Strange things happen when one hits rock bottom. Don’t get me wrong, the things you expect to happen definitely occur, but then there are odd side effects you didn’t see coming. There’s the usual impaled with a knife in the chest feeling when you witness everyone and their moms’ successes in life, love, and liberty. Which then in turn becomes your obsessive goal to avoid them and platforms where they can share how #blessed their lives are. I went on a Facebook hiatus for a couple months, and absolutely refused to interact with most people, on most platforms, including the increasingly less-used medium of face-to-face interactions. It’s not that you’re not happy/proud/ecstatic/excited/ overjoyed/supportive of the positive happenings to those around you. You are (at least I am). But it sharply turns into a reminder of your own shortcomings, and the outward enthusiasm is genuinely shared with your uncle, cousin, friend, and dentist’s next-door neighbors’ nutritionist’s son, for their upward life steps. However, the internal lashing you give yourself for failing to complete the societally defined “Adult life steps” could send you wheeling into a panic attack, or at least another round of crying and shot gunning pizza.
My personal favorite is excessive sleeping, though I rarely sleep through an entire night nowadays. But that rocky, interrupted “rest” does lend some sort of justification for spending an inordinate amount of time in bed watching 30 Rock on loop. Over the counter sleep aids stopped working around late spring of 2014 for me. The prescription pills were doing the trick for a brief period of time, but they, too, lost their efficacy. On the plus side, my mind does run all night pointing out all my inadequacies, and past embarrassments, until eventually I’ve emotionally exhausted myself and I fall asleep again. Who doesn’t love a stroll down memory lane? Remember that poor decision you made when drinking Chardonnay combined with your ever-present lack of coordination? YOU WILL NOW.
Then there’s complete apathy towards personal appearance and body-scaping maintenance. Without knowing when exactly this occurred, you do one day notice that the well-groomed individual you once were turned into Gollum. At least Gollum had the one ring to rule them all though, amIright?
But like I said there’s the ones you didn’t expect- the complete avoidance of reflective surfaces. Specifically body length ones that reflect the outfit you’ve worn 5 days in a row, the weight you’ve gained from eating your feelings of failure. The failure palate, by the way, tastes distinctly like “things with cheese.” You brush your teeth looking down. When you wash your hands in the sink you stay fixated on the rushing water and dare not to glance up and see the dark circles under your eyes, the redness from excessive crying, or the overgrown eyebrows. It’s not easy to witness the physical ramifications on the internal destruction you’re feeling, it just makes it ever more present, and even more overwhelming than it already is to you. Plus you don’t brush your hair very often and it gets wicked tangled. Nobody needs to look at that.
The weight of the anxiety, the stress, becomes physically present. You feel it in your shoulders, your neck, your back. You expect that, but you don’t expect the way you carry yourself to completely shrivel. The confidence once emitted from a strong posture of shoulders back, chin up, straight spine disappears. Exchanged instead for slumped, elevated shoulders, and poses that include tightly squeezing your arms across your chest, as if bracing yourself for the next blow. Perhaps it’s an instinct for protection, or perhaps it’s the weight of everything slowly pressing you into a fetal position. Or both. Or neither. Regardless of the reasoning, it’s not very ergonomic.
Generally speaking I just feel like a weaker person, both physically and emotionally. Is it possible that I will once again feel strong ?
But that’s the thing, a person’s character, resilience, brilliance, courage, bravery, strength should not, and is not, measured when walking down Happy Go Lucky Lane. Life is not fair. Life is not just. Life doesn’t give a shit that maybe you recycle, and give up your seat on the train for the kind old lady. Life doesn’t care that you graduated Sigma Cum Laude. It will throw every kind of grenade at you, even when you think you’ve endured all that you can. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that while you’re digging through the trenches, covered in filth, dehydrated and near starving, three feet away your chum is drinking sparkling pink lemonade under a beach umbrella and talking about the difficulties of finding a decent maid. This was thrown at you because you can handle it. And you will. Even though it’s not celebrated widely, and there’s no major life event status change on Facebook for conquering trauma or anguish, you know you did. And that’s a hell of a lot more worthwhile than an expensive vacation in the tropics.
So let’s change the conversation. Let’s stop berating ourselves, and the constant comparisons to our friends, coworkers, acquaintances, or family members. You may feel “behind”, I sure fucking do, but it’s not a race. On the flipside, STOP MAKING PEOPLE FEEL BAD IF THEY’RE NOT IN THE SAME PLACE AS YOU. I cannot tell you how I am consistently reminded of “where I was at your age”, or the third degrees I’ve received on not obtaining the conventional life landmarks. Society is putting enough pressure on us, we don’t need our supposed love ones to do the same. But more on “how not to be a dick” to your friends/family another day.
Until next time, kids.