just because it’s nice to have them around, we start to appreciate everyone in ways that are astounding . Not because we clung onto them so tightly they had to stay, or out of fear of being alone, or how their lack of attention might make us feel about ourselves.
Having someone around because we are think it is their responsibility to make us feel good or better or loved doesn’t bring anything solid or lasting to our lives. Because on a fundamental level life just does not work like that. Because if it did then relationships would never end, there would be no divorce, we’d have the same best mate we had a nursery school. But we change, we need different things in life, things that another person can’t give to us, and the only reason I know this to be true is that as much as I was loved and supported through my years of illness no one was physically able to haul my ass out of that bed and then that wheelchair except me. And if they had been able to do it on my behalf, my recovery would not have been a permanent thing. It’s the fact the my recovery was down to me that gives me the faith that it will last.
There are so many things I’m thankful for in my life now, but honestly I can hardly describe to you the genuine loveliness and sheer liberation of a life filled with people who are here because they want to be. Not because I need them to make me feel good enough, not because they have to like or approve or me. Not because I’m holding them to some emotional ransom. Just because they choose to experience their life with me.
This is my foundation. I built it. And for the first time in my life, my feet are on solid ground.