I’m Still Here

CW: Suicide.

I called the CAT team tonight. There are a couple of reasons why I did that. Firstly, because I really, really wanted to die. Secondly, because I wanted to die but I didn’t want to disrespect the people whose house I’m staying in by ending my life in their home. Thirdly, because I made a promise to my friends that I would reach out if things got bad. Fourthly, because I didn’t want to burden my friends with another night of me sobbing on the couch.

I’m on a ridiculous amount of anti-depressants, and they’re probably going to go up in dose this week. I see my therapist regularly. I have wonderful, supportive, amazing friends who love me and tell me so all the time. I have a talent – many talents, actually – that I’m proud of and work on constantly. I have moments of awesomeness. I have moments of being babin’. I’m fairly intelligent, I’m quite funny, I’m fun to be around. But I consistently seem to fall in love with people who don’t believe I’m worth fighting for. And right now, I’m very, very alone.

I’ve never really had a problem with being alone. But now, it looms. It’s crushing. My family, whom I adore, are away from me in other countries and on other plains. There is nothing more lonely than being surrounded by incredible people, but only wanting the company of one. And when that one proclaims that they no longer have love for you, that in essence, you’re not worth the fight, suddenly the world seems very large and expansive and empty.

It’s an odd feeling to know that I’m worthy and deserving of love and happiness and all that entails, but feeling so lost and hollow that that knowledge seems meaningless. I, once so independent and fearsome in my knowledge of my place in the world, am now directionless. Without a home, without my beloved cats who are not doing well without me, without my family, I’ve been very, veeeery slowly hauling myself up a very steep hill, all the while impatient to be settled again, to be over and done with her, to be happily single, living the life of my dreams. Unfortunately, the realisation of that dream seems to be moving further and further away, like when you try to run down a hallway in a nightmare but it keeps stretching on away from you.

I don’t feel like this because my marriage ended. That hurts, yes, but it’s not the reason I am teetering at the edge of the pit. I feel like this because I never saw it coming. I trust my intuition keenly, it’s never steered me wrong. But this time it gave me no warning. I had relaxed – maybe a little too much, but I finally felt safe.

And then I wasn’t.

I feel like this because it all seems so cruel. I didn’t deserve any of what has happened to me. I’m not blaming anyone, because I’m tired of that pointless circular game. I’m usually the type of person who will cry and wail when I’m hurt, but then I’ll pick myself up, dust myself off, acknowledge the part I had to play in why things fucked up, and with that acknowledgement, things seem to move on naturally. Awesome things happen, and suddenly I find myself not grieving anymore. This time, though, it’s different, and I’m struggling. I’ve acknowledged and acknowledged and acknowledged, but I still feel so very lost.

I was doing fine. I actually was doing really fine, and then something happened and I rolled back down the steep hill, bumping and grazing myself along the way. I didn’t fall down as far as I was when I started, but it’s a significant drop. I don’t have the energy to start heaving my way back up that bloody stupid hill, but I can’t stay here. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know where I’m going. I’m relying on other people so much that I feel like I might forget my own autonomy. I don’t trust anyone. I still have a lot of love, but my wall is getting higher and thicker and I feel myself hardening and cracking like cheap paint in the sun. This feels bad. It feels so bad, and nothing I’m doing seems to be helping, and I’m really, really scared.

I had made peace with suicidal ideation just before everything fell apart, and then it’s like the Universe went “okay then, let’s test that theory.” Fucking Universe and its experiencing itself through me in a way that’s not starry and delightfully magickal. Fuck it.

Do I really want to die? Obviously not completely, otherwise I wouldn’t be here to write this. But the desire to be with my mum, to be away from this endless darkness, to be free from this sticky, sickening pain is so great that sometimes I have to call the CAT team. And that sucks.

I’m sharing this because writing about it whilst in the thick of it helps, and also because a friend of mine once told me that she had spent an afternoon reading every single post on my blog and it helped her to feel less alone. I know I’m not the only one out there in the pit.

We’re okay. We’re still here.

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Of Loss, Lying, and Love

Seven years ago, at the age of 30, I did this crazy nutso thing and went back to University to finish my degree. I was nervous as all get out as I knew that coming in to complete my third year I would be interloping on an already established network of student artists and theatre makers – most of whom would be 10 years my junior. How on earth was I going to fit in to this group of people who already had two full years of experiences and bonding and getting drunk together and all that? Could I still write essays? Did I know what ‘pathos’ meant (I reckon I still don’t know what ‘pathos’ means)? Would people want to work with me? Could I match wits with my classmates and teachers? Would I pass my degree? It was scary and intimidating, but given I had spent the previous year in a depressed, stoned and fat state of self-loathing, I needed to jump right in and swim.

Within the first week, I was pretty much accepted into the fold, probably because I have no problem making a dick of myself to get people to like me. I was also fresh blood. Within six months, I had a whole new group of friends, had come out as an ex-hooker, and had earned a reputation for being unapologetically honest, accepting and funny. The age difference meant little, the laughs were a-plenty, and new theatrical exploits were planned and executed with aplomb and alacrity.

Cut to seven years later, most of these friends are gone. I must admit that the majority of them I chose to step away from, mainly because I didn’t like who I was around them, but a few kind of forced my hand somewhat. Some of them were my closest friends that I had spent the last seven years forging deeply important connections with. Seven years of cheap hair cuts, and tea, and hugs, and listening ears, and the keeping of their secrets, the countless tarot readings, the acceptance and non-judgement, the theatre, the wine and the laughs. All gone because they believe my wife abused her ex, because that’s what my wife’s ex told EVERYONE. That and many other lies that manifested silent judgement in my friends’ eyes when they looked at me, when they looked at my wife. I want to scream at them “FUCK YOU! How dare you! Damn you for abandoning me, for not returning the faith I had in you, for believing the worst, for not talking to me because it’s ‘none of your business’, but let’s face it, you make it your business because you talk to everyone else except me about it. Fuck you and fuck the high horse you rode in on!”

*rage!*

By gods, I miss them. There’s a hole in my life created by their absence. There are comments and messages missing from my social media page, texts unreturned and unread, conversations that I can’t have with anyone else. I feel lost. Bereft. My heart hurts and I cry often, usually alone. My pride will not let me reach out to them, my fear warning me that any attempt to connect will be rejected. I don’t cope well with rejection so I don’t try. I’m pig-headed like that.

I know it’s my own fault. I walked away. I made a choice and I stuck to it, as righteous and indignant as it may have been at the time. I still believe it was the right thing to do, because I do not believe or give any credence to what my wife has been accused of. I didn’t believe it before she and I began our relationship and I still don’t. I will choose her time and again because it’s the right thing for me to do. Yet, I still grieve what I have lost.

Wikipedia defines friendship as having the following characteristics: affection, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other’s company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one’s feelings, and make mistakes without fear of judgement from the friend. For once, Wikipedia can be relied upon as being fairly accurate. That aside, I cannot deny that I do still have friends that offer me the aforementioned things, and I can requite them the same. But the connection I have with those friends differs from my Uni friends, and I can’t quite identify why. It’s a feeling I guess.

This too shall pass, as all things are ephemeral. In closing the doors to those people, I have manifested the opportunity for other avenues of connection to open. This is exciting and different, my life has changed immeasurably, I feel there are magnificent and wonderful experiences to come, and I fully believe that all has happened just as it should have happened.

it still sucks, but. And it will suck for a while. I hope they’re okay. I hope they achieve all they desire. I hope in time I will see them again and all will be fine. I hope they miss me as much as I miss them.

Conditions Apply

I never thought I’d be the sort of person to place conditions on friendship. I have proudly waved the flag of total acceptance and therefore have walked around for years in a gold-infused state of delusion that I am totally awesome for waving said flag. Well, ha ha ha, I’m a dick because it’s entirely untrue.

I expect a lot from close friendships, from relationships, from any meaningful connection with someone. I expect respect, consideration, attention and (yes, it’s truth-tellin’ time) admiration from those close to me. I also expect honesty and accountability, and the lack of these can and have been deal breakers. I don’t support friends who have fucked up unless they ‘fess up; I can’t abide by dishonesty; and I when I reach the end of my tether with someone, I do have the tendency to give them the cold shoulder rather than say what’s pissed me off.

The terrible thing is that I’ve absolutely refused to acknowledge any of this until very recently.

As with everything, I have to preface this post with a little background. About a decade ago, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. The disorder part of that diagnosis I have since overcome, but the borderline part is still very present in my personality. What that means is I have (now mostly resolved) issues with abandonment; I tend to idealise close friends and lovers, a feeling that can rapidly morph into devaluing if the other person falls off the pedestal I have built for them; I have moments of intense episodic dysphoria particularly if rejected or criticised by a friend in which I feel I’m the worst human in the world; I tend to disassociate if I’m in a bad mood; and I have extreme sensitivity and empathy to those in need – with the condition that these are returned in my time of need.

Now, when most people hear of BPD their immediate thought is of someone with extreme mood swings, self-harming behaviour, suicidal threats and/or attempts, and who is generally a psycho sad sack. As I mentioned above, I have outgrown and worked through that stage, but the lingering traits in my personality make relationships veeeeery interesting. I have fought and screamed and sobbed and torn my hair out in relationships, more explicitly in the past and greatly internalised more recently. I’ve done some awful things to people I love in the past (and in the present; there’s that honesty thing again), and they have done some awful things to me, which I have responded to with dragon-like acerbity which has culminated in a very final “fuck off, I hate you.” I have been left steaming and angry and stomp-around-the-house-y and that has led to extreme disappointment in myself for allowing any of it to happen in the first place.

Which brings me to forgiveness. I believe forgiveness is essential to growth as a spiritual and intellectual human being, particularly forgiveness of self, but it’s so bloody hard to do sometimes. And why is that? Well, I think there’s a certain amount of power in holding a grudge or holding on to resentment; being the person wronged is an opportunity to be the person pitied, quite frankly. It puts one on the moral high ground, often with the added clause of “I wouldn’t do that to another person” to add to the acrimony arsenal. But, let’s face it peeps, we all have done ‘that’ to another person, and have probably felt indignantly justified in doing so. I think that I struggle with forgiveness because the act of forgiving seems to me to be condoning the other person’s actions, therefore making it okay for them to repeat the behaviour, or merely to not feel any accountability for their conduct which is just unacceptable!!! And I can’t forgive myself because I excel in self-flagellation so very much.

I find forgiveness easier with time and separation from the act and the person. I also find it easier when the offender has apologised. But is it always wise to forgive, to piously exonerate a person from their wrongdoing like some overdressed pontiff? (That’s the image I have in my mind at the moment, go with it.) Well, that’s a tricky one. I haven’t forgiven my childhood abusers because I don’t think they deserve it, but I certainly do not hold any hate for them. In fact, I don’t even think of them very often, because to do so would give them power; power that I took back a long time ago. I have forgiven my parents for the silly things they did as I was growing up, but I still experience fragments of pain from those experiences. Some slights I have been subject to have simply faded from my mind, while others have taken root, which is not altogether a bad thing as they serve as a reminder to be wary of certain behaviours in the future. Some things I have done I have forgiven myself for, while others hang in the back of my head like musty old cheese at the back of a walk-in larder.

In other cases, removing the offending people from my life has served to alleviate some of the rancour, and although no active forgiveness has taken place, if I ever meet these people again, I’m not going to run screaming from them.

“But what about people that you want to keep in your life?” I hear you ask.

Thanks for asking. Funnily enough, I was talking to my therapist about the fact that sometimes my best friend forgets to respond to my texts and this leaves me feeling ignored and unimportant and that that really hurts me. I went on to say that I don’t like feeling this way about her because she’s otherwise an awesome human being and I have no right to apply conditions on our continued friendship, as love should be unconditional. My therapist went on to say something very interesting about unconditional love only existing between a parent and child (which I may discuss in a later post), but then she said something that blew my little brain: Don’t place conditions on your friends, place conditions on yourself.

Huh?

She went on to explain, “Place conditions on yourself with how you respond to these things. You have the choice as to how someone else’s behaviour affects you. Place a condition on yourself that you will not distrust the friendship (if the friendship is important to you), or that you will gently remove yourself from the relationship if you can’t bring yourself to trust the other person. That way, you will be accountable for your own actions, and not expect others to live up to an idealised behaviour pattern that you have created for them.”

Oh. BPD brain go ‘splodey.

But it actually worked. For my best friend, for my other friends, for my family and for myself I’m able to trust in our relationship. With others, like my ex, like an old friend who was quite awful to me a few years ago, and another young thing that I’d adopted into my clan who turned out to be a bit nasty, I’m working on forgiving them and accepting their humanness – not for them, but for me, so I can move on with no lingering feelings of bitterness or pain or general ickiness.

I guess that’s what forgiveness and acceptance is really about, yeah? It’s about freeing oneself from the pain one has decided to feel over the actions of others (pain which is entirely normal and understandable). If those others take one’s forgiveness as an excuse to indulge in more arsehat behaviour, then that’s their responsibility entirely, and is not a reflection on the awesome person who is learning how to be even more awesome.

Time, I think. Time is the only condition to a friendship, to forgiveness, and to being human. We can’t escape it, so I guess we make it work in our favour.