Saturday, October 21, 2017


'How to Love Yourself' - Louise Hay

July 2017 was the month in which I stopped keeping a diary altogether. By this I mean that I no longer slavishly write down who said what, how many hours of, and the type of work I'd done, who'd 'liked' my posts on social media, for every day of the year. In fact, I no longer write anything down - and certainly not reassurances generated by my OCD / PTSD fears unless I feel it's necessary, and it's been so freeing! The amount of hours I've spent writing such detailed daily accounts over the course of over 20 years doesn't bear thinking about, but the fact is that doing this had been a crutch I'd needed to save my sanity: I couldn't trust in the truth and authenticity of any of my experiencing unless I wrote it down, but now I can trust myself to be able to hold and remember what I've done, the communications I've had with people, etc.. I have much more time, now, to actually live my life.

I've found that alongside the growth of my yoga, meditation and noting down of positive affirmations practices, my 'checking' compulsions continue to lose their power over me: When I was reviewing my business accounts I didn't feel the need to check then re-check I'd done my calculations correctly, and when it comes to making sure that household appliances are off I'm able to say to myself, "Think positively... You're capable of making sure that you've unplugged this."

If I pass a lone man in the street, the intrusive thought that he will have raped or contaminated me rarely enters my head because I'm no longer firmly lodged in that 'rabbit hole' frame of mind, and if I do find myself struggling, my friend Manya's advice about feeling my feet, setting them down and letting myself settle into the present moment, really helps.

I felt the risk I'd taken in deciding to leave my job as a licensed busker on the London Underground had paid off because just before my license was about to expire, I was asked to privately teach an eight-year-old girl the piano. Teaching children was something I'd dismissed out of hand as not being possible: Back in February 2016 when my work of liberating myself from OCD began, my OCD/PTSD-generated fear, I avoid and fear being alone with children in case I molest them and don't remember I've done it, featured third from the top of  my Anxiety / Exposure Master Hierachy (scoring a SUDS level of 99 out of 100). On this occasion, I felt able to go for it, though, and am so glad I did because I formed an instant rapport with the little girl who three months on, describes me as being the "best teacher." I know I'm a caring person who'd never intentionally hurt another living being, but my OCD / PTSD causes me to constantly project onto her the feelings I felt when I was her age in a room alone with predatory adults. It's a reminder of how vulnerable I was, which in the past I've just wanted to push away - along with the child: Sometimes when I'm teaching I experience horribly distressing intrusive thoughts / images, and it's so hard to stay focused on what I'm doing, but I survive these moments through breathing deeply and thinking compassionately. I have to seek reassurance from my partner, Jan, that I've not hurt her after finishing the lessons, but with every week that passes I'm becoming more relaxed in the girl's company. I love her energy and want to encourage a sense of fun, exploration and enjoyment of learning the piano. So far this seems to be happening, which is enormously rewarding.

Counteracting this massive step forward has also been the exhaustion and what I've come to recognise now as being the inevitable urge to self-destruct. This happens at a subconscious level; in nightmares of things going wrong which I feel powerless to change, in my OCD compulsion to check the pavement for contaminated needles, and in an urge to sever friendships that have meant a lot to me over the years. I've come to be able to anticipate these symptoms, and therefore to mitigate their effects. I guess what it boils down to are the ingrained beliefs that I'm not worthy of happiness and that everything will go drastically wrong in the end. Last month, however, aid came my way in the form of a wonderful woman - American motivational author, Louise Hay.

Hay died on 30th August 2017, aged 90, and it was on this day or thereabouts, that I first heard one of her 'positive affirmations' meditations on YouTube. She'd been sexually assaulted in childhood just like me; her voice is lovely and soothing, and she lived an inspirational, full life, so I felt a real connection with her teachings. Her meditations have helped me to think more lovingly about myself, my appearance, other people, where I'm at in my life, and on 10th October (World Mental Health Day), I performed my feature night at Romford Folk Club: I managed to overcome numerous demons to celebrate my musical journey so far. My next challenge is to communicate more positively. 

I've noticed that despite having the ability to think more positively, almost everything that comes out of my mouth when I'm not working is a negative: I'd adopted an 'expect the worst then I won't be disappointed' attitude towards life - with good reason, as self-protective tool. This mindset no longer serves me: I'm living proof that it's possible to turn your life around through a dedication to self-care and a commitment to trying to enjoy life in the moment. I'm looking forward to continuing my journey along this challenging path to see what fruit it bears (while going easy on myself at the same time).

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