Notes from a dark journey… for those of you who have started following the blog recently, I’ve suffered depression for years, and in the last few months have given up on trying to cope and manage, and started trying to face down the underlying issues. There are a lot of them, and they relate to each other.
The thing that most reliably breaks me, is dealing with other people. I’ve had some bloody awful relationships – some romantic, some allegedly friendships, some familial, that have damaged me at all levels. For a long time I took this as my due. I wondered why it seemed to happen to me so much and fretted about what I had done to attract it, deserve it. Why was I causing people to treat me in such unkind ways and what could I do to reduce the problem? Try harder. Give more. Ask for less. Be more accepting.
It’s taken me until recent weeks to recognise that most people get selfish arseholes in their lives now and then. People who have self esteem and boundaries deal with this by telling the git to sod off. They don’t give second chances, much less third, fourth, fifth. If you don’t accept the lousy excuses and justifications, if you don’t internalise the situation and instead hold the other person responsible for their actions, you spend less time in the company of people who hurt you and you don’t take it to heart. At least, this is what I assume based on observation, and I shall be experimenting to see how it works in practice.
I’ve been vulnerable to this because I was taught to think no one would want me or put up with me, and that anyone who did was some kind of saint. I have since learned better.
I look to other people for approval and affirmation, for a sense of belonging on which I can base some tenuous kind of self worth. I look to other people for affection and emotional support. Aside from my marriage, I generally haven’t handled these deeper and more involved connections with people very well at all. It is in my nature to love deeply, fiercely and in enduring ways. I get told off (as recently as last year) for being too intense, giving too much, because something in this strikes other people as uncomfortable. I have yet to figure out how that works, and I have tried. I have also tried to figure out how to tone down, be more acceptable, less alarming…
I have one person in my life who gets me entirely as I am, and loves that, and does not want me to tidy that up in any way. So I know that the things I have sought with people are available, possible and that I am not wholly unacceptable. That is enough.
I think the only answer to everything else, is to start letting go. Not holding the belief that the people who hurt me are in any way justified or entitled to do so. Not toning down for people, and letting them go easily if/when they find me too much. If I let go of the desire to be acceptable, I create the space to be myself. That space, I think, is more important now than anyone else’s approval or affection could possibly be. I will lose people for doing this. I will watch (more) people I love back away from me, but from here on, I will accept that as an outcome and recognise that it is as much about the kind of people they are, as the kind of person I am. I have also learned that the kind of person I am maybe isn’t so hung up on what other people think. I learned to think that getting the approval of others mattered, but I think that’s conditioning, not core identity. I’ve managed to pick all the layers of it apart. Someone else entirely has been locked up inside me waiting to emerge, shrug at it all, laugh and move on.