Through Someone Else’s Eyes

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A few weeks ago I got back from a trip Down East – Nova Scotia to be exact. Not only was this a 12-day family vacation, but while away we attended a large family reunion on my Dad’s side – 110 people large. Much larger than my social anxiety finds comfortable.

Though challenging at times, I was glad I went. It was fun meeting back up with my much-extended family from Ireland who had also come over for the reunion. These are people who I met in person for the first time last July when I went over to Ireland. I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked with most of them simply because they were much more involved in the organization of the reunion and there were just so many people. But nonetheless it was a successful reunion.

The best part of the weekend for me was the time spent with my closer family. There were about a dozen or so of us all staying at the same bed and breakfast. When formal reunion events were not happening we could be found together enjoying the garden deck, strolling through Shelburne and partying late into the evening at the local watering hole—one night in particular, I did a little too much watering.

People tend to break up into smaller groups. Opportunities existed for great conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with my family. It’s funny though, the conversation always ended up on me and my health. Not that I mind; I’m very open about my bipolar disorder, but I just find it interesting. The same thing happened with my husband. Many people had conversations with him about my health as well. He tells me it’s because they care. I suppose I’m lucky for that.

My point here is not so much that conversations existed, but rather in what was said. The general consensus was that I was doing so much better than the same time last year. Wow. That was a surprise to me. I know I’ve been in a pretty good place for quite a while now. I guess I have just lost track of time and thought I was in the same place as last summer. I think it’s easier for people who see you less often to be able to distinguish subtle changes. And even less-subtle changes.

Reflections are good. I tend to compare myself with how I was when I was really sick. Or sometimes with how I was before I even got sick. So I either think I’m doing a little better or not so much at all, depending on my perspective. It never seems to occur to me that there are varying degrees of better. Despite a successful trip to Ireland last summer, it would appear that I was not as well then as I am now. By all accounts I am simply in a much better place. This surprises me. And it makes me wonder what people thought of me then.

Taking stock of one’s life is important. It gives you the chance to try to look at yourself and your life the way others would. We are generally our own worst critics. I know I am. One bad spell and the whole year is ruined. It also gives us the opportunity to recognize and appreciate the baby steps. Even the smallest of improvements can be noticeable to others. It’s great to have such positive feedback. It warms my soul. If only we could see ourselves through someone else’s eyes.


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