I would like to lift the illusion that is formed somewhere in the publication process. Is it in the neat layout, the catchy headline (no pressure, Louisa), the ink on the page or is it the sheer number of copies that somehow form the impression that the writer has it all sussed? Well you know what? I have it no more sussed than you do. Beyond the letters and the punctuation I am a barefooted mother, scribbling away on my old, time worn notebook. I live and breath and feel as you do. I am struggling, questioning, juggling bills and chasing time. When I’m not procrastinating I’m being recklessly impulsive. I fall regularly (I mean that metaphorically, not like someone following pink elephants on parade) but I’m getting better at picking myself back up. I’m enjoying life, seeing the best in others (mostly) and learning to extend unconditional love to everyone (so that, one day, I’ll be able to cross out the ‘mostly’). I am recovering, healing, reaching out. I repeat … I do not have it sussed!
So who am I to even write this feature?
Shouldn’t authors have all the answers figured out and mapped out before anything gets printed out? If there is some rule that says they should, I’m breaking it. You see I know, without doubt, that now is the time for me to write this. Because in humble honesty we are better able to reach out in empathy and sincerity.
In a very interesting book I’m reading at the moment, called The Bond, Lynne McTaggart tells us about the worldviews of other cultures – where we see things, they see the glue between things and they likewise see beyond the individuals to the relationship between individuals. I identify strongly with this, particularly since witnessing my father not only push his way through recovery from alcoholism but reach out to others in mutual support as he did so. Before my Dad passed to the other side of life, he devoted himself to promoting and initiating service user involvement and service user-led support groups in South Wales.
Service user involvement is, basically, when those dealing with a life difficulty (e.g. health issues, abuse or addiction) stand up and take an active role in the services that are out there for them and others going through the same thing. The service users might not ‘have it sussed’ like the experts, with their years of academic study, but those experts, though they play a very important role in the road to recovery, value service user involvement because those who are actually going through it are better equipped with empathy and first hand knowledge of what helps and what doesn’t. For these same reasons, service user-led groups prove more effective than conventional groups – those out there on the field with you are strong allies indeed.
This last year I too have been in recovery – for me it‘s been from a toxic marriage as opposed to a toxic substance. But regardless of what the trauma is, or whether or not one is a service user, I am beginning to see how the togetherness my father advocated is a natural survival instinct. If you’ve been reading my weekly newsletter emails, from Cygnus Books, you may have noticed me reaching out, trying to stir up a sense of solidarity. This is because, on my personal and spiritual journey out to the other side of adversity, I clearly recognise that others are dealing with their own traumas. I see the parallel, I feel the bittersweet that comes when tragedy draws us closer together … I see the opportunity in adversity.
When we are hurt, our human instinct is to cry out. That moment of raw expression triggers an equally instinctive compassionate response. We find that those who have similarly cried out will be the first in line to help because they recognise and identify with the sound – so you see, adversity not only connects us with others but the experience of it enables us to give better service to them.
Community spirit has played a huge part in my recovery. When my crisis reached it’s most difficult point, I thought I was alone in a foreign land but my Swedish neighbours, recognising the trouble I was in, came to my aid emotionally and constructively. They helped me to get home to my family who continued the loving response to my cries. Furthermore I want to impress on you that our cries are not a sign of victimisation but are instead a call on the natural symbiosis in which humanity naturally evolves – a bond that is all too often overlooked by the western world until a moment of need triggers an innate recollection of it.
Bridging the gaps
It’s my turn to build bridges just as my Dad did. My building blocks come from the place where I found the great oneness between us all – from community. So, I’ve started a blog about community living – writing not as an expert but as a newbie. I want to show, by example, how empowering and proactive it is to reach your hand out when the support that you are invoking is mutual. I want to show, by example, that exposing the gaps in our knowledge gives them the chance to be filled. I want to show that as we reciprocate by giving what we can of ourselves, we recognise and better value our own strengths – in turn we grow as individuals, becoming of greater service to others and strengthening our communities. The book I mentioned earlier, The Bond, gives a good idea of just how far this knock on effect can go. I thoroughly recommend it if, like me, you are ready to give all you have along with what you don’t.
© 2013 by Louisa Mills. www.haventgotitsussed.wordpress.com