Against The Current

Some days, we get lost in theories. About literally anything: Why I’ll never manage to create the perfect cappuchino out of instant coffee, why the cutest dogs always ignore me or… you know. Why life seems to go so very smoothly for some people, and for others it’s a life long fight.  And you might think it’s unfair, how life seems to just fall into their laps, right? After all, they’re just happy bastards, and we’re resigning over it. I used to think that way. I used to hate those people. How dare they to be happy when I’m so miserable right next door. I was marrying my sadness. I couldn’t think myself without it, so I became it. It consumed all of me, because even if we choose darkness, we are still not accepting of it. We are caught up between “Why can’t everything just go easy for once?” and “I’m feeling comfortable in this role I’ve casted for myself, as a miserable, depressed writer who is drinking too much whiskey and smoking too many secret cigarettes – the kinds that you smoke when you’re lonely, not the ones you smoke when you’re happy.” It feels like the world is simply devided into those two teams and no shade of grey (:>) in between. And this struggle, it consumes all that we have: Our energy, our sleep, our health, our time, our relationships and friendships; which establishes a vicious circle of which there is no escape. It’s a downward spiral, and we’re embracing it and rejecting it at the same time. It’s a heart full of hate, directed mostly towards ourselves, boiling negative energy just waiting to discharge: In panic attacks, anxiety attacks, in suicidal thoughts, in impulsive self-destruction, and in the most bizarre way, in choosing darkness over and over and over again. We’re thinking we deserve this, we give in, we believe that’s just the way life has been planned out for us. Some are just lucky, right?

Over the last 1,5 years something has changed. Last year, I’ve been at the lowest point of my life, so miserable and so far down this bottomless pitch that – and I think that’s the worst feeling of all – I was feeling helpless, like I was denied all self-agency and forced into being this way. And after that particular day, after staring at a white, blank hospital wall for seven hours, with empty battery, shaking hands, a racing heart and completely on my own; after I went home and a few days had passed, I had come to the first of a series of life-saving realisations: From here on, everything can only get better in a linear way, because it’s impossible for my mind to come back to this state of being ever again. For a while, in this post-hospital time, I felt reckless and wild and like I could own the world if I just wanted, like it was right there at the edges of my fingertips, calling me with its sweet, sweet smell. And I was ready to reach out, to grab it with firmness and to make it mine. The first steps of reclaiming my life weren’t hard, in fact they were very light, I was sparkling of a confidence you only get after surviving the end. Slow by slow I learned how to let go. I’ve imagined my fists in my head and how I slowly opened them, and as I let go of  things and people in my life that I couldn’t hold there anyway, I felt easiness and lightness for the first time in my social life. And letting go wasn’t painful, because instead of indulging in a painful loss, I saw them with love, and I cherished what I had learned and experienced with them. And shifting from hate to love did great things with my life.

When I talk about the way my self-image and self-worth has changed, I often say: Well you know, leaving school and going into the world and making real experiences changed a lot for me. As a second stage, I hear myself say: When I got into feminism, I started accepting and cherishing individuals for exactly who they were, I reached the profound mindset that we’re all beautiful if we decide to be; and for me this wasn’t a phrase. I looked at people with so much love in my brain, and I realised that teaming up with people is so much more fun than fighting them – meaning, if we encourage and love each other, if we truly think we’re all beautiful, hot and freaking fantastic humans, then isn’t this more powerful than calling each other ugly bitches, pointing out all the imperfections we have and making ourselves small?
And despite having come to a place where I’ve encorporated all that into my thinking, and a place where all my self-hate has been reduced to a small minimum, I still felt that I couldn’t apply this positive, accepting, loving attitude of embracing imperfections and differences which I’ve applied to all other people, to myself.  I wasn’t hating my body anymore but I was still far from connecting with it. And my psyche…god. I felt like whoever I was dating was a poor guy, because it must be awful to put up with my mind, right? When I was happy, I was happy and sparkling and funny and great but god, I was just seconds away from a breakdown, it was all so fragile. I thought who would deserve putting up with a borderline brain and a psyche fallen ill with depression and anxiety? What could I possibly offer that would outweigh all that? And I concluded: Nothing. You’re just that.
So I threw myself into fairytales and got slapped in the face every other week, and hungry for love and affection as I was, I went from person to person, trying to find something that seemed impossible. I wanted to be loved, accepted, even liked for my flaws just like I fall in love with the flaws of others. Other people’s depressions do not repulse me in the slightest, yet I was so convinced that mine would repulse everyone. And in case you haven’t found out yourself yet: This isn’t self-love nor self-acceptance.

After a brief dating which got messed up in January and a conversation with my therapist, another process was being initiated. She saw my hunger, every last ugly bit of it. She reminded me again that I have to anchor myself in me. But I went home thinking, how can I anchor myself in this sinking ship? Full of shattered glass, and darkness, and broken mirrors, full of all this impulsive, toxic behaviour, with all this sickness? So then, I sat at home one night, and I’ve realised: I will only ever have myself. And for once, this was not a depressed thought, it didn’t blame anyone else. I just realised that I’m the only one I’ll ever carry with me, I’m the one who never leaves my side, whom I will be with forever, until the end of our time – basically, I can’t get rid of myself. And when I had that thought previously, it felt like a threat: “I just want to have a break from me.” This time, however, I realised that I could use it for my advantage.
Basically, my thought process went like this:

If I will have myself with me at all times – instead of having that companion hate me and me hating her back, and us fighting all the time and making this really hard  – what if we loved each other? What if I became my own lover, best friend, motivation coach? What if we go with the current instead of against it?”

And when I tried loving her, I found I was loving me. And this changed quite some things. My self-worth grew. I was still the same: My body hadn’t changed, I still suffered from horrible skin and was overweight and my psyche was still one hot, inexplicable mess. But instead of hating myself for it, I started accepting it like I do with my friends.  It’s cheesy, you know, saying everbody has flaws, but it’s true. If I am not bothered by theirs, why be bothered by mine? So I looked in mirrors and I started accepting the frame of my body which will never be fragile, I started accepting my skin, my weight, I looked closer and found myself whispering: girl, your eyes look hella hot with this make-up, or damn that cleavage is driving me insane. I started hitting the gym more regularly and found myself thinking one day: Damn, I like that butt. I’ve never liked my butt before (and believe me, after a few squats my butt was still pretty much the same).  Moving on to my psyche, I found that I suddenly accepted all the weird shit in this brain. So, when my borderline mind goes crazy, I’m pretty much like: Sigh, we went through this many times. But hey, you’re just human. It’s okay to be scared. Don’t fight it. But hey, also don’t let it break you.” I do not punish myself anymore for being who I am. That’s not productive in the slightest. I used to drink just to drown the negativity, I used to eat restricted or binge (black and white worlds and BPD…you know), I used to call me names, and I was angry at myself for showing feelings and risking being hurt.

It’s no use, really. I deserve good things. I deserve them despite my illness and because of it. I’ve loved depressed people, I’ve loved people with panic disorders and bipolar disorders, and I loved them despite, but also in a weird way because of it. And I do that with myself. It feels so good being a friend to myself. When I’m thinking, ahh I’m insecure, she tells me I go this. When I’m afraid, she gets me out the comfort zone. When I feel ignored, hurt or not validated/taken serious, she speaks up for myself, with a loud, firm and steady voice. She stands with me, holds my hand and has my back. When I doubt, she gently pushes me. And when I fall, I know I can’t fall deep, because she will be there to dress me in tenderness. Some days, we’re pushing us in the gym and we’re having so much fun, and we’re so much more forgiving.  That’s it. She forgives me. Sometimes, I tell her I’m not perfect. I tell her I know I shouldn’t do this, i’s not healthy for us, and she says it’s fine, we don’t have to be perfect and she will care for me when I have a sore knee because of course the stupid decision led to an accident. She’s waiting there with first aid, and in a way, it hurts less, because underneath the tears, we’re laughing it away. She sees my illness and she doesn’t care. I anchor myself in her, but she’s me, so I guess this makes me anchor myself in me.

Accepting who I am and caring for myself instead of punishing myself has heavily affected my BPD and social relations in a positive way. I am less afraid of letting people go, because sometimes they even return; because I’m giving them a choice instead of letting my BPD trick them. I am not franctically trying to keep everything in place any longer, instead I am going with life, and see what happens, and try to worry later, and I found my social system to have become a lot more safe, stable and reliable. And… I’ve learnt to communicate. I’ve learnt that, if I won’t punish myself but forgive me, others will do that as well. So I walk up to them and I say, I’m sorry; or You’ve hurt me a little, or I am lonely, or Sorry, I was afraid. And most times, they hug me and smile and I feel so very loved. But this love, first of all, comes out of me.

I am not fighting the current anymore. It’s a force, stronger than me, uncontrollable and maybe it even makes sense it’s going that way. Life still isn’t easy, I am still the same personality, with the same illnesses and challenges and fears, hopes or feelings. But what’s changed, is how I view myself, and that for the first time, I’m trying the rush of adrenaline that you get when you let go of the shore and let the current of the sea determine what happens next.

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