When sadness overwhelms you like a thick cloud that looms over you and follows you wherever you go so that you can literally feel your heart break apart and you remember everything that has ever hurt you or made you cry or torn you down and it crushes you and takes over your mind so that you can’t remember why you were ever happy or what it feels like to not be sad and your whole body cries and you try and try to make it stop to turn it around but its so hard and you’re so tired from fighting all the goddam time struggling to keep your head above water but never quite long enough to enjoy the view and you just want the world to stop moving for just a second so you can take a break but you know that life doesn’t work that way.
I get really nostalgic at night. During that hour that I can’t fall asleep, my mind manages to cycle through every possible thought that will make me as sad as possible. It got me thinking Maybe, just maybe, life is designed to make us miserable. Personally, I have two sets of memories, the sad memories and the happy memories. (My neutral memories tend to end up not being that memorable for me). So I remember my sad memories, I think about how awful they made me feel and these emotions come rushing back, making me as miserable as ever. Then the happy memories start floating around. I think about how great they are. And then immediately, I become more depressed then ever, thinking Wow, the best moments of my life were right there. Now they’re over. Nothing like that will ever happen again.
When something like that happens, I get in my “stay in the present mindset”. People always tell you to live in the present right? Because its not worth it to dwell on the past or worry about the future. I try my best to shove down all those memories. I try to forget because it hurts too much to remember knowing that they’ll never be back. But as I was lying in bed last night trying to crush all these memories, I realized that it didn’t have to be that way. Honestly, life isn’t designed to make us miserable. I know it because there are so many positive people out there, people that have been through horrible experiences and manage to still keep their head held high.
And I thought. No, I’m going to cherish these happy memories. Because they’re mine and no one can take that away from me. And I feel like in that moment a weight was lifted. There’s no need to push away wonderful happy memories because its too painful to remember them. Instead, I’m going to tuck them away in that album in my brain. I’m no longer going to feel guilty for remembering something that made me happy. I’m going to take them out for walks in my mind and cherish the delightful emotions associated with them. I’m not gonna pretend that they weren’t great because they truly were. And so from now on, I’m going to focus on that. I’m going to be thankful for the fact that I was able to experience something so wonderful, I’m going to stop mourning their loss, I’m going to stop trying to recreate the memory because life doesn’t work that way. The best little surprises are the ones that you don’t expect. No matter how hard you try, you can’t capture the perfect view on your camera. You can’t replicate the scene. But you can seize the moment, pocket the happiness, and just be grateful.
I moved back home from college on Sunday with the knowledge that I wouldn’t be back on campus until 2015. Packing everything up, it struck me that half of my college experience was over and I remembered everything that had happened in the two short years that I had been there. I had built up quite a collection of memories, both good and bad, but I had also grown very accustomed to my life on campus. I was safe there. The end of the semester gave me the realization that time was still moving forward and that was something that I had been avoiding for so long.
Part of it was also the dread of going home. I love my family and spending time with them, but being at home also carries an overwhelming set of memories, something that I didn’t realize until I spent a significant amount of time away. The past few days have been really hard for me. My grandmother’s health had deteriorated pretty rapidly and on Friday she is returning to the hospital to have another procedure done. It brought back memories of when she was first diagnosed with cancer last spring and I had to start on antidepressants because my anxiety began to be debilitating. Just about two weeks ago, I finally came off medication. I couldn’t really take the side effects anymore and I hated the idea of being dependent on drugs.
Yesterday, I had a pretty bad panic attack. I’ve never actually had a panic attack that bad while I was sober, but I was just really overwhelmed. I had been avoiding a lot of things while I was at school, but at home, everything came rushing back. I also don’t really have anyone to turn to when I’m at home, and I hate burdening my family with the idea that I’m not okay right now when they have so much to deal with on their own. Ironically, I get the idea that me staying strong at home is part of what is keeping everyone together. I keep thinking that if only I were still at school, everything would be okay, but I know that that’s really not true. I’m also burdened by the guilt that I’m so much more stressed out being at home and around my parents and I know that that’s not what home is supposed to be and that’s certainly not what they want for me.
I honestly just wish that time would stay still for just a sec. I just need a moment. One moment.
For now, I’m just trying to hold myself together. I’m practicing piano a lot because that seems to be the only time my mind stops designing horrible scenarios for myself and deciding I’m constantly on the verge of a panic attack. I’m also spending a lot of time in bed because it feels safe there. I feel guilty about wasting precious time, but I’m also trying to remind myself that it’s important that I take as much time doing what I need to do to make sure I’m okay.
If we didn’t have memories, it would be so much easier to let go, to live in the moment, to move on with life. But memories are there for a reason. They shape the person that we become. Unfortunately, life is a cycle of ups and downs. You can’t have sunshine without a little rain.
Memories make it hard to be satisfied with yourself. They remind you of that time you were happy. They make you look backwards when you’ve been struggling to move forward, filling your mind with what ifs and dreams of something that could have been. You struggle to recreate rather than innovate.
I’m done looking back. I’m done mourning the past and living in discontent. I’ve learned that I’m never going to see the light if I’m hiding in the dark. Even though sometimes the darkness feels safer. There, disappointment is expected, nothing can hurt more than it already does. The light is a much scarier place, but its rewards are so much greater.
Lately, I have been starting to venture out into the light. And sometimes I’ve been burned by it. I’ve still had days that I wanted to spend crying under my covers and days that I just wanted to give up. But I’ve also been happier than I have been in a while. And every time I feel the urge to crawl back into the dark, I remind myself that there are other options.
I have to mention that this hasn’t been a solo journey. I have to thank those that have stuck with me, held my hand, inspired me with their own resilience, helped me to find the light. Thank you.