This morning (05/30/16) while writing i think i came to understand (maybe the biggest) part of why i still felt desperately alone, even though i had found some understanding and approval and love in my life.
It’s because i wasn’t being myself. I mean, not fully. That was partly because i’m only now getting to know myself well, but also because i hid a lot of the bits i deemed unlikeable or unacceptable. So i kept myself under wraps. And when some of the odder stuff would leak out in drips and drabs i would be mortified, and either pull the hermit act, or avoid the people who’d seen me like that for as long as possible – forever being my preference.
Being as much myself as i’m able to be on a day-to-day basis has been as liberating as you might expect. With each little risk taken -each situation where i choose to act or react in the way i’m inclined to, rather than the way i think i should- i gain confidence and self-esteem in equal measure. Sometimes the reaction i get from others is what i’ve been trained to avoid. Maybe there’ll be an awkward silence, or uncomfortable laughter… It makes me pretty twitchy, but i’m slowly learning to ride it through. My priority is being genuine as often as possible. Those times often bear greater reward, because i made it through a social situation that was less than ideal, as myself… And here i am. Alive. It may have stung a bit, you know, if they weren’t pickin’ up what i was throwin’ down, but it didn’t end me. They didn’t slay me. I’m not left sittin’ in the gutter eatin’ worms, yum yum.
Another thing that requires some attention is the difficulty i had even writing the prior piece at all. I had to drag it out – force myself to write it. At first i thought it was a discipline problem, but since posting it, i have more insight.
I’m closing doors behind me and it’s scary.
I knew it was time to pick myself up, dust myself off, and set my feet to walkin’. It’s like i’d only just begun on my path when i got blindsided. Like i was on a little bike with training wheels, and the person that should have been behind me, watching with a mixture of fear and pride, instead got into their truck and ran me over. I got up and wandered around, dazed and in shock, but eventually my injuries became too much for me to continue. I sat there in the road for a long time, just nursing my wounds and resting. I may have even had a bit of a tantrum, where i threw myself in the ditch and rolled around in the mud and felt sorry for myself.
But i’m okay to resume the journey. I’ve been walking for a while now, but i haven’t gone far. How far do you think you’d get on your weekend hike in the mountains, if you kept looking behind you every couple of minutes? Yeah. So if i really want to put in some clicks (that’s kilometres, for you Luddites), i’ve gotta let go of the fear that i’m gonna get in another accident. The time between backward glances has gotten longer, and i’m not even nervously focused on the horizon. The path itself is lovely and interesting, and begs to be enjoyed.
Okay, enough analogy. (I do so love them, although i know i can go on a bit.)
(05/31/16) There’s more to it, this firm decision to move forward, and it’s not terribly flattering, but it is the truth. To control my mouth, and to take full responsibility for what comes out of it, involves letting go of anything that may be an excuse. At this point, there would be times when to blame my past or my mental illness for saying something hurtful, crass, or just generally shitty, would be an excuse. I now enjoy some decent control over myself and my words. I have more self-awareness and insight into why i am the way i am and have done the things i’ve done. I know where i am and where i’d like to go, in terms of the sort of person i want to be.
I’m now capable of more and must hold myself to a higher standard. It’s one of those areas where keen attention to balance is required of me, because i’m still mentally ill, and likely will always be so. But if i use my past and my resulting brokenness to excuse myself for something i could have done/handled better, that will keep me tied to an insidious disingenuousness that could sabotage all my hard work. I would be moving away from the human i want to be, and closer to that which i was raised to be – which is anathema to me.
It’s funny, really. When i was young i loved being sick. My mother would at least not bother me, and sometimes she was even kind – especially if it warranted a hospital visit, because then she got a lot of attention, too. Poor widowed wretch and her sick/injured child. (She wasn’t a widow of course, but that’s a story for another time, maybe.) I was hospitalised quite a bit too, and that was pure heaven. I loved being in the hospital so much. I was clean and regularly fed well; i got treats and presents and everyone was nice to me! I got good attention -and what’s more- i got sympathy.
I was waiting for someone to see my suffering and save me. Knowing this has only come with age and contemplation, naturally. Heh. But no one ever came, and it was up to me to save myself. I would tell schoolmates fantastic and terrible stories about my life, and when i would get caught or confronted over the obvious bullshittery, i’d wonder why i told so many lies. Obvious now, but not to a child, or even to a traumatised adult. I was searching for an explanation for why i wasn’t right, and nothing in my life was right, and i was sad and aching inside all the time.
Getting diagnosed as clinically cuckoo was almost a dream come true. That little broken girl inside me got all the validation and sympathy she’d so desperately craved. Over the years i’ve become more and more forthcoming about my mental illness, so i know people have cut me some slack here and there, when my behaviour has been less than exemplary. For example, when i’m manic i can be obnoxious and draining, both mentally and physically. And when i’m depressed, i can be alternately explosively angry or completely withdrawn and utterly unavailable. When i’m dissociative… Well, anything’s possible. When i’m experiencing clinical anxiety, it unsettles everyone around me.
I needed all that sympathy. I needed people to be horrified by my upbringing. And i really, really needed people to so kindly and generously put aside their reflex reactions to my various odd and unpleasant behaviours and say, “That’s okay, H. We know you’ve been through a lot and you’re broken inside.” That stuff was positively crucial to my healing. But i know the time has come for me to let the fallback position go. It’s time to know i’m dealing with mania and bite back the overshare. It’s time to recognise i’m depressed and get out in the world and do stuff anyway. It’s time to deal with my anxiety in healthier ways than drinking 3 doubles in an hour, or coming home and pulling out my eyebrows and eyelashes.
Sometimes things will still get away from me or otherwise be beyond my control. I want the people in relationship with me to be able to trust me. If my dysfunctional behaviours don’t improve and my accountability for my own actions doesn’t increase, then i’m not being who i want to be. Don’t get me wrong, everyone with mental illness has their own journey with their own obstacles. We all must set our own bars and your bar may be at a different level than my bar. If i’m capable of a higher level of function than you are, it does not make me better. I believe in a continuum (ie. your abuse may have been more severe, my mental illness may be more serious, etc.), but i don’t for a minute think it dictates worthiness. Pfft. I just know that if i’m well enough to pick up my pace on this path i’m walking, why would i suddenly want to do it with crutches? They would be an impediment to my progress.
I’m feeling good today. Started writing this last night and it made for a dream-filled (crappy) sleep, but as i finish it, i reckon my sleep tonight will be more restful. Whoever you are, thanks for reading, and i’m glad you’re here. Love and peace to you.