Does this serve me positively?

I was walking Donkey (my mad dog) across the Ouzel Valley floodplains the other day. I can’t remember our destination, but I remember how the short path between my partner’s house and the canal had been burgeoned by Winter.

It was not snowy. Being a few days before Christmas, snow would have been welcome. No, the Wintery status was quite English. I was straddled by waterlogged grass, bleached lemon-yellow from over-exposure to walking boots and dog piss. The mud beneath had not recovered from a drizzly grazing season and lingered in suspicious piles over the greenery and stone path.

The reality of this one morning, and the reason it is an important memory to detail, is because I went on this unremarkable walk the morning after a hard-hitting colour-therapy session with a new therapist. 

As I’m writing this I’ve realised that this is the part where I’d usually lay all my cards on the table. I would tell everyone reading everything about the session. No detail would be spared and I would leave nothing for myself. I would do this without reservation and tell you all it’s because I am advocating for mental health; I am bringing awareness to the realities of living with conditions like mine. 

In the three-hour session, I was given a thinking tool. A simple question to ask before making any choices. “Does this action serve me positively?” When I ask myself if sharing my whole experience serves me positively, the answer is no.

The thinking tool is important because it is what led me to take my walk that morning. I struggle with guilt and making decisions for myself, even for minor things like choosing to go for a walk.

Being outside on my own without a clear purpose or destination was frightening and felt wasteful. Had I stayed inside no doubt I would be scrolling social media for hours (a comfort tactic), but in my mind, this would have been a better way to spend time.

Unusually these feelings of mine did not permeate my brain space as much as they usually would. While I watched Donkey bounding off into copses of rotten birch and broom moss, a most naturally occurring smile found its way to my lips. 

I felt like I was plundering this natural space as my eyes opened to my surroundings. This grey, damp day was full of greens and blues and whites; all the lightness I had shut away from myself. The more I embraced this natural lightness, I understood that with it came lightness of the soul and the mind – something I had been keeping away for a while.

My therapist had gifted me a small notebook to write down any revelations or feelings that arose from using my new thinking tool. I was so taken back by the effect the walk was having on me that I had to write down some thoughts as I was moving…

“Suddenly…
everything about Winter is amazing.
moss-covered, dead
sideways trees.
One with a mitten
stuck to it.
MUDDY! I love the
mud.”

I’ve copied them here exactly how they appear on the page. Seeing them typed out and reading them again makes them feel as if they’re a poem, and poetry is a foundational part of myself I haven’t accessed for months.

To ask  “does this serve me positively?” means to take responsibility for my actions and emotions. It had become second nature to live my life according to what I believed other people wanted of me.  This question has led me to use my voice and admit that I am the person responsible for creating the life I need and want – it is an uncomfortable realisation because it comes hand in hand with admitting I have been hiding behind other people.

I have taken too few steps on this path to try and predict the route I am going, and if I have learned anything so far it is to live in the present, anyway. For now, I am content to act in the way that serves me positively, facing the unique challenges doing so brings as they arise.

No longer content with not listening to myself, I am certain my world is going to change in inconceivable ways. I am expecting discomfort as well as a positive change, but my heart finally knows it can trust itself to be there for the duration.

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