Knowing That You Know

I’ve been on this weird journeyof learning how to interact with others on a meaningful level.

At first, I thought it was a problem of not knowing how to trust people.Which wasn’t wrong,since the reason I’ve never really had close relationships with people outside my family is because from a young age I didn’t trust humans to be genuine enough to be bothered with. The vast majority of people are busy putting on masks, worn with the simple goal of not feeling silly for being naked in a world full of masqueraders.

Being open and honest about your thoughts and feelings in this world is like being caught with your pants down. 

“GASP. You actually say what you think and express genuine committed emotion for others? What do you think this is?! A burlesque show?”

In reality everyone is jealous of anyone who dares exist in such a way. They wish they would be so bold. Absolutely long for a moment in which they could shed the mask and feel the sunshine of an honest existence on their pallid faces. But they’re too busy protecting themselves from pain, and as long as they do, they will never feel such warmth. Just like in the business world, opportunities are created and not found in the realm of love and relationship. As long as you’re unwilling to risk harm to yourself, chances are, you will only receive as much shadowed, flimsy and lukewarm affection as you give.

There are instances in which one is blessed to receive the open devotion of another without even trying. For example with a parent, or as is depicted over and over again in romance or the very rare friendship-focused films. And so a lot of people choose to wait around for such miracles in which they won’t have to take off their mask to get what they want. Or at least get to wait until it’s safe to take the risk.

Myself included. 

I was really good at the intellectual side of honest living.

After becoming very quickly emotionally jaded, I decided I couldn’t stand myself if I were to transform into a completely tepid person, the very thing I held most contempt and anger for in the world, so I devised a plan in which I would be truthful but safe. I donned a Phantom of the Opera half-disguise, if you will. I’d unleash my logical and intellectual honesty on the world, while still shielding my fragile emotions. 

Those I would hide away. After all, only a fool would remove their beating heart from the safety of the rib cage in a world swarming with vultures. Sure, there are a few idiots wandering around willing to trade pieces. It was not an impossibility to find someone as equally as daring, but why risk it? I’d be more likely to have the life clawed from my bloody hand.

I lived like that for a long time. Miserable, but safe. 

But because I still had half my face revealed, I’d damned myself to a lonely, bitter life. I’d never find comfort in the massive groupthink that poses as genuinely thoughtful expression, or the sweet nothings of a mutually agreed upon lukewarm love arrangement.

It was only because I was blessed enough to have run into one of those gems walking around disguised as idiots, that I pulled myself out of the muck of such a dour life. It took an egregious amount of time, but I learned that it was worth trusting people, even if it doomed you to a lot of pain over your lifetime. 

So it wasn’t untrue. Part of the problem was my trust in others.

But even after getting over that hump, there was still a lot wrong. It wasn’t enough. Even though I had made a decision to start trusting people again, even when no tangible reason for trust is presented, I was still having a lot of trouble putting that into practice and connecting. 

Why was it I still found myself hesitating even though I had made a serious decision to open my heart again?

It took a long time to realize, but it was because I still didn’t trust myself. If just a moment ago in the timeline of my life I had been so steeped in bad decisions to close off my heart, what made me think I was pure enough or had the strength enough to become a person worthy of trust myself? Just like that? Was my decision really enough? Was all it took just a stable resolve?

I’m great at stability. Once I commit to something you can count on it, so I kept telling myself over and over that it was enough. But deep down, I still felt disgusting. Icky. Absolutely unworthy of returning to the loving and open state of being we’re all born in.

I felt unregenerate.

So although my resolve was perhaps admirable, and even solid enough to swear by, I was still crippled by the guilt of my past life. And this manifested itself as hesitation. Even though I was completely willing to share any and all, I felt like I shouldn’t. Not in fear of getting hurt, but in fear of being sniffed out as unsure of myself emotionally. 

I didn’t trust myself to know how to love, even if I knew for sure who I loved. I hadn’t walked the road of emotionality in a long time. Whether it was people I cared for deeply or people I’d just met that I knew were in need of some love, it was extremely difficult for me to wrap my head around what love looked like.

No, that’s not true.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know what it looked like. I knew very well. I just didn’t know if mine was enough, if it would measure up. I still felt tainted. 

These days I’ve reached a point where I know. I know that I know it’s enough. Or at the very least I’ll die trying, and that’ll just have to be enough because there won’t be anything else left to give and that’s all I can do. I’ve finally gotten enough out of my head to take better action, to start banishing the hesitation.

I’m still not that great at it though.

I’m still figuring out how to love people. Especially those who start out as strangers who I have to let in while still maintaining boundaries. I think that’s what I’m worst at going about at this point. Half of the reason is just because I’m a crappy conversationalist. I’m still not that out of my head, so I miss opportunities, with strangers and loved ones alike. Although I’m perceptive in some ways, I’m still pretty dense in a lot of ways.

But I’m working on it.

And out of this will come more stories of my cringe-worthy social existence,

so lucky you.

~LDA

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Secret Destruction

Dreams can reveal a lot about you to yourself. I dreamt a while ago that some guy who used to be interested in me years ago came back “seeking my hand.” Like legitimate, “I asked your father for permission” style courting. That freaked me out a little. I hid for a while, deciding whether or not I wanted to entertain him. Like, actually hid in some corner of the house. I know, I’m so mature. Eventually I decided I did. Want to entertain him, that is.

Interestingly enough, it was only when he began to pull away, giving signals he was about to leave that I overcame my hesitiation. When we came face to face with each other we completely skipped any long time no see formalities. I basically pulled him into some alcove and dared him to make a move.

As I did it though, I realized what little intention I had in pursuing the relationship seriously, but I continued anyway. When I woke up, half of me was laughing at how kinky I had been, but half of me was appalled I would play with someone like that. He was clearly pursuing me as something serious, but I did it anyway. In that way I was intentionally hurting him.

Even though I’ve never actually done something like this in real life, when I woke up, the guilt was real. I mean, dang. What a savage, heartless move. If I’m being honest, such cruel things have flashed across my imagination during dark, lonely stretches, but I always drew the line at actually doing them. And reprimanded myself, warning to keep myself in check, because I think I see through people well enough to conduct such malicious endeavors of manipulation with ease if I really wanted to. I’ve always believed that you never truly know yourself and the lengths you’ll go to for comfort and relief of pain. For this reason, it’s when you get too comfortable in your inner good and ability to read yourself that you can find yourself doing crazy, destructive things.

I’ve always been extremely careful not to do anything like that in my waking life. I have kept people at bay for long periods of time simply because I was not sure of my true motives, or whether or not I would be able to fulfill them, even if they were good ones. As much of a virtue as that may sound, it has proven to be as destructive as it has been protective.

For the most part, I can assume I’ve hurt less people, but I’ve also deeply hurt people who are extremely important to me. Because they don’t know what on Earth my walls are for or why they haven’t been able to break through them yet, it can become pretty wearying and even insulting for them to see me still at a distance.

So I’ve learned it’s very important to strike a balance between monitoring your intentions and giving yourself room to connect with people. Which sounds so much easier than it actually is.

As you may know by now,

I overthink everything.

So zen equilibrium is hard to come by for me.

 

I’ll just have to keep trying.

 

~LDA

High-Functioning Hopeless

I have often considered what the cause of this all encompassing sense of hopelessness that sometimes overtakes me is.  It doesn’t feel like a chemical imbalance.  Especially in the way that I am able to continue through my days.  At worst, it only threatens to cripple my motivation enough to interrupt my daily life, but it almost never does.  I am quite functional.  In fact, I would even go as far at to state that I am happy.  Or at least I should be.  The state of my life in all arenas (work, family, play, etc.) is very satisfactory. There is nothing I can point to as saying is wrong.  There are things that I am working on, relationships, but that’s normal.  Although I use it because it is the closest I can come to explaining my current condition, I have difficulty describing myself as “mildly depressed,” because even the term itself is a contradiction.

How can one be,

oh,

just slightly despondent?

It doesn’t really make sense.  But at the same time I know I should at least describe things as being wrong.  There is a very notable sense of melancholy that presents itself often enough to be a red flag. Call it high functioning depression, I suppose. 

A low volume siren that warns “Wee-oo, wee-oo.  Normal people don’t fantasize about their life ending.  Even if it’s mostly in a “whoops, that’s just the way it worked out, whoopee, kind of way.”

I’ve gotten better in the last few months.  There has been a notable lessening in the frequency of these thoughts, partially due to therapy sans meds.  But I can’t say I’ve fully shaken this pall over my existence.

I’ve been thinking.

I know, I know.  What’s knew?  But hear me out.

Part of my therapy sessions used to constitute accepting the causeless nature of such a dip in life motivation.  And I understand why she chose to sharpen that ability of mine.  It brings a certain measure of peace without closure, but at the same time, I haven’t fully accepted this approach.

Lately, it’s really been smacking me in the face how unequal our society is.  And when I say our society, I mean our global community in general.  Our approach to things is crazy stupid.  It’s stupid that millions of people are still in danger of starving and dying from unclean water.  It’s stupid that wars are still happening, because seriously for what?  Nothing is worth the atrocities that happen during wartime.  Why haven’t we woken up enough to not be so confounded selfish?  Even the few just wars that are being fought, I wish there wasn’t a need for them.  That whatever skirmish that happened between nations over land, money or religion would dissolve.  Can’t we all just shake hands and let bygones be bygones?  Compromise is not so hard if we would just learn to forgive and let go of desires that can’t (or shouldn’t) be met.  It’s also stupid that people don’t have enough access to or freedom from discrimination to get the mental health services they need in order to not feel like they have to go shoot up a school or bully someone else into committing suicide themselves.

There’s so many more things that are unbelievably stupid that we should’ve already gotten over.  The list goes on.  But what’s most frustrating is that it’s not like the solutions to them are rocket science. They could hypothetically be very successfully executed.  It’s simply the unwillingness of man to come together and compromise that keeps it from happening.  One person over there who wants to keep their power, a few over there who want to keep their money.  All it takes is a small group of people with enough power who want to keep others less than for the whole panacea to disintegrate. The hope of world peace falls apart every time,

because the sad reality is,

there will always be people who are too afraid of losing their positions of security to give selflessness a try,

so we will always be broken.

The world will always be broken.  We’re too busy tearing each other apart or pretending the carnage isn’t happening to reach any compromise.

It makes me feel sick, because it feels like no matter how hard I try to spread a little love and light through my life’s actions, it will never be enough.  I’m fighting a losing battle, at least in this life, and that is just a tad discouraging to face on the daily basis.

I’m thinking maybe that’s part of why I’ve been feeling the way I have. This sense of hopelessness has gripped me, that I’ll never get it right enough to really fix anything.  Sure, I can make a difference in the lives of my students, my family, and my friends.  But there will always be someone gasping for air across the planet, the country, or even my neighborhood that I will not be able to reach.  The constant cycle of losing people is depressing, in the most non-overused sense of the word.  Everyone is worth love and attention and being saved, but I have to face this reality that countless souls are being lost anyway. It’s enough to take a person out, to convince them to stop trying since they matter so little in the grand scheme of the universe anyway. Even though mentally I know that’s a stupid choice.

It’s better to do something than nothing at all.

It’s just hard to motivate yourself when you’re hardly a blip on the cosmic radar.  Maybe one day I’ll make peace with the fact that every breath I take is very-almost an exercise in futility.

The key word is “almost,” I guess.

 

~LDA

And How Does That Make You Feel?…

It’s a weird situation shaking hands with someone for the first time and then immediately vomiting every bit of knowledge of what’s wrong with yourself at them.  Seeking psychotherapy is like some weird reverse dating situation.  You know how when most people date, they try their best to hide all their annoying quirks and glaring issues at the beginning, in the hopes that the gradual release method will soften the blow and succeed in convincing some sucker to spend the rest of their lives with them?  Well, therapy is the opposite in the sense that you purposely expose all your flaws since you’re not worried about scaring away or losing the person.

You’ve gone out of your way to pay someone not to run away when they find out what a monster you are.  They’ve even got a master’s or doctorate degree on their wall that says they won’t lose their poker face and make you feel like an irredeemable mess, no matter how many steaming piles have hit your psychological fan.  It’s an interesting dynamic.   

“Hi, my name is Lady. I’m slightly suicidal and prone to flights of delusionality that I like to write down and call fiction. Can you help me be a tad more functional in society without yanking out all my word-spewing bits? Thanks.”

I have to admit, when I made the decision to seek professional help several months ago, a little part of me expected to walk out of that room with a brand that read “crazy” on my forehead. Not that I’m opposed to therapy. I mean, heck, I wanted to be a psychologist at one point, so I hate the stigma that’s attached to receiving psychological/psychiatric treatment. If it’s publicly acceptable to heal our bodies, why isn’t it publicly acceptable to heal our minds?  But in all honesty, a part of me was still laughing at myself for having reached the point I had to walk into some room and talk to a stranger for an allotted amount of time, just because I couldn’t handle the weight of my issues on my own.  

It takes guts to admit that to yourself.  In an ideal world, everyone would have close enough friends and family members to talk to on the regular basis and not need a stranger to talk to.  In an ideal world, I would just have a stable enough head on my shoulders in the first place.  But this is not an ideal world, and speaking to a loved one is not quite the same as talking to a qualified professional.  So to a therapist I went.  

I ended up seeing my therapist roughly once a week for two months and it was a great experience.  Not in the sense that I walked out of there a renewed and completely whole person, entirely devoid of the thoughts that had plagued me before, but it helped.  It definitely helped.  I felt and still feel somewhat rejuvenated as a result of having a better grasp on myself.  This more intimate knowing of yourself, or just assurance that you’re not completely nuts, inevitably translates into having a better grasp on life in general.    

Therapy is not just some silly thing people who have a lot of money and time on their hands choose to engage in so that a person can ask them how they feel constantly.  It can sincerely be a big help and you might be surprised at how accessible a therapist may be to you, even if you don’t have insurance.  There are such things as free clinics and there might be one near enough you if you do some digging.  Another alternative is online counseling which tends to be more affordable or using the variety of free phone mental health services.  

Don’t ever let the stigma of getting psychological assistance get in the way of you receiving the help you need.  It’s not something to be ashamed of.  In fact, there are plenty of people who say they’re fine, but could use psychological attention and are much worse for the wear.  Don’t be those silly people.  Throw away your ego if you have to so you can get a better quality of life.  Seriously, which is better?  Some ridiculous sap who has his thumbs up but is dying on the inside, or a person whose insides match their outsides, even if that does mean grinning a little less because at the moment you’re not particularly happy.  At times, even people who have a stable support system can use a stranger to whisper all their dark, secret thoughts to.  

Sometimes, you grow so tired of ignoring your problems or questioning yourself about how you’re doing, that you just need someone else to do it for you for a while.  

And that’s okay.  

~LDA

Silliness with Children

I used to look at people who became their goofiest when they played with children with an embarrassed side-glance.   I’d feel the need to feel uncomfortable for them, that they were doing such silly things in front of a bunch of adults.

Like, “You realize we can see you too, right?”

But in reality, it’s not like I thought any less of them. I understood that they were just doing things like making silly faces and pretending to trip on imaginary banana peels to entertain the kids. It didn’t make them any less of an adult in my eyes, so I don’t really know why I found it so embarrassing to watch them do their thing.

I think maybe I was insecure in my own adulthood at the time and so I felt like I had to overcompensate by not acting silly at any time, even if it was just for kids; in order to prove the sternness of my adult status.  Now, I’ve embraced the truth that all adults are just really big kids anyway, so what’s the use in stifling your inner child?  It’s just that now we’re big kids who pay taxes, and feel obligated to pretend we know what we’re doing.  But the huge secret is, we still don’t know what we’re doing.  Each stage of life brings new challenges that make us feel as awkward as a kindergartner, fumbling to scratch led marks between the lines we’re told to adhere to.

I find myself doing all sorts of crazy stuff these days to make my students laugh or keep them engaged. I’m not embarrassed in the least. Not even in front of other adults.

I don’t understand why we keep this lack of know-how a secret for children to find out when they’re adults.  It’s not like they’d look down on us or feel less safe in our hands.  I find they usually appreciate the honesty, to whatever extent you give it to them.  Why don’t we do them a favor and save them some insecurity & uncertainty later by fessing up?

I feel like a shadow of this truth is shown when we do things like make silly faces at small children, but I think the adolescents could use our help too.

Tell a young adult “I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’m still breathing so I guess I’m doing something right,” today.

~LDA

 

Drama Llama

I’m such a drama llama.

I hate actual drama with people, but I can be so incongruously melodramatic with myself in my head. Even when my logic is pounding at my heart’s door and telling it to shut up, “I’ve heard this bit about five thousand times! Give it a rest already!”

I am finding my problems are so much less than I build them up to be and am continually ashamed of myself. I’m speaking mostly of my social troubles, of which you would barely be able to tell I have, because it’s easy to camouflage.  My anxiety is an invisible burden which I have no need to shove behind my back for fear of being found out.  Its nature is quite undetectable given enough nods, smiles, and echoing of whomever I’m speaking to.

Most people only want to hear themselves repeated and affirmed anyway, so this is easy.  A fact I’ve expressed distaste of before.

It’s quite a self-centered way of being, wanting to be heard all the time and refusing to return the favor, but I’ve admitted I have my own brand of selfishness as well.  I seek depth of connection without wading into the waters of relationship.  You can’t begin to understand a person, or people in general for that matter, until you first know them.  There’s a level of necessity for this surface level contact.

I have this conceited fear that if I talk to a lot of people I’ll attract too many people I don’t particularly like, and won’t know how to shake them off.  Because despite being a pro at offending people unintentionally with my blunt manner, I actually don’t like causing others pain or discomfort.  I do contain a base level of empathy that brings me an aversion to being the cause of pain.  I just mostly see things so differently than other people that I can’t predict a lot of the ways they will feel pain, so I cause it anyway.

But this is a really selfish fear.  One I thought I had disengaged myself with.  It all comes back to me being afraid I will have to give too much.  Which is not completely unreasonable since there are a lot of leeches out there who bring nothing to the table but a suction cup mouth, however it is selfish nonetheless.  So what?  I’ll end up giving more than I receive.  It’s not exactly a fun way to live, but it’s a way of life I’ve claimed to support, all the while not putting into practice socially.  

It’s so essential to my growth as a person and is stunting my current relationships, and still I have yet to deal with it. I’ve been staring my interpersonal issues in the face for so long that I have at least finally identified them. The problem is, that it’s been so long that I’ve also forgotten how to act on resolving them, even when I know how. Or at least know how to start.  I’ve been on pause discussing strategy for such an extended length of time that I’ve forgotten it takes an action to put that strategy into effect.  

It’s things like these that I justly beat myself up about not putting into play.  Life is the sort of game where you have to put yourself at risk to level up.  The trick is to beat each level without using any cheat codes, (like manipulating people), because it’s lame to beat it unethically.  If you do, you will level up, but the win won’t be worth much in the end.

Growing as a person is such a continuous battle of getting yourself to face your fears, irrational and otherwise. And not only face them, but to get up and fight them. 

~LDA

Radio Silence? Try Phone Silence

I never thought I’d become one of those people who get itchy when their phone doesn’t plonk with a message notification often enough. I’m largely a loner, both in person and online so I’ve never really cared whether I was talking to enough people, whether that meant I was part of a chat thread or keeping a texting conversation going.

But in the last year I think I’ve become way more aware of the silence of my phone than I would like.

Part of that is just because I’ve been really taking the time to analyze my relationships or lack thereof in the last year. Part of it is because I’ve increased my online presence and have gotten used to a certain amount of pings and dings coming from my phone. (That probably says something about my generation, but that’s another topic entirely.)

A sort of static has formed in my brain. A creeping, hovering sort of white noise that throws a pall over all my interactions. I haven’t exactly been the most mental/emotionally healthy these past several months. This constant hum, nagging in the background of all my thoughts, taunts me on the regular basis, and when phone silence ensues it sometimes can reach a fever pitch.

It’s not an actual audible sound.  

I’ll just notice “Huh, I haven’t gotten a reply on a thread or received a message from so and so in a while,” and the static rises from its subconscious slumber.

“Huh, there’s this sort of hollow feeling in my chest I can’t find the name for.”

I’ve been working out my relationships with people and trying to decide how much is too much interaction, and more importantly in my case, how little is not enough. For most of my life this hasn’t been much of a concern, but I guess I’ve reached quarter life crisis and am re-evaluating my path in life.  Hardly anybody ever talks about the dissonance that comes in your early to mid-twenties where you’re no longer a goofy college kid so you can’t act out in irresponsible ways, but you don’t quite feel like an adult either, so you feel like a fraud donning your shiny suit to work.

Like,

“Hahaha, everyone.  Not to worry.  I have my adult name-tag on, therefore I must know what I’m doing…mustn’t I?  I mean, that’s how it works, right?  Guys?…”

Everyone is obsessed with adolescence and how hard the poor teenagers have it because they suddenly want to nail everything that moves.  That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.  How about us poor saps, who maybe have our degrees, and if we’re lucky a job to match, but we’ve been stuck in our books or between someone’s bosoms so long we forgot to learn how to actually connect with people?   You know, like on an actual meaningful level.

Not just high-fiving about the killer time we had at the bar last night, or feigning pleasant small talk whilst casting lusty glances at each other’s resumes.

If you’re lucky you come out of college with a few lifelong friends and maybe even a significant other.  But even then, things happen, people move away.  And if you’re not lucky, well, good luck with that one buddy.  Now you have to go about the sticky business of creating a new inner circle of friends from scratch.  It’s like you’re neither here nor there.  You’re not really so connected to your family anymore because you’re supposed to be your own person by now.  But you don’t really have time and/or energy to go socialize after work so you get that pack animal quality time in either.

Externally, I’m quite successful. I’ve hit all the major milestones when it comes to education and career. But internally, it’s a bit of a wasteland. Well, I guess that’s not entirely true. I’m very spiritually grounded and I have a great relationship with my family so those are solid things. However, life in your twenties makes you come face to face with your interpersonal skills like nothing else. Don’t get me wrong, I’m functional.  My work relationships are cordial, my volunteer connections friendly, but a depth of connection is lacking that suddenly feels very pressing.

Some people choose to worry about finding a significant other right away.  They immediately start to preen and paint their feathers to try and snag the first sucker that comes along.  The goal is to convince them to spend inordinate amounts of time with them, if not the rest of their lives.  Me, I’m just trying to figure out humans in general.  

It seems there are few people worth really connecting with, or at least that they’re really hard to find.  I’d like my intimate circle of friends to do some expanding, but people can be really shallow and there’s not a large pool to pick and choose from.  I have a feeling a lot of the worthwhile people are busy nursing their own static, so we keep missing each other.  

You have to be so intentional at this point in life if you want to forge new relationships, because if you don’t get lucky at work, you have to plan excursions where you’ll run into new people.  Most times I’d rather stay at home and read, firmly glued to a cup of hot cocoa.  I guess I’m being an idiot because I want to have my cake and eat it too (while sipping hot cocoa).

I need people in order to feel fulfilled in life, but I’d really rather do without them if I could help it.  They come along with so many disappointments and unnecessary detours.

So much effort is required, so much re-positioning, so much pain.

I’m told it’s worth it.

Nah, actually, I’m bluffing.  I know from experience it’s worth it too.  It’s just hard to work up the courage to get on the confounded phone.

But my phone won’t start pinging on it’s own, now will it?

~LDA

The Great Time War

I want to defeat time.

Even though I know I can’t help but improve myself in a linear fashion, I get really frustrated sometimes by the rearview mirror.

Hind sight is 20/20 they say. Which isn’t entirely true. Sometimes even having gained information and insight about a particular situation you would still choose the same course of action. Not because you don’t see how the outcome will be bad, but because you lack the strength to be a better person and choose the more difficult choice. It’s hard to face yourself and knowingly choose discomfort.

Sometimes though, hindsight would change things. For example, as I mentioned before, I’m a teacher. There are moments where I realize there is something, be it a strategy or a new skill, that I could have taught my students to exponentially increase their chances of success. Looking back and realizing I could have done better by them really tends to lay on the guilt. On the one hand, what can I do? I can’t change the fact that I’m a person who is learning along with them. But on the other hand, the nature of the job of teaching is a really sticky one, because you quite literally affect the futures of many people. My ineptitude in teaching a certain academic or life skill could lead to someone dropping out of school somewhere down the line and having a crappy life thereafter. (Not that all dropouts become unsuccessful. A few end up doing well.)

So I’m often bombarded by this rivalry with time. Can I beat myself and be better faster so that I can wreak the least havoc possible on this Earth? Can I make as few mistakes as possible by making calculations and budgeting time for specific personal and professional growth goals?

The thing is, I know the answer is no, but I’ve always been a very stubborn person. I’m still going to try my best to at least lose as little as possible.

On my good days I go through life shouting “Zettai ni makenai! (I definitely won’t lose!).” But on my bad days the reality of losing catches up to me and I want to throw in the towel. Shameful, I know. I guess I have to learn to be a little more satisfied with turning hindsight into foresight, rather than grumbling about the battles I’ve lost.

In the end, I’m destined to lose the war. But I want to go out with a kick butt war cry, not a defeated whimper. I guess I better get my ish together then, huh?

~LDA

Slipping Betweens Extremes

These days I slip between extremes. I go from swiping at the dark thoughts that buzz around my cranium like hungry mosquitoes, to letting them perch on finger to have a drink. I am at once dismayed at the absence of relationships and happy that there is something to be missing in the first place.  To be honest I’ve been pretty skeptical of the integrity of my future relationships since the time I was young, so I’m surprised there is something to long for.  When memories hit I usually can’t tell if I want to cry or laugh.

These usually sound the same these days so it’s becoming hard to tell the difference. And I find that I’m so tired that I don’t much care that I can’t distinguish. All I know is that something from the soul is working its way out of my body and chosen to take the form of creepy weep/giggles. I can’t do much to prevent it from crawling its way out and honestly don’t mind. I’ve learned that stifling monsters just prolongs the process of metamorphosis, and then you have even greater demons you’re confronting instead of beautiful butterflies. Not fun. So out it comes.

I know I’m being dramatic, but happiness and pain often feel the same nowadays, since the one always seems to closely follow the other.  I’m not depressed, but my emotions are fuzzy.

Like sometimes all I can remember is the time you sat watching me eat ice cream because you didn’t feel like eating sweets and I was too much of a prick to actually ask whether you wanted to go for ice cream even though we hadn’t seen each other in months.  My thoughts are like that last sentence: dense, complicated and drawn out.

And every time my left knee aches I remember the time I smacked it against the computer desk as you smirk-glared at me from the hallway. You were probably satisfied I was in pain because I’d forgotten to print my concert ticket and we were already late.  We were almost all the way out of my development before you thought to ask, and you probably only thought to ask because you knew as annoyingly clever as I can be, forgetting to bring the concert ticket to the show we’d been eagerly awaiting for months is totally something I would do.  What can I say?  It was my first concert. I was still green and I’m glad I spent that time with you. Even though the fond memory is torturing me right now.

Oh no. Here they come. The if only’s.

If only I hadn’t screwed up so badly by simply being the person I was.  I wonder what our souls will look like in ten years and how far apart.

“What a waste to be so alone. 🎶”

~LDA

Not In Kansas Anymore

I find that these days I am often surprised that I have a reflection. It’s not that I have lost my sense of self. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

Recently I did experience an awakening that made me aware of what a lack of self I had. It’s not that I didn’t have an identity. I did. We all do, it’s how we get around and drink things without people going, “Hey, why’s that coffee mug floating in the air?”

It’s just that the self that I identified with did not match up with my true self enough to ring true.

Haha. That sentence was a mess.

What I’m trying to say is, I had been wearing a mask for so long just to avoid being invisible that I was surprised to discover there was actually a face underneath the mask when I took it off. And even more surprised that I don’t completely hate it.

It was difficult, shedding a mask that I’d worn for so long that it was practically chemically bonded with my skin. It was really difficult. Especially since the mask bore such close resemblance to my real face that I often forgot I was wearing one. Now this is about to sound completely contradictory, but I’m not one to be fake. I’ve hated the idea of posers and fake people since I was young enough to understand how humans often default to interacting with each other. From a very young age I understood that I thought differently from other people in the sense that I saw very little need to put on a show for the sake of reputation. I was what I was and I gave you the option to take it or leave it and that was that. I’ve never wasted my time much with people who wanted me to act a certain way or were obviously preoccupied with having me believe they were a certain way. The idea of relating with such people has always been boring to me. It’s such a false interaction. Why bother with the energy? It’s much more interesting to deal with people who accept the way they are and challenge you to accept it too.

The problem with the identity I had before is that in my attempt to stay as raw as possible I lacked the flexibility to change in response to others. I wanted people to accept the way I was but was quite unwilling to let them affect me in return, which is unfair. I think the reason I became this way is because I had experienced so many exchanges with dishonest people that I had become jaded. I had been let down so many times by the possibility of authentic people that I decided I would force people to accept me the way I was before I was willing to accept them. And I think the really sick thing about my condition was that it’s not that I wasn’t willing to take. I was completely willing to take anything people had to offer me in the way of relationship. I just wasn’t willing to take and accept them as a person in return. It was a trust issue.

Even though I’m pretty perceptive when it comes to reading people, I’m pretty dumb when it comes to reading their actions in the context of emotional and social cues. I would be able to see if a person was showing their true self for the most part, but then be very unsure of what they wanted from me. A question I often ask myself is, “What does this person hope to gain from this interaction?” People’s motives are often so double-sided and shallow that I didn’t trust that it was worth nurturing a relationship with them. And if I don’t trust what they can give me, then why bother offering myself in return?

As I encouraged this way of thinking and being in myself, I developed this thin, almost translucent mask that said I accepted myself so entirely that I didn’t need other people. It’s strange because it was a mask more for myself than for showing to other people. I wanted to be able to look in the mirror and believe that I wasn’t this intensely lonely creature who longed for meaningful connection. I did a good job too, because I believed it. For a really long time.

I’ve recently gone through some serious bumps in the road that have led me to re-evaluate how I handled some of my most precious relationships (of which there are not many) in the past. I’ve gone through and am still going through this spiraling cycle of regret about how I could have loved better had I just not been afraid to be vulnerable and taken off my mask.

Even though the regret is still hitting me hard, I’ve pushed forward enough to realize that the thing to do is not to waste time reminiscing, but to strive to do better in the here and now. Even harder is to realize that I have to let go of those people I will not get a second chance with, because they have the right to say no.

So I’m all naked and gross now, like a snail who has lost it’s shell, but then realized it’s been a slug all along.

It’s nerve-wracking. I mean, really quite terrifying to try to approach the world with an open point of view after all this time hiding under a shell. And I’m honest enough with myself now to be able to admit that I’m terrified after being blasted into the sky by this tornado of a thing we call life.

It’s weird to walk past a mirror and be startled. Like, “Whoa, what was that? Oh, yeah, that’s just me. That’s how I actually look like.”

It’s even weirder to find I’m not invisible after taking off my mask. Not necessarily that I love everything I see. There’s still so much that I know needs changing. But I breathe a little sigh of relief when I realize, “Ah, I can work with that. Those frown lines can turn into laugh lines with some effort.”

It’s surprising to find I’m actually glad I’m not in Kansas anymore.

~LDA