Growing Into Being Me

A sense of myself

My purpose is clear

My roots in the ground

Something at last I can feel a part of

am

 

Been doing a lot of thinking in the last few weeks, well months, really. About myself. Who I am, what it means to be me. What makes me who I am. Lots of very big and difficult-to-answer questions.

I think that over the last few years I have changed a lot. That I’ve come into being. Grown into being me, somehow. It’s hard to put it into words, but it’s something to do with feeling ok with being who I am. To feel equal to other people in a way I haven’t always done. Equal on a very basic human level. Something that has nothing to do with where I come from, where I have been, where I’m going, but is tied into the core of what it means to be human. It’s something entirely separate from social status or lived experience.

The knowledge that I am no more and no less than anyone else.

I think I may have touched on it before, this sense of equality. I’m not sure.

But what I do know is that this discovery, simple as it may seem, truly has altered the way I look at myself in relation to other people.

It’s not anything to do with self-confidence or one-upmanship or anything like that. In many ways it’s about something very ordinary. It’s to do with finding an inner centre, a balance within our concept of self, in relation to everyone around us.

I’ve been trying to pin-point what it is that has brought on this change in perception, and when exactly it happened. Needless to say, this is an impossible task; it’s happened gradually over time, has evolved alongside making some very big life decisions.

I met up with a friend not long ago and we were talking about this; about our constant ongoing journey towards figuring out who we are. And what each step closer towards insight means.

The word we came up with was calm. It leads to inner calm. To letting go of the need to prove ourselves to other people. Or, indeed, to prove ourselves to ourself through showing the outside world what we’re made of. To feeling ok with being neither good nor bad, but being a combination of the two. To acknowledge inner conflict as part of what makes us human. To accept that we oscillate between our various wants. Swinging back and forth between feeling secure and insecure. To attach and detach.

And the knowledge that this instability

does not,

in any way,

change

who

we

are.

It’s simply part of the human condition.

xx

Ps. The quote at the top of this entry is from Limbo No More by Alanis Morissette

 

Lyrics from Limbo No More © Alanis Morissette
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Thinking I Can’t Survive What’s Below..

My favourite therapy session of the week – timewise – is my Tuesday session, which doesn’t start until six thirty in the evening. In the autumn and winter this means that it will be dark already when I get there, so there is always that feeling ofnothing exists apart from me, A., the room we’re in and the things we say. And often this sets the tone for the sessions themselves; I tend to be more still within myself, more in the moment, better able to just talk freely.

So, too, this week. Talked about how it’s coming up to a year since I first saw my adoption papers which – among other things – state that my parents wanted to adopt boys and that I’ve not yet been able to talk to either of my parents about this. I have, however, spent a fair amount of time in session talking about this and how I feel about it, so it wasn’t new material per se.

And then, about five seconds before the end of session A. made the comment “..and of course, apart from telling you what your parents did and didn’t want, those papers are also an inescapable reminder that you were put up for adoption in the first place. And that is something you never talk about.”

So I left session with that comment in my head, feeling actually quite upset with A. for doing that to me; bringing something so indescribably big up at the very end of session, when all I could do was to go home and react to those words on my own, with no one to talk it through with.

Now, I have a session on Wednesday afternoon – so in reality there isn’t more than a few hours between sessions. But sometimes those hours can last an eternity.

Spent a sleepless night, basically for the first time ever really thinking about what it means to have been given up. It wasn’t nice and it wasn’t pretty. And, no, I don’t think I was really ready to go there – not like that and not on my own, but I couldn’t stop it, couldn’t change the fact that the dam had been breached.

Yes, I know, this is not A.’s fault. Things don’t come out by chance, regardless of the trigger. Whatever my mind was serving me it came from me. I know this. But, it was still scary as anything. Because I genuinely didn’t know if I’d be able to cope with it. There is a reason why people build protective walls around things that are terrifying.

Still, come Wednesday, I was determined to not repeat my habit of avoidance, of choosing to not talk about things that scare me. So I started out by saying how I felt about A. leaving me with that comment, and then went on to spend the rest of session talking about the thoughts that had been rocking my soul all night.

I’m not going to go into detail about what I said, because it’s all kind of raw, and this feels too public a forum to verbalise the deepest thoughts that I have spent so long trying to shy away from. I mean, this was, literally, the very first time I spoke about any of these things, in fact many of the thoughts and emotions were new even to me, most of them only just starting to take form, to crystallise.

But, leaving session, I kind of knew that..

I’ve spent life hovering above bottom
Thinking I can’t survive what’s below
But I’ve known through the kicking and screaming
That there was no other direction to go

That, eventually therapy.. life.. would lead me to this point.
That I’d have to touch the sorest of sores.

xx

It’s A Bitch To Grow Up by Alanis Morissette
[scroll to bottom of page for lyrics in their entirety]

It’s A Bitch To Grow Up
[from the album Flavours of Entanglement]

It’s been 10 years of investment
It’s been one foot in and one out
It’s been 4 days of watershed
And I feel snuffed out

It’s been 33 years of restraining
Of trying to control this tumult
How I did invest in such fantasy
But my nervous system has worn out

I feel done, I feel raked over coals
And all that remains is the case
That it’s a bitch to grow up

I’ve repeated this dance ad-nauseum
There’s still something to learn that I’ve not
I’m told to see this as divine perfection
But my bones don’t feel this perfection

I feel done, I feel raked over coals
And all that remains is the case
That it’s a bitch to grow up

I’ve spent life hovering above bottom
Thinking I can’t survive what’s below
But I’ve known through the kicking and screaming
That there was no other direction to go

I feel done, I feel raked over coals
And all that remains is the case
That it’s a bitch to grow up

Alanis Morissette

 

Lyrics from It's A Bitch To Grow Up © Alanis Morissette

Precious Illusions And Letting Go of Them

“I’ve spent so much time living in survival mode..

These precious illusions in my head
Did not let me down when I was a kid
And parting with them is like parting with childhood best friends..

But, this won’t work now the way it once did..

Once I know who I’m not then I’ll know who I am
But I know I won’t keep on playing the victim..”

Yep, you guessed it.
Ms Morissette again. This time semi-disjointed lines from her song “Precious Illusions”. Let’s take it from the top:

I’ve spent so much time living in survival mode
Alarmingly true. Having spent so many years as a child and young adult living in this way it’s as if my brain has got stuck in this mode. Long after the danger is over, my body, mind and soul still react to things as if I am still existing in a permanently heightened state of emergency. My defences spike at the smallest provocation.

Did not let me down when I was a kid
And parting with them is like parting with childhood best friends.”
A highly esteemed way of protecting myself; telling myself that no one knew and no one could have known. And, if they didn’t know what was going on, then they also didn’t fail in their job of safeguarding me. Simple and bullet-proof reasoning that got me through for years. No need to think that people simply couldn’t cope, didn’t know what to do, didn’t have the guts to act. Why in the world would anyone want to let go of that idea?

But, this won’t work now the way it once did.”
Maybe the idea isn’t quite as bullet-proof as I’ve been telling myself? Maybe through thinking about what happened, through talking about it in therapy, through hefty doses of reality-checking, a tiny seed of doubt has been sown, growing into a vine of “doesn’t quite add up“. And if it doesn’t add up – then that’s a massive challenge of my own home-spun defence of those around me. A big blow that is causing the coat of armour to crack. And if those oh-so-precious illusions are let go of, what does that mean? It changes everything, and at the same time it changes nothing – because, I’m guessing, maybe that seed of doubt wasn’t actually sown in therapy. Maybe it was always there. Maybe it’s something that has merely been uncovered, allowed to surface? And now I have to deal with this more real reality.

“Once I know who I’m not, then I’ll know who I am
But I know I won’t keep on playing the victim.

Not quite there yet, so the search for who I am and how I truly feel about the discoveries I make goes on. The struggle to understand and finding better ways of coping continues.

And off to therapy I go.

xx

Lyrics from Precious Illusions © Alanis Morissette

What to say, where to start..?

Well, I’m still alive. That’s a start, I suppose. Has been a bit of a rocky road since I got back from Sweden, the highlight being doing laps around the place where I bought anti-freeze last time I tried to off myself, trying to work up the guts to actually go in and get it. Only by sheer coincidence I bumped into D, my ex-counsellor, and of course after that I simply couldn’t go and buy that life-terminating liquid. Not knowing how hard she worked with me to help me overcome my self-punitive habit.

Anyway, things are somewhat better now. I think. I’m currently seeing my GP on a weekly basis, as I’m still not trusted with more than a week’s worth of tablets at a time..

Earlier this week I had set up an appointment with my boss at the place where I’m volunteering, because I felt I wanted to explain my absence to her. I had, already at the interviewing stage told my then boss about my semi-regular cycle of major depression, but he has since left, and I felt I wanted to have a chat with my current boss about it. I was more than a little nervous going there, since my work environment is one where mental health is very important, and I wasn’t at all sure if my current boss would look on my history of depression as something that should stop me from continuing my work there; people have such differing ideas about mental illness, including depression. Some people view it as “the the common cold of mental illness”; something which most people have to go through at some stage in their lives, while others see it as something strange and therefore frightening. Luckily for me my boss seemed to fall into the former category. Basically, her view was that my going into a depression won’t directly affect my work, since if I’m too depressed I simply won’t be coming in. Also, we worked out this deal that when I start over I’ll only be doing the one shift a week, rather than the three days I had been doing prior to becoming unwell. My boss was really good, and told me that what she’d do is to not actually put me on the rota for the first month, so that if I feel I’m not quite ok to come in one day I won’t need to feel bad about it, since they’ll already be fully staffed.

Was meant to start a new course in May. But, for obvious reasons, I’ve not been able to study at all. Feels like such a shame, since I’d really been looking forward to this course ever since I finished the last one in January. I’m not entirely sure how to sort this out, but I’ve emailed my tutor to ask if it’s possible to either push the deadlines for the essays I need to write, or to defer completely and take the course the next time it’s offered (in the autumn). A part of me really wants to be able to just push the deadlines, but at the same time I have to be realistic, and I can’t know that a week or two will be sufficient time for me to get back mentally to where I need to be to do this course.

I finally worked up the courage to ask A. to increase my number of sessions. Up until now I’ve been seeing her twice weekly, but from next week I’ll be seeing her three times a week. I think this will be a positive change, especially since the additional session will be on a Wednesday afternoon, meaning that – hopefully – there will be a natural continuation, a flow, from my Tuesday evening session. I’m really curious to see how this change will affect my therapy.

What else? Well, I’ve decided to go home for a bit this summer. I’m flying to Stockholm, and then spending a night at a friend’s place before going up north by car with my youngest sister and her boyfriend. Roadtrip 2010, here I come!

Finally – to all my friends and to my wonderful wonderful sisters:
I am so glad that you’ve all rallied around me and given me such amazing support over the past several weeks. I feel blessed.

In the words of Ms Morissette:

“.. you see everything
you see every part
you see all my light
and you love my dark
you dig everything
of which I am ashamed
there’s not anything
to which you can’t relate..
..and you’re still here..”

Much love,

xx

Lyrics from Everything © Alanis Morissette