Those of you who've been reading this blog know that 2012 hasn't been the easiest year on me. But it wasn't the worst I've had so far. It is quite fascinating though that difficulty can come in so many different shapes and variations.
Those years I lost to a depression were hard and desolate beyond comprehension. But those were stagnant years. No dynamic, no growth, little change. I just kept taking my meds to ensure my survival and I attended all my therapy sessions to stay on top of things. It was all about controlling the symptoms. Once it was safe to taper the antidepressants, that's when the difficulties became more challenging. That's when I started hiding myself from the world. Because any and all feelings were just too much to handle. I also found myself thrown back into a grief I'd thought I'd put behind me.
|Esther, one of the most beautiful souls I've encountered in life|
I thought I'd gone through it. It turned out, however, that the antidepressants had only allowed that much feeling to surface. They'd masked the depth of my loss and lulled me into a false sense of safety. Suddenly I found myself in the middle of a grief I wasn't ready to handle. At a time when everyone else had moved past the thick of it. I felt bewildered and lost. Out of place.
I found myself disconnected from the world. Scared of life and anxious. I hid behind books. So many books. I read and read and read. It seemed like the safest place to allow feelings to have their way. If it hurt too much all I had to do was remind myself that it was only a book. Just fiction. Not real life. It didn't concern me. I could close the book and hide it for a while. Go back to it as soon as I felt strong enough to feel the angst again.
It's certainly not something you can do with real life. Life happens. People can hurt you. Words can be harmful. Illness and death can strike at any time. Loss is always hovering over us mortals. It's scary if you think about it long enough. It's terrifying if you know that your emotional self is still broken; still on the mend. It's an unbearable burden when you're fragile and wide open and labile.
For the longest time I felt like a delicate piece of shattered china.
Haphazardly glued back together.
Ready to fracture again at the smallest pressure.
It was quite likely the worst possible moment to step into the corporate world. A world full of ambitious, ruthless people. Sharks on the loose. Pressure. Distrust. Machiavellian determination. A game of chess I didn't know the rules of.
An environment that fired up those personality traits in myself - instilled and honed in childhood by parents who wanted their children to succeed in a world they didn't fully comprehend - that have proven time and again to be the most detrimental to my wellbeing: ambition; blind self-discipline; the unwavering need to please those in charge, to prove myself worthy.
I worked through migraines and debilitating aches.
I worked through exhaustion.
I worked through unhappiness.
For the longest time I didn't even realize how deeply unhappy I was. I couldn't see past a never-ending list of to-dos; past the pressure of deadlines; past gaps of knowledge that needed to be filled if I was to deliver my projects in time; if I wanted my work to provide first-class quality to the customer. I powered through it all. Until my body stopped working.
The weaker I became the more my conscious mind started to recognize patterns.
To see which people around me were truly benefitting from my slavish work.
As my health deteriorated further and I started to see clearly what was happening around me, I realized that I'd been selling my very soul. I'd reached a level of unhappiness that even a canvas wasn't able to soothe. There was no rest restorative enough to make me whole again.
I quit - too little too late.
A lesson well learned, though. I know now that there is a mechanism inside me. It will shut me off my internal world. I will instinctively disregard my emotional wellbeing; the alarm bells screeching in my subconscious mind; I will ignore unhappiness and this feeling of heading down a road that was never meant for me, as soon as I am caught in this web of ambition, blinding self-discipline and the stubbornness to see things through to the end.
I can be my own worst enemy.
The things I've learned in 2012.
I've also realized that I am no longer 20 years old. That my body, if ruthlessly abused and plundered, will take its sweet time to heal. Rightly so. My impatience has stood out this past year. My lack of awareness for what has been going on inside and around me has plainly shown me the limits I'm working with. Most importantly though, I've learned that I need to keep the gates to my subconscious open - always. No matter how messy my subconscious might look at times.
And I've finally understood that I am fully and completely responsible for my own happiness.
I must choose to be happy.
While this past year has been difficult, challenging and frustrating on so many levels, it has also been the most educational so far. I think I know myself better. I know my limitations. I've understood the patterns that govern me - the downtrodden path started decades ago and never abandoned, never fully grasped. Knowing the patterns by which I react to the world; the patterns that determine how I respond to challenges will help me react better in the future.
I am unbearably grateful for the challenging year that was 2012.
It was growth; enlightenment; patience; meditation; slowing down.
2012 was for the little things.
A soap bubble flittering past.
A sunny day rising out of the fog.
A summer breeze.
Warm asphalt under bare feet.
A flower blooming.
A cat cuddling.
2012 was for recognizing the truly meaningful things too.
A husband's quiet and steady support.
My friends' constancy.
Finding my passion.
It was a difficult year. It was also a good year.