Liza's Story

Rescue me! It wasn’t called ‘self help’ back in the dark ages when I was looking for a way out of the mental swamp I lived in, but the first self help book I read really pissed me off.
I was ready for an instant cure.  After an early marriage had failed to deliver ‘happily ever after’ and the distraction of travel had temporarily come to an end, I wanted relief from feeling sh!t. Hence the book. I soaked up grim tales of other peoples' messed up lives but when I got to stories of lives much like my own I was uncomfortably taken aback when the author made it plain that it was down to me to sort things out. It was my responsibility, there was no one to blame for my misery. Not what I wanted to hear at all, so I ditched the book and returned to the familiar comfort of the swamp.  I was completely unwilling to accept that it wasn’t the people around me that were causing my unhappiness and that instead I myself had to make some kind of effort. It was much easier to blame them. Besides, I was too scared to leave the swamp  (and too lazy to make that effort.)
Time passed. Shit was still there. The uncomfortable feeling gripping my chest was the knock-knock-knocking of the truth, that in fact there was no magic wand to get shot of the shit. I had to do it myself. It was a case of getting stuck in and doing some work or living with the shit. There was lots of help, but it was still me that had to put in the hours. I did. I started to learn about love and honesty, about being kind to myself (always difficult) and to others, to understand that we are all wallowing along in some species of pooh, to use kindness and understanding to grow, and to stop pretending that everything was fine when it wasn’t.
I strove to overcome the years’ worth of belief in dodgy preconceptions, societal conditioning, and ingrained ideas. I felt ashamed for having failed to see these things before, and it took a long time to absolve myself of blame and guilt for my own feelings that made up my mental landscape. I gradually grew aware of what was going on in my head, of how I was opting to see things and how I reacted. I learned to look inside for solutions, not outside at who to blame for my misery. I found books to read that rang true, I chose friends who didn’t indulge in the blame game but rather who were emotionally honest and kind.