I’m not sure why I’m still here sometimes. In this foreign land that is supposed to be my home. I lost most of the friends I had, and got rid of my job, too. I don’t have a community where I live because I’m afraid to meet new people. I don’t go to church and I’m not part of a cult. All my family members all except one actually reside here. They’re all in the old country. Not that I’m close to most of them. I don’t know what I’ll be doing next in my life career wise and it sure doesn’t look easier over here or there. I guess the psychiatrists are better and so are the therapists- they get me, so that’s one big reason. But otherwise, what the hell am I still doing here?
Think for a second- how many of the things you do in a day are considered “an escape”? An escape from annoying or dark thoughts, avoidance from bad habits you’re trying to cut back? An escape from a life situation? How much of your life are you spending to escape from these unpleasant things?
I asked these questions myself, and shockingly, I spent most of my time in this way. Escaping from the unwanted thoughts by doing something that was distracting enough for the time being. When one distracting activity was done, however, I was back to square one. Back to the suffering.
If one acknowledges this, and is fine with it, there is no reason to read further. But this fact bothers me so. The fact that I’m living my life in spite of something. That I’m running not to run, but to run away. I don’t like that my purpose is to avoid, and not to live. Action, and not reaction.
But then I wonder, are there truly things that one does for the sake of doing them? Or is everything thing we do minus the essentials, at least a little bit, a distraction from our lives? How much distraction is healthy, and how much is too much? Can we truly be present with so many distractions? Is writing a blog post an escape for me right now as I wait in the car? Maybe.
In the midst of insomnia.
Absolute silence outside, except the late night travelling cars.
Absolute silence inside: no frightening thoughts, anxiety, bad premonitions.
Placidity of the mind,
Undisturbed by intrusive thoughts.
Happy to be bored, at last.
What makes me happy is different from what makes my ego happy, as it turn out. My ego, which wanted to look more successful, more admirable, more correct, wealthier, and better than everyone I knew, made me greedy- rapacious, even. To support this grandiose aspiration, I sacrificed my mental health. Not knowingly and not gladly. Something had to give in my equation. A sacrifice, you could say. I didn’t really listen to me anymore, I listened to the ego. Everything became a “should”, in my life, and not a “want to.” Anxiety grew as life got flooded with the shoulds, and depression surfaced after these sky high aspirations set by my ego were not met. Bipolar became the diagnosis. But a lifetime of not listening to myself, what do you expect? Denying yourself joy and happiness in pursuit of success and appearing that way to society. And so it goes.
My ego tried to kill me a few times- that harsh voice that told me that “you’re unworthy” to myself was all it took. It took many years, but even small consistent droplets can crack open a boulder- like Chinese water torture.
Recently, with the help of my adjusted medication, I was able to lower the volume on my ego station in the back of my head. I felt the peace that I was looking for in something else. I finished a large scale painting after four or five hours- which just felt like ten minutes to me because I was enjoying it so much. My drawing class continues to help me observe things in a new way, and helps me bring my inspirations and my ideas to the canvas.
I feel like I’ve been given a second chance. I’m sure that my battle with my ego is far from over, and I will have to be a bit more mindful of it, even with my meds, because there will be ups and downs, I suspect. And the ego is so ever present, and in control of us in this modern life where there is so much comparison and competition- on social media, on the news and so on.
I can’t answer what makes me happy quite yet- not conclusively or holistically. But I think I’m on the right path.
Let go of those who are already gone. Because-
Loneliness is felt most deeply in absence.
From a depression, or a marking of what used to be.
Comparison of one state to another from another time and space.
What can be more cruel?
Berating oneself for not being the best version of oneself during the worst possible moment.
I’m scared to look into people’s eyes sometimes for what I might discover. I mean really look inside. Sometimes I see nothing, but if I linger too long, I can sense this chilliness, loneliness and misery that is deep inside them. I get sucked in, and it takes me a while to pull myself back. The first time it happened was after my first hospitalization, when I briefly returned to work to hand in my resignation letter. She was one of my coworkers, and had these jet black, sparkling Eastern European eyes. I was talking to her very briefly, and more I listened, I saw what was behind those big eyes- helplessness, desperation and anguish. No amount of smiling could erase this fact. We were only talking about work, but that energy was so strong, I couldn’t help but get sucked in. I obviously cannot know what she was really feeling internally, and why, but being an overly sensitive person, I just picked that up.
This is one of my intrusive thoughts- I have an encyclopedia of them, of course. What I saw that day, during such a brief encounter, still gives me the chills. It’s nothing concrete, but just this feeling of profound sadness. I felt something similar today while I spoke to my model for my figure drawing class. She was very bouncy, happy, and energetic (“hyper” was how she described it)- looked almost manic with her eyes darting at one thing to another, while she chatted with all the students in the room before posing about the dress she prepared for the class (a period piece that someone gifted, that made her feel like Jane Avril) there was a sense of hidden sorrow, behind all the pomp and chatter. It could be from how she acted, her every word seemed planned, and every gesture from something out of a silver screen many decades ago- all the same while looking so anxious. While she modeled, she seemed to bite her lips (which made drawing them difficult) constantly, while she frowned and fretted quite a bit. She tried to shake off the thoughts time to time, but the thoughts just returned (from the look in her eyes), and she was fidgeting again. I would not have had such an in depth look at someone, but I couldn’t help it, as I was drawing her.
Needless to say, my energy was drained by the end of the session, trying to draw this person as an empath. All this could be a projection, but some of it might not be. Who knows.
People with Complex PTSD, or those with experience with “mini traumas” don’t often validate the cause of their suffering. It’s easy to dismiss because looking at it chronologically, day by day, nothing really happens, but cumulatively, it’s like little water droplets that crack open a rock over time. A little bit of yelling here, snide remark there, bit of physical violence, bullying, confrontation here and there- this breaks a child’s spirit over time. It also affects her self esteem, confidence, ability to play and enjoy life, interaction with people without anxiety, to name a few.
I used to be one of them. I denied that I was ill from what happened as a child within my family unit. It was seemingly uneventful, my childhood. Not one single event was extremely significant. But overtime, the little things shaped me. It shaped me to be afraid, to be cautious, and not trusting. And because I am so close to my parents now and am dependent on them, I didn’t want to see them as one of the reasons why I’m sick. Even after they have owned and apologized for their behavior (not that their intentions were malicious, and their apologies uncalled for), I didn’t want to connect what happened to me as a child to how I am now as an adult.
Today in therapy, we were exploring this concept of “inner child” that is often spoken about in psychology. I actually laughed out loud when my therapist, C told me to literally “speak to my inner child” when I was alone. So far everything she recommended I do has worked, so I wasn’t going to question it until I’ve tried it at least a few times. I was confused about what kinds of things to say to her (my inner child)- I supposed nice things. C said I was to tell her that she was enough, and she deserve a relaxing break, that she can trust herself and so on. C said this was a way of retraining my mind, becoming nurturing and self compassionate.
The problem is, I kind of suck at being self compassionate. If I took a class on it, I would get an F even if I studied. I did a lot of mindfulness activities in various forms, like meditation, DBT modules etc. but for some reason it felt disingenuous. I don’t mean the concept of mindfulness itself, but just how I personally feel when doing those activities. I feel like I’m being a phony and wasting my time. I also fear that I will get thoroughly lazy if I get too good at it. C says that this stuff will naturally take a while to feel comfortable doing, because I didn’t grow up this way- the little I remember of my childhood, I remember spending hours and hours with tutors and being extremely busy doing something productive every second. I existed to fulfill a purpose, and not be a person- no one treated me any differently either, no relatives or any other adult in my life. Of course relaxing feels uncomfortable!
My next project is to sit still without doing anything (not even meditation) for half an hour and not give into the urge to do something productive, including analyzing my thoughts. This also has to be completely spontaneous.