Tag: personal (page 2 of 14)

The Lonely Road to “Better”

Courtesy Warner Brs.

I have a confession to make. I don’t always fully disclose what I’m thinking or how I’m feeling. It’s not that I intend to engage in deception, obfuscation, or lies of omission. In my mind, I consider other issues far more important than something that occupies the entirety of a single head weasel’s diatribe. When it comes to therapy, I drill down below the layer of the feelings to general, foundational matters that could be holding them up. With others, I take the opportunity to shift my focus from something that refuses to change to something I feel I can change, and ask for help with it.

The fact is, the more I tread this road of getting better, the more I realize how lonely it is.

This is ongoing work, and precision work at that. When it comes to my own heart and mind, who is more qualified than myself to hold the metaphorical scalpel? Time and again, I’ve probed into the dark corners of my shadow, finding behaviors that have impeded me, or that even have informed toxic behaviors. I’ve cut them out like cancers. I try not to feel diminished by this, but liberated, because just like not every child is special, not every part of the self is good or valuable. Certainly, these aspects of ourselves have things to teach us; unfortunately, some of those lessons are learned in very hard ways.

Especially when we’re called on those problematic aspects by others. Or, worse, when aspects that need to be lovingly touched upon for healthy healing are instead exploited for the gain of others through shaming and emotional violence. But that is a discussion for another time.

No matter how we are made aware of what is required for us to get better, the realization can trip us up, perhaps even cripple us for a time. Anxiety over the past and present overwhelm us, attack us. Grief and self-recrimination join forces, twisting knives in our hearts and tying our innards in nauseating knots. We retreat, we hide ourselves away, we grief and we shudder and we cry.

We are not okay. And that, in and of itself, is okay.

I wouldn’t be where I am, able to articulate this, if I hadn’t spend a good amount of time not being okay. I’d visited that place repeatedly, falling almost immediately into suicidal despair, only arresting myself and getting the most direct and scorched-earth type of help I could. Doing this got me accused of “attention seeking”; all I wanted was some fucking help, right the fuck now. I wasn’t okay. I wanted to be okay. I wanted to get better.

I didn’t want attention for it. I had to do it alone. And I expected to. I didn’t want to. But, on some level, I knew I had to.

At one crucial point, it became clear that the lonely road, and hard days of walking it, were my only real option. To say nothing to the outside world, to share nothing of the walk along that road, to make my focus getting better. I was alone in my grief, isolated in my anxiety. I could, and did, get help when and where I could, in person and from professionals, out of public view. I wanted to get better for myself, not for the sake of any public perception.

When, in a recent discussion, the subject of ‘being on my side’ came up, I said this:

I’m not going to say anything calculated to get you on my side. All I care about is showing up, in this moment, in the best possible way I can. People can make their own judgments.

It’s taken me a long time to figure out that I don’t have to live up to anybody else’s standards. Sure, in a working environment, standards must be met if I wish to remain employed. But in my personal life, on personal projects, the only required standards are my own. To be honest, I think a lot of the blame that’s been placed on my shoulders for things past came from my personal standards being so low and secondary to the standards of others. When others became aware of the fact that I prioritized their standards over my own, it became easier for them to shirk personal responsibility and push the causes for discord solely onto my shoulders. This isn’t to say I had no part in the course of events; indeed, I’ve had to look back critically to find which of my former behaviors pushed events in one direction or another. I’ve accepted that it’s what happened, I own the things I did wrong, and I’m working, constantly, to get better in that and many other regards.

I’ve had to let go of how others see me, of wanting so badly to be accepted, welcomed, loved by others. I’ve had to learn how to love myself, to care enough about myself to want to correct myself, shape myself into a version that meets higher standards that I alone set, to be a better self. It’s been difficult. It’s been heartbreaking.

It’s been lonely.

I’ve worked to get past the public shame. I’ve worked to define myself, by myself, for myself. I’ve worked to get fucking better.

And I’m not done yet.

I’ll still get anxious. I’ll still get nauseous. I’ll still be haunted by memories, sidelined by grief, temporarily crippled by heartbreak. Some things, some people, we simply do not get over.

I am not going to let that stop me.

Neither should you.

There’s an aspect of each of our selves that we’ve picked up along the way, through informed behaviors of others or the endemic troubles of society around us. It’s up to us to push those aspects away, put them down, walk away from them, let them wither and die. That is how we move forward. That is how we meet higher standards for ourselves. That is how we get better.

It’s not selfish for us to do this for ourselves. It’s necessary if we want to survive.

And we shouldn’t, for a single instant, feel guilty that we’ve torn ourselves apart, thrown away and destroyed that which has held us back, and put ourselves back together.

It’s a hard road. A lonely road.

For my part, it’s the only one worth walking.

And when it comes to those parts that were in the way of me finally getting better, when I give them a face and a name, and I cut them free of who I was, away from who I want to be…

I’m really, really glad they’re fucking dead.

Tuesdays are for telling my story.

Turning The Corner

The site going down for as long as it did feels like part of the last gasp of an awful time of my life coming to a close. Until now, I simply haven’t had the resources to do things like pay a large invoice like the one for my host, even a yearly one. Along with finally securing a good and lucrative job that plays to my strengths and fosters a healthy environment, my mental and emotional turbines have spun up to a good level of power. Above all, I’ve done a good deal of work in being more gentle with myself, and remembering that, no matter what I or anyone else might say, I’m only human.

Even now, at times, I struggle to refrain from being hard on myself to the point that people say I am “beating myself up.” Home and work life are both in a form that remind me that it’s okay if I don’t have all the answers, or insufficient spoons to do a particular chore. It’s much better in the long run to admit that you don’t know than pretend you do and be found out later. That’s part of the problem I have with the whole “fake it ’til you make it” thing — I’d rather be known for who I really am than have people engage favorably with a false front conveying false knowledge and false confidence.

I’ve dealt with those people. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Showing up as myself, the person I’ve been working hard to be for over a year, is something to which I’m unaccustomed. My habits have always been to make more room for others, turn myself down for others, get out of the way of others. I’ve always seen putting myself first as too selfish, too disagreeable. Some of my experiences pointed towards that being the truth, and I bought into that as the rule, rather than exceptions. But with a little thought, and the growth I’ve experienced, it’s clear that looking after my own best interests is neither disagreeable nor selfish in the way that taking all of the cookies or drinking all of the beer is selfish.

If I am looked after, I can produce, write, and be there for others.

I’m the only person I can rely upon to look after me.

Therefore, to look after myself is not selfish.

That’s been the crux of this corner upon which I turn. Giving more thought to myself, my words, and my actions — it’s still a bit new to me. I still need reminders that my feelings and opinions are just as valid as those of the people around me, and that I am allowed to occupy the space in which I exist. I’ve had trouble believing that in the past. Some of my more recent experiences could have reinforced the notion that I am unworthy of friends, affection, or success. It’s taken a lot of effort to fight back against those feelings, those learned behaviors. I’m still unlearning them, and teaching myself new ones. I don’t want to perpetuate old habits, pattern arguments, or anything of the sort.

As far as I’ve come, as much as I’ve done, it’s all just part of turning a corner.

And turning a corner means that the journey, and the work to make it a survivable, lucrative, and memorable one, is far from over.

Tuesdays are for telling my story.

Thine Own Self

In Hamlet, Polonius is a bit of a pompous windbag. Nobody really minds when he dies (spoilers) though the ramifications of that murder kind of tip things into the downhill spiral of death and despair that defines the climax of the tragedy. But before he reaches his stabbity end, he does utter one bit of legitimately good advice.

This above all: to thine own self be true.

Lately I’ve been tying Jungian psychology into the Work that’s occupied a good portion of my time. To put it in rather simplistic terms, there’s a difference between the Self and the Persona. The Self is who we truly are, deep down, in ways that may frighten us or seem to good to be true. The Persona is who we convey ourselves to be to the outside word and those around us, something we construct to defend ourselves or exalt ourselves.

Actively building the Persona in relation to the Self can be difficult, since the Shadow tends to get in our way. Our unconscious minds, which hold our fears, our instincts, our potential for greatness as well as our terrible aspects, have the power to distort our Persona. We can be afraid of getting hurt as we have been in the past, and construct a Persona that keeps people at a distance. We can seek to be liked by those around us, and make our Persona malleable to the point of unrecognizable when we’re alone. I have seen both extremes, and my own Persona has been pushed and molded in different ways, sometimes without my being aware of it happening. I’ve had to learn how to seize it and change it of my own volition.

Because here is the hardest, most dire truth to learn.

If you do not do the work to define your Persona as an accurate reflection of your Self, someone else will do it for you.

And it won’t be true. It will not reflect your Self. It will be, at best, tarnished; at worst, it will be strung up in the public square, crucified, and set on fire, while those around either watch in satisfaction, turn away in horror, or exalt themselves with drinks and revelry to celebrate their own righteous execution of their perverse form of justice.

And you will have nobody to blame but yourself.

I’ve been there. I’ve let the expectations, the fears and doubts, the outright toxicity of others influence my Persona. I’ve let impulses and nudges of my Shadow do the same. I’ve allowed my Self to become obscured by so many things, some of my own making, some to serve the agendas of others.

We must be agents of our own change. We must find our own way through the noise of the world and the falsehoods that barrage us.

We must be true to our own Selves.

We owe it to those around us, and to who we truly are, to honestly convey the nature of the Self, and the influence of the Shadow, and the failures of false Personas, for better or for worse.

I’m working on conveying that. Of acknowledging and wrestling with those influences. Owning up to those failures.

I may not always get it right.

But I know of no other way to be true to my Self.

Tuesdays are for telling my story.

Quick Update for Year Thirty-Eight

Yesterday I began my thirty-eighth trip around this planet. I want to get it started right with some changes. I mean, a lot of changes have been happening in my life, and I could go into detail about them, but for various reasons, I’m keeping those details personal. Hell’s bells, even writing that feels like some kind of ersatz sales pitch: “Explore the deepest recesses of guilt complexes and emotional disorders, Ask Me How!” Kind of like the prompts seen during Verhoeven’s brilliant take on Starship Troopers: “Would you like to know more?”

Anyway, one of the things I’m aiming to do is get this blog back on a regular weekday posting schedule. Writing is slowly getting easier, much like healing a broken limb or recovering from a nervous breakdown. As my future-facing ambition and search for a truly personally-fulfilling career slowly bear more fruit, I want to make sure I don’t lose focus as I have in the past. Blogging is a part of that, believe it or don’t. As long as I stay genuine, show up as the best Self I can muster, and make myself spend time away from screens to study and exercise neuroplasticity or mindfulness, or journal, or meditate, or just jog up and down some stairs, there’s nothing frivolous or time-wasting about maintaining this blog. Or getting better at competitive video games. Or building a personal fantasy narrative in Skyrim. Or enjoying esoteric and/or engaging exercises in storytelling like Undertale or The Crown or The Magician’s Land. Or watching Doctor Strange again.

My thirty-eighth year’s primary goal is to embrace and celebrate my ability to be a true polymath, an actual bard, an honest-to-goodness jack-of-quite-a-few-trades.

I hope you’ll come along.

I, for one, can’t wait to see who’ll show up as this particular part of my story unfolds.

Vlog #3: “The Zone”

Click here to watch the vlog!

Comfort zones! Being uncomfortable! And talking about it, whee! Would you like to know more? Watch as I try to keep it together.

If you like what I’m doing with these, please feel free to subscribe or support me on Patreon. Thanks in advance!

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