Television has done much for psychiatry by spreading information about it, as well as contributing to the need for it.
For many years now my friends have always implored me to sign up to Married at First Sight (MAFS) or First Dates on TV. One even suggested Naked Attraction and I just shot them a look, killing that suggestion instantly. “You’d be comedy gold” they said. “The producers would love you!!” they said. I smirked though, flirting with the fantasy of “going public”. I’ve been on tv before on Homes under the Hammer in the UK (doing Feng Shui on the front door and Reiki on one of the presenters on a bed for comedy laughs!!) and I’ve done a few small publicity/marketing modelling photos for workplaces. I also once got accepted to be on Blind Date back in the 90s while at Uni (my friend unfortunately didn’t get accepted. Slightly awkward….) but I declined the offer as I met someone!
Lately, now the UK and Oz MAFS are on our screens, two friends have really stepped up the “encouragement” to sign up for 2022 series. Having been single since late 2016, it got me thinking: should I? really?! I mean I’ve failed at online dating which just illustrated to me that I’m an old ugly spinster with one cat and a cupboard full of Ferraro Rochers, with clearly no man under the age of 70 wanting anything to do with me. Not that there’s anything wrong with the over 70s whatsoever…..they usually have an impressive box of Drill Bits (not a euphemism………) I’ve had hot men in supermarkets smiling and giving me the eye then walking off leaving me smiling inanely and of course I’ve had more than a handful of married men coming onto me from tradesmen to retailers to friends neighbours but I would never go there. Line. Crossing. Can of Worms. Not my style
So I applied. Clicked on the link and submitted my interest to MAFS. It got me thinking though…..
Do we have anything to hide if we went on TV? What secrets do we have? What shame do we carry around with us daily like a scar, a constant reminder of what we did and where? What if our secrets and our shame were to ever be aired? How would we deal with it? Are we strong enough to deal with them publicly? In a Roman-esque arena of potential disgust, disapproval, name-calling or online trolling? Because once we go public, we can never go back. Are we mentally strong enough to lie through our teeth for months over our past? Or over our experiences? Will we ever be found out? As we’ve seen before on reality TV and in life, the truth always comes out in time. Like water finding a hairline crack of escape: The truth always finds its outlet!
For me I’m an open book. Honestly, I wouldn’t care if anything came out about me because I tell people everything anyway and I’m so matter of fact about it. I emotionally cheated (not physically cheated) on an ex in my 20s when I used to abuse alcohol which terminated the relationship I was in as the emotional infidelity lasted several months and I got found out. Karma kicked me badly especially as it affected not only me but my then ex, the man I cheated with plus the ending of HIS relationship too so all that really upset me. Domino effect remember? Also due to alcohol abuse I was a party girl out clubbing and drinking and cavorting till the early hours with my friends and was never without male attention and dates. Now in my late 40s I’m much more emotionally insightful, rarely drink alcohol anymore (& never ever to excess), have been single for 6 years preferring my own company to wasting my time going on dates with emotionally unavailable, narcissistic, disloyal lager loving, mummys boys. I’m also willing to admit I’ve been cheated on (physically) by exes and although I’m mainly all Ommm and meditation nowadays I do still have a short fuse and the pain and destruction of finding out you’ve been cheated on doesn’t sit well with me. I cheated once and I’ve been cheated on many times. It’s dark.
What about enemies? Do you have any? Who are they? Why are they your enemy? Did you do wrong to them or did they do wrong to you? Can you remember how you got to that place of “having an enemy?”.
I once saw an old school friend working in a supermarket. We chatted civilly, slightly awkwardly. When I was at school, a few of my friends and i used to tease her about her love life and her naivety on sex. It was cruel, unwarranted and distressing for her. The girl was so innocent and didn’t ask for the attention. I took part because I had no respect for myself nor for anyone else. I couldn’t empathise then. I couldn’t sympathise either. I was cold. I was one of the “naughty girls” and was happy being the class clown. However, this day in the supermarket many years later, in my mid 40s, made me feel ashamed and saddened for my old self. How low I stooped for popularity and laughs. So I wrote my old school friend a letter, apologising for my part in her distress at school, teasing her relentlessly and mindlessly and asking for her forgiveness now I’m older and wiser. Explaining that I lacked respect and dignity at school and now I saw how awful it was for her. I’m sorry.
I took it into the supermarket to give to her but she was nowhere to be seen. A colleague of hers told me she no longer worked there and they weren’t prepared to give me a forwarding address understandably. I was too late. I drove home feeling really sad. I just wanted to say sorry.
The past is a great place and I don’t want to erase it or to regret it, but I don’t want to be its prisoner either.
My childhood and my complex fractured family (& traumas) could be a hot topic publicly but again, I’m pretty ok discussing it, admitting the fragility of family life and my childhood experiences. I am who I am today from those experiences and the insights on human nature gained has grown me into a much more calm, understanding and accepting woman. One thing about me though is I don’t hold grudges or bitterness. I get angry, I retaliate, I can have an acidic snake-like tongue at times but as the years pass by so my “move on” attitude grows. I mentally forgive those who have wronged me including family members and I either choose to simply step away from an involvement in their life or realise that their actions are just a result of their childhood/past experiences and habits so I just Let it Go. That’s no justification by the way for their actions “oh they’re not to blame. It’s their past”. I just choose to Let it Go.
Holding grudges or becoming bitter affects only one person. You. It eats away at you. It rots your vision and clouds your judgement in so many ways and becomes ugly. Many a time, people have virtually spat out how could I possibly speak to “that” person or “this person” ever again? How could I even look at them?! And I reply: because their toxicity is not going to affect my happiness and destroy my mental health. Life goes on and to choose to box up those memories into a virtual loft suitcase or to eliminate them from my daily life is a stronger message: I am done with it. That doesn’t mean I am ok about what they did to me. It means I value and respect my life more than holding onto anger and stress to the detriment of my health. “It” isn’t worth it.
Do you hold a grudge? Or are you bitter about someone from your past? Every time you think of them do you wish them harm and pain and suffering? Do you feel your heartbeat rise when you think of them? Do you feel your jaw clench? Do you feel your mood change from contented and calm to furious and then you feel sad, even depressed now you’ve thought of them?
How has holding a grudge against someone worked for you? Has holding a grudge changed your life for the better? Or has it changed your circumstances?
I did something once years and years ago. I hated someone so badly. Every time I thought of them the hatred would rise in me as though I were about to vomit. I was overpowered by the negative emotions of them. Then I read this advice in a book and it was so powerful.
In this book it told me to write them a letter, telling them every single thing I hated about them, what they did to me, how they made me feel, how their actions affected my life, my family, consumed my thoughts every day. I wrote it all down. I covered 4 pages. At the end I felt so good. I had got it all off my chest. I folded it up and put it in an envelope and put a stamp on it. Then the book said to take it outside and burn it. Put a match on it and watch it crumple like a tissue under the orange glow of flames. The edges of the envelope turned into dark grey ash as it folded and withered away. It was a cremation of my past. I was watching my old self and my negative emotions burn and die. I kept watching. Remembering the past but mentally I said goodbye to that person, that experience, that memory. I didn’t move.
By the end I was just staring at a mound of dust that the gentle breeze was whisking about. I noticed some flecks of the ash flew up and away, landing on trees and plants. I had said goodbye to the past. I felt so much lighter and contented.
Try it yourself. Write that letter as if you are going to post it. Write it ALL down. In detail. Then watch it burn. Say goodbye and let all your secrets and hurt go.