the light

The darkness started in November. No, it was before that. But I made the first cut in November. And it took me 4 months to stop. And I really thought that I would be dead before I made it here. Because it hurt to wake up. And to get out of bed. And to go to work.

It hurt to smile. And to talk to people. To spend every second of every day lying.

It felt like my mind was drowning and treading water all the damn time. Never quite reaching the surface.

I didn’t think I would make it here.

It’s one thing to be alive. It’s another to live. I’ve felt joy in the past week. Real joy. Not the plastic smile I’ve worn across my face for the past eight months, crying in whatever private space I could find. But that bubbling feeling in my chest, the one that can’t be contained.

I didn’t even recognize it at first.

And I kept up the motions. Waking up at 5:30am to put in a 12 hour day because it took me twice as long to get everything done. Riding Ubers to the office because I didn’t trust myself behind the wheel. I didn’t know where I would go. Or what I would do. The temptations I had, I could never say out loud.

The only moments with relief were when I drew blood. And for a brief moment, I could feel again. Better yet, I couldn’t feel anything else.

I stopped cutting four months ago. And this week, for the first time, I was happy. It still feels surreal. I’m proud to have made it here. But I still feel like I got lucky, and I don’t know how to reconcile that. Because what if I don’t make it out one day?

Someone today told me “its nice to see you smile again”. I don’t know why it felt so good. But I think I was glad someone said it out loud.

The Final Stretch (i.e. goals, revised)

I’ve been pretty happy with 2015. I think life is meant to get better and happier as time goes on, and it’s a good sign when this happens. It means that you’ve learned from the past and incorporated it into the present. Of course, it’s impossible to be perfect, to be perfectly happy as things are… but in a way, that just makes the future more exciting. So I’ve set a few goals for myself to focus on as I enter senior year, not for the purpose of achieving them fully, but to give me something to strive toward. They center around a quote by one of the most random people on earth, the North Pond Hermit, who lived in solitude for 27 years. When asked about his reflections on the human condition (following arrest for burglary), he stated:

I did examine myself […] Solitude did increase my perception. But here’s the tricky thing – when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn’t even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free.

My goal is certainly not to become a hermit, but to live for myself, independent of performing for others, independent of the need for affirmation. As I’ve gotten distance from my internship, I’ve realized that these past few months have helped me to take a big step in this direction, but I’m still not quite where I want to be. So here is me solidifying my goals:

  1. Be happy, truly happy with what you have. With who you are. No matter what your physical conditions are.
  2. Take care of yourself wholeheartedly. Focus on doing things that you want to do, not things that you feel pressure to do.
  3. Be accepting of the happiness of others. Practice some metta.
  4. Feel as intensely as you can feel. Love as intensely as you can love. Don’t hold back and don’t be afraid to get hurt.
  5. Remember that you are dealing with something that does make your life a little more difficult than the lives of others. Understand what that means, and accept it. Know your limits and respect them. Be grateful.
  6. Don’t be deterred from your ultimate goal. It’s okay if it changes or evolves. Just remember to stride toward it as wholeheartedly as you can.
  7. Take ten minutes for yourself every single day, whatever that means.
  8. Don’t limit yourself or be afraid to take risks. That’s what life is about.
  9. Love love love yourself. Don’t apologize for being you. Work everyday to be the best version of yourself. And don’t look back at those who didn’t care enough to cast you a second glance.
  10. Celebrate failure.

I guess with that, I head into the first day of my senior year of college.

To Be Alone

Over the past year, I’ve gotten to a place where I am comfortable with myself. I wouldn’t say that I’ve grown to love myself, because honestly, I still hate the way I look, and I’m not a huge fan of my personality either. I think its more of a feeling of acceptance.

I used to be really afraid of being alone. I’d spend nights crying because I was so alone. Of course I had family and I had friends, but this was different. It was a fear that I would never find anyone who would understand exactly what it was like to be me. To feel these things that I could never explain in words. Someone who could make my decisions for me. I guess, just someone to be me, to live my life and to just let me watch.

But I’ve learned that to be alone is something to be cherished. To know that you are the only one in the entire world who is ever going to feel this way, to have these experiences, to look at the world from this perspective. That is a beautiful thing. I’ve learned that this what life is. To contribute to the world a life that you shape, a life that is limitless. Sure, there are laws, societal conventions, restrictions. But still, it’s crazy to think that as a human being, you have the ability to do anything, to decide to feel whatever you want to feel. To me, that is the gift of being alone. And it’s something that I’ve accepted.

Here’s the part that’s not so great though. I’ve spent a lot of time this past year being on my own, learning to trust myself and appreciate that I have the power to shape my life and decide whether or not I’m going to be happy. But now I’m scared to not be alone.

I guess its because when I’m the only person involved in my life, I’m in complete control. But, when I let other people in, I lose control, and that’s when things get tough. The problem is, the closer people get, the more I care about them. And the more I care about people, the more they have the power to hurt me. And this is the kind of hurt that I can’t control, I can’t turn off.

It’s been three months since I’ve gotten back. I haven’t gotten particularly close to anybody this semester. I’ve met people, made new friends, but I haven’t made any close connections. Part of it is circumstance. But a huge part is excuses, reasons not to commit, not to care, not to ever let anybody have the power to hurt me. It’s not that I love being alone. I’m okay with it, and I don’t mind it. But I’m terrified to not be alone.