A friend in need

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.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “A friend in need

  • syrbal-labrys

    I know how a lot of that feels. I still find most people don’t love me for who I am, but in order to love myself, i’ve had to be who I really am anyway. The best of luck on your journey to the same location of being!

  • druidcat

    Thia ia striking such a chord with me lately too, lovely… perhaps it is time to clear out the dross and be true. It’s a good lesson to learn (just a hard one for us, it seems!).

    BTW, you are lovely. For you *huge hugs* x

  • Christopher Blackwell

    One advantage of being a geezer is that I don’t have the pressure. I am at best a lost cause that strange and curious character. I don’t need approval or must I act repeatable unless I wish do. Some people actually listen to what I say. But I a finally at the age where it is perfectly okay to have conversations with myself. I can be silly in delightful ways. I can play the bewildered old man when it is useful and necessary or fiercely independent. My age is my socially acceptable excuse for oat anything that I do, and that I don’t do.

    You might start training to bece that grand old dame that no one wants to get the wrong side who is also a dear if you do it her way. [Grin] You just have to be old enough to pull it off.

  • curlydogs11

    Nimu, you have found your own answer…your plan will work, trust me (one who’s been there, done that)! The people who you’ll end up saying good by to are not needed in your life now. You need only to allow positive, loving people into your life now…the negative ones are that way often because you have something they don’t so they have to pull you down to their sad, sorry state. Be strong and just walk away…you don’t even need to explain to them the whys…just leave! I am so proud of you for “getting” this lesson on your life journey!

  • verdant1

    I find it interesting that I finally get to read this post in a week where I am working with the ‘Dog’ from the Druid Animal oracle: the lesson I am learning is being loyal to myself.

    I’m pretty good (perhaps too good) at being loyal to others. Time to learn to value myself and my needs as well…

    So your post (or my reading of it) is most timely. Thank you so much for sharing your journey – it really does help lots of us ❤

    On a lighter note: Christopher's comment reminded me that since childhood I've aspired to be a Great Aunt, not a Grandma – much more room for eccentricity and not-necessarily-subtle authenticity than the traditional role of Granny…

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