The battle that has been the first 30-something years of my life is no longer. I sit here in the thick of it all... things strewn everywhere; electronic and musical gear piled to the ceiling; dishes piling up in the sink; unpaid bills, and more. I look at it all with mixed feelings, some compassion, and some disgust. Why did I do what I did? Because it's how I knew to survive, no matter what the cost in any aspect. Avoid and Isolate - that's what I did best. The world outside was too much to deal with for extended periods of time.
I now enjoy being in the company of others, and this place is dangerous for me. The memories, the triggers, the "episodes" are all very much alive within the walls of my physical domain. Of course, I don't blame the very building itself or the things contained within it, but what's connected to those things is what is painful...what meaning I've attached to them. Is it time to move again, and this time live with others in some kind of commune?
I know very well that even if I did move somewhere else, those feelings, thoughts, and unanswered problems would follow me wherever I went. Putting a band-aid on the situation only helps for a short time; eventually the truth reveals itself, and I feel as if I had never left. The "mess" would propagate itself somewhere else, and possibly be worse, until I decide to address it, accept the lesson, and learn from it.
The mess I am dealing with is mostly on mental, physical, financial, as well as spiritual levels. I tried running away from everyone and everything that distressed me, made me feel uncomfortable, or didn't like. That was my answer for a very long time....just run away. It was one coping skill that I mastered. In the wake of it all, I left quite a mess behind for others to "clean up," or try to fix. I was very irresponsible and impulsive. I didn't want to learn anything, and I rebelled against anyone or anything that tried to teach me. I just wanted to be "left alone." But did I? Maybe for the short term...
but not forever...
Something happens to living creatures when they are alone for a long period of time; they begin to accommodate themselves for a life where there is no chance of letting anyone in. Certain behaviors are instituted, impulses are acted upon almost immediately, and they become hard-wired. They isolate and cut themselves off from the rest of the world, living in an ivory tower of sorts; a safe haven where no one and nothing can harm them.
For a while, this seems like not too bad of a life, especially if you have suffered what seems endless torment, depression, anxiety, and fear. Everything seems to be not so bad at all! There's a momentary feeling of freedom, allowing you to feel it's OK to be yourself. You make it "yours," and you do everything you were told you couldn't do as a child. "I can do what I want now! I don't need ANYONE! I can't trust people; they'll only hurt me! Everything is just fine like this!" Everything is "perfect," and you truly believe you don't need anyone. You give into your impulses, and accept them as fact, no matter the consequences.
Sometime later, a different feeling awakens in you; you start feeling "bored," and your mind starts to wander. The distractions of the trappings of this perfect life are no longer enough to satisfy you. Thoughts like "Why are we here? What is my purpose in life? Why was I even born? Was I a mistake?" start to do their work on you. If you have a history of depression, the questions weigh upon you 100 times more than most. That "emptiness" starts to pervade you, and you start to look for ways to ignore it, or distract yourself from it.
Soon, you're caught up in a lot of activities, doing your best to suppress those "voices," but you realize that you aren't very comfortable in social situations, and you struggle to keep your head above the water as best as you can. You make friends, you do some fun things, but you still find yourself acting the way you did through childhood when things and people don't do what you expect them to. You find yourself reliving those old feelings, and....you run back to the safety of your "tower." Safe at last!
Yes, you're safe from that potential threat, but now what? How long are you going to stay here? Long enough for the "voices" to return and start their interrogation progress yet again, this time a bit more intense. You sit there, detached, depressed and isolated, desperately hoping to find the answers to these questions someday. You know that distracting yourself doesn't work any longer. Still, you try it again and again, only to fail each and every time. You buy things that you think will make you happy, or maybe buy things you always wanted but couldn't as a child. "Now what? Maybe if I get this thing, I'll be happier..." The lesson takes some reading between the lines to find. It says, "No matter how much you own, it will never make up for the pain in your heart." Slowly, this lesson is learned, and you see it to be true.
You find yourself getting outside more and more as the years go by, but like a child, you compulsively return home, as though it's what you're supposed to do. You know now that you're not as happy with your life as you once were...now it's become more of a prison than a paradise. You allow yourself to remain there on days when you have no plans with anyone else. "It's what I always do," you say to yourself as the days pass.
You still feel uncomfortable being with others, yet you desire the companionship. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages, and you see this for yourself. Still, you return home by default, not knowing what else to do. The behavior became a pattern, and the pattern became a habit. Habits can become addictions. Isolation becomes a way of life that you no longer enjoy, yet you lock yourself away because it's so deeply ingrained within you. Oh yeah, and while you were enjoying it, lots of not so great things happened because you chose to ignore everything outside of your world.
friends stop talking to you
family loses touch with you
debts pile up
obligations aren't met
promises are broken
chores aren't done
bridges are burned
opportunities are missed
money is wasted
people pass away and you never know
...that and several other things. You also ignore what's going on with you physically. You tend to...
have a poor diet
sleep too much
sit too much
watch too much tv
spend too much time online
forget about personal hygiene
let medical problems worsen
indulge in damaging habits and impulses
lack structure and/or a plan for the day
push people out of your life
...just to name a few.
A good friend sees that you are struggling so hard within your life, and just asks one day "What do you want out of life?" You ponder that question for a long time. At first, it doesn't take hold completely, yet it is still in the back of your mind. As time passes, it slowly makes its way to center stage of your thoughts. One day, it's all you can think about. You ask the question, and another part of you awakens, reminding you that you were a selfish child, you cared not for the consideration of others, and you fought life every step of the way. And so, a tug-of-war starts and the very fabric of your being is challenged, tested, and at times, feeling ripped nearly apart. In response, you do what you've always done; retreat back to safe and familiar surroundings, severing ties as needed, and you go into "hibernation" yet again.
You feel those familiar "trapped" feelings yet again, but this time you choose not to allow them to overtake you. Instead, you start to look somewhere that you've truly never have before in your life; WITHIN. You sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with yourself, as painful as it may be, and you say that you can't live like this anymore, and suicide is no longer an option. You feel the pain and just let it out, no matter how much it hurts. You decide to seek guidance from several sources, as well as listening to your heart. You delve head-first into spirituality, not looking for salvation, but for answers, advice, and some basic groundwork. Slowly, answers start to surface and they make sense. Sometimes they hurt because they appear to be attacking what we believe; nonetheless, you stay focused on them.
Down the road, you begin to share your findings and discoveries with some friends, and they understand the meaning of what you are going through. They share some of their own knowledge and recommend books to read and to share with others. You experience feelings that have not previously been a part of your life; the desire to contribute, to love, to share, and to grow. It's then you realize what that "hunger" was that bothered you for so long...to reach out and connect! Every day, the urge grows stronger, and you do the best you can to maintain and make new friendships, healing broken ones, and letting go of abusive ones. You remain true to yourself and to others, to the best of your ability.
...and then you come home again, and you look at the "aftermath" of this "war." You look around and you see someone who was desperately trying to figure out his life in so many ways, leaving many unfinished projects, failed attempts, commitments unanswered, debts unpaid, invitations unanswered, friendships faltering, and obligations not met. He's not a bad person, just very a very confused and scared one. His life was that of a battlefield, every step perilous. The world was out to get him it seemed, so he bunked in for the long term, not realizing what would happen later. He was only trying to protect himself, nothing more. The war is over now, and so the clean-up and rebuilding begins...one piece at a time.
The consequences of my actions may yield some difficulties down the road, but I will work with them to the best of my ability. I may never own a home, buy a new car, or get out of debt. I made a mess and it has to be cleaned up. My actions had an impact upon others, and I will do my best to help them, even if it means giving up what I thought was so important within my life. I stand here now, looking at things from a different point-of-view, seeing more clearly than I ever have. These "things" don't mean as much to me now, and as time goes on, they will slowly disappear from my life...one by one. Maybe someone else can enjoy them for a while, and pass them on. That's my hope anyway.
Awakening from the sleep and getting out of the war was the best thing that I could ever do for myself. No material thing or other person could have given that to me....it had to come from somewhere deep inside. It took getting through a long war to finally see that.
Let the healing begin.