Istina Mavet isn't really my name! She is a character that New Zealand writer Janet Frame created. So, why am I using that name? Well, Istina, Janet and I all have something in common. We have all, to varying degrees, descended into the hell of anxiety, depression, extreme self-doubt, self-loathing, shame, vulnerability, panic and fear!Janet is no longer alive, but she grappled with anxiety her entire life. Her legacy comprises some of the most beautiful, sad, truthful books I have ever read. Istina doesn't exist. I do. And I am still trying to climb out of that dark place!
As It Is WrittenWriting helps. I have turned to words my whole life. When I was at school, and terribly lost, words helped to save me! Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Kate Chopin. So many writers struggled with the same issues of identity and self-worth, and their stories made me feel less alone.
I thought then that if I could just survive school, and go out into the wider world (and of course be a huge success!), that everything would be ok. I thought that if I got married, had a family, bought a house, carved out a career and created a stable life, that I would be ok!
I thought I was doing ok, until I realised I wasn't. In my family it was considered a sin to ask for help. My mother's idea of consulting a professional involved seeing a psychic!
Blogging My Way to Sanity (or Have I Finally Reached Bottom?)
Perhaps this should be under the first heading "True Confessions", but seeing as I am really writing this to myself, what the hell! My daughter was teasing me yesterday about starting a blog.
"Who's gonna read it, Mum?" she said, laughing hysterically.
"Yeah, I know," I replied. "It's really tragic, isn't it?"
And then I was laughing, too. And while I'm on a roll with the confessions, I even took a "Blogging for Beginner's" course. Fuck. This really is my life. I used to go to Tupperware parties, and candle parties and linen parties because I was so desperate for friendship and adult conversation. You have no idea the mind-numbing conversations that took place at these "parties"! Or perhaps you do? Anyhoo, now, it seems, I am resigned to blogging to myself and trying to make virtual friends! Could it get any worse? Please, please, please don't answer that!
In a nutshell, I am lost and terrified, and, even when surrounded by family and the few real friends I have, I feel alone. I am pulling out all stops to figure out who I am and how I can stop sinking further into the abyss. I have so much in my head and in my heart, and I see this blog as a chance to spring clean! I need to de-clutter my brain. Whether I will be left with the sane bits or the crazy bits at the end (or maybe a little of both), I am unsure. But I was reading Kim Berry's blog allconsuming.com and came across an entry she did about vulnerability and shame. She'd posted a video of a Ted lecture by a woman named Brene Brown. Normally, I would avoid watching something like that at all costs. I remember going to a Dale Carnegie confidence workshop with my mom, after my dad had walked out. I found the whole thing cringeworthy. But, I really like Kim Berry's blog! She is honest and funny. She was supposed to be teaching the "Blogging for Beginner's" course, but, as luck would have it, emergency back surgery prevented her from teaching it. (Of course, I was only thinking of my own bad luck at the time ... before I suddenly realised that Kim might be suffering just a little bit more than I was!!) So, on Kim's urging, I watched the video and found myself in tears. Ok, I pretty much cry at anything at the moment, but this really moved me. I could relate to Brene Brown's admission that she was petrified of letting the cracks show. I am guilty of that, but, on the other hand, I am absolutely drawn to people who aren't afraid to show their vulnerability. That's exactly what I love about Janet Frame's books. She writes with such skill and pathos, yet she was terrified!
Back to the blog! I warned you there was a lot of crap going on in my brain. This blog is my attempt at vulnerability. I could just write this all down in a diary, and, actually, I am keeping a completely whiney, "poor me" diary. At the height of my "meltdown", I found a book in a junk shop called "Instructions to Lightkeepers". The book was blank except for diary dates. At the same junk shop I also bought a giant statue of the Virgin Mary! I am not religious, but, I am a mother ... and I am desperate. I told you I am pulling out all stops!!! I saw this image of Mary in a magazine and I was instantly drawn to it. It showed her heart surrounded by light. Light and love! So, I went home with my book and my Mary. In the book I started writing to Mary. It's not a prayer or a supplication. I just thought who better than Mary to pour my heart out to! I've dubbed it "The Virgin Mary Diaries" or "Instructions to Lightkeepers"!!! But more on lighthouses and coincidences later.
I am blogging because I'm hoping that by sharing my vulnerability, it might help me to let go of all the crap I am holding onto. And, if my daughter's prediction is correct, and I'm the only one reading it, then I'm good with that. If, however, anyone else stumbles across this and it helps them ... even better!