Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve learned a very hard lesson. And to be honest, I’m surprised with myself about how long it has taken for me to learn this. For the most part, I’ve always thought that people were kind and trustworthy. Over the past year or so, I’ve become so much more in tune to how easy it is for people talk about the one individual who isn’t in the room. The topic of conversation so easily shifts from the weather to “So did you hear what she said? Oh. My. God.”
I’m amazed that I’ve gone for so long thinking that my secrets were safe with people. That even my NON-secrets were safe with people. But it’s not true. It’s human nature to belittle and destroy and degrade those who are not around you. Especially women. I’m not mad about this revelation. I’m only using it as an opportunity to add one more thin veneer to myself. I’ve often been accused of allowing people access to my heart and granting trust to those who don’t deserve it.
When I was younger, my mom once told me that I wear my heart on my sleeve. I asked her if that was a bad thing, and at the time, she told me “it can be, sometimes.” Now I know that such unequivocal transparency is a terrible way to live. That’s how people get hurt. That’s how I get hurt.
I finally saw Inside Out. And I say finally because I was so excited to see it, but I didn’t end up getting there until after opening day.
It really spoke to me as a bipolar person. It spoke to me as a person in general. I mean, excuse me, “Who’s the friend who loves to play? BING BONG!!!” Excuse me, I have to go sob for a while… BRB.
We teach our kids and subsequently our adults, that it’s only okay to be happy. We’re never allowed to show our fear or our pain and if we do, something’s wrong that must be immediately fixed. I’ve known for a long time that sometimes there is no fixing. There is only grieving and trying to heal, and sometimes, even though we have the best intentions, we fail and our sadness (or fear, disgust, anger, etc) overtake us. I’ve caught myself before telling Sophia to just smile and pretend to be happy because her crappy mood was bringing down everyone else. And man, what a shitty thing to say to a little kid. But we say it all the time. “If you’re going to be like that, you can do it in your room.” ” I just gave you X, why can’t you be grateful.” “Go hug your aunt, she loves you.” We are constantly forcing emotions on our kids that they just aren’t feeling. We’re teaching them SO young that in order to be successful people, they have to pretend to be these tiny little robotic entities that show just how great parents we are. And if they have any “negative” emotions, we are showing our frailty.
The thing that hurts me so much about this, is that the little girl in the movie had her parents to fall back on. Eventually, she fell into their loving arms and released her grief and despair and they accepted it and they were willing to work through her pain as a family. I know so many people who are unable to do that. Either because they feel as though they have no one to unburden themselves to, are because they are simply unable to reveal the fissures in themselves.
Recently, someone close to me revealed that in the recent weeks, they had briefly considered ending their life. I don’t mean they had stared down the barrel of a gun, or even stopped momentarily in the painkiller aisle at the grocery store and considered, “Which one would help me go fastest?” It was a fleeting, preliminary thought, but enough to make this person actually ask the Internet how to end their life in a quiet, pain-free way.
Do you know what Google says when you ask it this question?
This was enough to give them pause.
This message, posted at eye-level. Above the pro-suicide blogs, the nonsense articles about the “best” ways to remove yourself from life. This.
Hearing this story makes me feel like I’ve lost balance. It’s completely thrown me off because everything I thought I knew about the last month or so of my life is wrong. Every conversation I have had with my buddy has been veiled in a pain that I understand so well that it wrenches my heart out of my chest to know they kept it from me. And even worse, that I didn’t see it.
But what good does it do to throw myself into that black soul-sucking pit as well? Bad back or not, the only thing I can do it throw down a rope and slowly try to pull my friend up and out. Hopefully, along the way, I will gather friends, family and counselors behind me to help.
I just want you to know, that the hole in my heart would never heal if you were gone.
This is an article that was published on huffingtonpost.com a couple of months ago that I found to be really interesting. Of course, I related to the first bullet point: that people with concealed depression try to look okay. Of course we do. We try so hard to pretend that we are fine. Before I started this blog, and really, before I started being honest with myself, I was so scared that someone would see how deep my pain ran and I would become even more isolated than I already was. But the point that really stuck out to me was number 3: “They may have trouble with abandonment.”
Sometimes I find myself bugging my friends too much. Texting them at odd hours, or way too frequently than what is deemed polite or normal. And when I don’t hear back, I create scenarios in my head in which I have failed them and they have finally become tired of my endless neediness. I worry they have abandoned me. In my heart, I know they are busy. They have lives, kids, jobs; and endless slew of appointments and obligations that keep them from mindlessly reassuring me that they love me all day. However, this is in my heart, not in my head. My head tells me that they have finally seen the light and have realized that I am nothing if not clingy and weird. That I cannot go a day without a pat on the head or a nod in my direction.
It can be so difficult to be friends with someone with any kind of invisible illness, and I am so grateful to those who really have stuck by me throughout the years. And I have also come to forgive those who have had to walk away. I understand now that some people have had to disconnect for their own sanity and have had to put themselves first. As I have grown I get that now; I would do the same.