Someone I care about quite a bit (who I won’t name, because it’s not my story to spread around the web or blab to others) has been through a rough patch recently. I don’t keep up with all the various internet sites as well as I probably should (as I’m sure many of you know from my sporadic comments on your blogs – I tend to go days without commenting, and then hit your posts up all at once, because I’ve been busy or life happens or whatever), but I recently discovered what exactly had happened, and while I was thinking about what I wanted to write privately to this person, I realized that what I would tell them were things that I myself actually needed to be told, and to understand on a deep level. So I’m writing this publicly, as a blog post, for myself, for you, for them, for anyone who needs to have this epiphany and hasn’t yet.
Where to start. I don’t know. I’ve recently come out of a depressive period. In fact, I think it was still lingering until a few moments ago, on the front porch, when I had these realizations, when I was thinking out what to say to comfort my friend, and ended up also comforting myself. So, thank you, dearheart, you know who you are, and I love you, and thank you so much for helping me find my way to this point of peace and content and happiness and clarity.
These things may be relevant: I come from a severely dysfunctional family – in fact, I think “dysfunctional” does so little to convey the very fucked up things I’ve been through, that the word is a bit of a farce when it comes to describing my adolescence and family dynamics. For a long time, a very long time, I felt like I *had* to go to grad school, that I *had* to be a neuroscientist. Then later, a therapist. Later still, a social worker. Only relatively recently have I realized that the voice inside me telling me I had to “make something of my life” wasn’t my *own* voice, but what I’d internalized from my father’s expectations, ambitions, perfectionism. And today, just now, sitting on the porch, I realized that even though I thought I’d finally let up on myself, realized that *I* wasn’t ambitious, and was perfectly happy with my job (which I could have gotten with “just” a high school diploma) – I’ve still been carrying around a bit of that internalized fatherly voice and sense that I haven’t made as much of my life as I could or should have. But now I see with clarity, *know* from the deepest parts of myself, that that? Is utter bullshit. My life is beautiful, and I love it, and yesterday, I told my husband, as I do semi-regularly, “I love our house, I love you, I love our life!” and I meant it, I did. But today, my eyes have been opened, and from now on when I say I love our life, I will mean it with even more of every bit of myself. My life is fucking great, you guys. I am happy, I am nourished, I am loved, I love, I get to have fun, I get to be authentically myself. I’m crying right now, actually, from the enormity of this realization, that I am *exactly* where I should be, where I want to be. That the path I’ve been on has ALWAYS been the right path.
And that’s my point: the path you are on is exactly the path you are supposed to be on. It might not be easy right now, but if it’s not, there will be a day where you can look back and see how this roughness led you exactly to where you were meant to be. I don’t believe in regret, I feel like it invalidates your previous choices, your previous experiences, stuff from your past that you may not have had total control over, or that you just hadn’t learned enough to do differently – but that’s exactly it, you have to do those things to learn what you need to *know*. So regret is bullshit. Invalidating all that stuff is bullshit. The rough parts aren’t easy, but they are just as valid as the easy parts, and they both add up to make you *you*, and help you along the path you’re meant to be on. I think that challenge is what makes us better people, because it gives us a chance to understand ourselves and have real empathy for others, who have also been through challenge. In my opinion, that’s the point of life: to be the best person we can. And it’s a neverending journey. When you stop, when you think you’re perfectly enlightened, you’re just fooling yourself and letting your ego persuade you, and not listening to your humility or your intuition or your heart enough.
I’ve been through some shit. I won’t go into it here, because I’m not trying to say the shit I’ve been through is better or worse than the shit anyone else has been through, or more or less valid; I’m not making a comparison. I’m just saying: we all go through shit. I’m sure there’s more shit waiting for me up ahead, and I am going to bloody well fucking hate going through it – but I’ve already been through quite a bit, and come out the other side not just a survivor, but fucking thriving and happy and a better, stronger person. I really hated those goddamn rough patches, though. Fucking suffering, and trying to find some strength or will when you feel like there’s none left and no reason to fake it.
I think “things happen for a reason” is not exactly the right phrase. I don’t think things always happen for a reason, so I won’t say that, even though it seems to go along with “you’re on the right path.” I don’t know how those two don’t go together in my mind, but they don’t – I can’t explain better than that. Or maybe it’s the possibility that you’re *on your way* to your right path. But then that just goes back to the whole “life is a constant process of bettering ourselves, and it only ends when we die.” A “it’s the journey, not the destination” thing.
Anyway, I’ve lost my coherent thread, I’m afraid. What I wanted to tell you, is that I love you, I have absolute faith in you, and you should have absolute faith in yourself and love yourself dearly. You *are* exactly where you should be, but maybe – like me years ago when I thought I had to strive for “greatness in a scientific field” – you just can’t see it clearly yet. You’re already on your right path, you carry it inside yourself, and wherever you go, whatever you do, will be more than enough, will be perfect, because you are already the perfect you. That seed, that core, is already in you, so believe in it, nourish it, don’t give up on it, and let it guide you through this. And one day, you’ll be sitting on a porch, trying to find just the right words to comfort a friend, and maybe you’ll find exactly the right words and maybe you won’t, but you’ll come to this realization *yourself*, like I did, that *I* am exactly where *I* need to be, where I’m meant to be, where I want to be.
I am so utterly sorry that you’re going through the shit you’re going through, but thank you so much, because without you, I wouldn’t have had this moment of clarity, of utter happiness and peace with myself. I have a good feeling that we’re all going to be alright. 😉
Edited to add: Made this private for a while, while I mulled over whether I really wanted it public. Have decided it should be public. My reason for making it private was I was worried that it might come off as a bit crazy – but then making it private for that reason flies in the face of my decision to be pretty much completely open about my own mental health issues in order to help break down the stigma surrounding mental health issues (“being crazy”), since we all have them, it’s just a matter of degree. I *was* in a bit of an ecstatic, manic mood when I wrote it, because, and here’s the somewhat shorter version for those of you who couldn’t follow or are slightly confused:
A dear friend of mine is going through a rough patch, and kind of down on themselves. As I was thinking about what to tell them to cheer them up and try to help them understand that this would pass and they should let up on themselves because they’re fucking rad, I understood that what I would tell *them* also applied to me. In other words, this friend unknowingly helped me to make a “breakthrough”, in a matter of moments, that my therapist has been trying to get me to come to *for years*. That’s how it works sometimes. Actually, that’s how it usually works for me, when it comes to realizations/breakthroughs about myself. I’m incredibly perceptive, usually, about other people, but I have a huge blindspot when it comes to insight about myself. My therapist has been telling me outright that I’m awesome and should give myself credit and am right where I’m supposed to be, and should stop listening to my father’s voice in my head and start listening to my true inner voice, and I get it on a rational level, but haven’t been able to actually get it on a fundamental, emotional, subconscious, *believing* level. My friend broke through that wall for me, and now I *get it* on that core level, I *believe* that I’m not just okay, I’m perfect the way I am, I’m on the right path, all that stuff my therapist has been telling me and trying to get me to believe. So I wrote this post to thank my friend (for unknowingly, but nonetheless, facilitating that breakthrough), and to have it written down to remind myself (for the next time I’m down on myself, or anxious, or whatever), and also for any readers who, like me until yesterday, need to keep hearing it/reading it/having it laid out for them until it breaks through and finally resonates for them.