Healing Isn’t A One Time Thing

As my recent posts have shown, I haven’t been in a good place emotionally. My issues and demons have re-surfaced in a huge way, causing me to doubt all the healing that I thought had taken place within me over the past few years.

The other evening I stumbled upon a performance (which you can find at the end of this post) from Demi Lovato. It was a case of the right place, the right time. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through the night. I just felt utterly and completely broken. This video is the most powerful live performance I’ve ever seen. I felt it down to my core and have never connected as deeply to any other song as I did this one, and with the emotion channeled into it.

My therapy session on Wednesday was a raw, emotional one. From the beginning my therapist pointed out that I seem very emotional. I just didn’t want to hold anything back. I didn’t have the strength to either. Turns out the emotions I’m feeling around her pregnancy are partly jealousy that this little baby is going to have her as a mommy, and the situation has also opened up all those old wounds around my own childhood. Memories and emotions I just couldn’t hide or run from.

This performance wasn’t just relatable to me now, but fit as the anthem to my childhood and adolescent years too. The words are almost identical to my own countless pleas, especially when I was a teen. If I hadn’t burned all the pages of my diary back then, it would be littered with it. “Please send me anyone.” “Is there anyone?”, “No-one’s listening”, “can anyone hear me?” So that evening, the lyrics went down deep into my soul. It perfectly captured what I was feeling. I completely broke down. The story behind the song is just as powerful. She wrote it a few days before her overdose. Her story is actually very inspiring.

We all have demons that we are battling. We have relapses. That doesn’t make us weak. It doesn’t mean healing hasn’t taken place. It means we’re human. And even when it seems like we won’t be okay, that we won’t make it through, we can and we do. She’s still here. I’m still here. You’re still here.

“Reach out to somebody”. We see and hear that message so often. But it isn’t that easy. Sometimes we don’t want to burden others. Other times when we do reach out, we get hurt, or end up feeling worse or made to feel guilty for our feelings and thoughts. But we all need and deserve to have someone truly listen to us. To hear us. And it’s okay to reach out. It’s also okay that sometimes we reach out to the wrong people. It doesn’t mean we made a mistake. It just means that the other person maybe doesn’t have the ability/capacity to be a support. That’s something that I still struggle with. Blaming myself, feeling ashamed, feeling like I’m the entire problem when a cry for help goes unanswered or ends badly.

The suicidal ideation is still there. The darkness still huge. I’m not out of the woods. But I wanted to write this post anyway. For me, and for others also struggling right now who may be reading this.

Want

I recently came across something I wrote years ago. This was before I started therapy, and it’s beautiful to see how things have changed. I still struggle with most of these things, but not to the extent I used to. It’s become easier to reach out and open up. To be honest about my feelings, needs, and wants. I’m still a work in progress, but then again, aren’t we all?

Want

You want to reach out. Instead, you keep it inside.
You want to know whether they care. But you don’t ask.
You want to be seen. Instead you hide.
You want to be heard. Yet you silence your voice.
You want to feel real. So you hurt yourself again.
You want to tell someone you want to die. That you can’t imagine living one more day. Instead, you smile, because you don’t want to be a burden.
You want to cry. Instead, you hide behind humour.
You want to open up. Instead, you put your shield up. Afraid you’ll be rejected and cast aside once again.

On Connection, And Saying Goodbye

Yesterday was my last full day in the clinic. All that was left for me to do was to see my psychiatrist and the psychologist I’ve been seeing here this morning.

I woke up late yesterday morning, and felt somewhat disconnected from everyone and everything the entire day. My stomach had also been giving me issues, so didn’t feel too great physically either.

My time there was filled with anger, tears, anxiety, frustration, melt downs (both mine and some others), hard work, and drama. But it was also filled with care, support, friendship, connection, laughter, and silly fun. I learned a lot, and feel as though I have grown.

Coming into the clinic I didn’t want to connect with anyone. I had this almost defiant attitude. I was tired of connecting, attaching, loving, then losing. Of course, that intention didn’t last. When you spend so much time with people in an intimate and healing setting, you can’t help forming bonds with some people. Besides, it was exhausting trying to keep up that “distance” attitude.

The intensity of my connection to these people isn’t as intense as my connections usually are. I think I managed to strike a good balance. I made sure to spend time alone and give myself space from time to time, instead of my pattern of sticking way too close to a person or group of people, afraid that I’ll be rejected or forgotten about if I’m not with them the entire time. There are a couple of people I’ve met here, like my two roommates for example, who I hope to stay in contact with. I’d like to continue building these relationships. But I’m not as emotionally invested in it as I usually would be. Meaning, I know it might not happen. That we might lose touch. That it might not work out. But even though that wouldn’t feel good, I’m actually okay with that too.

Over this past week, I was hit with a revelation. It’s nothing I haven’t known before, but until this week it had just been head knowledge. People are going to come into my life. It’s okay to connect. It’s okay to form attachments. It’s a beautiful part of life. It’s also okay if things don’t work out. Yes, it hurts when people leave and relationships end. But I’ve been through enough “abandonment” and endings to know that I’ll survive. Boycotting connection is even more harmful. As humans, we thrive on connection. We’re built for it. It’s a basic human need.

I felt good when I woke up this morning. I was ready to leave and come back home. The goodbye’s were sad, but I also felt so grateful to these people who have been a part of my life over these past two weeks. I took a piece of each of them away with me. They inspired me.

It’s strange being back at home. I don’t quite feel like I belong here. I miss the clinic, but not too much either. I feel a little lost, but I guess that’s normal. I have to adjust to life outside that sheltered and safe place again. I’m not entirely sure how I feel. How I’ve felt since I left the clinic. But that’s okay. I’m going to read a chapter of a novel I’m busy reading, and make it an early night.

It’s the best thing I can do for myself right now.

Moving Forward

Things feel different lately. I seem to have settled into myself and life as it currently is. Of course, that doesn’t mean that life is perfect and that I’m where I want to be. I’ve just made peace with where I currently find myself.

There’s a difference between accepting where we are, with no intention of improving ourselves (and life), and continuing to grow and make the changes we’d like.

For so long, I’ve been fighting to just survive. That was my daily goal. To make it through the day. But that’s changed. I’m no longer solely focused on survival. I’m no longer stuck with my default External Locus of Control.

While I’m happier than I’ve ever been, I also feel a little unsettled by this sometimes. Why? Quite simply, I’m not used to this level of acceptance and mood stability.

I could quite easily credit this stability to my new medication, but I’m not going to. A few weeks before stopping my previous mood stabilizer (I was on it for about 11 months), I had been in a really good place emotionally, like where I find myself now again. I went through a bit of a mental health breakdown while transitioning off those meds, and I’ve realized that maybe I’m not meant (or just not ready) to be without medication. And that’s okay.

I’ve been working extremely hard on myself these past 19 months, and it’s paying off. I believe that even if I wasn’t on medication, I’d still have made progress. The meds just makes it that much easier to work on my healing and self development.

I’m proud of myself for how far I’ve come. And I’m going to continue this forward momentum. Sometimes it might only be a forward leaning, other times the smallest baby step, and still others, giant leaps. Even if I take a step back sometimes, I’ll find it that much easier to take yet another step forward afterward.

I’m a work in progress. As are we all.

A Heavy Heart

It’s been a tough couple of weeks.

Seeing my ex again affected me so much more than I expected. I didn’t actually think it would affect me at all. But what gave her closure, opened up old wounds in me. Wounds, I realized, I had just placed a band-aid over.

Leaving the relationship was hard. The hardest part was leaving her behind, knowing I had hurt her by ending us. I hurt for myself as well, but most of the pain and sadness I experienced was for her. I would push my own feelings down as often as I could. I had a few moments here and there where I would just break down, and experience the pain I was in, the doubt, fear, sadness at what I had lost. I spent more time trying to convince myself that I was okay.

This time has been so much harder. I started off feeling a lot of anger towards myself. I caught myself thinking that I shouldn’t still be feeling this way. It’s over. It was over a long time ago, so there’s no reason for it to be an issue now. Thinking that I shouldn’t have gone to see her. But I did. I can’t change that. All I can do is accept the consequences, and deal with them.

Beating myself up for feeling this way, was just reinforcing a pattern I’ve repeated throughout my life. When I was thinking “I shouldn’t have gone to see her” that made the anger even stronger. Why? Because it sounds (and feels) like a demand and a judgement. The better way of thinking about it, is stating a preference instead. I wish I hadn’t gone to see her. When I changed it to the latter, I felt more compassion and gentleness towards myself, and the anger lost its sting.

It’s okay to feel this sadness. It’s okay to cry. It doesn’t mean I’m weak. It means I’m human. It means I loved. It means that I cared enough about someone to notice their absence and feel the loss. Our tears help soothe the pain we feel. They heal us from the inside out.

Our emotions, what we feel at any given moment in time, is neither good nor bad. They just are. I would rather feel, than numb myself again. Because at some point, that numbness will go away, and I’ll be forced to feel anyway. Whereas if I allow myself to feel all those emotions as they come up, they will pass quicker. These emotions aren’t going to kill me. I can’t rush it, I can’t force it. I can instead allow myself to go through this grief and see it through.

I feel that I’ve changed during this process over the past few weeks. There’s healing taking place. Not just with regards to the end of the relationship, but also in my relationship with myself. As painful as this process is, and has been, I can see the beauty in it.

I’ve been trying to treat myself with compassion. When we silence the inner critic, and let go of our judgments towards ourselves, the true healing begins. When we allow self-compassion into our hearts, it can change so much of our experience. It shows us that we’re valuable and worthy.

I took the day off from work today. I was feeling too bad, and needed time to just be. Away from the outside world. I took a long, hot bath, and did some art therapy. My new favourite thing.

You might think that I regret having gone to see my ex that day. But I don’t. Now I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that it really is over. That there’s no going back. I also gained something important. That’s my closure.

My heart is heavy today. But it’s healing.