We’ll try to stay blind
To the hope and fear outside
Hey, child, stay wilder than the wind
and blow me in to cry…
Lost, in a snow-filled sky,
We’ll make it alright…
Duran Duran, “Come Undone”
This weekend, my emotions went from 0 to 60 in about a millisecond. In the time it took for me to walk into a store on Friday, I started feeling every negative emotion that could possibly consume a person — self-conscious, unworthy, jealous, angry, lost, confused.
I tried ignoring it all, going to a few more stores with my mom on this pleasant afternoon off, trying to enjoy my time with her, laughing and mocking and teasing as we always do . But I was tired. Drained. And so, after hugging her goodbye in the parking lot with a promise to see her the next morning, I took a long drive through the back country roads of Lancaster, trying to clear my mind and rid myself of these emotions. And when that didn’t work, I tried to think logically, questioning why on earth I was feeling the way I was feeling, to strip it down to its core and reason with it.
When I reached home, I methodically took care of some chores — taking Riley for a walk, feeding the cat, emptying the dehumidifier, doing some dishes…But as much as I tried to ignore it, I couldn’t shake those feelings. So I took a nap, Riley curling up next to me as if to say it would all be ok, as if to say, “I know you feel as if no one is here for you, but I am.” As if to say:
The next morning, I woke up determined to start the gorgeous fall day anew. I made myself some tea, sat on the back porch steps, and inhaled deeply, watching a falling leaf as it danced on the light breeze before landing on the grass, watching Riley sniff and romp and lie down, nose in the air, a look of complete contentment in his eyes.
I tried capturing that same contentment — I tried admiring the colors of the trees, those colors of the world that have always seemed so vibrant, so alive, so beautiful that sometimes it would make my heart ache with a wish that I could hold it forever, knowing even a picture or painting or vivid description wouldn’t do it justice.
But I didn’t feel anything.
Or at least, I couldn’t, so consumed by these other emotions that had me slipping to a darker place that isn’t all so unfamiliar to me.
A place that I refuse to linger in for long.
I went about my day…I brought Riley over to play with my parents’ dog at their house while I continued to pack up my old room; then, in the solitude of the early afternoon, I put on some old music I had found and began to unpack those boxes, sorting through old English papers and awards and college literary journals — mementos that made me feel proud of my accomplishments, my little successes, of what I had done and who I have become.
And then I cried.
Because in another box was the unexpected, keepsakes that I wasn’t prepared for: memories were strewn across the bed as I pulled out my grandmother’s mass card, framed pictures of those dogs I had loved so dearly, a scrapbook I had made when I was eighteen for an ex-boyfriend, and cards of love and encouragement from my parents, my brothers, my friends.
I sat on the bed, unable to control my sobs as I tortured myself by reading each note through a blur of tears, as my heart remembered the love I felt for those animals, as I realized just how much I missed my grandmother and just how fresh that pain seemed now.
Slowly, I felt myself falling back into that dark place where emotions paralyze and memories are kept captive. In the span of a second, I felt like I lost everything again — not knowing what to believe in, where I was going, what I was doing, or who I was anymore.
In the span of a second, I had come completely undone.
I don’t know why I let such negative emotions affect me to the point where it feels so crippling, a whirlpool that edges deeper and deeper until I feel like there’s nothing left. I don’t know how I can let myself sink so low, especially when the rational side of me knows that this is hardly the real me. At least, it isn’t who I want to be.
I share these ugly emotions on this blog, with the world, because I’m struggling to find answers, struggling to find some kind of lifeline, struggling to find something to remind me that I’ve been through this before and I’ve come out ok, that it’s only a phase, that I’m stronger than this, that who I really am is just buried under these negative emotions that I somehow absorb and cling to, that I seem to claim as my own. And I write to figure out where it’s coming from, as a process to figure out why, and by the end, I usually have my answers, am able to find hope again, find faith in myself and in humanity.
To find a reason.
To find an understanding.
To find myself, renewed.
This time, it feels a bit deeper, a bit more paralyzing and long-lasting. And while I can gladly go on offering that hope to others, that love and support and guidance, and while helping them so often helps me, I don’t know how to do it this time. I don’t know how to help myself, heal myself.
I can do anything — I can graduate college, fly to France, buy a house…
But I don’t know how to do this; I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know how to rid myself of fear and allow myself to finally be happy. I don’t know why that feeling seems like it’s so fleeting, why I’m so afraid of it actually lasting. I don’t know why it’s taking me so long to welcome in a love that I long for, that I know that I deserve, the kind of love that I crave to return a thousand times more.
I don’t know how to stop wondering how long it will all last.
I don’t know how to start having hope for myself, believing in my own happiness, my own successes, my own future. I don’t know how to get rid of all the negative and embrace only the positive. I don’t know how to begin to change my life in this way, having lived with the fear and anxiety for so long.
I don’t know how to do this on my own.
But I do know that it has to start now.
A change that begins right now, right this very second.
I may have come undone in these last few days, but I’ve realized in these past few hours that it’s only providing me with a chance to start over.
I’m redefining my life, redefining who I am.
That girl…That girl who lives clinging to her memories, fearing an uncertain future? That girl who only allows herself to be happy for a moment because she’s afraid that happiness will be lost, believing she doesn’t deserve more than that moment?
That girl is only a shadow of who I know I really am, who I want to be, those darker emotions obstructing the choice of happiness and acceptance.
No more self-loathing. No more believing I’m anything less than special or deserving when I work hard to create my own life, my own path. No more believing that happiness is fleeting and love is out of my grasp.
No more wondering and worrying when it’s all out of my control.
And no more letting myself fall into that trap of negative emotions; no more letting the fear consume me.
Will it take time? Absolutely. Will I still fear? Probably. But I won’t accept it as a part of my life, as a part of me as I once did. Because I refuse to guide my life by that fear; I refuse to look back and remember my life as filled with anything other than love and happiness.
And I refuse to accept that life is anything less than beautiful.
The room seems lighter now, the world seems brighter.
And with that light, that shadow that has clung to me is slowly beginning to disappear.