Cavern Hunting with Pandora

It’s strange. I find that often if I’m quiet enough, and I listen hard enough, there are still echoes of a cavern in my soul. Of dank, cold water that soundlessly seeps into every crevice.

If you were to ask me if I was okay I would undoubtedly say yes. Because I am, and I’m doing so much better than before. But at the same time I am very much aware that there is a darkness that is yet to be lifted.

I sometimes describe myself as slightly suicidal which sounds like an insult to people on the brink of suicide. It seems like a dichotomy. You can’t be in that kind of a headspace only slightly, you’re probably thinking. It’s something that overtakes you completely.

And you’re right.

But you’re also wrong.

I’m at a place where most of the time I’m fine, happy even. The term mildly depressed no longer fits. I feel somewhat back to an equilibrium. And yet, I know I’m not one hundred percent. Like there may be demons I haven’t wrestled yet. Or worse, like because I’ve visited such dark places, I’ll never be able to fully leave them behind in my memories. Like there’s a Pandora’s box that has been opened and the potential for even denser darkness in the midst of light has been unleashed. I sense there is a kinetic reality whispering around the edges of my consciousness.

I fight these fears with, of all the lame techniques I could’ve chosen, positive thinking. Or better stated, no thinking. Distracted thinking. Since the path to the caverns are familiar, I can notice that I’m heading there more quickly and reroute myself, whether it’s with a trivial thought or an important one.

But I guess I worry that if I use this technique too often I might miss a battle that’s better to be had now rather than later. I’ve dealt with a lot of my issues in the last few years and am still dealing with them. It’s part of what contributed to getting to know my dark spaces so up close and personal. I decided it was time to climb out of the cavern, and when I was going to therapy my therapist seemed very intent on helping me put those thoughts and feelings into perspective. My emotions are valid, but they’re not as all encompassing and overwhelming as they feel. Don’t give them more importance than they deserve. If a thought’s not constructive throw it out. Simple as that. 

Only problem is sometimes it’s hard to tell the genuinely destructive ones from the ones that sting, but are building my character.

There are important things I’ve learned about managing my emotions and I know I can still continue to use them while working on my flaws, but I also can’t help wondering what secret things have slinked out of Pandora’s box that I’ve yet to have noticed. It’s hard learning how to exist in this new version of myself when I don’t actually know all my parts. Meanwhile, other parts I can’t forget and they contribute to my tendency to go cavern hunting. Unfortunately, being honest with myself includes admitting that part of me still savors the option of flicking to OFF, on account of all the beasties lurking in the dark.

Good thing hope is a flame and not an off switch.

~LDA

Advertisements

You Wouldn’t Like Me

There’s this Tegan and Sara song I really love called You Wouldn’t Like Me.” 

 

Part of it goes like this:

“There’s a war inside of me 

Do I cause new heartbreak to write a new broken song? 

Do I push it down or let it run me right in to the ground? 

I feel like I wouldn’t like me if I met me. 

Sunshine is days away 

I won’t be saved

I know all the words 

I can’t say that I’ll love you forever 

I won’t say that I love you forever” 

 

I relate to it a lot, although maybe not for the very same reasons as the speaker.

I’ve spoken about love and how I’m learning to be better at loving others. I even recently wrote a post about how I’m feeling more confident about undertaking what seems like this goliath task. I spoke about how even if you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing when loving and being there for others, trying your best is half the work so there’s no use sitting there, just go for it. Which is true.

It’s really important to not let hesitation get in your way, or you will just be one more dumbie in the world twiddling their thumbs and being upset that no one will love them properly even though they barely put in any effort themselves.

I find that as I move forward with this philosophy I’m still not perfect. Which is no surprise. I won’t ever be, but never have I felt further from it.

For the most part, instead of stopping before I start, I’m stopped dead in my tracks in the process. Sure, I can push myself to make an attempt, to try my best even, but it’s like I fall short eight times out of ten. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. It’s not necessarily that I fail in the attempt. More like while going about my life relating to people on a mundane level, I seem to spot more and more flaws that will make loving and supporting people on a deeper level impossible.

I’ve stopped saying “I can’t say that I’ll love you forever. I won’t say that I’ll love you forever,” but sometimes it’s still hard to swallow that fear that I won’t be able to.

People say that if you fear you can’t love it’s most likely because you fear you yourself are unlovable. That’s true, but it’s not quite the case with me.

I know I’m lovable. I don’t lack self worth. In fact I’m probably a little stuck up in that regard. I’m confident in most of my abilities. And blessedly, it’s obvious people in my life love me. It’s more along the lines of me just thinking it’s sad that they do, because I’m not sure I can do justice to loving them back. 

I was talking to my father the other day about how he needs to be careful how he comes off to people when he talks to them. That while he’s sitting there thinking they’re having a friendly discussion they’re clearly reading it as an unwelcome lecture. He tends to come off as always thinking he’s right, never open to the possibility that others have much to bring to the table. He doesn’t mean to, but he does. I’ve always known he and I are very alike in a lot of ways. Been very wary of it.

I thought I was doing a decent job at not manifesting his worst features. Apparently not. Although I’ve done things like ask my family to let me know any and every time they feel I am being dismissive, to my dismay, the other day my best friend told me the same exact thing I had spent time warning my father of. She might as well have taped recorded my words and fed them back to me on loop. 

Do you know how crappy that feels?

Having gone in to prevent a problem before it happens and then be told you were completely ineffectual?

If people can’t trust me to talk to them in a way that makes them feel heard and valued, how the hell am I going to be there for them when they need me? They won’t come to me when they’re feeling fear or sorrow if they’ve already been run over in areas that don’t even matter as much. I’ve almost completely taken myself out of the equation of their emotional support system. 

That ish hurts to know. It’s all my fears about lack of ability to love realized.

I guess I should say yetLack of ability to effectively love yet, but it’s just really discouraging. Talk about one step forward, six steps back. Although I realize talking about love like it’s a skill is strange.

My best friend also keeps asking me why I don’t let myself cry. I’ve never really been able to articulate it, but I think it’s because of an old fear of the intensity of my emotions. I feel like if I open that door I might not ever stop crying. Or shouting in anger for that matter. I’ve sprinted away from happiness in the past for fear of the possible and very likely sadness it would bring later. I think recently I thought I could run towards happiness without embracing the melancholy and rage as well.  I knew in my head that wasn’t possible, but I think my heart needed to believe that for a while in order to start walking.  Reality is hitting hard.

There’s this weird thing that my body does where I tear up when I laugh. Whereas most people only do that when they’re having an intense bout of laughter, I do it pretty often. It’s like all my emotions only come in one variety: Intense. There have been a few times when I was laughing especially hard that it’s devolved into tears of grief. Very suddenly and uncontrollably. I’m talking, looking like a madwoman, I’ve started completely balling, unable to keep the saltwater from spilling across my grinning face.  Has that ever happened to you? The edges of my happiness come crashing against the jagged corners of my sadness, eager to find a way out in tidal wave fashion.

I should probably not let that ish boil up and over like that…

The answer to the question in the song at the beginning of this post is, I should “let it run me right into the ground.” My emotions, that is. It’s the right thing to do in order to live a life genuinely and worthwhile. It’s just so scary. I think there’s a part of me that whole-bloody-heartedly believes that if I do I will combust into a ball of flame and disappear.

Which maybe wouldn’t be so bad.

 

There’s another Tegan and Sara song I love in which the speaker promises a loved one:

“I won’t make all of your love so scared to come through our yard 

I won’t scream in my head and let it isolate me”  

 

My chant is the same for all the people I love. I just pray I can kick my butt into reaching that goal sooner rather than later. I’m so sick of myself. It feels burdensome to ask you to put up with me too, even if I do have things to offer in unemotional arenas. As usual, it’s not quite enough. 

~LDA

Unrequited Love

When you’re in a relationship with someone, (be it romantic or platonic), the most comfortable arrangement is to feel like they like you just as much as you like them.  I used to think that most times that’s how it pans out if you’re careful, but I know now that oftentimes feelings in a relationship are uneven regardless. Most times the way the scale is balanced is unclear until key events slap you in the face and make this clearly known.  Like maybe he decided that flirting with the waitress while you sit alone at the bar is an acceptable way to start a date, or you realize on a night out that this girl’s laugh is a little too obnoxious for you and if she mentions the word literally one more time you’re going to literally connect your knuckles to her face.

Well, every now and then you get into a relationship where it is blatantly obvious that this is the case from the beginning, and you’re on the disinterest receiving end.

You want with all your heart for them to be as interested in you as you are in them, but you can tell that the attraction is lopsided, if not one-sided.

You’re sitting there having this intense amount of intrigue in the person, but you can tell that they are only mildly curious about you at best.  You can’t quite figure out what about you is serving as a complete turnoff to the awesomeness that is you and this bothers you.  Eventually, you’re left there ruminating so long about how you can change their level of interest in you that you start thinking things that should never even enter your mind.  You actually begin thinking about what ways you can change yourself to fit the desires of the other person, (which is crazy because you’re you and that’s amazing and no one in the world should make you feel otherwise).

The brainstorming starts turning into crazy talk:  “Why don’t they like me?  Is it my style?  My hairdo?  My love of all things yellow?  Ohmigerd, no.  They figured out my left leg is half a centimeter shorter than my right one didn’t they?  I knew someone would figure it out one day!  What am I supposed to do now?  That’s not exactly fixable.  Well…maybe if I nick a piece of my heel off here…” Then you realize how ridiculous you sound so you start to reassure yourself that you’re lovable the way you are, but then you start to remember things that went wrong in past relationships, and you begin thinking maybe your ex’s dislike of your Disney plushie collection and penchant for singing along with television jingles isn’t all that unreasonable.

That’s when the worst question sets in.

I’m lovable aren’t I?…Pssh, of course I am…

Wait…AREN’T I?!

Now, it’s not always so severe of a case.  You may not question your worth to such an extreme degree, but the self esteem questions come tumbling in nonetheless, if not crashing in.  It really sucks.  My advice to you when you’re faced with the possibility of these obviously lopsided relationships:

Run the other way.

No matter how fantastic the other person really may be, they’re not worth losing your mind over.

And if you’re on the other side of the equation where you’re seeing that some person is latching onto you that you really don’t care to engage with, let them down easily but clearly to spare them some grief.  Or better yet, take the time to genuinely look them in the eye before you do.  It just might turn out they could become one of the people you love most in the world if you just stop holding yourself back and be honest with yourself.   

~LDA