Farewell To the Old Me; Finding My Way Through, Free.



Post Written: October 26.2020

Sometimes when we reach new places we’ve never been to before, we are able to notice how we would have reacted in the past had it happened to us then. Sometimes we’re able to see that how we’re reacting now is different to then. Sometimes we’re able to understand we want to go backwards, to regress, rather than progress further forwards.

Sometimes the battle we are fighting is within our own worlds. Our perceptions, our interpretations, our urges.

Sometimes I get stuck like that, too. Sometimes I see things happening that aren’t the greatest but that my brain interprets as being desirable. Sometimes my Ill Mind wants things for me that I would never want for me again.

It’s all a part of life and the cost of living in this life. Sometimes we want things that aren’t good for us–unhealthy ways of getting attention, junk food, drug substances, disordered behaviors, and more. Sometimes even when we can rationalize how much they aren’t good for us, we still find ourselves wanting it regardless.

That’s surely happened to me before and I’m almost certain it’s happened to you too.

So for now, in this space, I’d like to talk about my own experiences with that lately in as open and candid as a place of any. This is my safe space. It’s also a very public place–and it’s also where I feel most comfortable. I’d like to discuss some struggles I’ve been facing lately and how I’ve handled them well along with the times where I’ve deeply struggled.

Because I believe the story matters. I believe that my voice is worth sharing and I believe that living in my truth holds more power over my experiences and the narrative I wish to convey to the world, to my friends, to my family and to my peeps that is necessary and dare I say, vital, in situations such as these, in perspectives such as mine, even when there’s an intense and detrimental pandemic occurring in the world and a political system within America that’s horrid and unimaginable and makes it feel like we’ve been living in a reality TV show for the last four years. Regardless of ALL of this, my situation still exists and I am still valid in my feelings. The World of 2020 has been falling apart and it’s been very close to The End of Days and right now is as important and crucial as a time to discuss the topics of mental health, mental health conditions and recovery processes. So, here’s a part of my story and what I’ve been dealing with lately and at the end, I hope you’ll have taken something away from my rambles. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll reflect on some of your own struggles. And maybe you’ll leave this post with a newfound sense of how you can pave over your problems going forwards. And if the cards lie just right, maybe you’ll even add a word or two of your own thoughts down below. Whatever you’re comfortable sharing, of course. So… let’s begin…

 

“We must bring our own light to the darkness…”

(Nobody is going to do it for us.) — Charles Bukowski

I got caught up in trying to find a quote for the above section but what I’d like to talk about here involves the concept narrated above:

How do we become our own light within the shadows of darkness that surrounds each of us at night? How do we choose to be brighter and better than our previous selves the day before? How do we choose to not compare against each other and instead focus on shining our brightest, appreciating our differences and head into the battle ahead with as clear a mind as possible, knowing we’re worth it and we’re able to overcome this fight? How do we get to rely on ourselves instead of looking for attention and validation from others?

 

These are a lot of questions and I think the important thing to be reminded about life is that…. we don’t have all the answers. Look towards science and modern medicine, we’ve barely scratched the surface of the brain and what it does and how it does what it does. We barely know about the universe that surrounds our tiny little planet, the solar system that exists, how the world began to begin with and if there are or aren’t any other creatures out there for us to interact with (which would be pretty scary!). Hell, we don’t know how to even live amongst ourselves peacefully.

So, it’s okay to not know. Life is a giant puzzle and its purpose lies in being uncomfortable and living DESPITE–no, WITH–that which is uncomfortable. A lot of stuff that life throws at us, wasn’t something that we asked for. We usually don’t get a say in what thing it is we struggle with.

Yet how we react to things life throws our way… that, that is within our control.

We can’t control much but ourselves. We learn, particularly those facing illnesses either mental or physical, that self-care isn’t selfish. Self-care is crucial and critical for existing in life. Having balanced meals, getting enough sleep, taking care of physical (and mental) illnesses, spending socialization time with other individuals (and pets!) as well as having a few other things like hobbies, roles in society, a career, an education, and more. We live, we grow, we age, we die.

We procreate, we find love, we make friends, we make enemies. People like us. People don’t. Some people can’t stand us. Most people project their issues onto other people. We fight, we argue, we struggle, we survive. We are warriors. Some in quite a literal fashion.

We are human.

And being human isn’t something to be ashamed of.

We all have emotions–mostly. We all have preferences and habits and crave interaction with one another. We all need attention. We all need love and care and nice things. We all depend on one another, we are inter-connected. We are human. We will face adversity, sometimes a lot, sometimes not as much, but we will all lose something some day and we will all perish just the same.

But what does this have to do with anything?

You’re right, I got a little sidetracked (such is my attention span for today). What I mean to say, what the point of me saying all these things to begin with, is that life is an uncomfortable phase. Life throws things our way that we weren’t expecting or anticipating or were prepared to deal with.

And still, if we want to get the most out of life, we have to find a way to alight our own flame. While it is absolutely imperative to ask for help when you need it, you also need to learn how to be there for yourself.

You’re the only you there’s ever going to be.

You’re the only you always with you.

No one can live your life for you. They can try, they can help, they can enable you but your life is ultimately your choice. Whether you choose to go down into the dark chasms or instead hike up the next hill and the next and the one after that–that’s your choice. That’s within your control. You didn’t choose to have to go up or down, but the up or down IS your choice. You didn’t prepare the map but what you do with it is your own.

Emotion regulation, your ability to soothe yourself, handle yourself, handle your problems and knowing when and where to get help when you need it, those are all critical and necessary tools for surviving. A friend and a loved one can point you in the right direction. They can be there to hold signs and vigils in your honor. Whether you choose to follow or flee is up to you. No one else can make that decision for you.

We all need to learn how to be there for ourselves. ‘Cause we can be there for others but others won’t always be there for us.

But we are.

We are always with ourselves. It’s the one vessel that will withstand all the hell and all the light. It’s important, as humans that evolve and change and grow, to find healthy avenues and know the differences between unhealthy avenues. It’s important, as healthy humans to control and withstand ourselves. When we feel things, we need to have plans on how to handle them. When we are stuck in the darkness, instead of looking for everyone else’s lights, we need to learn how to ignite our own.

Because this light, this life within us now, is the only light and life we’re given. And it will burn out. One day. Somehow. It will. And what we got to do with it, that’s the only thing truly up to us.

 

“I am enough.”

Let me move away from the “you”‘s and the “we’s” because I’ve done a lot of that so far. Let me start with where I am at. And that’s in this moment.

I am enough.

It’s such a complex yet simple notion.

I am enough.

I am enough to handle my own circumstances, my own life. Just like with the light, my own light is enough to wash over the road ahead of me. I don’t rely on other people’s lights to guide me home because I know, deep down, that all I need is my own.

Yeah, that’s a pretty lonely road if I only look at it from that angle, but who makes the rules in my reality?

Me!

So if I don’t like what I see, then I can change it. Why not, right?

The big thing I want to talk about here is being able to validate myself. Because a lot of the time I get this idea in my head that I need other people’s validation or praise or attention rather than my own. And yes, that’s nice and it’s needed sometimes too. But I need to learn, in this next new phase of my life, how to be there FOR me, BY me. If I’m going to be the only one in it from start to finish, I better start liking myself, ahaha. Excluding when I need outsider’s influences–like their input, their support, their conversation–I can learn how to validate myself by validating others.

If my friend were struggling with my struggles, what would I say to them? How would I put myself in their shoes? What would I say? Act? Show? Now what if it were me, what would I say, act or show to myself? Maybe once I start to see the rules I make for myself, the cognitive distortions I fall into, the old traps and cycles that my brain easily confines for me, maybe after all of that, I’ll find a way to be there for me–I’ll find a way to be ENOUGH for ME.

That brings me back around to the main topic of this post. I know, I know, it’s been scattered through this and I thank you immensely for continuing to read if you HAVE read this far. I’m sure the Editing Version of Me will have some fun with this post ahaha. But I want to talk about that validation piece again–I want to paint a picture to what started this moment for me in general and that involves the dreaded word:

ATTENTION.

Remember at the start I was talking about the fork in the road between regression and progression? Yes, well, attention has a big play to do with my experiences thus far.

When I was at my worst, I often sought attention online (as well as in person, I think is fair to say). But it was unhealthy, every time I did it, it was unhealthy. Because:

the Internet is not an appropriate crisis space.

This, of course, is excluding the actual places online that ARE designed as crisis spaces. But the reason I say this is twofold:

  1. It truly isn’t a good idea to place intimate, vulnerable thoughts into a space where it can be taken advantage of, manipulated, tossed into a void or come back to bite you later (the Internet is forever of course, and yes, I see the immense irony or hypocrisy for this notion to exist within this own post, however, I’ve accepted my position far in the past for this type of situation.)
  2. Not everyone is going to know what to do, what to say or how to properly and healthily identify what to do in that given situation. Not everyone is going to respond well, not everyone is going to respond at all, not everyone will be kind, some people may instigate further, some people will just have different opinions, some people will speak their mind or some people won’t have anything to say, to add, to note, to express.

And that, when used in crisis, the Internet that is, can be deadly. It’s certainly dangerous.

And it’s not ultimately, entirely, other people’s responsibilities. It’s asking too much from the Internet, in many ways. Yes, the Internet is changing somewhat and there are definitely amazing, great and compassionate individuals and places on the Internet, however it is also dangerous, unsafe and crippling in other places (or within other people).

So wanting more views, wanting more comments, wanting more of that attention, more of that vocalization, more of that validation, more of that pick me up, more and more and more–it’s all a culmination to a potentially very bad outcome.

This is where balance comes into play. This is where being enough for myself comes into play. This is where I recognize I need to take an Internet break. Because as always:

“No thing and no one is worth being suicidal over.”

— Me, from an article speaking on my codependency to luna, ~fall 2018.

And that’s where regression can happen. Or, recovery progression.

So what happened was I saw or found out about someone online who confessed they were in a difficult spot and wanted a certain type of reaction out of the Internet. In response, their story, their life, kinda blew up in a very positive fashion.

And it made me SO envious. Like I was legit pissed off.

Because that hasn’t been my type of experiences.

But WHY do I want it to be? And hasn’t it? In some ways, by some friends, hasn’t it been?

So I wondered for a moment or two in that sea of anger and envy, I wondered why they had such pleasant experiences when in the past when I’ve done the same, I’ve gotten a small handful of responses or (more often) an echo of long, long silence.

And this ultimately means to me that I’ve been searching for attention and praise where it’s not the healthiest place for it. So I learn that I need to validate myself more. I need to check in with myself more than I am. I need to recognize what is cognitive distortions and when it is that I’m not practicing as much gratitude as I could be and then re-evaluate the way I’m interacting with the world around me–online and off.

Because validation is very easy to become unhealthy with. And I really don’t necessarily need it from other people or at least not in the same way that I once sought for it.

This means, to me, that I need to find ways to boost my projects, my life and my endeavors in a healthy manner that doesn’t rely on how many views it gets or how many people interact with it or even just analyzing what it is I’m hoping to get out of things that I put out on blast. And then maybe, maybe one day I’ll get picked up and maybe I’ll have a few other people to interact with more than I do now, but gratitude will be a good thing for me to practice more too as well as checking the facts and providing my own light for no one else but myself (and then by extension in living my truth and my authentic life, it will burn brightly for other people, too).

Because I have to ask myself: do I want attention for the hell I’ve been through or the growth I’ve made because of it? Do I want attention for who I am rather than what I’ve been through? And which direction is most sustainable?

I know I have a lot left to learn and to experience. I know I have a voice worth sharing and a story left to be told. I know there is so much more I want to do with my life and it doesn’t all have to be about mental health. I know that my identity extends beyond this plane of field and that I can work on getting there each and every day, every moment, and that sometimes I will succeed and sometimes I will fail and it’s in making mistakes that I will learn and grow. It’s within the darkness that I will find my light. It is within the night that I will find my day. The world is a presence of constant dualities and constant instances to try and do better, be better and improve.

I know I’m so much more mature than I was just a few years ago and I know that my happiness and my love for life and light these days is so immeasurably wonderful and not ever something I’d want to trade for a little bit of attention that’s not going to affect my life more than anything else. I, of course, like praise just as the next person, but it’s not my lifeline or my blood or my air. It’s … a bonus.

I have to understand why I create and for what purpose I am sharing it. With time, everything else will follow.

But for now, it’s time to Edit. It’s been a good hour and a half of full-on writing and I’d like to take a break and do something else for a bit. So, thank you for reading and for sticking with me. I really, really appreciate that.

It’s somewhere in the process of breathing and living for myself that I find the most freedom. The ability to be as gracious and thankful as I am able to be now isn’t something I could have ever positively imagined for myself two to three years ago. My stability is amazing and my ability to self-regulate has improved immensely. There are things in my life that I’ve excelled at recently that I’ll lightly touch on here: things like doing ERPs from support groups on OCD; getting certifications for work that seemed daunting and unavoidable (MAP); working more at my job Amaryllis; facing safety issues from youth and exceeding at not getting triggered (and yeah, so I got triggered from a support group but I’m gonna handle it and I’m gonna be okay again, I just need a little bit more time) and other moments that would have crippled me years before are now mere blips in the timeline.

I know that I can use this triggered moment to take a deep breath, then two, then five. I can mindfully listen to music that’s playing on my iPod and work on grounding myself. I can eat some cold ice cream with some yummy pound cake and treat myself WELL and doing the opposite of what’s in my brain because fuck OCD!! So yes, I can manage this, I can use this moment to self-regulate and deal with it with maybe a couple rant-y tweets online ahaha. I’ll even watch some “Kitchen Nightmares” episodes, that would be nice (I’ve been off Youtube ALL day!!!). So yes, I have plans: they include tweeting some more, coughing a bit (I’m getting over a cold), maybe re-reading some fanfic, tracking what I need to track, reading a book, playing Animal Crossing on my Switch, etc. I’ve got this. And I know now that I can believe in that answer, even with all the emotions that FEEL, only feel, otherwise. I am my own hero. I am my own savior. ❤

Thank you so much for reading. If you have the time, you can leave me your thoughts down below. Or don’t, because after all, at the start of the day and at the end of the night, as always, I am (and you are) enough.

❤ ❤ ❤


Background Music to this post: Shuffled playlist; “People Like Us” by Kelly Clarkson and “I am Enough” by Cimorelli; “Wolves” by Emma Blackery.

Time length: 6p – 7:15p EST; 8:45p – 9:30p