a life update.
week I admitted to myself out loud that I don't want to be alive anymore. Not
so much that I want to experience death, as I actually have an intense fear of
myself or my loved ones dying (mostly the latter). More so that my will to live
-- my capacity for joy, my ability to imagine my future, any positive feelings
I have about who I am -- has become unrecognizable. Un-locatable. Shriveled to the
point of almost having vanished completely. I stood in the shower, post-panic
attack, lights off, and let this revelation of words escape and cascade over me
like hot water. I want to be gone, I do not want to exist, I want all that I am to be over.
As much as this moment was a revelation, it was also not one at all. I have felt some form of this feeling for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, something always felt off. I was always missing something or someone. I never felt totally safe or content with myself. I have to attribute this to both nurture and nature I suppose, but it has always manifest as one thing. That one feeling. As I have gotten older I have faced new challenges, new triumphs, become new versions of myself. I have tried my best and done my worst time and time again. I have sometimes thought I was "better", on a new track, having new revelations like this very one that I would surely continue to live by. But the problem has been that I've done this all in silence. As I allow my own silence to continue, I let the feeling continue too. Over the years it has perfected the art of changing shape, finding room for itself wherever possible, swallowing up pieces of myself clunking around. Stealing me from the inside out. Instead of being able to move through the feeling, I find myself constantly stepping in it and sinking to the ankles. A primordial ooze made up of all the worst things about my life that I have let define who I am.
This sticky, all-encompassing feeling has steadily but surely snowballed. I can't really say if the apex of it all was this year, or the last ten years, or the last two weeks. That is the thing about the primordial ooze. There isn't a recognizable beginning or end to it. At some point I suppose there was a beginning, there must have been, but it has been stretched so far and so vast that I couldn't right now tell you what that beginning was. But I know it happened, and it's still happening, and this year seems to have really catapulted all of my negative feelings to the forefront of my consciousness. It's an easy thing to happen when you are spending most of your time alone with your thoughts. I have lost people this year in horrendous, unexpected ways. I have helplessly watched as hundreds of thousands of people have experienced the same thing in equally horrendous ways. I've experienced good moments but have found ways to let the feeling weave itself in, tainting the meaning of the moment or sabotaging it completely. I have developed obsessive thoughts, horrible routines, and definitely some sort of mild-to-medium agoraphobia. Anxiety has become an unwelcomed compass, navigating my life, never quite able to point me where I need to go.
Of all the things I have held space for in my heart, the largest has been shame. Shame for who I am, who I'm not, what I've done, what I haven't. Shame is what I believe to be the largest barrier against getting better. And though shame is something I feel so deeply and certainly for myself, it is something I would never fathom for a loved one. I "know" a lot about mental health. It's been a constant personal battle of my own. I have read about it, written about it, talked about it. I have used my learned knowledge to give advice to friends, share kind words with those who need it. All without a second thought. I have told others that life is hard, but it is worth living. I have even written it on this very blog. I am a fraud in that way. Never have I extended to myself even a quarter of the grace, love, or forgiveness I can show others. I have always believed they deserved it and I did not. I am always too embarrassing, too far gone, too broken.
But I am just like you, and you are just like me. There is no reason that you and I both, reader, do not deserve to be content, or even happy, or hopeful. On some level I have always known this to be true. I've said it and written it probably thousands of times. My moment of clarity, quiet besides the falling water and my words, reminded me of a key part to the aforementioned truth: I. Me. I am part of this equation, this shared revelation. There is no weakness in admitting you need help, which means there is no weakness in admitting I need help. In fact, if you were you, and not me, I would tell you how much strength there is in realizing that you cannot continue the way you've been going. I would tell you that even just your inkling of this notion means that you recognize you deserve more, deserve better. That you can have peace of mind and a life that looks even somewhat like the one you've imagined for yourself. You are more than the primordial ooze of the past that you might feel makes up who you are. You do not even have to start new; you can create something out of what is already there, because it is you. You are already there, and you are beautiful. Now it is time for me to try the same thoughts on myself, as terrifying and undeserving as it may feel.
Do not be mistaken. I am not "fixed" after one therapy session (which only occurred yesterday) and I am not an expert on living life better after realizing (for the millionth time) that I need to attempt to try. But I do have hope. I like my therapist. I felt seen and understood. Things we discussed in the first 50 minutes alone let me see into myself in some new ways and provided validation. My partner, an angel who holds me and listens to me and lovingly encouraged me to reach out to a therapist, told me she could tell how excited I was after getting off the call. There will be a lot of difficult times ahead and I know that not every session will leave me feeling so positively. But I want to approach this with real intention, using hope as a catalyst for discipline and real effort towards the things I need. The moment I admitted to myself that I felt hopeless, like a calm wave crashing over me, was when I felt a door open. A small door, but open nonetheless. I need to take this opportunity. I need to trust my instincts in this moment, work to change what needs to be changed. Hope feels like the largest everything because hopelessness is the quietest nothing.
If you are reading this, thank you. I have decided to pursue therapy, in part, because I want to like myself. I want to be proud of myself as a person, as a partner, as a friend, as a writer. I want to live and create in a way that is authentic and caring and honest. I want to believe in myself. I very much believe in you, be you a friend or stranger, and in that way you are teaching me what I need to know. You are encouraging me to be better. We are both deserving of hope. Thank you for being here. Sending you all the love. ☼