Ok. Well, in the spirit of openness and honesty I have to admit that I have cheated a little and actually typed this post out last night, although I am publishing it this morning.
The reason for this is that although I really enjoy waking up each morning and answering that day’s question in the “Questions To A Parent With Mental Illness” Challenge which my daughter set me, I have a very busy day today but didn’t want to miss publishing my answer.
Well I am pretty sure that whilst there are some who see me as ‘Dad’ and who are not my immediate family, most do not see me as Dad. So at least that is a start in my answer to your question.
But actually honey I have to admit that I am really bad at judging how people see me. Sinead ( my carer) along with others, have sometimes commented how much people seem to like me and enjoy my company. And I have to be honest this always comes as something of a surprise to me.
I also think that different people see me in different ways. And I think that, as with all of us, a lot of that is dependant of how I am around them. And indeed what aspects of my character I am able to, or sometimes willing to, show them.
For example: As you know I am leading Bible Study at church for three weeks – starting from last week. And I have to be honest and admit that I did wonder (on reflecting on last week’s study) if some of the folk attending last week’s study had seen a different side to me than they usually saw.
Not because of anything that I am intentionally doing, but because it was a new environment and a new role for me. And so I am bound to be a little different than I am in other environments or roles. Being in a leading role, along with the subject matter that we were studying, means that I have to do a lot of sharing on a subject which I am passionate about. And so hopefully that passion would have shone through whereas, for some in attendance, perhaps passion is not something that they would ordinarily associate with me.
Likewise, I am fairly sure that folk who read this blog could have formulated an opinion or image of me which would be very different from the one which they would witness face to face. Because whilst I truly believe that with me, what you see is what you get, and whilst I don’t consciously seek to create images or be a certain person to people, blogging – even though I do it openly and in my own real name – does afford a certain amount of anonymity and thus afford a certain amount of freedom. Freedom that we might not have or feel when communicating in person. Plus, of course, I am a lot more confident with the written word than I am with the spoken word.
And this puts me in mind of a statement that someone made not so long ago at a men’s breakfast meeting at church. When discussing the need to share more as men of faith, one of the guys commented that I do sometimes tend to sit aloof from everyone after church on a Sunday morning.
Of course he wasn’t to know, or to understand, that I do find social situations quite taxing and difficult sometimes. And likewise he wasn’t to know that I probably seem that way because when my mental health is bad I do find that environment quite noisy, claustrophobic and uncomfortable.
I am also reminded of a time – many years back now – when I was standing next to a lady at a rehearsal for a Christian concert. I was part of the organising team just as this lady was. And whilst I can’t say that I knew her well, we had known each other for some years and both attended the same church. The guest band were on stage rehearsing and doing a sound check and she and I were simply stood side by side listening when all of a sudden she turned to me and said, “Kevin, I am really sorry and I don’t know why this is, but sometimes I am really scared of you.”
LOL I had no idea where that had come from. I had never had a cross word with her and never even disagreed with her. I have no idea if it was my size – she was a shorter lady – or my mannerisms or indeed if it was something in her past and I simply reminded her of someone.
I guess honey, the point I am trying to make is that sometimes we simply don’t get a say on how people see us. And so all we can do is be true to who we are and at the same time be sensitive to other people’s needs.
I am convinced that I will be seen in different ways by different people and that a great deal of that will be as much about who they are as it is about who I am.
To some I will no doubt be seen as a loveable rogue, whilst to others I will no doubt be seen as a grumpy old git (an image I particularly like to foster). Yet to others I will be seen as someone passionate about his faith, whist to some I will be seen as just some guy who comes to church. And likewise to some I will be seen as a guy with mental health issues whilst others will be totally oblivious to my mental health issues.
And in the same way honey, some folk – when I pass them in the street – will simply see me as a fat guy with a walking stick. Whilst others will look beyond what they first see and perhaps see a guy who is ill and struggling with his weight as a result of this but at least trying to do something about it.
I hope that all makes sense honey. I am not sure that I am really thinking that clearly tonight and when I am feeling a little fuzzy like this I always doubt the clarity of my thoughts and thus my blog posts. But even so honey, there is I think something well worth remembering here….
We can show or give of ourselves as much as we want, but if someone has a preconceived perspective, that will to some degree colour and shape what they are willing or able to see. And the same works in respect of what we are willing or able to see. So in order to see the truth about someone we must be willing to look beyond what we first see, allow our perspectives to be challenge and open ourselves up to find beauty and goodness in the most unlikely of places or the most unlikely of people.
I love you with all of my heart honey,
Lots of love.
Ooops! Guess who saved to draft instead of hitting publish this morning? Sorry honey. I am publishing this now.