I Choose This Life (But I Don’t Approve)

I often write my blog sitting alone on my bed. Tonight it occurred to me that though I’m drawn to spending all my spare time in bed, it’s a place haunted by misery and pain. It holds the painful memories of sharing it with the person I loved more than anything. It is a constant reminder of the emptiness both in my bed and in my heart.

I am lonely. I hate admitting that because I consciously choose to make my life this way. I choose to exile myself from the world. But even though I choose this path, it doesn’t exactly make me happy. It’s so difficult to explain. I don’t like being around people – they don’t understand me. They don’t think the way that I do or feel the way that I do. So I withdraw from the world. I lock myself away, thereby creating my loneliness.

Why would I choose loneliness? I think it’s because reality doesn’t compare with my imagination. I know it sounds like I have incredibly high expectations, impossible ideals, but why would I settle for harsh reality? Why would I settle when my inner life has so much more to offer me? If I can lose myself in my imaginary world for long enough I can conjure up peace: both of mind and soul.

It gets harder to leave the sanctuary of my imaginary world. The disappointment of reality burdens my heart. When I’m in the real world I am painfully aware of my loneliness and heartache. I’m aware that I don’t have a connection to someone special, that my heart isn’t entwined with another. So it’s too easy to retreat into my fantasy world, where I can dream up perfect love and perfect acceptance.

This loneliness always goes the same way. I’m (half heartedly) trying to convince myself that I am in love with someone who … ugh I don’t even want to explain this because it’s too embarrassing to admit even to myself. He is a person who exists on earth. But he doesn’t know me, I don’t even really know him. We’ve not actually met, not actually spoken to each other – but I’m infatuated with his voice, his eyes, his crooked grin. Honestly he may as well be imaginary because he is just so out of my reach.

And it’s even more hilarious (in the most self insulting way possible) that I’m acknowledging this train of thought. Clearly I’m not in love with him. I’m just lonely, so I imagine and project these false feelings onto him because he is unattainable. And by falling in love with the impossible I’m protecting my vulnerability. Because in my warped mind it’s better to be hurt by loving someone who doesn’t even know you exist, than it is to entrust your heart to a real person and risk them breaking it.

Thus I am in a perpetual circle of hurt and loneliness. I justify my self-imposed exile with the belief that if I put myself in reality I’d only end up hurt and lonely anyway. This circular “reasoning” is so draining. I put the word reasoning in quotation marks – because clearly the turmoil inside my head doesn’t have even a single iota of reason about it. Nothing about what I have typed is reasonable – except maybe my admission that this entire post is unreasonable.

The Odd One Out.

One of my work colleagues became engaged on the weekend. Her boyfriend took her for a weekend away to Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) in the centre of Australia. It was all very romantic. When she came into work today all the females (except me) in my department practically swarmed her and were cooing and fawning over the ring and the proposal story for ages.

Don’t get me wrong, I am genuinely very happy for her and I think it’s lovely that her fiancé (I’d better call him that now!) made it all very special and romantic for her. At the same time, I don’t really get why women suddenly feel the need to gush and get all sappy over hearing of someone else’s engagement. I was watching them all out of the corner of my eye (I was on a call with a customer, I am at work after all!) and I was really quite bemused to see these otherwise professional women start squealing and carrying on like a pack of high school girls, the pitch of their voices getting nauseatingly high and baby like.

I’m sitting here laughing now, because reading over this one might get the misunderstanding that I’m bitter or jealous. It’s not that at all, it’s just that I’ve never been a ‘girly’ girl, and cooing and squealing and all that rot just isn’t me. But I do sort of feel like an odd one out, like there is something different about me in situations like this. I don’t behave like a “normal” girl. I can’t. It’s not me. I just kind of see those over the top reactions as a little put-on and pretentious.

For my part – I gave her a heartfelt congratulations, and even gave her a warm hug (and I’m certainly not a touchy feely person – so any hug from me is a rare event!). I thought her ring was gorgeous and told her so. I did this all in my own voice, the one that is filled with enthusiasm and happiness of course, but it’s still my regular pitch and decidedly no gushing. I promise it’s definitely not cold or unfeeling, but at the same time it’s not falsified or overdone.

Does that make me weird? Maybe. Truthfully, it makes me a little sad that I’m not like the other girls. I sometimes wonder what people think of me because I’m not like other girls. But, I am who I am. I can’t change that any more than I can change the weather.

Sometimes though, I wish I could change the weather…

For who could ever learn to love a beast?

I was out to lunch with a couple of my co-workers the other day, and one of them happened to ask me “Are you seeing anyone at the moment?” My answer to that was a resounding “no” as if I thought she was completely nuts for asking. She didn’t seem to understand why I would say “no” like that, and though I never explained myself – it did get me thinking.

What was my reasoning to be incredulous at the thought that I’d be dating anyone? I think my disbelief stems more from my wondering – who the heck would want to be with me? I’m sure I have many redeeming qualities – I know I am loyal, I have the capacity to be loving, I am genuine and honest, and sometimes have a rather mischievous sense of humour. But that sort of stuff takes time for someone to learn.

At first glance I am somewhat aloof and detached. I have difficulty trusting other people, and tend to keep to myself. But more crucially I’m damaged goods – a single parent of 2 children, AND I live with Bipolar disorder. I mean if my ex couldn’t live with me – even though we have 2 children together – who the fuck would want to put up with me? I know I have many days where I’d like to check out and be someone else so I didn’t have to put up with me.

It’s not like I necessarily believe I’m actually really truly damaged goods. It’s more like I don’t feel like I am whole (I wonder if I ever will be). And if I can’t be whole for myself, I don’t think I can be whole for anyone else.

I’m awfully lonely though, and I’d love to have someone who truly understands me in my life – my own Mr. Right. But I don’t think I have the capacity to be anyone’s Ms. Right. At least not in the way anyone would need me to be, the way they would deserve to have me be. I am too particular, I need my life to be a certain way or I can’t function. I wouldn’t want anyone to have to accommodate my peculiarities because it would be asking too much.

I wish knew better when I got into the relationship with my ex. I didn’t realise the kind of person I am. If I did; there is no way I would have gone that far. I wouldn’t have let it get serious enough to have a family. I would never have willingly put anyone into the situation where I just make them miserable because of the parts of me I cannot control.

Now, I have to live with the fact that I emotionally damaged someone else because of my illness. And I constantly worry that I’m going to ruin my kids and make them miserable. I do the best I can, but sometimes I don’t have anything left to give my kids. My energy, my attention, my affection – they are all limited resources and there are times I don’t have them to give. And if there are times I can’t even give them to my own flesh and blood, what hope would anyone who “chooses” to be with me have?

I’d like to say that I believe that there is somebody for everybody, but it is my belief that there are always exceptions to every rule. And I happen to be an exception in this case.

Note 1: This is not a pity party, I don’t need to be told that I am “whole” or that I will find “Mr. Right” someday. This post expresses personal feelings that I had to get out of my brain into the real world. I currently accept the above as my place life. I acknowledge that I may not always feel this way, but at least for the foreseeable future this is how I see it.

Note 2: The title of this post is a quote from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Please don’t try to “Fix me”

I know that people in my life are generally well meaning when it comes to advice. But for a person who lives with Bipolar disorder, sometimes even the most well intentioned advice comes across as hurtful and insensitive. I don’t open up very easily – it’s difficult for me to put into words my own thoughts and feelings (especially when they are running around my head at a million miles a minute). But when I choose to speak – I’m not looking for a “fix me”. I don’t want advice. I just want someone to listen to what I am saying, to really listen to me, understand me. I want them to be in the moment with me, so I can get stuff out of my head and hopefully make more sense of my world.

One of the classic things my dad says when I’m trying to explain what it’s like when I am depressed is “we all have our good days and bad days”. I know what he is trying to say. I know he is trying to show solidarity and let me know that I’m not alone. But he doesn’t have a mood disorder so all I’m hearing is “stop complaining and get over it.”

I can’t just get over it. I’ve said it before – I think too much. I obsess over every thought, every action, every detail. I deliberate and overthink the intent of such a simple statement. And of course I feel my skin crawl, my mind preemptively jumping into defence mode, arms at the ready to scream “I can’t get over it”. I know logically that’s not what he means – but knowing it doesn’t invalidate my feelings.

The other piece of advice I get is to “just breathe”. I get that from a colleague at work when my anxiety levels start to rise. I feel like shouting “I am fucking breathing – I haven’t collapsed from a lack of oxygen!” Again I know she means well, that regulating breathing can help calm a person. It’s not like I don’t already know what I need to do. But my mind first of all needs to process what precisely is happening before I can figure out what I need to do about it. Jumping into a “solution” before I’ve identified the symptoms will not speed up recovery time. And the day I fucking stop breathing is the day I am dead.

It also bothers me when someone who hasn’t experienced Bipolar disorder tells me they “know how I feel” and rattle off some story about the time they decided on a whim to do something ‘outrageous” and then cried about it for a week. Yeah. You don’t know how I feel. I can only wish my condition was that simple.

There are a few people in my life that I could kiss though. One of them is my former supervisor . Whenever she could see I was struggling because of my mood disorder, she would pull me aside and ask me “how are you feeling?”. And she would listen, just listen. And when I was done talking she would say to me “tell me what I can do to help make things easier for you.” This is the kind of help that I need from people. This is what makes me want to actually be involved in human interaction, not just watching from the sidelines.

I know I have other things to mention on this topic, but my thoughts are not slowing down long enough for me to grab onto them.

1 + 1 + 1 (+1) = Me

I’m not entirely proud of my behaviour last night. The idea of drinking myself numb makes me feel rather ashamed of myself.

But I mustn’t dwell. Not when I’m really not sure how I’m going to write this post without coming across as insane. In my writing yesterday I mentioned my “alter ego” the devious and childish little “shit stirring” bitch. “She” is not a different personality, just an aspect of my mind that I have assigned a sort of character to. I have several aspects of my self that I have given a persona to – so I can better explain to my Psych the struggles that I have in my mind.

Sometimes it feels like there is a war raging inside my head and that I have these different aspects fighting for ultimate dominion over my mind. These aspects all have distinct “voices”. No I’m not talking about actual hallucinations. It’s really difficult to explain. I suppose the closest I can come is this: my mind is like a room filled with people, and all of those people are speaking to me at once. As a result I don’t know what anyone is trying to say, and I get all confused. The “people” in my head are just the thoughts that whirl round, constantly screaming at me in an effort to be “heard”.  The inside of my head is a very noisy place with lots of activity and it can be difficult to control.

At any one time there are three aspects of myself all fighting to be the one in control, to be the one voice heard above all the noise. They each have distinct personality types, and I feel like they “reside” in different areas of my brain. Of course these descriptions are all figurative and not literal. I created them to understand how my mind works and make sense of my inner world.

The first aspect is the one I call “The scientist”. This part of my mind is the logical, analytical part and if I had to give it a physical place in my brain “The scientist” would be sitting up front towards my forehead. “The scientist” doesn’t have any emotional attachment whatsoever. It deals purely in logic, it is practical and it is fair and just. It is my voice of reason, and objectively tells me how things are and how I should see them in a clear and rational manner. It is the side of myself that may be detached, and unfeeling, but it is the part that knows how things “should be” for me to function. Functionality doesn’t necessarily mean thriving, and happy, and enjoying life – functioning means getting along with the least amount of disruption. And emotions cause way too much disruption.

My second aspect is “The dreamer”. It is the part of my mind that runs on the notion of ideals, and dreams. It’s the part that thrives on fantasy, and escaping from the troubles of the real world. This aspect sits at the back of my head – it’s the one that always hopes and dreams of a better day, a better life. This part of me is connected straight to the heart, logic goes out the door. It’s the part of me that wants to nurture myself, the hopeful and optimistic part that longs for something better. The part that seeks connection to this world, that longs for someone to connect to. It doesn’t want to just “function”, it wants to be truly happy and truly free to fly.

My third aspect is usually the one that causes me the most damage in life. She is a primal aspect, childish, a shit stirrer and I call her the “The soul-eater”. She is the voice constantly in my ear, the one that puts all the doubts about myself and others into words. She is the one that screams out that I am destined to be alone, that people will never understand me, and that I need to shut everyone and everything out. She is connected to instinct, and that innate need to protect myself. But she goes to extremes, the walls she puts up, and the way she makes me fear life go well and truly beyond self-preservation and into self-harm. She is the aspect that acts on impulse, and encourages me to drown out the noise (like through a drinking binge). She is the juvenile delinquent who has the melt downs and temper tantrums to make herself heard.

There is actually a fourth “aspect” but it doesn’t seem to have any influence in the battle. This last aspect is “The true self” the one who understands and sees all. She is the amalgam of rationale, emotion and self-preservation. This aspect is the piece of myself lost in the middle of this war, the “neutral ground” that the other aspects are fighting to gain control over. It’s the piece of me that knows that if only all the aspects could work together instead of against one another that I’d have a real shot at living a full and happy life. But like a small child, “The true self” is sat on the sidelines, and not taken seriously by the other aspects, not allowed to have a voice. It is always whispering “there is a better way…” but those whispers are barely heard against the din of the other aspects.

And the war rages on.

Down the Rabbit Hole

I have always felt like I was different from everyone. I know everyone has that feeling from time to time, but for me I feel like I am entirely out-of-place here where I am. I feel like I don’t belong – not in this space, not in this time, I just don’t feel like I fit in at all.

I never really have.

I mean I can assimilate reasonably well, I make a passable attempt at getting along with those around me. But in my heart I feel out-of-place, like I am on a completely different plane of existence. It might sound somewhat elitist or egotistical but I really do feel like I think and feel things so differently to people around me.

I thoroughly filter everything I say, so that I never reveal much of what goes on inside my head. I have so many thoughts and feelings but I only let people see maybe 5% of who I am – and that’s as much as even family and friends would see. I have always done it, ever since I was little.

In fact it’s gotten worse as I have become older – I put more distance between myself and others. It is so exhausting always putting my defences up, but I have been terribly hurt in the past so now I go to extremes to protect my real self.

I think a part of my problem is that I think and feel things so deeply. I have always had a habit of getting stuck inside my thoughts. I have a stellar imagination, and sometimes my thoughts get so loud and I get lost inside my head. I forget to vocalise things – doesn’t matter whether those things please me or bother me. So often someone wants to know what I truly think or feel, but I can’t seem to find the words to say. I know what I think, I know what I feel but I don’t know how to share.

And then there is that part of me that doesn’t want to share. I’m so convinced that I’ll never truly be understood, I just want to keep it all locked away. They are my thoughts and feelings. I don’t want to share them – I don’t want to risk letting them get trampled all over and destroyed. Because if someone destroys what’s in my mind then they destroy me.

When it comes to “who I am” – I value my mind above all else. Ego cogito, ergo sum: I am thinking, therefore I exist. Without my mind, and all of my thoughts, and all of my knowledge, and all of my wisdom – I don’t exist. I cease to be. I know it sounds paranoid and delusional, but I fear that if I share those parts of me, let someone actually see those things – then they will have the power to take them away from me and I will no longer be me.

My mind is my own secret garden – a secret garden I long to share with the one who would understand me entirely. But I’m so afraid he doesn’t really exist, that there is no one who would ever truly get me, and that I am completely and utterly alone. Even though I long for the one who would understand me – I won’t even let anyone close enough to try. Maybe I’m writing my own destiny of loneliness.

Sometimes I would like to just stop. Stop the noise in my head. Stop the constant stream of thought that leads me deeper down the rabbit hole and further into oblivion. But sometimes, just sometimes, I welcome oblivion.