There was a time I remember, as a child, where there wasn’t a freight train pushing me from behind. It was usually when I was dancing or hand-standing, flipping around the lawn under the warmth of the sun. You know those times where the mind is free from thought and you’re completely and utterly ‘in the moment’? There was a photo of my sister and me sitting up in bed, reading. I’d already managed to mirror that intense look my mother wore (eyebrows gathered together, focussed, and insisting on knowing whatever it was that lay on the pages of the book).
Mum always said I was cursed with a madly busy mind inside my little head. “That brain of yours never stops,” she’d sigh.
It became a problem in my teens. So much attention on the future and trying to control what lay ahead. Hello, anxiety! This imbalanced neuro-hormonal swing often goes hand in hand with depression, and sure enough, those times where everything felt like too much were rough and tough.
Throughout my early teens, we lived in relative poverty once my father left and my mother went through a period of cancer. I did what many vulnerable teens would do: drowned in anything that would numb the confusion, and slowly became more and more disconnected from school, my physical body, and essentially my True Nature.
This pattern of manic, super-fast, and anxious, to low-down and depressed existed until I was shocked into deep personal exploration after seeing various family members succumb to the ravages of their mind. I’d heard about an aunty who attempted suicide, and knew that it was societally normal behaviour to misuse substances in order to ‘cope’ with the stressors of life. Alcoholism served on both sides of my family, as well as a grandmother who’d passed away from lung cancer. She’d lived with us for months prior as we watched our mother nurse her through to her planetary exit. I was therefore considered genetically predisposed and highly bloody likely to become a substance misuse statistic, given the environment. Even inside a brain that wasn’t fully developed, I knew I was going to have to do something different in order to avoid a downhill slide.
I managed to largely clean myself up emotionally, physically, and mentally, but always believed I was on thin ice. One day the frozen water cracked all around me. I had a two-year-old daughter whom I was reading a bedtime story to one evening. We were pregnant with our second child and operating a business that was thriving. I spent my days juggling work, toddler, and pregnancy. I’d stacked on an enormous amount of weight (again) with this pregnancy, and was exhausted and anxious most of the time. I’d dipped in and out of a variety of therapeutic styles of body-mind work, but never really immersed myself.
The best change work I did was with my coaching clients, whilst I largely ignored my own health and well-being for the sake of theirs. The energy I didn’t give to my clients, I gave to my toddler, husband, and the baby who lay in utero waiting. He was breech, of course! I didn’t want him to arrive and wasn’t ready for him to do so, hence he sat bottom down waiting for me to be ready. My daughter had broken her leg and was in a full cast, and I’d been forced to ask for help from family. Not being able to do it all myself, as the ever-present Lone Ranger, was one of the biggest mortifications of my world at that time.
So, I’m reading this bedtime story, and she asks me a question about the book. To this day I don’t recall the question, only that I had no idea what I was reading! I wasn’t present in any way. In fact, I was doing a tax return in my head. I looked down at her little face and THAT was the moment. The moment that changed everything. I had a flash of seeing her at her 21st birthday. She would thank me for giving her a lovely childhood. I’d marvel at how amazing she was, but realise she didn’t know me and I didn’t really know her because I wasn’t actually present. Inner-world collapse is the only way I can describe it. The rock bottom where you decide that much of what you once knew would indeed need to change if you wanted a different outcome. This was the beginning of the journey into a mindful way of life… and it continues.
Silent Sundays however, weren’t to be discovered until many years later…
Words by KeiShana Coursey
Image by Kelly Dorgan https://www.instagram.com/molly_whuppie/?hl=en