If it is possible for me to have the capacity to do so, I think I figured out what happened these last two weeks, now that I’m finally pulling out of the swamp of it.
It’s not typical for me to go quite so dark, which isn’t to say it’s not appropriate, understandable, or even expected, but it was both surprising and a little frightening to me.
So, of course, being me, I look for WHY, instead of simply accepting that I could have a couple of (very) bad days during a 5 month course of chemo treatment for Leukemia.
But, I digress.
I’ll start with another story that leads me to validate my hypothesis.
In November, I got into a bad fight with my Dad on the phone, a period some of you readers may remember. Feeling accused, embattled, and belittled by my father, I spent an evening feeling as though the rug of my identity had been pulled back, and I stood again as the raw teenage fuck-up. Feeling defensive, and “bad,” and unsure of myself and my needs or boundaries. Unsure I was allowed to have any, and sure that if I did, I wasn’t allowed to express them.
I spent a few hours like that. A shamed animal. But it didn’t quite fit. Just as these couple of days/weeks of quick-sand depression haven’t felt quite right.
I met up with some of my peers that night, and went home, and as I lay in bed, still seething from the attack, I remembered something I said aloud then and wrote here: I am awesome.
The interaction with my father had stripped from me all the work and identity I’d been laying groundwork for in the last decade. A decade my father has no idea about. The person who I’ve become, the person I’ve struggled to gain every ounce of self-esteem to be. He doesn’t know what I forgot: I am worthy.
It is this very same aura of interaction that played out with the white coats during my recent eye-infection hospital stay. I felt belittled, unheard, and dismissed. I felt, again, stripped of the knowledge of myself, of the reality of myself, and again was back to the timid, mouse of a girl, feeling chastised and shamed.
Well. Fuck. That.
Although it took me a few weeks this time, instead of the evening it took in November, for me to remember who I am, I am finally coming to see straight again.
Part of this has been you. Several of you have reached out to me and told me what my words mean to you, telling me how you are making changes in your life based on what my writing inspires in you, telling me that you are inspired to examine your own life and choices as a result of me examining mine. You’ve told me I have value, and I’m once again starting to feel it.
It’s amazing that outside forces can have such a drastic influence on how we feel – or I feel – about ourselves. But, they do. And sometimes they’re fleeting, a moment of twinge as someone says something callous or inaccurate, but are easily brushed aside by a few repetitions of the phrase, “That’s more about them than it is about me.”
Sometimes, you’re so emotionally depleted already, and so shocked by a scary and sudden situation, that a room full of doctors telling you that your reaction to a drug might be invented, that your decision to take care of yourself is going to be a fatal one, that what you are doing is wrong, that it sweeps away the whole of what you’ve built inside yourself, and around yourself as markers of esteem and identity.
And sometimes that void where your self had been, and the blackness of the “you” you thought you’d overcome through years of friendship and therapy, becomes all you can see. A pit of despair and desolation. Stripped violently clean of all intimations of who you really are, and who you have become.
Perhaps it’s fitting that during this time, I lost my wallet, and with it my ID, my identity.
The unfortunate part about that hole is that you can’t really recognize that it is a hole you’ve fallen into, off of the path of “Who You Are.” It just looks like the hole that is, always has been, and always will be. There aren’t alternatives to the heaviness, the weightedness you feel.
And yet, even in it -- this time -- I could feel moments where it just wasn’t right. This pit of despair didn’t fit properly this time. It is a hole too small for the actuality of who I am and who I have become, and indeed who I will become.
Those chinks and pinholes in the depths grow with the mirroring you guys give me, eventually. Eventually.
And so the pit falls away. I don’t “climb out of it;” Like Neo, you realize, There is no spoon. This is just the Matrix, and this reality isn’t real, and it crumbles like so much sodden cardboard.
Reality forms as your eyes adjust, and you touch your arm and leg and face, and you see the history upon which you’ve built, and you see the community which has gravitated in a loving arc around you, and you see with evidence and conviction that you are valid, worthy -- and that dissociations from this truth are only temporary.