03 November 2014

Patience in the Water

I need to begin to accept that, with all that I deal with, things are always going to get harder before they get better for me. (The saying “It's always darkest before the dawn” may have just as much realism to it as it has cheesiness.) And I need to learn to be more patient with myself when things get rough at first – even though I never feel deserving of that patience. I continuously hope if I am ruthless with myself that I will wake up one morning as not myself, but as someone completely different – or that maybe the universe will realize I am not worth being on this earth and decide to make me disappear. I wish I knew how to change that mindset, and I am trying to change that mindset, but it is going to get worse before it ever gets better. And I need to learn to be patient and be shameless in asking for others' patience through the rough times. I need to somehow convince myself that I am at least worthy of that much – even if it doesn't seem like I am. All in all, this post is a plea to myself and to others for some patience. Because if I need anything from this world right now, it is that.

As a few people know, it's been three years now since I decided I was going to conquer the voices in my head and the effects of the harsh situations I've been in physically. It's been hard, living in a situation where the changes I make are never enough to those who are supposed to support me, to really look back and see how drastically I have changed myself and my quality of life. I have come such a long way though. What a lot of people don't know about me is that over the past few years I have gone from barely being able to talk to people or even leave the house to holding a job, traveling the country alone, and attempting to figure out how to finally move out on my own where I will have even more opportunity to grow as a person without the criticism I get now. I have spent the past few years fighting to deal with struggling with mental illnesses, to accept the bullying that happened to me as a child at school, and to overcome the abuse and neglect I suffered as a child at home. Over the past three years, I have become a completely different person – and, up until now, I have never really personally asked for much patience from others. I guess I've never really felt as though I was working hard enough on myself to deserve it and the things I needed to change I could do on my own. I am starting to struggle being on my own now.

For most of my life, I have been isolated from other people. I grew up afraid of my family and my peers. I am still afraid of people. For as long as I can remember, rejection has been everywhere I have turned. First from my father who abandoned me, then from my mother who abused and neglected me then eventually abandoned me as well, then my grandparents who didn't adequately care for me, then extended family who simply did not care. In school I failed to make friends, no matter how I tried – and eventually the only attention I received was from two other students who were planning to kill me with a knife. By high school, I completely shut myself down to trying to form relationships with others. It was less damaging than repeatedly trying to open up and being rejected every time. But as I get older, the loneliness I face is more damaging than anything else I have ever dealt with. I am finding that I would rather be dead than continue on living as lonely and isolated as I feel. So, over the past month or so, I have been trying to open up to forming connections with other people. I have been trying to show I care about other people and trying to be someone who other people can care about.

And I desperately need some patience. Because as I am trying to form relationships with other people, my anxieties, insecurities, frustrations with myself when I fail, and deeply-rooted feelings of worthless and being unwanted are already showing their ugly faces with meltdowns and lashing out – making be the burden on other people that I always feel as though I already am.

Putting myself out there, trying to form connections with other people for the first time feels a lot like I am drowning and everyone else is standing three feet away, screaming 'learn how to swim'. It seems as though everyone has 'learned how to swim' so many years ago that they've forgotten what it's like to first be introduced to the water. They've forgotten what it's like to be in the deep end of the pool with no lifeguard on duty for the first time - vulnerable and out in the open, kicking their feet with nothing underneath them to support them and no one to pull them out if they go under. And to even just throw a life-jacket in for someone else, let alone teach them how to swim, would be purposeless to everyone standing on the edge. There is no need for someone who is just going to drown in the pool when they could be surrounded by people who already know how to swim. I should just get out of the pool so they can get back in the water. There is no need for someone slowly learning to connect with people when they already have their own group of friends. I feel as though the people I try to connect with already have the people they want to be around, and they have no time for someone new. At least not someone like me, someone struggling just to stay above water. And the rejection is like a weight being attached to my ankle, causing me to simply sink – and once I'm under, people can breathe relief that I am finally gone then forget I existed to begin with.

But I can't be alone anymore. I'm running out of oxygen under all this water and if I don't fight to learn how to swim, I am going to die by tying a weight around my own ankle. There is so much fear in connecting with others that before I learn how, I am going to freak out. But at least in freaking out, I know that I am fighting for air and not just sinking away. At least I know that I am trying and if I am still alone, I can't say I let fear consume me and didn't put in my best effort. And until I learn to teach myself how to swim, if I am ever going to learn how to be close to other people, I just need some patience.

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