Friday, December 23, 2016

12-23-2016 Entry: All This Pain is an Illusion

Hello my darling readers. It is a snowy day here in Minnesota and I fortunately have the day off in anticipation of the holiday this Sunday. I also have Monday off too, which is pretty awesome because who doesn’t like a 4 day weekend? In a lot of ways life has started to look up over the past week or two. There have been dips and moments that were lost to sadness or loneliness, but they have been fewer and further between than in recent months.

I think the main reason things have gotten better over the past two weeks has been because I’ve decided that I’m done with this depression shit. I know, it’s not like I really chose it or the circumstances that brought it to life to begin with, but I really feel like I’m done with it. It’s hard to explain but in more practical terms that you might understand I’ve decided that finding happiness or relief in every given moment that I can must become my number one priority. I have to change the patterns of thought that have developed, and I have to change the chemistry of my brain so that neural pathways that once brought laughter and happiness are reactivated.

I cannot allow depression and suicidal thoughts to beat me down anymore. I have to fight back against them quickly and early on, which is something I’ve been struggling to do in recent months. I’ve simply allowed depression to run the show, and depression is a terrible fucking show director unless you are wanting to see a tragedy, and I really don’t want my life to become one. No, I can’t allow depression to take hold anymore. I can’t let it tell me what I’m worth (nothing), who loves me (no one) or what my future looks like (an empty void of sadness, heartbreak, and pain) anymore, because if I do then it’s only a matter of time before depression is right. I know that this isn’t going to be easy, and I know that there are going to be days I fail (yesterday was one), but I refuse to allow one day of failure define my ongoing battle with depression. No, the battle must be fought and it must be an organized effort, which is something I’ve failed to do (organize).

The first thing I must do is understand why this recent bought of depression came into my life to begin with. I thought for a long time that it was still tied to my divorce, which was tied to my decision to transition, and while that is true in part, that reasoning is mostly a farce put on by the depression. It didn’t want me to understand the true source of it. It didn’t want to be seen, because if it is seen then it can be dealt with directly. No, this round of depression has much more to do with the sexual assault than anything else. It had so much more to do with the PTSD symptoms I’ve been struggling with than any regrets over my marriage ending.

You see, the depression had a major trump card in this game of self-worth that it and I had been playing. It had the one thing that could overpower anything we tried to use as a coping mechanism. It didn’t matter how much therapy we had, how many friends we had, how well we did with school, how rewarding our work was, how well we did with sobriety, how much we drank when we did, or how close we were to our family (both blood and queer family) because none of that mattered in the shadow of the guilt we experienced over the sexual assault.

Our friends love us and care so much about us!
-You called her when you knew it was a bad idea and she hurt you without you even fighting back.
We are learning so much in school and at our job! Can’t wait to be a therapist!
-How can you help other people when you couldn’t even help yourself? You’re pathetic, no one would want you as their therapist.
We have so many good things in our life, and so much potential for growth and happiness.
-It happened when you were a kid, and again when you were an adult; it will happen again.
(looking in the mirror) We are so pretty these days, and our kindness and confidence will continue to attract people who love us.
-You are too soft. They have only ever wanted things from you and wanted to hurt you. They will take what they want and leave because they don’t care about you. No one can be trusted.

Those were the thoughts that kept me down when I wanted so badly to be up on my feet. It was easy to drown those thoughts out with distraction like socializing with people, going to work, going to school, studying, getting lost in a video game, or drinking, but they were always there in the quiet moments between all of that. They were there when we laid in bed trying to fall asleep. They were there as we drove from one place to another. They were there all the time, waiting for their opportunity to come out and torment me. I tried so hard to keep myself distracted, to find ANYTHING at all that would make the thoughts go away, to make the guilt go away, and when I inevitably failed there was that one permanent solution to the problem: suicide.

What I failed to understand, however, was that it wasn’t about finding distraction. It wasn’t about losing myself in something (aka dissociating) that made me forget the guilt. It was about learning to silence the guilt during those moments of quiet when the walls started crashing in on me. It was about finding peace within that storm of anger, sadness, guilt, and pain. It was about understanding that my desire to isolate and not reach out to people or talk to them unless I had to was just perpetuating my misery. It didn’t matter how much distraction I found or how many outside things I tried to dull the pain of my guilt about the assault, it would always be there, waiting for me. Realizing that at various points over the past few months only furthered depression’s grip over my life, but it didn’t have to.

I kept thinking I had to run from it. I kept thinking the only way to “get over” my trauma was to distance myself from it and try to find a normal life again, but I was wrong. I didn’t need to “get over” the trauma, I needed to accept it, to hold it in my arms, to hug it, to love it, and remind it that there is a future filled with potential, and the only way I could do that is if I stopped running from those quiet moments and stopped allowing them to overpower me.

Rather than letting the quiet moments sneak up on me, I needed to deliberately go into them through meditation. I had to put myself in the quiet moments and allow the thoughts to come up where they could be examined in the light of consciousness and not the dark of depression. Once I did that I could see them for what they were, a response to trauma and a defensive response at that. If you isolate, no one can hurt you. If you keep people at arm’s length then they can’t exploit any vulnerability. And in addition, if you aren’t aware you are doing it, you can’t feel guilty about your social failures.

 Instead of: I’m pushing all of my friends away and not reaching out like I used to, it becomes, they aren’t around because they know I’m broken, and it’s better that way because they’d just want something from me anyways.
Instead of: forcing myself into isolation is hurting me and causing me to lose all hope for a happy future, it becomes, It’s safer to just stay home, and I don’t have anything to offer anyone, anyways; I don’t matter.

So when I put myself in that place of quiet, knowing that I had to wrestle with the elusive creature of depression, what I really found was a mirror. I was the elusive creature of depression. I was the one doing this to myself, but I had to be careful not to become angry at that reflection. There was a reason I was doing it to myself and there was a reason I couldn’t see that for so long. I needed to do it in order to survive the trauma. I had to protect myself, just as I had to protect myself as a child when I was sexually violated again and again. I had to isolate. I had to push everyone away. I had to stop trusting in the goodness of people. I had to stop putting myself out there where I’d be at risk, and the fastest way to do that is convince myself I’m not worthy of being put out there at all. If no one cares about me, then no one can hurt me. If I don’t depend on anyone, then no one can let me down, betray my trust, or exploit my vulnerability.

Yes, I would have to take on the burden of isolation, guilt, and self-hatred, but the means justified the end if we could find healing from this terrible experience. Except, that healing never really came. It’s still there. Even as life gets better there is this gaping wound inside of my heart and soul that just refuses to close. The wound wants me to keep isolating, to keep pushing people away, to keep driving myself to the point of suicide, but I know that I can’t keep doing that. It hasn’t helped me heal, and in some ways has created other wounds that now need healing. What I must do to find that healing is learn how to regain my peace, regain my balance, regain my confidence, and regain my trust in others. That is what I must dedicate my time to now, but I can’t do it by looking outside anymore. No one and nothing is going to heal this wound for me, I have to do it on my own by remembering my true nature, our true nature. We did not come to this life to be overcome by the selfishness of others, but to shine brightly in the darkness so love and beauty can win the day.

This isn’t a tragedy you are reading about here. This isn’t the end and it’s certainly not the climax. We are deliberate creators who have the potential to realize all of our goals and dreams if we can remember our balance and true nature as eternal beings. This is not our first time in the physical world, and it is unlikely to be the last. If it is, however, it’s going to be a life worth remember, not one worth mourning the loss of. We are eternal and all this pain is an illusion.

We barely remember who or what came before this precious moment
We are choosing to be here right now
Hold on, stay inside...

This holy reality, this holy experience
Choosing to be here in...
This body, this body holding me
Be my reminder here that I am not alone in...
This body, this body holding me, feeling eternal
All this pain is an illusion


In this holy reality, in this holy experience
Choosing to be here in...
This body, this body holding me
Be my reminder here that I am not alone in...
This body, this body holding me, feeling eternal
All this pain is an illusion

Twirling round with this familiar parable
Spinning, weaving round each new experience
Recognize this as a holy gift and celebrate this chance to be alive and breathing
A chance to be alive and breathing

This body holding me reminds me of my own mortality
Embrace this moment, remember, we are eternal
All this pain is an illusion


(This was taken two days ago at my grad school Christmas party with one of my very best friends. IDK what I'd do without her these days, she means the world to me)

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