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I have to tell you, right from the outset, that within this post I have every intention of…

  1. Making an announcement!
  2. Sharing part of my own experiences with you.
  3. Quoting an inspiring statement.
  4. Publishing a list for you to look at.
  5. Asking you to consider your own experiences.
  6. Challenge my own understanding and approach
  7. Encouraging you to challenge your understanding and approach.
  8. Inviting you to join me in taking back something that has no doubt been stolen from us.

1)  That announcement…

I am so very sorry to have to be the one to bring such shocking news to every one’s attention (and you may want to sit down for this one) but the truth is….

I am never ever going to fully grow up and I really don’t care what people think of me as a result of it!

There I have said it!  There are, in my defense  however, extenuating circumstances…

Firstly, I just don’t want to!

Secondly, I don’t think that any of us ever really should!

and,

Thirdly,  there are just too many things out there that are just too darned funny not to laugh at them the way your average olden days naughty school kid would laugh at them.

But do you want to know the main reason why I am never ever going to fully grow up?

2) Part of my own experiences…

It’s because I have suffered from mental illness most of my life and one of the most horrific and yet often oh so subtle things that mental illness does is to try to rob you of all the wonderful things that should be associated with childhood.

It is something which I have always been very mindful of.

Even as a young child I prefered the company of adults rather than the company of my peer group.  Why?  Because that is what I wanted?  No.  It was because in the company of adults I was less likely to be found out as being ‘different’ because as a child in the company of adults I was automatically different, meant to be different, readily accepted as different.

As I said it is something that I have always been mindful of but I was in fact today reminded of it earlier when reading a blog written by another blogger whom  I had awarded the Liebbster Award to.

3) An inspiring statement…

In his acceptance and response to that award and as one of his ’11 random facts’ he wrote the following words (which are copied and published here with the author’s  full knowledge and very kind consent)…

I believe that there is no reason at all for us to ever “grow up” completely, and that those who put aside every aspect of their childhood are doomed to spend adult life wondering why they feel unfulfilled. I still jump in puddles, kick piles of leaves about, lie on my back and look for shapes in the clouds. I still read comic books alongside books on physics and mathematics. I still pull silly faces and make infantile noises when the mood is right. Part of me will never grow up, and I love that.

Oh how I so relate to and agree with that sentiment!

[For the record the blog in question is called ‘Shitegeist‘ and I recommend it to you as well worth a visit and taking time to read!]

4) That List…

I am going to publish a list which is published on a website called ‘Whole Child Leon‘ and which is published as ‘Qualities to teach and nurture in a child”.

  • Affection
  • Awareness
  • Awe
  • Beauty
  • Caring
  • Celebration
  • Comfort
  • Commitment
  • Compassion
  • Confidence
  • Connections
  • Consequences
  • Conservation
  • Cooperation
  • Courage
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Cycles
  • Delight
  • Empathy
  • Empowerment
  • Fairness
  • Family
  • Friendship
  • Generosity
  • Gentleness
  • Goodness
  • Gratitude
  • Helpfulness
  • Home
  • Hope
  • Humor
  • Imagination
  • Independence
  • Joy
  • Kindness
  • Love
  • Nurture
  • Openness
  • Order
  • Patience
  • Peace
  • Positive
  • Quiet
  • Relationship
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Reverence
  • Serenity
  • Sharing
  • Trust
  • Wholeness
  • Wonder
  • Worship

5)  Asking you to consider your own experiences…

What I would very much like for you to do is to just scan down the above list and see how many of the ‘qualities’ listed therein you personally feel your mental illness has an impact on or even seems to try to remove from your life.

[I understand completely that some of the ‘qualities’ on that list seem to have a spiritual or even a Christian value or element to them.  Well, that is understandable since Whole Child recognizes the existence and need for the inclusion of a spiritual aspect within their philosophy and since I myself am a Christian and very much believe that there is a spiritual aspect to all things.]

But the fact is that no matter what you personal belief system is I am fairly sure that if you are reading this and do indeed suffer with mental illness or poor mental health you will be able to agree that in your experience a great number of those ‘qualities’ are or have been affected, impacted and even sadly removed as a result of that mental illness or poor mental health.

And that for me is one of the saddest parts of it all.

6) Challenging my own understanding and approach…

I don’t mind telling you that I am now 50 years old!  I am in fact a dad and a granddad as I have a biological son and numerous adopted children and grandchildren.

When I am needed to be dad I am a dad (or do my best to be dad).
When I am needed to be granddad I am granddad (or do my best to be granddad).

And the truth is that in either role I am me. BUT the truth is also that the me who is that Dad and that Granddad is also a son, and also child of God.

As a son I was raised with certain understandings and experiences and being taught certain things some of which are on that list above.

Actually an interesting consideration is however that even though many of the things on that above list were introduced to me, taught to me, encouraged in me some were specifically encouraged in me as a giver rather than a receiver of them since I was a ‘boy’/’young man’.

Coming to Christ taught me that actually it was totally acceptable for me to still be a child and a man at the same time and to receive and benefit from those things rather than just to have to give them.

And I thank God that I have recognized that and that sometimes I even have the mental and physical freedom to be those things.

Yes I am a 50 year old man and a dad and a granddad and yes I know that I have to do my best to be strong but what is wrong with someone even as big and old as me still recognizing that they are a child and worthy of love and affection and of freedom and fun.

Who says that I must always be the strong one?

Who says I must be provider of hugs, and comfort, and  assurance and not the recipient of them, and that the only acceptable way to receive those things for me as a ‘man’ is “seldom” and “only in the arms of a partner/lover?”

How much am I missing by not allowing myself to be openly vulnerable, openly loved and openly treated as a son?

7) Encouraging you to challenge your understanding and approach…

I can’t help wondering how many others have difficulties with some of the things on that list, or indeed felt they too were only allowed to experience them in certain ways?  I would also like to know how many others feel they too have to be the strong one, the provider, despite their mental health issues/challenges?

8)  Inviting you to join me in taking back something that has no doubt been stolen from us…

Well here’s the deal, at least for me and I hope others.  I am convinced that not only do I have total right to be a son/child when I need to be a son/child but actual to be that son/child is hindering to my healing.

I am going to stay young or at very least retain the freedom to be young as an when I need to and I am going to be vulnerable when I need to and to find strength and love in and through that vulnerability.

And I hope and pray others with understand where I am coming from and join me in this.

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