You leave me vulnerable and bleeding; alone, shaking, begging for relief. I would do anything to be free from you and believe me I’ve tried. You make me feel safe while you silently shrink my world until I am no more than a ball curled up on my bedroom floor.
And what of my dreams? What dreams? Who am I to dream when I am so afraid, too afraid to lift my head and face the day ahead of me. Yes, I am safe, yes I am breathing and yet you leave me breathless and panicked, wanting it all to stop, wanting to breathe no more not one single breath… I have now given you control. Even my mind flees from you desperately dissociating, hiding from my bitter and broken reality, one that I don’t want to exist in.
You have been a part of my life since I was young and I know you will always be with me. This I can accept if maybe you can allow me to catch my breath. I know I will never live a life entirely without fear, but I hope to live one where joy, dreams, and hope coincide. To do that, I acknowledge you and respect you but I also respect myself and I know that you will not continue to control me.
My name is Sarah Carlisle.
I don’t know who I am or why I am here.
I am mental illness, I am trapped, I am barely breathing.
My name is Sarah Carlisle.
Sarah Carlisle means unworthy, unloveable, unfit, unwell.
Sarah Carlisle is defined by within, the demons that unwittingly eat away at all that Sarah Carlisle could have been.
My name is Sarah Carlisle.
I am strong, I am fighting, I am growing.
Sarah Carlisle may not be perfect or worthy but she will not be brought down. The demons will not win.
My name is Sarah Carlisle.
I don’t know who I am or why I am here but
I am free.
After all the time that you were mine got swept up by the wind,
I find it hard to work out where I end and you begin,
Something changed, we’re not the same and yet my heart is broken,
Was it something that I did or words I left unspoken?
Though my path is dark and winding, my heart is full of love,
I’m a million miles away it seems and my head is trapped above.
Growing apart seemed so sudden as my heart clung to the hope,
Visions in my head still grew of a day we could elope
I was me before I knew you and me I’ll be again,
The only thing left for me to ask is after this pain when?
We cannot see the light but when we are emerging from the eternal darkness. Challenging times reveal true love more than any other. To have never felt pain and suffering is to never have felt true happiness and relief or true love and friendship. While the darker aspects of human nature often prevail, humans will continue to amaze, enthral and surprise. Think about some of the small kindnesses you have witnessed in everyday life. A compliment, helping hand, or simply a smile can often mean the world to someone in the depths of darkness. So why not? Why do we spend much of our lives trying to avoid eye contact with the person walking past us on the sidewalk? Why do we seem to never have an extra few minutes to talk to the stranger sitting next to us on the bus? As human beings we all have common traits, emotions, fears and yet we seem so avoidant when it comes to connecting with one another. I like to try to get at least one stranger to truly smile every day. We can make a difference by simply changing our approach to everyday life. Push the boundaries a bit more each and every day. Question the self-criticisms you accept as hard truths. Where did these ideas come from? What do they serve? How can I acknowledge these thoughts yet rise above them to lead the life I wish to lead? Our brains are so much more powerful than we believe and in fact, continue to develop into our late 40s. The day you decided that you were fat or stupid or unworthy in your teenage years thus need not dictate the way you lead the rest of your life. We can continue to grow and rise above even our darkest and most punishing thoughts.
- The Sun
For the past month and a half, I have traded the beautiful (albeit scorching) Australian sun for a European winter in Spain. Basically, the weather differences side by side have looked something like this:
The sun has finally returned to Logroño and it is BEAUTIFUL.
2. The Outdoors
Logroño provides many incredible opportunities to be outside and to explore the natural and cultural charm of Western Europe. I am so lucky to have the time and energy to explore this beautiful city both on foot and on bike.
Since arriving in Logroño, I have started 5 dance classes, including Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Flamenco and Ballet. Dance, particularly tap, has over the past years been an important part of my life. A way to not only express myself but also to communicate, explore and treat my body with the respect it needs. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to dance while overseas.
4. Friends and Family
While many of the people I love are living on the opposite side of the planet to me, I am so lucky to be able to love and to be loved by all of the beautiful people in my life. While there are frustrations while attempting to communicate over technologies such as Skype, I am lucky to be able to hear and be heard by the people I love. Although I may live far away, these people are always in my heart.
5. Trying new things
Patatas bravas, playing the glockenspiel, Flamenco dance, bike riding, oreo chocolate… These are just a few things I have tried for the first time since arriving in Spain and I’m sure there are many many more to come. Obviously, the most significant new thing I have tried is struggling to communicate in Spanish for the majority of the day (as English in Logroño is fairly limited). While this can be exhausting and difficult, I am very glad to have the opportunity to try my fair share of new things and to attempt to sharpen my language skills.
Last year I decided to start drawing and this led to me attending a couple of watercolour classes (which is A LOT harder than it looks and have a long way to go). Here are some of the first items that I painted during these classes:
Wind whispers to me,
Telling me all I should see,
The sky, the trees, the beautiful sun,
Streaming down the barrel of my gun.
“Life,” it says “life is out there.”
But I am trapped, my soul laid bare.
“Pick me up!” I scream and choke,
It says “I’ve heard this from other folk,”
“My dear you have wings of your own
And from this prison you could have flown.”
I frantically search but no wings I see,
Maybe I was never meant to be free.
Then it hits me, wind streaming in,
My own strength is where my freedom begins.
So two weeks ago I tried to pack my life into a suitcase which I brought with me to the small yet charming city of Logroño in Northern Spain (about 150000 inhabitants, capital of La Rioja region and known for its wine). Among the priorities on my packing list were my tap shoes, travel hula hoop and various meaningful tokens that tie me to the people I love the most in this world.
Adjusting thus far and coming to terms with this move hasn’t been easy. We don’t realise the things we love the most until we are distanced from them. Yes I am here to find that part of myself I have always been yearning for, but I can’t help but feel that somewhere on my travels I left something behind, something that means more than anything else.
I’m here in beautiful Spain, surrounded by a world of opportunities and experiences yet-to-be-lived. Step one is complete. I’m in Spain and I’m here for the long haul. I don’t know what the coming year will bring but I know that it’s time for me to live it, and that’s why I’m going to keep updating here. Maybe along the way I’ll find what I was looking for.
Tomorrow is a new day. A new chance to explore, to learn, to live. And I hope that I will live it to the very fullest.
My darkness grows, overflows,
no one knows.
My darkness hides, where it abides,
flows in tides.
My darkness screams, haunts my dreams,
so it seems.
My darkness frightens, its grip tightens,
my fear heightens.
But I am stronger, my light will conquer,
my heart beats longer.