I’m well aware of the fact that it’s been well over a month since my last post. Near the beginning of this unexpected hiatus, I accumulated many drafts of poems and thoughts in the forms of a post that I could never bring myself to finish – and if I did, I couldn’t bring myself to actually post. During that time, I actually started writing elsewhere – I needed that outlet, I need to get things out, I needed to express myself.
Who Was I?
And for a moment, a brief half-heartbeat of a moment I was free.
For a half-breath second of time I was me.
But who I was I to think I had it all?
Who was I to believe I had the world tangled by a string?
Unfolding perfectly, like a fading faint smile of the fantasy.
Begging to believe, I grasped knuckle-white to that dream.
But who was I to think I’d come so far?
Who was I to dare to be?
I’ve been going through the motions of my usual ups and downs of depression, struggling to pull myself out. I’ve been thinking about how I might have bipolar disorder, thinking of the mood swings; contemplating my highs, my lows, and the infrequent and short lived in-betweens when I feel “halfway normal”. Over the years I’ve been treated for depression and a heightened state of anxiety, two polar opposites but somehow all connected.
Looking back, it all seems to make sense – the signs are all there.
I guess I’ve been paying particular attention to it all lately, mostly because I’m sick of it. During my most recent low I found myself in a place I swore I’d never go again. I found myself hopeless, helpless and wanting more than ever to retreat into my dark solitude, finding solace in avoidance of everything with the intention of hiding behind my apathy.
I made my way out of it, and it’s only in these short periods of evenness can I pull away from it all long enough to try figuring out how to keep myself from going there again – whether it’s high or low. I’ve stumbled across many facts, statistics and quotes about depression and bipolar disorder the past couple weeks; enough to catch my attention and to give some thought to it all. The bit that stuck out to me most was, “Many sufferers of depression aren’t sad; they feel nothing at all, or a persistent and nagging anxiety.”
This is the only thing I’ve experienced, at least for the last 25 years.
Being only 36, I realize that not feeling for at least 25 years is a big deal. I mean, of course I feel: I love, I laugh, I get angry, I get sad; but under there somewhere lies the ability and tendency to pull away from it all and push the emotions aside. Under there somewhere lies the ability and tendency to remain unphased by anything that I’m experiencing. Therein lies my safety.
Over the past year or so I’ve started to recognize my habits of non-feeling. I’ve experienced wanting to be able to cry more, wanting to be able feel it all, wanting to be able to process, wanting to be able to cry when I should cry, laugh when I should laugh, feel what I should feel. I want to pull out of zombie-mode and feel human.
A few nights ago in our A Course In Miracles group, we were reading Chapter 30.1 – Rules For Decision and after the section where it states, “Throughout the day, at any time you think of it, and have a quiet moment for reﬂection, tell yourself again the kind of day you want; the feelings you would have, the things you want to happen to you, and the things you would experience…”, we got onto the subject of emotions and feelings.
One of our group members started dancing around the subject of how he shouldn’t feel anger or pain because it’s all a part of the illusion, when I interjected, “You know, we’re here to have a human experience. And in that, we’re here to experience it all: the love, the joy, the anger, the sadness and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. We’re here to be human and all of those are very human experiences.”
For being wildly against allowing myself to feel anything, the fact those words found their way out of my mouth in the first place indicates that on some level maybe I’m okay with feeling.
Over the past several days I’ve been attempting to feel it all. I’ve experienced happiness, excitement, joy, even disappointment. But, of course, it’s easy right now – I’m perched atop my plateau riding out the next undetermined amount of days neither high nor low, clinging to the sanity while it lasts.
Even after a little bit of disappointment on Thursday, my friend finally asks me, “So, how are you doing?” I got to answer, “I’m doing good. Yeah, I’m alright.”
I’ve been okay the past few days. I’ve been okay in experiencing it. I’ve been brave enough to feel.
This morning the trend has continued and I’ve gone through the beginnings of a typical Saturday. I found myself working out far too early in the morning, as I usually do and even stopped off for breakfast at my friend’s house. As I was leaving the string of thoughts started coming.
I contemplated the fact that I’ve remembered my dreams over the past few days and found myself comparing my “okay” times to those that are not so “okay” and how I typically don’t dream (or at least remember any of my dreams) in my periods of being low.
It was then that I started making connections.
I was thinking that perhaps when I’m not low, I’m more connected to everything around me and I’m able to be in a place where I can allow myself to dream. I did a quick mental survey of dreams I’ve had a long the way for as far back as I can remember and there I was. I was face to face with the dreams I remember having has a young child. I remembered dreams of myself dying, I remembered dreams of losing my mom, I remembered dreams of feeling hurt and scared and of losing the most important person in my life. And then I realized, I blocked it all out.
And here I am, at least 25 years later, and I’ve done nothing but block it out. I’ve blocked it all out.
The tangled string of thoughts continued as I was driving and I quickly remembered back to being eight years old, sitting on an airplane heading back to Ohio to stay with my grandmother for awhile. My mom was a single mom and in trying to support herself and me, had me stay with my grandmother while she got her finances situated. I got to see her for a quick weekend during the school year and as the weekend came to an end, I boarded the plane to go back until I got to see her again a few months later.
I remember sitting on the plane, buckled-in and crying. With everything in me I didn’t want to go back. I remember wanting to run off the plane; to leave my seat, run up the long corridor to my mom and hold her and hug her – but I was afraid. For some unknown reason I feared getting in trouble for getting off the plane.
I felt stuck there alone, without her and hurting.
That memory led me back to thinking of dreams I frequently had of my mom a couple years later when I was able to move back in with her. I remembered how I had dreams of her dying and being without her. I remembered the pain and fear I experienced when I’d wake up, full of tears, afraid to get out of bed in case any of my dreams were true.
I remember being afraid to go off to camp during the summers because I was afraid something would happen to her while I was gone and I wouldn’t have her anymore. I remember sitting for hours on a Saturday afternoon staring out the window awaiting her return from a too-long day out running errands or shopping, feeling like she was gone forever and that maybe something happened to her and she wasn’t coming home to me. I remember growing up watching her experience painful things that no person should ever have to endure and being afraid that in an instant she would be gone and I would lose her.
And as I found myself crying uncontrollably as I was driving down the road this morning, I realized that it’s not that I can’t feel, it’s just that I’m afraid to.
And here I sit again, as I type this, crying and thinking of the many years that I’ve hid behind a wall of apathy. I realize that I’ve only robbed myself of the experience of having true relationships, experiencing life and being human. I’ve cut myself off from everyone and retreated, afraid to experience anything. I’ve blocked out everyone and built a wall around myself. I’ve severed the relationship I could have had with my mom all these years only because I’ve been too fearful of losing her – a pain that I don’t know I’d ever be able to endure. I’ve been afraid of loving too much and the pain that it can bring.
In self-detachment and detachment from those I love, I’ve found safety. Out of fear of being too close and experiencing pain when they’re not there anymore, I’ve tucked away my feelings and emotions. I’ve stuffed my feelings down in hopes of never being hurt and have only pushed others way and brought them down with me.
I’ve allowed my mom to believe that I didn’t love her, when all it’s ever been is that I love her too much.
I can’t live like that anymore.
I want to feel. I want to have this human experience and to be as present as possible. I want to not hide away in hopes of not getting hurt. And if nothing else, I want my mom to know I love her, undeniably, and that she’s always been the center of my world, even though I’ve always made it seem otherwise.