a post about death – a thank you to Suzy Berhow

I don’t think it’s a secret that death scares me. I’ve said it before and I will say it again… there is nothing I fear more than death. It is the ultimate uncertainty and, normally, even thinking about the outcome of death sends me in to a spiral of inescapable anxiety, like the fabric of my very being is being torn away and I am left to dwell in the worthlessness of my existence, that will inevitably end in nothing… Yet, it’s constantly on my mind… It’s unhealthy! I can’t cross a street, turn on an appliance, be home alone etc. without considering every horrible way I could die at any moment. I’ve become a slave to my own mortality, rather than embracing it; instead of living and appreciating the life I’ve been given, I hide behind my mind made shield that does little for actual protection and more for sheltering a person scared of living too much.

I’ve been trying to work my way out of these habits recently, leaving my house more often, enjoying the company of friends and colleagues, allowing myself to take in my personal goals and what I want from my life, because, eventually, it will all end. And as much as I hypothesize, I don’t know when or how it will happen. Why spend my limited time on this planet fearing something that I will never understand… something I truly believe no one is meant to understand. As an extremely wise man once said, “After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” While my mind is no where close to well-organized, I hope to, in time, appreciate my life enough to accept death as it is.

One of the most influential creators, for me personally, created a jewelry line recently called “Dust to Dust”. Her view of death inspired me to talk about this and really delve in to my own personal relationship with it. As with most people, I’ve lost both family and friends at all different stages of my life, I’ve also almost lost myself. Suzy’s collection, and video announcing the collection, was a reminder to me that death comes for everyone… and that isn’t a bad thing, nor is it something that I can prevent. It’s going to come when it’s meant to, and that is okay.
I also decided to purchase a piece of the jewelry, as my own reminder that nothing lasts forever, and that when my time comes, I will be ready to welcome it.

 

 

spring cleaning

It’s been a little bit since I’ve written something. I could chalk this up to many things, but instead I’m going to encapsulate the majority of it into one basket: spring cleaning. So here we go,

I had been broiling – a half step away from boiling over for months. I’d watched people bowl me over, without apology or even the slightest (perceived) care for my well being… and it just kept happening… I truly lost respect for myself; how do you respect someone who doesn’t seem to deserve it from members of her family, her peers or her friends?
Post-facing that statement, there was, and still are large stressful things happening in my life that have nothing to do with anyone but myself – but! Post-facing THAT statement, it seems that some people feel entitled to an inside scoop of my life when the reality is: I do not owe any one an explanation as to how I am feeling, because, quite frankly, some things are nobody’s business but my own. And just because I am not ready to talk about something, to anyone, does not mean that it doesn’t exist. I am not going to be pressured in to proving my own personal validity any more.

The last couple weeks have been spent finding my self respect again, re-learning what I want from my existence and the people that are part of it. I’ve been mentally unloading, something I haven’t been able to do in months, and setting up healthy boundaries. I’ve been socializing with friends I, almost, forgot I had because I’ve been so wrapped up in all of the bullshit that goes with anxiety and trust and limits. I’ve been teaching myself to be present instead of constantly looking back – teaching myself to let the sun touch my face instead of constantly looking down.
In doing these things, I’ve unpacked a lot of brain boxes. Years worth of relationships and expectations and things that I’ve just never really let go of – and I’m finally coming to terms with my worth, minus the words and actions of other people… I’m also coming to realize that I don’t need toxic relationships, just because they are family or because they are long standing. I’m sweeping up the dust and the clutter and I no longer care how long you’ve been around – if you are contributing to my mind being a mess, I don’t want you here.

I still have a lot of tidying to do, mentally, emotionally and physically – but I am on the right path, and that is what matters the most right now.

 

p.s, in normal “me” fashion, I’ve dyed my hair bright turquoise – hello spring!

 

therapy session two – an appreciation post

I went for my second session this weekend, there were a lot more tears this time around, but most of the tears didn’t come from a place of sadness or anger. Instead, they came from truly appreciating one person, fully taking in and recalling a moment in my life which was pivotal, for a multitude of reasons.

Those who know me personally, most definitely know my fiance Cody, those who don’t – here’s his stupid cute face:

Image uploaded from iOS (8)
In a month from now we will have been together seven years… which is just, so crazy for me to imagine… it’s one of those situations where I feel like we’ve been married for twenty years. Maybe this is because in the span of our relationship we have been through a lot, which include, but definitely aren’t limited to:
eight moves, one being across the province
three vehicles
nine jobs (both of us added together)
the adoption of one cat, then another… and then another
innumerable mental breakdowns, panic attacks etc. (mostly on my end)
but only one time where we actually could’ve broken up.

That last example is my pivotal moment, because I had always lived my life the way I thought I should… experiencing the good things, then as soon as the going got tough – I got going. My safety net was being able to completely remove myself, emotionally, from a situation and find a way out. I’ve always been good at finding places to live and finding new people to be around because I spent a lot of my young life moving and starting over. Most of my relationships, up until this point, ended the same way… things weren’t working out, I was unhappy, so I created whole new lives for myself which made the leaving of my previous life easier. It’s almost always been me leaving, with little remorse or reason.
This time was very similar… Cody and I had just moved to a new city in a basement suite with three other people. Our personal space was the size of a small walk in closet, we had about one square foot of walking space amongst all of our possessions. Moving was difficult for both of us, but for Cody it was worse. I had become, almost, immune to picking up and leaving that the distance I was putting between me and my home town didn’t phase me at all… I don’t even remember crying before we left. It isn’t my right to speak on behalf of Cody’s feelings, but I recognize that it was extremely hard for him, and knowing that I put him through that experience still burns today.
Without going in to any super gritty details, our relationship became very volatile after the move. We fought, we ignored each other, we did and said vengeful things. So I resorted to what I knew… I distanced, emotionally detached, surrounded myself with different people, sourced out a place to live, found someone new and that was that. My escape pod narrative was running at full steam – and then, he confronted me.
I remember thinking,
“this is it, this is the moment, he’s going to yell and kick me out and I’m going to leave.”
but then he sat me down – looked at me and said (summarized)
“I know you’re not happy and I’m not happy either. I know about what you’ve doing – but I also know that I haven’t been treating you well. So, you have a choice… you can go, and be with him, and I won’t fault you for it, in fact I would completely understand why you left. Or, you can stay and we can work on this together.”

This changed everything for me… it was the first time that I had been given full understanding and autonomy over my own choices. He was seeing me for everything that I was in that second, someone just as hurt and afraid and lonely as he was and he accepted that. We accepted that.

In speaking with my therapist, I’ve come to realize that I don’t trust a lot of people, but this isn’t about them… this is about the one person I do trust, whole heartedly. The one person who looks at me and sees me for all of the beautiful and the ugly, the one who hears me, even when I’m saying things that are difficult, the one who understands me, who doesn’t take my spoken or written words as attacks but as conversation pieces to work through. One of the only people who gives me control of my voice and my choices and doesn’t hold them against me.

This is about you, Cody, and I want you to know that I appreciate you, more than any words could ever express, and I thank you for standing by my sovereignty as a human being and as a partner. ♥

fear

let’s talk about fear – because apparently not only is it something I do my best to fend off every day and legitimately hate about myself, but it’s also something that can be used as a weapon against me by multiple people in my life – so, I’m going to take away it’s power, for the progress of myself as a person.

if you are new here, and if you are not, I am going to spell something out for you: I have chemical imbalances in my brain which cause me to think and act irrationally. This is something I know, something I recognize and something that I try hard to control but in all reality have very little control over.
with all of that in mind, here are some examples of what I fear:

  1. I constantly fear dying in a multitude of terrible and gruesome ways
  2. I fear the dark, and still have to fall asleep with a light on
  3. I fear the inevitable darkness that will consume me when I do die (please see example 1 and 2)
  4. I fear being alone / losing all of the people I love, because I do not feel like I deserve their reciprocated affection
  5. I fear conflict (please see example 4)
  6. I fear being a disappointment to everyone around me, because that is what I see when I look at myself – a constant fucking disappointment
  7. I fear failure, because that would prove that I am a constant fucking disappointment
  8. I fear what will happen if I don’t have the same amount of steps between sidewalk slabs – most of the time I try to keep it to two
  9. Don’t even get me started on how I feel when I mess up the sequence and then step on the crack in between the sidewalk slabs
  10. And lastly, for this list anyways, I fear people using my mental illness as a stick to beat me with

So yes, here I am, in all of my fearful glory (and this only scratches the surface) – in all honesty, this is who I am, and, even if none of you see it, I am constantly making an effort to try and make myself better – not for any body’s comfort or content but my own.

In other news, I have booked myself in for another therapist appointment this weekend.  

I’m finding it increasingly difficult to be an active participant in my relationships, and while I normally enjoy quiet brain moments, the lack of self conversation is uncomfortable. It’s loneliness at its core, I suppose, and while I’m not physically alone, mentally is a completely different story.

Maybe it’s selfish, but I just want to be listened to. I want to be able to say something without immediately fearing disappointing or angering the person I’m speaking to. I keep being told that how I feel is real and valid, but am constantly met with barriers that lead me to feel the opposite.

I sense myself distancing, avoiding discussion with most people, avoiding eye contact with all people. If I tune out everything around me, I might be able to pick up my own narrative again, give myself the person who will listen without an ulterior motive.

I’m a step and a half away from falling off the face of the earth, just so I can be physically alone, but mentally together.

self love

I’ve been quietly grappling with the idea of self love for a long time. It’s easy to be an advocate for others to love themselves – to listen, relate and reassure someone that they deserve their own affection – but to do the same for myself seems impossible. That’s not to say that I dwell in self hate.. it’s more, self resignation. I’m not necessarily who/where/what I want to be yet, but I don’t have the time/energy/space/money to get myself there… so I sit stagnant in the middle ground, fending off my own negativity, waiting for some brilliant light to illuminate all of the answers that I’ve spent years searching for.
What do I want? Who do I want to be, hell, who am I now? What is my worth in all of this? Where do I fit, in the vastness of everything that surrounds me, and everything that surrounds that.
I hate that I have to ask these questions. I feel like, at this point in my life, I should have some semblance*¹ My own self doubt disgusts me – not my doubt in life and it’s worth, but my doubt in the validity of my own questioning. This is the impasse I’ve come to, I shame myself in to thinking my thoughts are irrational and that I should fit in to some society approved three dimensional character cast. Why can’t I appreciate the unapproved three dimensional character that I actually am? Why is it so difficult to see positives in my quirks and plausible futures past this emotional deadlock? When will my perceived happiness become self love and will that piece of the puzzle help me complete the rest?

I have a mental happy place I go to, it’s almost like a goal or something to look forward to. I’m sitting in a chair, by a large window, sun pouring in. My house smells of baked goods and sage, the walls are faced with books and plants. The fridge is full of fresh vegetables from my backyard garden. I’m sipping on a black coffee, indulging myself in a fantasy novel. In that moment, I’m happy, I’m secure.
My personal affection is harbored in that haven, biding it’s time to take hold in my reality… maybe it’s waiting until I’m ready to fully appreciate it’s presence, or maybe I’m just not prepared to find it yet. So until then, I’ll slog it out in no man’s land, wielding my sword of resignation and slaying the demons that try to breach and sully my sanctuary and hopes of, eventual, self love.

I’ll end this with the soundtrack to this post:

*¹ A teacher I looked up to in high school told me to never write in pencil, it gives you the option of erasing something you may have meant to write, but are too afraid to make permanent. Words are powerful, and can be used for beautiful or ugly purposes. I recognized an ugly narrative making it’s way out, but without acknowledging it I won’t be able to silence it, so I’ve left it in and crossed out.  

uncomfortable emotions.

I hit a breaking point last week. I fell in to a pattern that I haven’t felt in a very long time – if you’ve read my previous post on self harm, you would know my opinion and history on the subject – you would also know, for me to even think about harming myself, I would have to have hit a pretty deep low. I take these things very seriously, so when I imagined the relief that would come from causing myself physical pain, I immediately booked myself in to my very first therapy session.
Yes, my first therapy session. I’ve been telling myself, and have been told by people close to me, that I should see a therapist for a long time… I’ve never gone though. For some reason I had convinced myself that therapy was an amazing thing for other people, but not for me. That by going to therapy I would be accepting defeat, proving that I am weak and incapable of handling my own life. To reiterate – this is not how I feel about people who see therapists, this is the unrealistic standard I have created for myself, saying that I do not deserve to be helped because I’ve made it this far without it, and by going to see a professional, I am invalidating all of the self preservation efforts I have made up until this point. Does this sound ridiculous to you? Because it does to me. In fact, going and seeing Jessie*¹ was extremely eye opening in a lot of ways, and really helped me come to terms with some of my relationships and my relationship with myself.
One conversation really sticks out to me though – at one point Jessie stopped and asked me –
“When was the last time you were really, truly, angry?”
I stopped, and explained that I had been authentically angry the week prior, but before that it had probably been, at least, a year since I was last outwardly mad. I then explained that being angry scares me. I become extremely vengeful and vindictive, or I completely distance myself from the situation until I am no longer emotionally invested and I can walk away without feeling anything.
This discussion brought up the whole idea of “uncomfortable emotions” and my instinctual relations with them. Honestly, I have a lot of fear when it comes to letting the people around me down, or making people upset. I have, habitually, always taken it upon myself to ensure that the people around me are happy and secure – at the expense of the same things for myself. So when a situation makes me uncomfortable or upset, my immediate reaction is to extinguish whatever I’m feeling for the “greater good”. This is something that I have been able to recognize for a long time, but Jessie helped me actually understand what was happening.
I have, almost, always attributed any “uncomfortable emotions” with my disorders – therefore invalidating their existence and the circumstances that brought them on. It’s easy for me to say “oh, this isn’t about you, it’s my anxiety making me feel this way”, which gives me a reason and a method to cover them up… but it’s also extremely damaging. It denies me the ability to feel anything because nothing is authentic. What I did not take in to consideration, which is something that Jessie brought up,  was that my “uncomfortable emotions” are authentic and valid, but my fear of what feeling those emotions might bring (ie. losing a relationship, making someone upset with me, not fitting in to the role that I have been typecast into etc.) inhibits me from being able to feel them to their full capacity.
So instead of how I have always imagined my emotions:

anger

It’s actually more like this:
fine

My disorders do not create my “uncomfortable emotions”, instead, they convince me that by honestly expressing how I feel in the moment, I will hurt/lose something or someone important to me – and that my personal feelings are not worth that risk.
Let’s be real here, I have been a pretty solitary person, my entire life. I’ve never had a lot of friends or people that I trust. The more people you have around you, the higher the risk of disappointing somebody – not to mention my energy bucket depletes about 10x faster than the average human being, so at the end of the day, I really don’t have the mental capacity to handle a lot of people… and that’s on a NORMAL day.
So I keep the few I have close, I do everything I can muster and my anxiety suffocates any “uncomfortable emotion” that bubbles up… But when it finally cracks the seemingly smooth surface, I, all of a sudden, have two years of pent up aggression backing me and I become out of control and destructive.

I’m now in a position where everyone close to me assumes that I have an unending bucket of energy, that I can always sit down and listen and have advice and have their back and have the right things to say, but I just can’t.

So this is me being forthright, in an effort to help myself:
If you upset me, I’m going to tell you.
If you cross a line, I’m going to tell you.
If I am, legitimately, unhappy or uncomfortable with a situation, I’m going to tell you.
If I do not have the energy to focus on you, I’m going to tell you.
It has nothing to do with you personally, but I deserve the right to fully experience and uphold all of my emotions, even the uncomfortable ones.
And if you can’t handle my, new found, honesty – that is fine, but I cannot keep you in my life.
If you can’t appreciate my wanting to better myself, for myself, that is on you… not on me.

 

*¹pseudonym for the therapist I saw