Our experiences shape us, as much as the way we respond to them shapes us (I feel this interview is so fitting after my review of the Choice). I did not walk with Irene, she invited me for lunch at SohoHouse in Shoreditch (and for once no swimming was involved but the swimming pool was calling me).
I am not sure what I wanted out of my discussion with Irene or where it would take us. I expected us to have less in common than other friends I will meet as part of this healing journey. We met on IG. Its now my dating agency for new friends (and like online dating, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t). I have a serious girl crush on Irene (my first message to her was along the lines of how can I be like you!). She has this amazing house, what appears to be life/work balance and IG grid with the right colours!
But this is what you see, and if you do not read her captions (are people still reading captions?), you may not see that in fact – her path to the house/kids/family/work – was a challenging one.
What her grid does not show you is that she is a refugee from Russia. In running to Australia from what was USSR, her dad left behind a senior engineering position and her mom a medical field. In their new adopted country, both parents started cleaning houses during the day and take English classes at night. They did this until they rose again over many years of hard work. She has talked about it, a couple of weeks ago in fact, and it felt fitting to share more about her experience of mental health, as well as how it related to mine.
Her Dad is bipolar. Severely. We had talked about it a year ago. I was not in a good place when she saw me last. But she helped me a lot then, without even knowing. I had just seen the psychiatrist who told me I was a bad mother from not taking anti depressant (I touch on it in this post). And I said to her that I was at a point where I knew I had an issue – I had depression. I could see that I might get better, but right now I felt like crap. She told me that you meet people for a season, for a reason or a lifetime (you can read the poem about it below). The psychiatrist was my ‘reason’and there was a lesson to learn before moving forward. What she said then is still with me now.
You see, Irene has some wisdom that unfortunately comes with pain. I wanted to know how her dad being Bi-Polar shaped her life. And in her usual way she said, ‘babe, it still shapes my life now’. The way you react to events is key to your recovery. Irene’s Dad’s story testifies to this too. He was not bipolar in Russia, he became bipolar when he had to leave his old life. He lost status, was being language, friends and money. The trauma (we both suspect) is what set off the Bi-Polar. The way he was with his daughters, especially with the eldest, Irene, shaped her. He was so depressed, that she was compelled to become the positive person that she is, as well as a high achiever (however – to please someone who is clinically bi-polar – is an unachievable task).
There were times when we did not have to speak – as our experinces with our dads were so similar. Similarly to Irene’s, my Dad can be charming as well as anti-social, and in a split second he can switch between the two. We both feared our fathers growing up. Now we have residual disappointment but understand and probably love. My dad is more likely to start sulking without a reason, more likely to say the wrong thingin situations that require you to think before you speak.
Every time I see him he will no doubt say something inappropriate, I have come to accept that of him. I do not accept it from a lot of people, but I have to with him. Discussing it with Irene was really interesting because my path made more sense, and so does hers of course. Our paths shaped the degrees we studied at University, the jobs we took, the desire to achieve more but also to be ever more present with our children.
And it does matter how much you think you are independent, you are not free from your past. And that is fine. It is something to acknowledge and embrace.
Talking to Irene, talking to Viv, and others makes me believe that connecting with people on a deeper level will always be helpful, and it does not necessarily involved your family. Share as much as you want or can and listen without judgement. It is not necessarily about being vulnerable, or appear vulnerable, is about sharing to learn more about yourself, your path, and people who are willing to listen to you and understand you.
Reason, Season, or Lifetime
People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty; to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.
Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.
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