I’m really learning about myself lately.
That’s what happens when you hate the cycles of Major Depressive Disorder—my chemicals had been changed, and now, I want to change them back… or better. Whatever, you get it.
I’ve been working on my lessons of Patience and while thinking about that notion, driving in my car, letting the hot, hot summer air pass through my messy pony tail, I started to think about friendships.
I used to be so incredibly giving—a true Caretaker. However, life takes its twists and turns and, speaking from my own experiences, I know that I’ve hardened a bit in my “giving” category. But nothing took it away from me like the life event I experienced almost two years ago. It’s the event that changed my brain chemicals to allow me to experience Major Depressive Disorder (I’m using the terms “allow” and “experience” loosely here, but I’m learning from them, so let’s just say it was a “gift”.)
I have always been incredibly tenacious, a fighter; That person that ALWAYS picked herself back off and kept at it. But this event, damn, this event depleted every single resource from my emotional and physical well-being.
So, at this point in my life, I’m learning how to truly be “selfish”; How to take care of myself emotionally and that has been… interesting. It means saying “no” and placing bigger boundaries around myself and around relationships. It means being a bit colder a times and working hard to make myself a better person.
There’s a wonderful scene in the movie Eat, Pray, Love, starring my girl, Julia Roberts, where Viola Davis’s character is telling Julia that she should stay close (after a break up) because her friends are there and they love and support her. Julia’s character rebuttles by asking if Viola could feel her love and support for her—No, because Julia was dead inside. She had no love of self, so how could she shower anyone else in love?
It’s true. I don’t think people truly felt my love for them in that first year of suffering and grief that I went through. I was depleted and lost. I lost friendships from people whom I trusted and that was a lesson in and of itself: Not all friendships last forever, and sometimes those people can’t give you what you need and vice versa, and that has to be okay. And it is. Maybe we will come back together at another point in life, but only if they understand that lesson too.
So, that’s one big reason I am a shitty friend lately: I am desperately working to make myself “whole”; And to do that, I can’t rely so hard on people that are close to me anymore. My happiness, my JOY, needs to come within me, because, let’s be honest, the only person who is ever truly there for you is… YOU. Yourself.
I know that I passively push friends away when they are going through their own business lately, because I can’t emotionally handle it. I am there on the outside, to listen at times or offer advice (when it’s asked for or needed), but other than that, I just… can’t.
I’m working hard to replace my reserves of tenacity and grit, so that when I have a trigger for my MDD, or when I go through something rough, I don’t completely bottom out and stand on the edge of my brain with the bottle of pills in one hand and the notion that I don’t deserve to live in the other (which is a lose-lose no matter what). I’m tired of wanting to die, but more importantly, I’m no longer scared of it. And that’s scary in and of itself.
The other reason why I push friends away, specifically with female friendships, is that I’m afraid that what I have to offer will be rejected. I know that I’m working on my emotional reserves, but then to add on to that that when I was growing up I had to work extra hard for people to like me—I was quiet and mousey and nice but not the “life of the party”. I worked hard to change that about myself, and became someone who was constantly “on” in order to be liked. Even with my small group of childhood friends, I always felt on the outside. I was awkward (weren’t we all) and timid and didn’t want to fall behind socially. It felt, even with the best friend that I had, that I was always disposable.
I want to protect the parts of me that are still very small and timid and socially anxious. Those parts are vulnerable and my vulnerability has been used against me too many times to allow that barrier to be so easily permeated.
I gave too much too soon, a theme of my life, which is a reason why I’ve pulled back so much in connecting with people, really connecting with them—I’m so damn afraid that what I have to offer will not be enough.
And so, I work through that. And I’ve lost friendships because of that. I start the friendship, am excited, and then realize-- Wait. What I have to offer is so different. My personality is so different than what I originally showed them, that they’re just not going to like me when I’m not “on”.
I’m working on no longer being “on”, unless it’s a networking situation, but let’s be honest, I don’t get myself in those situations often because they are the WORST. Even when I’m working in customer service, I’m trying to dial myself back, to be more honest and real with people. I don’t need to laugh at that joke, it’s not funny.
I’m constantly reminding myself of that.
Friends. Please know I am working very hard to find balance in my life. I have a goal and I’m trying to stick to that. Other than that goal, I must work hard, and often, to build up my financial reserves. I must also find the balance of spending quality time with people I care about, but also quality time with myself. That is how I recharge—by being alone. And, guess what? I need a lot of alone time. I enjoy it, until I don’t. Basically, I’m a very sweet cat. I’m Ophelia (my cat).
I am working to make a concerted effort to be there for people in my smaller circle, the circle of closeness. It’s spotty right now, but I’m chugging along at it while I continue to gather myself together. I love you. You might not always feel it surging from me to you, but it’s there, beating always.
I also don’t owe anyone this information. But, I find that writing out my thoughts in essay form (or poem form) is incredibly helpful to allow me to better process in my brain.
Maybe my thoughts are helpful to gather insight about me, but more importantly, maybe about you, dear reader. We can’t hide from ourselves and our past forever.