Holding On Letting Go
I was seventeen years old when I became a mother. Barely out of a training bra, during what would have been my junior year of high school, I had a baby.
I was on a mad, self-destructive tear to escape the realities I was born into, and lashing out in every way possible. I was a child. I was struggling with alcohol, and I was lost.
I felt suicidal almost every day.
My daughter saved me, and in many ways we gave each other life. It has never been easy, but somehow I have always found a silver lining. I will never ask for pity, but I will also not apologize for my feelings about the lengths I have taken to overcome and make peace with so much to find, maintain, and grow in my recovery.
I have always used humor as a defense, and it has played a huge role in my survival. I have found humor in mental illness, and pointed out all of my flaws before you had the chance.
I have never learned anything “the easy way,” because for some reason, I like pain. Pain motivates me. My life’s lessons have taken form in all sorts of absurd scenarios, and have often caused me (and others) to question my troubling relationship with Sanity.
I’m not sure if we ever actually hit the same bottom twice, but not always for lack of trying. I’ve definitely leapt repeatedly down into the same shit-filled rabbit holes, convinced I might find something different. I have chosen to free-fall into darkness, because sometimes the darkness isn’t as scary as the light.
I have settled for the comforts of horrible “knowns,” to avoid the possibility of horrible “what ifs.” What if I find happiness and lose it? What if I really am nothing? What if I make something of myself and someone takes it all away? What if that kills me?
Looking at the simple pros and cons of a situation, and picking the option that will clearly land me in a better place has never been my strong suit. I have come to enjoy this about me, but only in hindsight of all the ridiculous shit I’ve survived. Some situations have been humorously painful, and others just stupid and dangerous.
I have fallen in love with chaos and drama and become obsessed with the promise of distraction. These have allowed me escape ugly realities, low self-esteem, and fear of other people and their judgments. They have intertwined themselves within the spaces between overwhelm and a peaceful existence, and at some point became my baseline – my “normal,” if you will; where I have felt most in control.
At some point I took the incredible concept behind “helping” people to help myself, and have instead used it to fill the holes and starve my fear of abandonment. Because if you simply want me, you might leave; but if you need me, you must stay.
I have adjusted and contorted myself in every possible way to accommodate other people’s expectations of me. I have made myself the prisoner of opinions, convinced I was desperately seeking freedom, and have been baffled by how many times I’ve found myself at the bottom of an empty well.
It has taken me so many years, swinging on my pendulum of comfort, to realize that the more I like me the less I care if you do.
This year has taught me a lot. My New Year’s “resolution” was to be more assertive and stop apologizing for my needs. Unlike the 17 diets I’ve resolved to give an honest try every January one, I’ve actually stuck with this. It was to be a gift to myself rather than some burdensome set up for failure.
I’ve often bitched and moaned about how lonely my life is, but much of that has been of my own making. I’ve been putting so much effort into chasing people I thought were friends, that I have been missing out on actual meaningful relationships.
This year I’ve chosen to say goodbye to many relationships hanging by a thread. Of course I’m saddened by these losses, however not for the reasons I imagined. The mourning has been more about my inability or unwillingness to see how one-sided many of my personal relationships have been. Denial is a wonderful tool for avoiding necessary action, and I wasn’t connecting how much effort I was putting forth to make up for someone else’s lack.
This year has been an eye opener.
I have been forced to take a hard look at my intentions and role in both my personal and professional relationships. It was brought to my attention that some of the people in my life have me propped up and “perfect” on an very unhealthy pedestal, and I have had to sit with the discomfort after a few messy dismounts.
This year has been painful.
Building and maintaining healthy relationships isn’t always easy or comfortable. Not everyone is going to high-five me for awareness of my personal boundaries and limits, and many people live to push. That doesn’t mean I don’t have the right or responsibility to set and enforce them. It just means I’m not meant to have certain people in my life.
It’s okay to let go.