What a year 2023 turned out to be. I’ve often caught myself wondering if it really was ‘my year’—a rather peculiar thought, given the tumult that unfolded. But bear with me as I unpack it all.

The year was marked by a staggering revelation: I discovered, months after the fact, that my mother had passed away. The communication breakdown within my family meant that I only found out four months after her death. The emotional turmoil this caused is a story in itself, but the simplest way to put it is that it tore me apart, knowing I was denied the chance to connect with her one last time.

As I struggled with my physical health, I was tragically unaware that my mental health was also on the brink, lying dormant like a predator waiting for the perfect moment to strike. When it did, it was merciless. My inner critic exploited this fragility, plunging me into one of the bleakest periods of my life—a time so perilous I nearly succumbed to the icy embrace of the waters off the Dorset coast.

Amid this turmoil, Sam booked a trip to Australia to visit her father. This act, meant to be a simple visit, felt like a profound betrayal. To me, it echoed my parents’ neglect, even in their death. Here was the love of my life, seemingly following in their footsteps, leaving me isolated. This abandonment dredged up old wounds, ones carved deep by my father’s harsh words that I was useless and pathetic. These thoughts haunted me, a chorus of despair that drowned out reason.

In those moments alone at home, the weight of my solitude pressed down with unbearable force. I was tormented by thoughts of dying alone, unnoticed and un-missed. The idea that I was fundamentally on my own in this world became a suffocating reality.

Now, writing in the serene light of a May morning, I find it challenging to articulate the shadow that once loomed so large over me. The words ebb and flow, elusive as the calm of a still pond, yet the negativity often threatens to envelop me again. Despite this, standing alone in the nurturing glow of the sun, I feel a sense of blessing. It’s a stark contrast to the darkness of those days, reminding me of the strength it takes to stand in the light, acknowledging the journey I’ve made from the depths of despair to moments of grace like this.

This insight leads me to discuss Karpman’s drama triangle, a psychological model that has illuminated many aspects of my personal struggles. The triangle consists of three roles: the victim, the rescuer, and the persecutor. Each role represents a common way that individuals respond to conflict and trauma. The victim feels oppressed and helpless, the rescuer seeks to save others often at their own expense, and the persecutor criticises or dominates, perpetuating a cycle of blame and dysfunction.

The power of this model lies in its ability to show how shifting out of these roles and into a more central, balanced position can catalyse healing. By moving to the centre of the triangle, we step away from these rigid roles and towards a perspective of personal accountability and empowerment.

In reflecting on my own life, I recognise that my experiences and upbringing often cast me in the role of the victim, feeling damaged and powerless. This acknowledgment isn’t about assigning blame but about understanding the deep-seated origins of my emotional responses. Accepting that I am, in part, a product of my past has been a critical step in my healing journey.

However, recognising these patterns is only the first step. The real change occurs in how I choose to process and respond to these thoughts moving forward. Instead of succumbing to a sense of helplessness or seeking someone to rescue me—or, indeed, lashing out in frustration—I strive to engage with my thoughts and emotions in a way that promotes self-compassion and constructive action.

By consciously choosing to step away from the drama triangle and into a role of self-awareness and proactive change, I am not only acknowledging the wounds of my past but actively working to heal them. This ongoing process of self-reflection and adjustment is crucial for anyone looking to overcome the constraints of their upbringing and lead a more fulfilled life.

Honouring, loving, and being kind to oneself are not just lofty ideals but essential practices for a balanced life. Despite my deep-seated love for life, there have been times when my inner voice has sharply disagreed, casting shadows of doubt and self-criticism. This internal conflict can often feel as though you are your own worst enemy, trapped by an incessant chatter that undercuts your efforts to find peace and happiness.

Yet, finding solace and striving towards the light are tasks to which I am wholeheartedly committed. These are not mere tasks but essential components of a journey—a journey towards self-acceptance and healing that requires patience, resilience, and a gentle persistence. Just as in my writing, where each word is thoughtfully considered and every plot carefully crafted, I view my personal development in much the same way: as an ongoing project, constantly evolving and never truly complete.

In writing, the process is as significant as the product. The act of revising—a word here, a passage there—mirrors the iterative process of self-improvement. Each adjustment, no matter how minor, serves a purpose and propels us forward. This meticulous attention to detail in crafting stories is akin to how we must nurture and refine our inner dialogues.

The path to self-love is fraught with challenges. It demands that we confront our deepest fears and insecurities head-on. Yet, it is precisely through this confrontation that growth occurs. By engaging with our inner critic rather than fleeing from it, we can transform it from a source of pain into a catalyst for growth.

In embracing this process, I am learning to treat myself with the same compassion and understanding that I strive to bring to my characters. In the same way that they grow and overcome adversities, I too am learning to navigate the complexities of my mind and emotions. The commitment to this journey is vital—not just for the sake of personal happiness, but as a way to enrich every aspect of life.

Thus, as I continue to write and rewrite both my works and my worldview, I am reminded that each step forward, no matter how small, is a victory. It’s about finding the strength to shine a light in the darker corners of my psyche and, in doing so, discovering the myriad ways in which I can begin to live more fully, love more deeply, and accept myself more completely.

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