Like anyone else, I don’t go through life experiencing one static emotional state. Moment to moment, things change. And to be honest, most of the time I have no interest in this roller coaster. I’d rather zone out. The wisest part of me, the one I share with every other human in this world, knows that zoning out will not bring happiness or even any kind of long lasting relief from the suffering of just being. Instead, I will probably end up hurting myself through a never ending oscillation between overdoing it and not even bothering.
We have been taught hard work and productivity equates to success. I don’t disagree with this formula except for the fact that success is so often assumed to be the key to happiness. If we transform our bodies to look a particular way, we’ll be loveable. If we have a certain job, we’ll get respect and recognition. If we own the latest and greatest whatever, we will be envied. And anyone who has achieved their goals will tell you that while there may have been moments of joy or satisfaction, these states of being were short lived and that eventually, it was business as usual.
This endless cycle of lofty goal, plan, work hard, WIN never seems to fully satisfy. And it’s because we use it to distract ourselves from how completely chaotic our minds truly are. We select from a wide array of readily available and toxic distractions to get away from ourselves because it is terrifying to sit with all the feels.
I am learning to be with all the feels, no matter how boring, distasteful or painful they may be. To only live for the highs is to condemn ourselves to an existence of never knowing peace. Nothing will ever feel like enough.
May we be peaceful. May we be safe. May we not eat/shop/work/fornicate/drink our feelings into oblivion.
We are sold a commercialized version of love and connection that is rubbish. It distorts our understanding of what a real lover is like, or what a true friend should be, until our expectations of others and ourselves are miles from anywhere resembling reality. We start to equate the worth of our connections with things like the most thoughtful or at least most envious gifts. Our friendships become about photographic evidence of our amazing adventures together rather than the quality and authenticity of conversation. We push and pull until there is little room to let others and ourselves be just as we are with one another.
It has become very challenging to find real and meaningful relationships but humans need connection. We need love. And it starts with loving ourselves. I know, blah blah blah, you gotta love yourself before anyone else can love you, blah blah...but it’s true. And it is hard as fuck to really look at ourselves with genuine love and appreciation without placing conditions on this love. It can be a moment to moment struggle to feel valid.
The truth is that there is nothing to validate: We are already and always will be good enough to be loved.
Growing up, I was constantly vigilant for what would be a good day and what would be a bad day. At such a young age, I had somehow gotten the idea that I had contributed to the bad days and it was up to me to figure out how to ensure they didn’t happen. Like I had some sort of control over the emotional climate of our home. I would try to fit into a role that I thought my family needed or wanted. Maybe I was small and inconspicuous, or happy and laughing. It didn’t feel like there was room to be exactly as I was at any given moment, that I needed to be something else for those around me.
As I got older, and also when my depression started to manifest, this urge to people please morphed into detachment. I just wouldn’t talk or interact with those people I’d tried so hard to be perfect for when I was younger. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was still trying to control the situation but through avoidance.
As a pseudo-adult, I am more aware when old patterns come up. When I can control things or have them as I think they should be, it offers me a sense of safety. There will be no blow ups or chaos, because I am calling the shots. But when it gets to be too much or too unpleasant, I call it. I call it on jobs, on relationships, even on things that are supposed to bring relief and happiness like hobbies.
I have no regrets about any of the choices I’ve made in the past. They were the safest choices for me at that time. But now, I am aware of how tightly I’ve been clinging to this idea of perfect and how it might actually be strong-arming me into leading a life I don’t want to, all in the hopes of staying safe.
I am searching for that room temperature between control and detachment that allows me to be kind, authentic and of service to this global society without feeling like a doormat or wanting to crawl under an old pile of newspapers and live there alone.