Building Rome The first 11 bricks!
I made the attempts on my life in 1997 and 1998 . I did not want to live anymore and I remember thinking ‘I wish someone would just come and shoot me so I can go.'
The lower back injury was causing havoc when sitting, and proving to be unbearable at times. Being on prescription drugs 24/7 was daunting and I felt conflicted taking them.
The flip side to this was that I was also ‘dancing with the devil’ and partying hard with an unlawful bikie gang and using hard party substances every weekend, from Friday to Monday. I felt like I was in another world in that state and I embraced it. I believed the existing reality was really just a nightmare. However, that did not last long as the reality hit as soon as I started ‘coming down.’
Some days hit hard and it was these moments when I knew, this is not how ‘BEC’ lives. I started fearing that I would sabotage my life with anti-social behavior, so I quit the scene not long after these thoughts. This was my first conscious choice and it was a good one because I felt I had no self-control when I was under the influence.
In those two years there was some light though. I was employed as a Softball Coach under the NSW Softball Association, visiting schools around Sydney in the summer to coach children and teenagers in the game.
One school was Monte Sant’ Angelo College in North Sydney where I had three teams to coach. Most of the girls had never played before and so it was an absolute honour to coach them quality softball skills. I would travel to North Sydney Oval three afternoons a week to meet with the girls and train them in certain drills which would improve their ability to play the game.
Playing softball was a huge part of my life as it instilled so many positive traits and habits. I was motivated to give them the best opportunity to develop and become confident with the game and to understand the purpose of being part of a team.
Claire Irwin was the PE Teacher I reported to, and we trained the girls together, with Claire adopting the coaching role perfectly for softball. She became more than a colleague. She became a friend and our time in those two years was very special.
I had disclosed to Claire what I was going through and she was very supportive. One day I had had enough and I had called her to say I could not train the girls that day. Claire was so worried and concerned, that she called me all day in between classes to make sure I was ok. It is something that I will never forget.
School was resuming in 1998 when I called Claire and said that I could not do another year. I was fragile, vulnerable and scared. Claire spoke to the girls and when she said that I could not take the coaching position, their response was, "Is it because we are not good enough?"
When Claire called me to explain what had happened, I felt awful and she said I needed to come and explain to the three teams why I could not continue to coach them.
I drove to North Sydney, sat down with them all and told them what I was going through - how I had lost my ‘human spirit’, attempted to take my life and did not want to live anymore.
This was not easy for me to say out loud because it just confirmed how broken I felt and how disconnected I was. In their eyes, I was Bec – the Softball Coach who was hard, fair and determined to build a team from the ground up and instill confidence, esteem, discipline and humility.
The girls were 13 years and older and their responses shocked me. They were not going to let me go and said that we are a team, we need to stick together, and we need you! The girls went home and told their parents – some supportive and some not, with some calling the school to investigate more and to see if I was stable enough to continue to coach their children. They had no idea though, that being ‘needed’ was one of the major turning points in my current situation. I went home and cried and cried and cried.
The 1998 season brought us all together - we were even more connected. There was respect for each other, we were stronger than the year before and it was like a sisterhood.
We had a great time, and parents came to games, helped with scoring etc, and really got on board. We were playing on Saturdays in the Manly Warringah Softball Competition and being part of these girls' life and coaching the game I loved so much, allowed me to move towards what I needed to do to get a new life – to build Rome! Their maturity overwhelmed me. Their love and support helped me to embrace my demons, my fears and to squash them at times.
‘Building Rome’ came to me after hearing the song ‘Rome Was Not Built In A Day’ on the radio driving to softball - and it stuck. It made sense - and it became my anthem.
I am still in contact with Claire and forever thankful that she and the girls never gave up on me when I believed that I had run out of faith, courage, trust and love. They showed me that there was hope - and they were my torch.
Out of work by 1999, I left Sydney to live with my parents and boyfriend. I needed to get out of the city, and felt that the coast was the best place to start! I needed to take myself out of what was overwhelming me – Sydney, no work at that point, and debt!
Starting the healing process, I first had to grieve. I found this difficult at first because I wanted to ‘blame’ but I had no idea where to place the blame. I had lost ‘me’ and I was angry, confused, and played the victim card very well. Lashing out at family and friends, drinking heavily to numb the back pain and lose myself. There was no integrity or dignity and I hated everything. I lamented my old life, and reflecting on this – I think I just tortured myself more.
The ‘hope’ I embraced was a culmination of the past two years - Claire and the girls from Monte Sant’ Angelo College, my General Practitioner of 16 years [Dr Owen Roberts] who was my rock, and a suicide support group in Chatswood called Club Speranza (Suicide Prevention Education Research Australian & New Zealand Action = HOPE in Italian).
I came across Speranza through Paul, another survivor of suicide. We met at Parliament House in Canberra for a Two Day Suicide Prevention Forum in August 1998. Mum and Dad paid for me to attend so that I could discuss my concerns in regards to suicide and most importantly, to take away the information to help me through it. It proved to be an interesting and informative forum and it was there I met the founder of Reach Out – Jack Heath.
I needed to detach myself from the reality of it all - the injury, the loss of full time work in the hospitality industry, the loss of the physical ability to play softball and dance again - and most of all I needed to detach myself from a system and not conform to beliefs and labels that I did not agree with.
The word ‘depression’ did not stick at all with me and still to this day, I loathe it, as I feel it is a word thrown around for people to too easily attach themselves to and give them a reason to go to the Doctor for a prescription for anti–depressants. ‘Depression' or 'depressed’ to me was more like pressing, stomping and kicking down all my feelings into one big box and not letting them out – or to ever feel them again or acknowledge them. For some – that may be ok, but me – there was no way I was going to put them in the box. Besides, I needed it for packing! I had to face these problems, feelings and thoughts – I just needed to know how.
This was a messed up situation and I had no control over anything when yet another curve ball was thrown into the mess - while I was still in Sydney, Dad asked me what ‘Suzi’ was worth. What was her value? Suzi was my brand new Suzuki Cino Sport – she was only 9 months and I knew what direction this call was going in – sell Suzi! But I could not, how would I get around? I needed my car!
Getting off the phone from Dad started a new chain of thought. Dad was asking how much Suzi was worth and what she was valued at and here was I, not even valuing myself.
This was the start that I had been searching for and that’s why I decided to move to my parents home to start all over again.
The 11 Bricks To ROME!
Accept and acknowledge the situation and be grateful for what you do have in your life. Gratitude is important. Do not stuff it away in a box to never feel or think of again. It will come back bigger and stronger and rip you apart. We need to feel how we are thinking, to survive!
Don’t force what you think ‘should be.’ Instead, release all of what you are trying to control - let it go now! You can only control your thoughts - not anyone else.
Forgive yourself; this will help with the next step to love your ‘SELF.’ Forgive others and situations as this will help you move forward. The more you hold onto the situation, the more you will hurt. As an exercise - put some cold ice in your hands and stand with your arms out and see how long you last. In the end, your hands are wet, hurting and burning. Why hold onto anything that is hurting you? You cannot control it, so release it now!
Print out Marianne Williamson – 'A Return To Love'. Stick it everywhere and read it out loud. It is now your ‘SELF’ prayer. You may not believe in it or think you could ever be fabulous, brilliant, talented or amazing – but, this is about reconditioning your mind. I am not a believer in ‘GOD’ however I felt that there was a higher power and I had to trust that in a spiritual sense – not a religious sense. I looked at the letters as well –
G = grateful - how can I choose to be grateful?
O = opportunistic – how can I choose to be opportunistic?
D = driven – I am choosing to be driven to find out who I am?
Release, dismiss and detach from everything and everyone who is TOXIC in your life. Dismiss, detach, and disengage from all toxic thoughts and feelings. They are not serving your purpose and nor are they good for your soul. Kick them out now!
Start writing down what you want in your life. Be prepared to ask for whatever you want which is realistic. Create a vision board showing all that you desire. This will help you move towards to what you want. Visualisation and mental imagery played a very big part in my healing - and I still use them today.
Create a new world for yourself by valuing your ‘SELF,’ your boundaries and new positive beliefs. Drop all expectations for now. You are building an important new foundation. You are building ROME and you need these to live with every day to check in.
Live with trust. Trust yourself. Trust your instincts – or gut feeling. It is warning you. Trust that all will work out and if it is not, then it is not part of the plan yet or there is another path you must take before you get there. Remember, there are no shortcuts in life.
Embrace your new awareness. What is going on? You are working towards inner peace and so to understand how to get there – you need to acknowledge your immediate environment, your space. Is it out of control? Is it in order? Use your awareness to create the ability for new order in your life. Awareness is the key.
Start respecting yourself. Think of your body as a castle with you as the gate-keeper. Who are you choosing to let into your castle - mentally, emotionally, financially, spiritually, physically and sexually? Are you choosing to bully your ‘SELF?’ Are you constantly choosing to put your ‘SELF’ down? People, who choose to respect themselves, respect all on this planet. You can tell this by a person’s behaviour and action. Are they choosing to be being anti-social? Are they choosing to abuse themselves, to hurt themselves or others, to hurt animals, to cause trouble in their immediate environment – the home, workplace or school? We choose our behaviour, our thoughts and feelings. By choosing to respect the ‘SELF’ we choose to respect all.
'Rome was not built in a day'. Live day-to-day. Make little goals and work towards them with the help of your vision board and mental imagery. Remember the rain. I am still building Rome. Some days it rains, some days it pours, but I am always focusing on the end result. One day at a time. Brick by brick.