For me the weeks around Christmas have always been a period of desolation and darkness, my focus to simply survive. This past week has been a struggle to overcome the urge to close the blinds, turn up the music and retreat under the covers. It has been an act of self-discipline to merely get out of bed and out the door into the world.
Since I am probably mentally healthier than I have ever been in my life, having the riptide caused by the season drag me down into a mental funk is remarkably disconcerting. I had hoped for an easier time this Season but … sigh. Fortunately one of the programs I have recently attended dealt with the concept of recognizing triggers (the Season) and a wellness toolbox holding “tools” to employ when things are not going well.
One of the “tools” I now have is being more involved with people and the community. I have “places to be and people to see”, providing motivation to get out the door instead of cranking up the music and dwelling in woe. Still with two weeks or so to go until the doldrums of the Season are behind me it behooves me to pay attention to good things.
It was in this “see the positive” mind-set that I read another letter in the Post (of December 22) from a friend upset by comments that had been made about me in an earlier letter to the Post. Looking at this new letter from a positive perspective provided a real positive boost as the hours wound down to Doomsday aka Christmas Day.
There was a time when reading B’s original letter would have started up the squirrel wheel in my mind, wounded me and had me carrying around a resentment – looking for “pay back”.
I had a new and very different reaction when I read it. I laughed out loud, thought of the inaccuracies and fallacies contained within B’s comments, entertained thoughts of verbally slicing and dicing B and then – I just let the matter go. At the time I was opposing Plan A, OK I still oppose Plan A - but that is another article, and when I asked myself “how important is it?” – it wasn’t.
Laugh. What would have been a grievous wound to my ego, weighing me down and eating at me until I had to strike out spitefully, meant nothing to my newly hard-won self-esteem. You do all this work, take uncounted small steps and it is only when something like B’s letter happens that you see the progress you are making. Evolving, not only in improving my mental health but in becoming the person I want to be.
My friends were more upset at B’s venom than I was, at least two of them to the point of writing to the Post in defense of me as a person. Good friends: a bonus from the hard work on mental health and the accompanying improvements in me, that learning about myself and how to make positive changes has given rise to. I am unable to change other people, but I can certainly change myself and how I react to the actions of others.
Reality is that if you choose to stand up and be counted, to question the establishment and to advocate for change in the way things are done you have to accept that members of the old boys network or beneficiaries of the status quo are not going to be happy with you.
When you see the need for change and are passionate about bringing it about, whether in you own mental health/self, Abbotsford’s damaging policies, behaviours and business practices or the province’s or country’s social and financial policies it is very easy to attract critics. Making friends who will stand up and defend you is a whole different kettle of fish and is most informing to those who do not know you.
So when bleakness threatens to become overwhelming this Season I will choose to focus on: the progress I have made on myself, my mental health and on continuing to make personal progress; reveling in the challenges presented by the positive changes I plan to make in the city, province, country and even the world itself; and on treasuring the gifts of friendship I have been given