It’s been weeks since I left the house for anything but a doctor’s appointment, maybe three times since November. I miss the winter, even though it’s right outside my door. I miss my friends, even though they’re rarely more than a short trip away. It’s especially hard not being able to explain the distance. All I can do is hope they trust me when I don’t feel comfortable explaining, and try not to feel insecure about being so out of touch.
Sometimes, the thought of being away from my safety zone fills me with dread. Other times it’s just easier to not do anything. I barely manage the effort to wash my hair once a week, and the only reason I shave is to more easily wipe off the viscid sadness that so often visits my face. I suspect I wouldn’t even be eating if it weren’t for the fact that Heather enjoys taking care of people to fulfill her own need for security. She’s lived here a few months, and she’s already making sure the cats have their teeth brushed every day and all the bills are paid. I’ve barely known her for twice that time, and I’ve never been more dependent on anyone in my life.
It feels like I’ve taken two steps back, but I’m at this point cause it means I’m safe enough to start processing and understanding the things that led to me trying to hang myself from the railing of my staircase a year ago. I haven’t figured out what it means to keep going, when for so long I believed my life was leading up to that moment, and sticking around wasn’t a choice I made for myself. Just figuring out how to write about such a large and complex experience is often too much. I’m left broken when I simply want to understand.
I’m learning that recovery isn’t a binary process, but a journey with struggles and triumphs. I still suffer the trauma of being moments away from dying. I’m still haunted by the guilt of survival. With so many hair-triggers that lead to wholly consuming breakdowns, I can’t deny I’m not the person I used to be. Right now, it’s hard enough just trying to be okay with that.
[audio:stay-high.mp3|titles=Stay High|artists=Tove Lo (feat. Hippie Sabotage)]
July was supposed to be my catch-up month. The one where I connected with a lover instead of being rushed to appreciate her at every turn; a chance to finish house projects and all the cleaning I’ve been putting off; maybe even time enough to go for a walk every day, or the patience to work on fretting cleaner barres instead of emotional doodling and clumsy interpretations.
Now here I am, half way through September. Heather and I are at war with our respective pasts, and waiting for relief. On top this comes her dad’s diagnosis of a metastasized cancer of unknown origin. We’re used to being strong for others, but the uncertainty of what may come makes us wonder if we’re truly ready.
If only my mind wasn’t already drifting back to those unhealthy and all-too-familiar thoughts. It’s hard enough letting go of the sense that everything will fall apart at any second. The depth of my struggle has changed me, and I’m still getting used to feeling unconditionally loved and emotionally secure. Thankfully, I have a partner who tells me every single day that I’m a good person, that I’m important, and that I deserve to be happy. Consistent reminders are what I need, however small, cause the recovery process is going to take far longer than I first thought.
We’ve taken to exploring the massive world of Tyria in Guild Wars 2 as a way of coping. Even when I’m away from my computer, I think of nothing but journeying to new locations, instead of the tiny problems that seem impossible to surmount at even my best times. I’ve always been an obsessive person, and my mind would be full of bad things right now if I wasn’t so busy finding the next point of interest, the next champion to kill and loot.
It’s a way for me to get through the difficult days, until they turn into a past that I can look at from afar. I know if I can turn the page on this chapter, I’ll have a opportunity to become the person I want to be every day for the rest of my life.
It’s nice to be at a point where I don’t suffer simply by the act of existing. With my head above water, I can pursue a sense of happiness instead of constantly deciding whether it’s worth going on.
But I have to admit that the depth of my struggle is what gave me the tools to thrive now. When I was trying to survive the most difficult times, I learned that I could limit the effect of life’s inherent instabilities by being in better control of myself. Through my journey with social injustice, I learned how to empathize with people and understand their experiences. From having lost all my most fundamental emotional bonds, I learned to be a more patient friend and deeper lover.
It feels like I’ve been struggling in adolescence, and am now transitioning to the next major phase, one that will involve as much healing as growing. That means I need to practice using these tools, cause knowing how to be a better person isn’t enough by itself; time and perseverance are just as important for a person with so much damage.
There are still bad days, moments of weakness, and groundless insecurities, but they’re getting less frequent and less intense, and I have more time than I ever thought I’d have. As long as I’m on the right path, each step I take toward finding my stride will get me to where I want to go.
I can tell I’m getting overwhelmed cause of the mistakes I’m making. Fruit is going bad on the counter before I have a chance to eat/cook it, a dose of medication is forgotten here and there, missed payments lead to interest fees; I’m losing control of little details that are normally simple matters for me.
Maybe it’s cause I’m constantly trying to catch up. On projects I keep putting off cause of my responsibilities. On life after losing the last two years to a depression that left me crying more often than not. On top of all that, I’m trying to juggle a job, a relationship, and the energy it takes for me to heal, while enjoying every moment as it comes. Even though I’m in a safe and stable place now, I still struggle to cope with how quickly things are changing. I miss being able to record my thoughts and experiences here, but I can’t afford the time it takes to get into that zone.
The hardest part is explaining to people why I’ve been out of touch for so long. It means going into a painful (and recent) history, and it’s not easy to get into that emotional space, let alone think about things that are difficult to relive, let alone open up to someone, let alone worry about how they’re going to react.
It’s been more than a week since I had a night alone. I never thought I’d be able to handle this kind of stimulation again, but most people work during the day and my shifts involve running the tourneys when they’re off, so I still have mornings to myself. I can tell how quickly time is passing cause the gaps in my photo folders are turning into months.
Being around so many people gives me a chance to work on my altruism. It’s always been easy with people who are important to me. Now I’m trying to fall into the habit of being kind to the ones who are neutral, to try to truly understand their reality so I can acknowledge their happiness or suffering. It’s a way for me to remove my bias, including whether I think they deserve either of those emotions, and always a humbling exercise.
Still, I wish I could explain what I was feeling. So much of myself was defined by my emotions. I remember riding the bus, losing myself to the warmth of the sun on my face and the swelling sound in my headphones. Nowadays, every scene plays out like all caps slug lines in a screenplay. Nothing has changed but the dosage, and I don’t know if that’s a fact I should take comfort in.
Not to say there aren’t difficult times. I don’t have much control over triggers, and I’m not ready to deal with certain parts of my life yet. I’ve had to keep a distance from toxic people and situations to gain a sense of stability before I approach them again. It’s a way for me to give myself time to heal, after realizing just how much needs to be done.