If I loved you once, I can love you again

I’m really not well right now. I’m in hiding.

It’s hard sometimes to realise that this is just what I do. It sounds so defeatist that way, so I push against it because I don’t want to feel as though I’m not in control. But what if I just accept it as something I need to do? What if I don’t try to keep fighting it? Just accept it and let it happen.

That’s what I did before. Unfortunately my acceptance came too late, after I had fought against it for so long that my ultimate meltdown was fucking nuclear and it destroyed everyone – including those who were on my side.

You don’t have to bother avoiding people when everyone already hates you anyway.

I’ve been fighting it again. Days are a constant cycle of feeling bad about not doing enough but deliberately – and with much effort – placing obstacles in the way of actually even trying. And because I’m freaking out about it, all of the things that I’ve been distracting myself with have all been pretty meaningless because I can’t actually concentrate on anything that requires my full attention.

Sometimes the only place I can get some peace is in the bathroom. I do my thinking on the toilet these days.

I was on the toilet, trying to gather my thoughts – which, even under normal circumstances, is quite hard for me to do. It’s especially difficult when I’m anxious because all my other thoughts carry the echo of the fear, making sure that I never become even momentarily unaware of its bastard presence. My train of thought constantly derails as a result.

Suddenly one of the voices says, ‘Maybe you actually need it.’

For some reason, all the other voices shut up and actually let me think about this for a moment. I realised it was right – and, more importantly, I realised that I could accept this.

Unfortunately, I know that this doesn’t immediately make a difference. Knowledge alone isn’t enough. I have to apply the knowledge, which means that I have to actively change my thinking and this is really fucking difficult. When I wake up in the morning, I’m so lethargic that I run on autopilot for far longer than I ought to and this means that my thoughts are on autopilot too. This, in turn, means that I spend a good portion of time listening to and absorbing all of the anxiety that plays out in my mind when I leave it unattended.

I’ve essentially brainwashed myself. I can’t just override the wrong thoughts because they’ve become the default setting – they are now a belief. Changing a belief upsets the entire system; it leads to a difference in action, and thus it becomes a physical manifestation.

The trouble when you fight it is that your beliefs and actions end up changing anyway, but in a much more undignified way because you chose to go kicking and screaming.

Maybe this is just a cheat. Maybe I’m just claiming that the grapes are sour so that I don’t have to keep trying to reach them. It’s hard to say. The thought made me feel better, I made a decision based upon that and now I feel as though the situation is able to improve. My emotions are the only thing that has changed, but emotions are inherently fleeting anyway. Before, I was refusing to even entertain the fact that I could choose this particular option – every time the thought crossed my mind, I got anxious about what I would lose by changing what I was doing. I would remind myself of all the bad things that could happen in the future or might be happening already without me knowing, but I would deliberately avoid thinking about all the good things that were likely to happen. I was deliberately misleading myself.

It’s not changing my mind, it’s allowing myself to see everything all at once. More importantly, I can feel it all at once. I can feel the guilt and the anxiety and I can feel the relief and the optimism. Even if I am still misleading myself, surely it’s better for me to choose to trick myself into feeling positive? If there’s no way of knowing the truth and the only thing I truly get to experience is the emotion, then the rational thing to do is choose the one that makes me feel better, right?

Right.

It​ takes time and patience and effort to actually change. Outside influences also have the power to resist the changes we are trying to make and that makes it even harder. The problem that I have is that I want to avoid as many outside influences as possible. I want to go and sit in a room and not be disturbed by anyone. This is difficult – even before I had a child, there was always something that meant I couldn’t totally hide myself away. But I tried it, once, and the compromise did actually work for me.

Letting go is hard, even if you know that you can pick back up at any time. We feel obligated to other people. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I have never been very good at this though, and the fear of things returning to haunt me in the future has always compelled me to not only burn bridges, but to push everyone who had made the terrible mistake of getting to know me over the side first.

And then I would run.

I don’t want to do that anymore. Not (just) because I’ve burnt so many bridges that I don’t actually have anywhere else to go now, but because I don’t want to be gone forever and I want to have something to come back to.

Having to go through all of this just to allow myself to feel okay about making a decision that improves my well-being is exhausting. I’ll wake up in six hours time and it’ll take me six more before I even remember. And then I’ll have to go through it all once more.

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