it's okay not to be okay.
I like to write. I find it comforting, soothing. But not always, often it can be painful. And recently, it has felt quite painful.
I try to pride myself on honesty. Truth, trust, transparency: values I hold very dear and love in others.
I write to get things out of my head. To figure things out. The classic, pen to paper, and it will all be okay.
Writing forces me to sit with myself. But better (or worse) yet, it forces me to sit with my own thoughts.
Recently, I haven’t been enjoying my own company. My head has been a scary place to be.
And that hurts, because it has taken me a really long time to get to a place where the opposite is true.
Unfortunately, that’s not the way life works.
I’m not very religious, but I do consider myself spiritual. Therefore, I can appreciate the challenges or curveballs thrown our way to challenge and test us… after all. that’s how we learn and grow.
But the tests recently have all felt a little too much. A little too close to the bone. Not even too close for comfort, but the things that truly shake and terrify me to my core.
I’d like to think I’m strong, but let’s be real for a second. Is anyone? We all have strengths and weaknesses, but we also all have an achilles heel. Some people know theirs really well and have learned coping mechanisms and skills to deal with such crises when they arise, but most of us haven’t.
I certainly haven’t. My favourite coping mechanism is shutting down. Distraction. Everything. Anything. Anything but the actual problem at hand.
And it drives those close to me around the bend. Because they’re trying to have a difficult conversation with me or express a significant concern, and it comes across as though I couldn’t care less. Untrue. I’m listening, I’m caring, but my coping mechanism is to avoid at all costs. Because the pain that comes with acknowledgement? That’s the kind of pain that sends me into hibernation. That sends me into the next round of months in bed. Not eating, not sleeping, not partaking in life. Months replaying the previous twenty five in my head. Every single mistake. Every single nasty comment made in the heat of the moment. Every single failure. All blown catastrophically out of proportion.
Self-sabotage. Self-torture. Hell - everyone else has long forgotten most of these mistakes or comments or stupid tantrums. But not me. I get to carry them for the rest of my life. And sometimes the stories, the memories, sometimes they're so powerful it’s hard to turn away from them. And when I can’t turn the thoughts off, or put them away for a while, they’re all consuming. I can’t do anything else. I can’t think of anything else. I’m so ashamed, and embarrassed. And filled with remorse, dread, guilt, sorrow, apologies that I’ll never get to fully express, the list goes on.
Is this my version of existential angst? Are these my thirteen reasons why? Because let me tell you something for nothing, there are certainly a lot more than thirteen reasons.
I’m trying to learn how to handle these thoughts and feelings. I’m sure some of you might be too. They say it takes just one negative thing to cancel out ten positive things. That’s my focus right now, working on shifting everything in my life towards the positive side of the dial. The positive mentality. The somewhat optimistic one. As a cynic, that’s more difficult than you might expect. My default setting is “what’s the worst that can happen?”
If I can cope with the worst, and have no expectations for anything more, then where can I go wrong? I can’t be let down. I can’t get hurt.
But where is the joy in that? The pleasure? Why are we even alive in the first place? What makes you happy? Why are you not chasing your dreams? What happens if something does go horribly wrong tomorrow? Do you really mean to tell me you’re going to spend all of today miserable because you f**ked up yesterday, or last year, or said something you regret to a friend a decade ago?
The 6 foot under option sometimes feels like the only one. But you have to go through a door to get there. A horrific one. And you don’t go through that door alone. Every single person in your life gets dragged through it with you.
But how do you know what’s on the other side of the door? It could be anything. Anything! What would you like it to be? Are you a dreamer like me? Can you access those dreams? Because if you can, you’ve got hope. And if you’ve got hope, you can do anything.
Because someone is going through that door with you no matter what. If you’ve been through something, and you can’t see what that might be, ask someone else. Someone you can trust. Someone that might be going through that door with you. And if you can’t think of one person. You’ve got me. Please ask me.
To start writing today, I opened my notebook from the last time I wrote my “monthly notes”, in April 2020. It read:
… which is why we should start this morning with gratitude and urgency, with appreciation and awareness. How much time any of us have left is not up to us—but what we do with that time? That’s our call. That’s our song to sing.