How I found hope
Reflecting on my lived experience and the joy and comfort I have found as part of the Roses Collective, is challenging to express and articulate. As someone who talks a lot (and usually finds it easy to express her feelings) it is not the case here. So I am reflecting on that as well. Perhaps it is because at its core I truly believe that, for me, the connections I have made; and insights I have been privy to and learnt from; and then the sharing of my own story; have been life saving. A wise psychiatrist only last week said to my husband, Trevor, and me that it is only when heard we can start to heal. For me that resonates strongly. Often now, after seven years of a punishing and soul destroying journey caring for our traumatized son; and the battle for justice and improved mental health care; I sometimes feel strong and able to see glimpses of healing and light ahead. This was not the case for a long time. Not much has changed in the real practical sense that people might look for. What has changed was the arms that wrapped around me; the instant understanding, acceptance and non judgement that came from Bronwen and her amazing team. What I have discovered is the bravery of so many that I have met and listened to, hearing their stories and sharing mine. I felt a little panicked and overwhelmed at the beginning of my involvement. I was unsure if I had anything worthwhile to say; that I was too negative; that my lived experience was not as bad, that I would make others uncomfortable or ??? But I was wrong, and very happy to be wrong. I was able to check myself, to open up to others, also be brave, be less judgemental and become proud of myself – which was a pleasant change. There was no expectation to perform – to be anything other than authentic. I felt permission to contribute if comfortable but able to step out anytime. I have so appreciated that non-pressure. I have learnt that many in this space do a lot, or a little, and every contribution is valuable. I have gained confidence and belief in the insights my experience and my family’s experiences have taught me; and feel able to contribute to driving meaningful change and hopefully giving hope to others struggling with similar trauma. … and my quartet members! Three beautiful, different and brave women – and me – who met each other in a Roses workshop and now stand together with petals blooming some days; and thorns out the others. But we are planted firmly, rooted in friendship, love, understanding and, above all, acceptance. We have tattoos! Not earth shattering I know, but meaningful for me and a reminder of what came first; and from where I got my courage to keep going. My experience is best described as “living” experience. I am acutely aware most days that instantly and shockingly that may then become “lived”. No one knows. What I do know is that being heard helps – in a million ways. The understanding that others give, who stand in support and by your side in the darkest of times, can make such a difference. My tiny “rock star” tatt (that I am ridiculously proud of) says “hope” and has a beautiful rose. Today – and other days as well – I have hope and, more importantly, the determination to reach out to ask for hope from others, if and when I need it next. I have been so inspired and humbled by so many individuals in the Roses family. To them I owe my deepest thanks and appreciation for their support, wisdoms and the opportunities that they have given me.
If you would like to hear more about Imbi’s story you can listen to her Roses Radio Podcast here.