On public displays of vulnerability

I’ve been adrift of late. I had stayed the course on fair winds for much of my life, navigating my way successfully from one planned waypoint to the next, dealing with the occasional storm quite well and never doubting my ability to steer through the tempests of life.

But then I seemed to lose my way. I still had sight of my broad destinations, and ports I wanted to visit along the way, but I seemed to lose my confidence and my will. Each new day no longer held the promise of the wonder of adventure, but rather the monotony of maintaining the ship. I stopped looking to the horizon.

I made a decision last year, after I had faced my first panic-attack monster, that I would share this journey publicly in the hope that someone else may in some way benefit from my experience. I already know some people who have, as they’ve recognised in themselves the tell-tale signs of pending storms in their own lives which they’ve decided to actively navigate around rather than just hope them away. I’m happy with that – it feels like there’s a purpose.

The down side is that in the midst of any storm one can become intensely absorbed in the process of surviving. This tends to cut communications with your loved-ones, and leave you all feeling isolated and afraid. It can also make you send up distress flares in panic, as you feel you’re surely about to capsize and drown, and these affect those around you who care.

I’m working hard on myself to reclaim what I had. I’m fully aware of the wonderful things I have in my life – my beautiful, incredible children, my amazing wife, a family who’d literally lay down their lives for me, and friends who’ve come to mean the world to me. I know there’s so much to be thankful for, and these things make the battle worth fighting.

This afternoon I have my first appointment with a psychologist. It’s both exciting and scary, and I’m trying to keep my anxiety under control. I don’t want to build up too many expectations, as I know it’s likely to be a long process – learning to be me again. In the meantime, if you’ve reached out to me, if you’ve offered a quiet word of encouragement or taken or more active role – I want to you to know, you have made an enormous difference, more than you’re likely to ever know. Thank you. xo

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15 thoughts on “On public displays of vulnerability

  1. Lucas,
    You show the courage to the world I always knew you had.
    Just be Geoff Boycott mate. Bat on. :)>

  2. Great news! I loved my therapy sessions. Where else do you get to spend 45 minutes telling someone how your week’s been without having to sit through them dumping their problems on you in return! It might seem that they’re not actually ‘doing’ anything, but there’s a lot of value in just having someone to talk ‘at’. That’s my experience, anyway. Big hugs!

    1. Brilliant Lucas! I’m so happy to hear this! I spent many years talking ‘at’ various therapists and in the end it was 2 years in ‘Transactional Analysis’ that finally sent me flying into the world equipped with courage and determination. Whatever therapy works best for you Lucas, they’re all valuable and I think a lot of us need them at certain times in our lives.
      When I spoke to you about your amazing family-work-home-friends Lucas, I didn’t mean to imply you should be thankful, that’s a real guilt trip! I meant look what ‘you’ created -feel proud of yourself for achieving this. These are some of the things you’ve been very successful with. So now what’s next?
      You’ve got lots of time ahead!

  3. In my book real people are those who have experienced the bad lows as well as the highs. All of life’s ups and downs serve to make us the person we truly are and as we appear to others. Much of life is a lesson in that respect, how we react to whatever comes along, how we are tested and thus learn about our limitations.

    In the autumn of my life I look back and can still recall the loneliness and pain of times which were really bad and yet they were well balanced with other moments which were really good and they all served to make me very much aware of inner self and my limitations.

    Some aspects of my life I am not proud of, I was not always there for others who I loved when I should have been and there are still several times which can still easily bring a tear when I recall them. Also too many wasted moments when I could have been doing something much more valuable.

    Some people go and I think sadly they leave nothing behind that they have created, apart from perhaps wealth. If you were to ask me what I am most proud of it would be that I have produced beautiful children and I have been lucky enough to have had the practical skills whereby I could fix and create much with my hands. I was also fortunate to be able to pursue a systems career which enabled me to express my creativity in so many ways, much like yourself.

    One can put one’s trust in the wrong person or the wrong environment and it is very hard if one is also a perfectionist – hard to soar like an eagle when you work for turkeys sort of thing. Being a perfectionist is a hard cross to bear at times and one has to learn when to say “close enough is good enough” and also accept that most people in the end do not know the difference or just simply want any sort of solution. There comes a time when one has to say I do not need this shit anymore, I am too valuable. Looking back on my IT career my fault was I did not say that often enough!

    There have been some times past when I have questioned my own worth but always life suddenly was able to offer its own solution by way of a different direction even when things looked the blackest.

    I guess it is more so as you get older that you measure the incredible gift that life is, when you realise how lucky you are to reach your seventies when others have their life cut tragically short at 30 or 40. You know the average life expectancy of an Australian male is now 75 or rather as I prefer about 27400 days, not a huge number if you always have things you plan to do! I have not started pondering about the remainder yet but so far on balance the majority of the days have been pretty good.

    So son, I know you will come out of all this having learned more about yourself and realise just how much you mean to the many people who love and respect you and in the end I think that is the most important.

    1. Real echoes of Sinatra “When I was Seventeen” there Dad. 😉

      You know something which has been constantly in my thoughts this week? Memories of you reading to me as a child. Those were cherished moments, as they were among the few we shared to the exclusion of others.

      I’ve thought a lot about your influence upon my psyche and values. You always made me feel loved, and as I came to know you as an adult I saw so much of you in me. I also learned of your sensitivity and self-reflective quality, which I admire so much. You should know, since it has never come up, that you were and are a great father, and a human being I admire.

      Thank you Dad. xo

  4. Lucas. Sounds like you and your father both rock.

    I loved those times with my old man when we would just be together.
    Even just doing the dishes on a sunday. I must have driven him crazy with questions and stories.

    He was a cranky old bugger – but I understand why now.

    I’m liking your blog as I like the poetry of navigation.


  5. Not so much “When I was Seventeen” as “The September of my Years” I think.

    Hmmm, we are getting reflective here son. I recall reading to you often (not always with joy, like Dr Zeuss books, over and over and over again – “read it again Dad”!).

    I recall too the days when I was working 70+ hours a week, for God knows what reason as it later turned out, and how often at weekends we all did not do what we should have as a family. My deepest regret was that when I was a child my father spent all his weekends with his two boys in the park and he was in his fifties. How we must have tired him out playing cricket but he never complained. Seeing as one is modelled by one’s parents attitude to their children that really is a fault on my side. Despite all that, somehow when you get home after midnight and you first check your kids in their beds and hear them murmer “I love you too Dad” whatever you are doing, for whatever reason seems to make it seem all right.

    Truly son I should have been there more for you at certain times but then how great you have turned out! You are a sensitive, loving, very amusing, great family man with good practical skills (I think you got them from me…) and have made your way in IT just as I did. And never forget, in that industry only 10% are real doers and the rest are drones. My 40 odd years in it gives me the right to say what I think is right so do not let then suck you dry.

    So it will be interesting to see what transpires with the therapy sessions…


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