I’m still a person in progress, and proud to self admit to this status. I recall a time when I was not so, before my symptoms manifested. I was closed minded, and beloved a select few “truths” about living. I remember professing in my ignorance that there was no way I would ever get married, and that there was no way I would have a kid. I remember believing these things to be as rock-solid as any declaration I could make.
But life isn’t like that. If we don’t constantly change and progress, we are swallowed up by reality and discarded, empty. Some people refuse to accept the world for what it is. Instead, they invision it how they would want it to be, and believe that to be accurate. I used to be this person.
I remember when it changed for me: I was 20, and just making my way into independent life. I was in school full time, and had two part time jobs. I was living with college graduates and my world-view was expanding rapidly. Then something happened, and my grip on the wheel became weaker. My emotions started shifting around inside me like parasites. I grew paranoid, fearful of others. I tried to hold on to this accelerated life I had been living. One night, I was in my car at a park well after sunset. I saw my idea of what my life was supposed to be disappearing. I opened the door to my car, and I thought to myself: I’m going to go walk out into traffic.
It took me some time to go get help, and I was in agony over it. The admission that I was unable to do what I wanted to do. It was defeat. It was total, unconditional surrender of my vision for myself. I took it hard. I never really accepted it, and four years later I was back in school trying to make it at UCSB to become an english professor. I just wouldn’t let it go. I had to be THE BEST. I had to show everyone how brilliant I was. I dropped out of college and went into the deepest depressive cycle of my life, culminating in my entire independent life collapsing. I moved in with my parents in Sacramento two years later.
But what was I really doing? I was throwing s tantrum, one that played out over six years. I refused to redefine myself. I would not let go of the idea of who I was supposed to be. One day, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought: this isn’t so bad. I was still basically the same person I had always been: charismatic, humorous, articulate, rational and determined. Just because I was mentally ill didn’t mean my life was over; my reality simply needed to be reimagined. I am never going to be a college professor, or a senator, but I will be an amazing man who is proud of who he is. I found a way to earn the respect of the one person that really matters… me.
It took me a long time to get past the feeling of dismay, but the more I talked about it, the less painful it was. In order to be truly happy, I had to discover myself. How can I be proud of the person I am? What do I have to do to stop resenting myself for being mentally ill? I will admit that it took me 12 years to accept forgiveness for that, but once I did, a new world of possibilities and hope emerged. I love who I am. I am sincerely proud of the things I do with my life now. I changed my reality, and now I can breathe free air, and stand in the sun. I do not hide behind lies to please myself, I am who I am, flaws and all. Mistakes? Fuck yes! Lessons learned? Truly.
If you have fought a similar battle with reality, I’d love to hear at what stage in the journey towards acceptance you are at.