[Warning: This is not a travel blog, nor is it upbeat or bubbly or glib. I’ve been stuck in a deep despair over the past week and am fumbling my through it, looking for answers.]
This is the third, and I hope the last, in this latest attempt to come to grips with a despair that has been wrestling with my mind like a hungry quicksand, and getting deeper by the day. I’ve been afraid that I might be spiralling down into another breakdown or episode of depression. But I think I’m fumbling my way out.
Earlier today, the thoughts inside of me were so toxic that I began to write them out here, just to see what was there. The words spewed out a toxic mess of failure and reproach, which quickly spiralled into blatant hopelessness and an utter sense of futility, of never being able to recover enough to make it worth even trying.
Then all of a sudden, I said to myself, “Sharon, what are you doing? This isn’t the end of the world. Nothing is ever hopeless. You woke up this morning with a loving God waiting to greet you with open arms full of mercy and love, a loving husband with your favourite cup of tea and open arms full of love and gladness to see you, a pantry full of yummy food, a closet full of orange clothes (I love orange) and lots of work to do in preparation for our upcoming yearly trek to Cuba. Wake up!”
Then I reread what I had written and realized how ugly and detrimental it all was. Everything that began with “I am…” ended with declarations of failure, painting a picture of abject hopelessness. I’ve read all those memes and blogs and many books advocating changing the way we finish that sentence “I am”, insisting that what we put after that “I am” actually shapes us into exactly what we’ve placed there. Well, my sentences all ended in bleak despair. Which is not who or what I want to be.
So I came back to rewrite those sentences, correcting the old declarations with new ones. The dilemma is that whatever I write after “I am” HAS to be the truth, or it won’t help. It has to be something that I know without a doubt is true, something I already own. That “rule” eliminates a lot of the glib, pat answers I’d LIKE to put after those words…maybe later I’ll make another list of what I would LIKE to be. For now, let’s give this a try. Stepping out of the ever-deepening despair I’ve been wallowing in for the past week or so. Let’s see where it leads. Anywhere is better than the direction I was going.
OLD “I AM”: I am a failure at everything social, i.e. anything involving being in relationship with other people.
NEW “I AM”: I am full of love…yes, I have a very difficult time expressing it, and that might stem from my own keen awareness of being a writhing mass of contradictions and insecurities, which then comes across as either awkward tentativeness or defensive bravado. But the truth is that I am more loving and compassionate and kind than many people will ever know (because of my difficulty expressing it and defensiveness which doesn’t want people to get close enough to find out how flawed I really am).
OLD “I AM”: I am hopelessly inept in social settings.
NEW “I AM”: I am so much better in social settings than ever before. The reality is that when it all comes down, it’s the day-to-day nitty gritty stuff that matters, and THAT is where I crumble and slip-slide through insecurity. For my entire life, since I was a young child, I have struggled to understand and cope with people who overwhelm, frighten, criticize, detriment or baffle me with ambiguity…it takes so little to throw me off balance, and then the panic of feeling off kilter suffocates me to the point where I have to get out, escape to my solitude, regroup and rebalance myself. So this is my reality every day; every single day when I roll out of bed, I know that this is going to be my challenge. There was a time when it was too overwhelming so I curled up into a ball and did nothing and went nowhere for months at a time. Then, through prayer and with my husband’s help and love, I began to stitch myself back together as best as I knew how, getting myself out of bed, “rewiring my attic” with positive affirmations and mindset changes, enough to actually get myself out of the house and into social situations, if only at church and the grocery store. And overall, it has been positive and healing and I have come a very long way from there to here. So the truth is that “I AM’ stronger, healthier, more balanced and more open to social interactions than ever before.
OLD “I AM”: I am toxic. Yes, I’ve been telling myself that over and over again for about a week now. If I’m really honest, I’ve been telling myself that all of my life. And I believed it so strongly that I started wanting to end my own life at age 13, believing with all my heart that everyone would be better off without me. Not wanting to infect others with my toxicity may well be at the root of my inability to enjoy social interactions…and the closer people get, the more panicky I get.
NEW “I AM”: I am light. I love light. I LOVE LIGHT. I ache, yearn, strive, pray, dream to be light in the world. To bring light to every heart I meet. To bring light into every corner of the world, either through prayer or through the humanitarian work that my husband and I do. I believe that I have a loving light to shine, a light that makes a difference. I’ve seen what a difference we can make, and have experienced how being light for others brings immeasurable joy. I’m meant to shine. It’s what I’m here for. Being light is my passion.
“I AM” – here to love, to be light, to make a difference wherever it is that I find myself at any given time. There will be days and situations when I don’t do any of it well, there will always be people left disappointed and wanting more than I can give, but despairing and wallowing and beating myself up aren’t the answers.
I’ve had my cry. I’ve wallowed in despair. It still hurts, but I’ve allowed myself to muck around in the quicksand of futility long enough. Enough. This is no longer the path I choose to fumble my way through this mess. It’s time to get up, clean up, dress up and get back on the road. Time to change lanes and move toward the Light.