Where the Hell’s the Map to Find Yourself?
It’s been a year now that I’ve been a stranger to myself. Through these twelve months, there was progress made, backslides, torment, self-loathing and a complete lack of understanding about the things I thought I was certain about.
That’s the funny thing about understanding. When you get too confident, too cocky, the bottom can drop out. Complacency is where I fall apart. If I don’t keep moving like a shark, if I don’t stay alert, failure comes stealthily creeping, low like a fog. It expands to embrace me and squeeze out the light.
This week I realized that I’ve completely lost sight of any personal power that I might’ve possessed. I am a ghost to myself. I don’t know who I am, what I like, my worth, the things I value or appreciate about myself, or even what I’m good at.
Those things must all be in here somewhere. I just can’t locate them in the murk right now.
A year in therapy and I’m more mysterious to myself than ever. My goal, in the beginning, was survival. That’s probably not a surprise if you read any of my posts during the past year. What you might not realize is that I had a complete mental breakdown. It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced.
Things reached a catastrophic boiling point where the pain inside my mind was too much to bear. I existed in a state where I knew that I would never feel any better. My existence would be trapped inside a brain that would never stop making destructive words and images at the speed of light. My confused thoughts were, the best way I can describe it is, an unrelenting tornado of fragments. Around and round and round in circles, they’d race and I couldn’t hold on to anything. I’d reach the point where I was babbling 100 miles an hour, talking in loops and repeating myself time and again. My memory was shot, I couldn’t sleep, my stomach was a wreck, I was plagued with panic attacks and I would not stop crying. And this cycle of torment was incessant for a long time. It was terrifying to know that I would never feel anything but this loss of control, that I would have to exist in this mania forever. It was too much to handle. I thought that dying would be the only way to make everything stop. That’s a terrible state to be in. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
So here I am now with the absolute worst year of my life at a close. Am I better? Yes. No. Sometimes.
It seems unlikely that I will ever be the same as when I was “normal.” Something irreparably broke inside of me, taking whatever silliness, laughter and sparkle I had with it. I can’t really tell if I’m numbed out because of the meds I’m on or if I’m still depressed or this is really who I am now. The reason probably doesn’t matter so much. This is where I am regardless of the source.
Everything still hurts. Particularly the feeling of having lost myself and being replaced by an imposter who is much less fun.
I wrote this post on my phone while sitting on a bench in Port Jefferson a couple of Sundays ago. All around me, the world was in motion but I was not partaking. Instead, I closed off and began to type away about being trapped in my self-examination/pity. As my thumbs furiously moved across the screen, the store behind pumped Explosions in the Sky on their radio. In my self-centered view of the world, it felt like it was just for me since they’re a not-so-popular band that I listen to all the time. It became the soundtrack to what I was writing.
That morning when I set out for a ride, I kept repeating to myself “find your power,” over and over in my mind like some kind of mantra. As if I could think it into reality. I’m not really sure where the phrase even came from. Maybe I’m developing another personality. If it turned out to be my cheerleader, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.
As I sat on the bench, I glanced up between sentences and watched people walking in the sunshine, smiling. I was plagued with the thought that they knew something about how to be a successful human that I didn’t, and was curious to know how they were able to do it.
I was snapped out of my reverie with the irritated voice of a mother shouting “Dante! Get your mouth OFF the wall!” I heard Dante’s name about 100 more times in a 5-minute span. Maybe no one really has their shit together. Maybe we’re all just yelling and not actually doing fuck-all about anything.
What does all this mean? I haven’t the slightest idea. Maybe I’m not supposed to. Or maybe I do know and I’m just not listening. Maybe I’m Dante.