Like, visualizing stuff and things
I truly hate being with myself when I’m down (see: morbidly depressed or anxious), but I have a tendency to isolate. I shut down and don't move. I refuse to participate in my own life. I have an extremely avoidant personality when shit goes (or feels like it's going) wrong. Cut the ties! Delete the phone numbers! Don't think about it until you have to focus on something important that requires all of your effort and intelligence!
It's hard - like everything I'm challenging myself to do these days - to change my usual avoidant behaviours and see alone time as reflective instead of isolating. I want to love sitting with myself instead of ruminating or worrying. I still default to my flight response more often than not.
With all this (agonizing, excruciating, tough-as-fuck) practice, I am starting to see a difference.
I now recognize that I absolutely must stretch myself when everything else good and normal to me isn’t working. Since I was feeling this so hard recently, I threw on lipstick and went to sit at a bar to write in open air…where people know me.
I know this sounds like the penultimate moody writer’s fantasy (visually, it is), but it’s horrifying to me. I don't do this. Ever. Why? Because people can see me. People can see me WRITING. I’m dressed down and publicly writing BY HAND! I have things going through me and no words coming out of my mouth!! I’m dressed down and without my fabulous entourage!!!
Instead of the kind of moody, prolific writer with the confidence to sit alone and drink a half-litre of wine that I’d truly like to be – I’m a depressed, frustrated bundle of rage in red lipstick pushing uncomfortable boundaries.
This is my creative process in action. This is me recognizing my wallowing isn’t working and I need to exercise my authenticity. Trying so hard to love and want to openly do the thing I was born to do – exist.
Visualization has never been my favourite thing. Not purposeful visualization, anyway. I love to let my imagination carry me to Elizabeth-is-a-Rockstar World and Being-Interviewed-by-Rolling-Stone World. Other, weirder and more embarrassing fantasies are carried out there.
Fantasies aside, I also don’t enjoy meditation of this kind. But what I’m doing is truly visualization – that shit that creates Olympians.
I picture myself as a woman with a beautiful, plant-filled, otherwise monochromatic apartment with pops of blue velvet, art, books, gold, and texture. Friends come in and out, I wear ridiculous coats and minimal makeup; I meet up for good wine I know only costs $17 a bottle but I don’t mind paying 150% markup for the experience. I come back to reality from this daydream, and then realize I am living what I have imagined. Is this manifesting?
But then, I hear my brother's teen angst bullshit remark when he sees me like this: “You’re faking it.” He thinks I’m faking the life I always wanted when I feel, when I know it’s natural and the result of all my hard work and survival. The survivor guilt is real when you leave abuse and are able to find life.
Constantly, I think of where I came from – the physical place, the inter-generational trauma, the unholy and the joy within and beyond and because of hardship. Things that were so fucking hard I had become convinced I’d never and didn't want to make it out alive.
And yet, here I am with all my (strictly metaphorical – lol student debt) wealth. While I’ve left behind the suffering that they still live (acknowledged or not).
I want to help and I don’t know how. I want to help but I’m not in a position to. I want so many things that, ultimately, I will get, but feel disgusting for having. It’s hard to learn how to accept, feel grateful and deserving. This is hard for anyone – and definitely much moreso for trauma and abuse survivors. Therapy helps. DBT helps. Meds and doctors, bars and friends and experiences.
But they don’t cure. They don’t fully convince. The unlearning hurts as much and sometimes more than the harsh lessons that reinforced this pain/thought did.
I now know that picturing what I wanted and planning it all out helped me the most. When I saw ugly it’s all I could recognize in myself, my life, and others.
But in the moments I desperately needed to “get my shit together” or not keep myself down, I pictured what I wanted – which was ultimately what I needed. A life where I would always actively work on not feeling like shit while I lived it. Moments of joy and fearlessness.
And wow, again, I wake up to that obviousness pretty often. It’s here – the life I deserve – because I was lucky enough to keep it going. Suicide was not how I was going to find my peace.
Much like Kait very recently acknowledged: You will not get there by meditating, dieting, spending, or obsessing. You will get there when you are able to see your worth. It may take forever, or feel like what might be forever, but you can get there. I thought it was possible, and (for once), I’m so glad I was wrong.
(Photo of me at the only bar I go to these days by Mary Assenza. This was taken a few days before this article was written. They DO know me there...)