Black Night of the Soul – 2

black-night2-lionSo there I was, with all these worries about my mother’s alzheimers and the mental baggage weighing heavily.

I literally didn’t know any more what I wanted to achieve with my life.

All that stood before me seemed to be the slippery, downward slope. Even my art, my true, lifetime’s Heartland, looked like a hopeless cause.   It was very hard – impossible even – to settle down and create a painting that I could not be sure of selling quickly, when I badly needed to establish an income ‘NOW’.

Desperate, I analysed my situation, and decided I couldn’t do anything about having to look after my mom, but I could maybe do something about my thinking.  What we think – consciously or subconsciously – is the key to what we get in life, isn’t it?   I knew that much.  I also realised the way I was going, there was a real danger of bringing about the very situation I feared most.   Scary.

I turned again to my favourite self-help books – by John Kehoe, as it happens. ‘Goals and visualising‘ were the buzzwords, but even that was beyond me.  After all the crashes, I had no faith in my ability to come up with sensible goals.  ‘Visualising’ was a bad joke, setting goals was a bad joke – not to mention impossible.  So I laid the books aside – they didn’t inspire me anymore.

Things were black and I knew it.

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Finally a plan formed, born somehow out of the barren waste of the mind:  get right back to basics, none of this fancy visualising, goal setting nonsense.  Focus totally on weeding out the brain’s incessant chatter from day to day, minute to minute.

This wasn’t taken from any book or self-help course of the day.  It felt like entirely my own plan (although looking back I’m sure even then it was born with the Lord’s help) –  so I asked for guidance and monitored my thought patterns rigorously.

Every time I caught myself worrying about the future and losing my home, I looked around for things to give thanks for right there.

I gave thanks for the sky and the trees and the flowers and the house I live in, instead of looking at all the things about the place that needed doing (and they were many).  I gave thanks for my pets instead of reflecting that maybe they shouldn’t be in the house, or chiding myself and getting upset because someone had made a mess.  I gave thanks for my mother – alzheimers or no.  I tried to pick up on every single negative thought and turn it into thanks instead of a stress factor.

I didn’t realise then that I was following words written by St Paul to the believers in Corinth:
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 10:5 – probably one of the most difficult letters he ever had to write.)

This is NOT an easy practice – it requires courage, concentration, much determination  and persistence, long term.  The brain loves wallowing in negativity and doesn’t like being disciplined – it will in fact try to make you feel like a fool for saying anything positive.  Yes, that happened to me, big time.

The answer is to just grit your teeth and say the positive, grateful stuff anyway, whether you believe in what you are saying or not – whether or not you feel like saying it, whether or not you feel like a fool.  Say it out loud, if possible.  The mental attitude will improve with practice, believe me.

I know for many people the idea of giving thanks does not go down well – they like to think that any good things they have are due solely to their own efforts.  That is a big mistake and is the root cause of dissatisfaction, limitations and unhappiness in life.

Believe me, gratitude is THE KEY to turning your life around, the key to improving your body chemistry and opening the door for more good things to flow in.   It is (as I found out later) completely scriptural, and I outline it here in the hope that this information will help someone else battling with problems and ingrained mental strongholds that seem completely overwhelming.

More next time

Patricia

http://damascusroad.news/

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Black Night of the Soul – 1

black-night-lionThis is an updated excerpt from my blog The Alzheimers Carer, written during and immediately after my 10 years stint as sole carer for my mother, whose life was taken over by alzheimers.

It follows on from comments I made in my last post about how readily the wrong kind of thoughts can overpower and dominate our minds.   Knowing what I know, this has still happened to me a second time.  The enemy is fully aware of our weaknesses – in my case a penchant for self-criticism – and he plays those to the max.

At the time of these events, I had no deep, personal relationship with the Lord, though I called myself a christian, and only a limited knowledge of the huge wealth of help and guidance to be found within the covers of the Bible, and in truly following Him.

About the year 2004, I could not see anything good left in life for me.  By way of background, I was a lawyer by profession and worked as a government lawyer and a law lecturer.  I was successful at my job, had my own home, and a comfortable income.  After my father’s early death (leukaemia), I was faced with the decision of staying put with a job, or moving home to the beloved family property in the country without one.  Never one to pass up a challenge, I chose the latter option.

This is not the place to go into details, but suffice to say for 17 years everything I touched to bring in an income had failed – largely for reasons outside my control.  I am reminded that after I got up here a number of people said to me, “Well, the saying is, ‘Come North and go broke.'”  As always, one hopes this kind of forecast isn’t true – but then, how did it get to be a forecast?   And so the seeds of doubt are sown.

The final failures were due to the growing restrictions imposed by my mom’s developing alzheimers condition.  Two promising attempts at setting up a real-life graphics and web design business fell under the wheels of THAT chariot.

It was like being thwarted at one turn after another. On top of that, my capital was gone, and my last attempt at business left me in debt.

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There I was, living on the benefit (for which I was grateful), with debts to meet, and completely tied to the house looking after my mom.  With almost 2/3 of our income derived from her – her own pension and a small army pension of my father’s –  I couldn’t see how in the long term I could afford to keep the beautiful place I had moved home to enjoy.  I felt I was staring down an endless black tunnel of my future – where had all the promise of my earlier years gone?  How was I going to survive if my mom died?

How was I going to survive if she didn’t?

The property was still in her name because I had put my capital into developing  businesses.  In this country and probably in yours too, government has now empowered itself to sieze the property of elderly people going into fulltime care, to offset the cost of keeping them.

At the very least if I put her into care, they would impose a caveat on the place and out of their ‘largesse’ allow me to live there until I died.  Isn’t that nice?   Especially after I had saved them so much in fees for elderly care over the years.  I can tell you – it would be the last straw.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that if I had owned this property then and had absolutely nothing to lose by putting my mom into care, I would not have done a single thing differently.  In fact if I did own the place she and my father worked so hard to develop, it would probably have been even harder for me to consider institutionalising her.  And there were ‘friends’ who, to salve their own consciences, advised me to do just that, every time I saw them.

My real worries lay in the future.  The completely, totally and always uncertain future.  I was haunted by those elderly permanent residents I saw in our hospital/rest home, laid out in special padded, reclining chairs and fed with spoons.

Many people around me didn’t know how I carried on as it was.   My fear was how I would carry on if looking after my mother came to that.

More next time.

Patricia

http://damascusroad.news/

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Wonderful Counselor

come-lionGoing ‘through the mill’ is something I’m familiar with.  I came to the Lord in October 2006  at a time of great trial.

I had come north to live on the family’s 10 acre property following my father’s death.  I loved the place too much to sell, and at the time it seemed like a great adventure.  Stepping into my father’s shoes, getting a half-finished house completed, establishing a dairy goat stud (my idea), were all challanges that I ran with.  As a career soldier, my father had great all-round abilities – fencing, planning, building, planting.   I took all that on, and though I had the major fencing done by a contractor,  I was soon using the fence strainers and skillsaw – all helped by my mom, just as she had helped my dad over the years..

But by 1997 it became clear that my mother’s mental condition was deteriorating, and before long she was diagnosed with alzheimers.  There followed 10 years of caring for her sole charge.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that these were trying years.  Gradually, my options in life foreclosed.  From a past career as a highly-paid lawyer in government,  I had become a ‘handmaiden’.  Much as I loved my mom, that did not go down well.  My various options for making an income foreclosed also, though I clung tenaciously to the artistic skills I’d nurtured from childhood, and they and the internet helped me keep my sanity.  There were times when I considered running away – but to what?  My assets were all tied up in the land.  And with a horse, 2 dogs and 4 cats?

I won’t go into the dramas, the worries and the uncertainties.  These are well documented in the blog The Alzheimers Carer, which I wrote at the time.

My mom passed away in February 2007, and I was left with debt and a host of problems.  It was a blessing that I was ‘born again’ – above all else I had that lifeline.

Over the years I’ve been helped mightily by the Lord.  But right now I am in strife, following a decision in September 2014 that it’s time to move from here.  A huge step.

Something that Separates Us from God

Since then, I feel like every problem in the book has been thrown at me, from health issues to dramas around getting the place in order for sale. It has been a nightmare.

Why?

Without actually realising it, I have allowed myself to come under ongoing stress – in other words, attack.   Attack centered on my own feelings of guilt that I hadn’t maintained the property up to scratch during my mom’s illness – as if that were possible when she wouldn’t let me out of her sight.

The accuser has stood alongside, ceaselessly pointing the finger and finding fault.  Though intellectually I know better, I have let him do it.  He is already defeated, and I have been giving him power.  How foolish is that?

And though I ask the Lord for guidance daily, I know I have never really ‘let go’ on this particular issue.  And we absolutely have to do that:

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“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Knowing that and actually doing it, are two very different things.   If we do not let go, He cannot help us.  And that is where I am at.

Lack of faith of this type is actually a sin (by definition, something that separates us from God).

I’ve just enrolled for notifications about a Video Course called “Wonderful Counselor”, starting on 17 October.    Though the course can be bought, there is a brief opportunity to watch the video series free at this time, which is what I am going to do.  I’m passing this information on on for anyone who may feel need of it.

Note – I am not an affiliate of the Christian Leadership School – I have nothing to gain by recommending this.

Blessings
Patricia

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