Thursday, April 14, 2011

The year of the Rat

At first I thought it was a mouse. We laid a trap, tightened up our cleaning programme, but the signs of droppings increased, the lino chewing got worse and the tipping point was when some meat that was defrosting suddenly had chew marks on it.

"Rats" said my friend, Carol, "they chew through everything, mice wouldn't do that". Carol was from the Philippines and rats were a common problem in her village. She was also very familiar with cockroaches and roared with laughter at my wimpish western way of screaming with horror every time I saw one. She got my lifelong respect when I saw her kill one by stomping on it with her bare feet!

So here I was, living an expatriate life in Tokyo, in a lovely traditional Japanese house with my husband and 4 children - and rats had moved in and something triggered in my mind, something really painful, really deep and ultimately life changing. 

 I realised my life wasn't working for me and I began to fall into a full-on emotional crisis. 

Over the next few weeks I spent hours crying whilst the children were at school, I was in a high state of anxiety most of the time. I was also able to put on the most amazing facade. My husband had no idea it was happening, for the simple reason that we were so out of touch with our emotions the only thing we knew to do was to hide them from each other, believing they were destructive to the relationship.

I'm so grateful to those rats. Even though I still can't even see one - even on the television -without feeling weak, their presence was a turning point in my life.  

I realised that I needed to start showing up in my own life instead of existing inside someone else's. If I was miserable, lost, overwhelmed, it was time to take responsibility for that. I woke up to the fact that it was my job to find myself and to address my unhappiness rather than expecting someone else to notice and do something about it.

Within 6 months I was back living in the UK; I began training in healing modalities which started a journey of discovery, self-expression and personal growth that continues to this day.  As I changed the relationship with myself, all my relationships began to change. 

As a family we still work on our communication skills - some days better than others - and I recognise how much closer my husband and I are now that we have the tools to identify our feelings and communicate about them more effectively. 

 Our lives went through a huge upheaval but by learning to express our feelings and relate to each other with more honesty, we came through the change process feeling stronger individually and together.

The inspiration for change can come either through desperation or exploration. If you feel that for life to get better something needs to change, why not begin by exploring your relationship with yourself first - and see how powerful that decision can be?

No comments: