I watched Shirley valentine over Christmas; it was a welcome distraction from the boredom that comes in between Christmas Day and New Year, I laughed at her talking to the wall because I realised that used to me!
I’ve always questioned everything; even as a kid, although I rarely voiced any of it because it got me into trouble when I did it. Unlike Shirley, I didn’t talk to the wall. Instead, I would swallow them, many of them unanswered to the back of my mind. Brought up in a working-class family on an estate called Gleadless Valley, the main priority for my mum and stepdad at that time was ensuring that there was food on the table whilst my Dad was preoccupied with chasing skirt or drinking with his mates. I had many unanswered questions.
I’d hated being a kid for years, back then life was unfair. I craved for adulthood so that I could reach the age to demand answers to all my questions. And yet when it came, I realised I wasn’t ready for it, and still the answers never came.
Aged sixteen and pregnant, and unlike my other friends who at the time were figuring out who they were, partying and carving a career out for themselves, where as my life had already been mapped out. God did I envy their freedom.
Like Shirley, in the film there were many a day I would privately reminisce about my childhood days and wonder where I went wrong, I felt insignificant, I had nothing to offer, and yet deep down I knew that there was more to life. The only shit part was I could never work out what it was and more importantly, how to find it. There was always something missing, and then I found drugs.
I got to the point when I had stopped questioning, sick of waiting for the wall to answer back, I reckon! So instead, I’d dutifully conformed and started to play along with the charade commonly know as life. It wasn’t until I found myself sat in a hospital ward in Middlewood hospital a few years later. Admitted with drug induced psychosis that I realised that I was well and truly fucked. I would potter around the ward and listen to other patient’s stories, many had given up, but I wasn’t ready to give up, not yet.
It’s fair to say I did a hell of a lot of thinking in Middlewood, fuck me there wasn’t much else to do!
I shared and offloaded my thoughts and feelings with the staff. I realised how much I had been bottling up and that had been the first time I had acknowledged my thoughts and feelings, let alone deal with them.
For years I’d expected everyone else to be able to answer all my questions for me, but soon realised that most of the questions could only be answered by myself. But first, I needed to listen to what was being asked? and instead of questioning my thoughts and feelings, I learned to sit with them, listen, really listen, and have a #properwordwimesen Questions like
“Why doesn’t anyone love me? turned into “Why don’t you love yourself?Or “Why do people treat me like shit?” – turned into “Why do you let people treat you like shit?” or the most frequently asked question was “There has got to be more to life” turned into “What do YOU want from life?” and I realised there and then, I had never really asked myself before.
Since leaving Middlewood, life hasn’t been easy, and I continue and still make mistakes, the difference this time though is I will question the mistakes and examine the role “I” played in the mistakes instead of blaming everyone else.
I still have days when life gets in the way, when it gets on top, I feel disillusioned, scared but have have worked out that when this happens it’s generally because I have allowed life, the news, social media distract me from myself. So when this happens, I make some time and take some responsibility to #Haveawordwimesen
Often I find going for a walk, reading a good book or offloading my thoughts down in a journal helps me give me head a wobble. Doing this alone helps remind me to save some of the compassion I fine myself freely giving to others, to saving some back for myself. Sometimes I even go back to the fundamental questions I asked myself years ago in Middlewood Hospital.
“There’s got to be more to life.”
Another thing that has helped over the years has been surrounding myself with people who have faith in me, especially when I had little in myself. Over the years, I have learned that I choose who I allow in my life and can now tell the difference between those who support me instead of exploiting me.
Find your tribe –the people who are on the same page as you. And remember that if it turns out that they are not on the same page, you can always end the chapter or start a new fucking book.
Learning to, listen to trust and have faith in yourself isn’t always easy, but it is achievable if you put in the effort. Working on yourself isn’t like a regular nine to five job, it’s a full time one. And listen its ok to have a break once in a while or to have a “fuck it moment!” but remember you can always go back to the basics and remember all the answers you need are in you.
I still don’t know if Shirley ever stayed in Greece or returned to the UK. I suppose it doesn’t matter, what matters is that after years of feeling lost, she finally found herself and realised she was worth more. Ps, if you haven’t seen Shirley Valentine before or haven’t watched it for a while, I recommend you do.
Remember, try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up for emails.
Oh, and If you liked this post please share it on social media and with friends – and if you didn’t like it then do nothing that’s ok too