My heart was forever touched by Sheila from Shropshire and the courage it took for her (all of her) to face each day living with D.I.D.
“The weather is beating me some – first the rain, wet and miserable, and now this fog: the low cloud feels quite oppressive?!
Often, the fog feels protective and comforting, like a shawl around the shoulders … that ‘invisible cloak’ I always long for?!
But today, it has a kind of menace about it … like it’s hiding an invisible enemy … who is waiting to pounce out on you the minute you walk into the shroud of the fog!
It doesn’t feel safe, this weather is too SILENT! … HIDDEN DANGER!”
I was introduced to Sheila while house-sitting in a heavenly region of the world Shropshire, England. Sheila was the first person I’d met who has D.I.D. (Disassociate Identity Disorder) and in her words above she so beautifully describes the feelings of fear and trauma she experiences living with D.I.D.
Each morning Sheila and I would take a walk in the mountainous landscape of Shropshire - a place of outstanding natural beauty. To me each morning was a blessing; to wake up to those green rolling hills and blue skies streaked in sherbet pink. I’d step out into that crisp Shropshire air, and feel instantly free and at peace- like a bird let out of a cage. That was my experience of Shropshire. But as Sheila gently revealed aspects of her story, life and living with D.I.D, I realised that while she did experience moments of peace in those mountains (just as I did) she suffered much pain too, both emotionally and physically – times she felt the whole world to be her cage!
During the fourteen days I spent in Shropshire she taught me much about coping with life in our far from perfect world and how to reclaim hope and light in another day when yesterday and the day before, and the day before that, had only presented her with despair and darkness. I’m thankful Sheila shared her feelings so generously … and so poetically. She has a real gift to share.
One day Sheila invited me to take a longer walk along the local sheep-track. As we walk, she educates me on the local region – the history, the landscape, the plant life and exactly what the bright blue painted spots on the sheep mean. Sheila talks about her life, her story, her blessings, and her struggles living with D.I.D. I remember asking Sheila how she copes on a daily basis. Her answer was insightful – her life experience spoken as art: "You turn your stumbling blocks into stepping stones. That's how you cope" she said.
My heart was forever touched by Sheila from Shropshire and the courage it took for her (all of her) to face each day living with D.I.D. Sheila’s story is hers to share (and I hope one day she feels brave enough to share it with you here), but until that time, I feel I have been greatly blessed by knowing her and having connected with her. She made my time in Shropshire special, unforgettable and she taught me about the great importance of connecting and sharing at a deeper level, even if we are just traveling through a place in time.
I’ve learnt traveling the world and sharing stories builds understanding – at an international level. It has the power to build bridges across oceans and fill voids between generations, cultures and social class. Our real stories shared (not the ones the media feeds us) gives a voice to the unheard and misunderstood, they teach us the reason why we do things and the reason why someone else does something that seems so strange to us.
So, dear travelers, in every new place we travel, seek out connection to people who have lived a life different to ours and learn from them and share our stories - share their stories. In doing so, we become agents of peace and understanding, enlightening the world with a colourful tapestry of wisdom, love and connection that could never be achieved without us.