My thoughts today are conflicted. This morning, I had resigned myself to returning to the cynical person I was until a few years ago. I had to be that way to protect myself. I wrote about it in my journal, scribbling out all of my feelings, detailing how I don’t believe I’m meant to think my feelings could ever be valid or meaningful. I came to the conclusion that my emotions need to be discarded or ignored, because there’s no other way I’ll be able to push on without constant and useless upset.
A couple of hours later, I came across a video where a guy talked about how painful experiences help one to forge an identity. The topic was only partially related to what I feel on a daily basis, but it was close enough that I was able to understand what he had to say and think critically about how his conclusions might apply to my own situation. So, I started to feel like maybe there is some reason to be true to myself, and maybe I just can’t see it yet.
About an hour after that, I read a pop-psych (i.e. not actually based on real psychology) article that outlined all the ways people make themselves unhappy. Essentially, the article stated, “You need to give up on thinking your hopes are worthwhile; lower your expectations and make sure you don’t think about anything too deeply.” So, I started to think again about the reality that to the world my thoughts, hopes, and expectations really aren’t worth anything. I am the only one who sees these things as important or special.
Maybe thirty minutes later, I happened to click on a photo in a photo gallery. It popped up to show me two people. The woman, carefree with flowers in her hair, was grinning directly at the camera. The man, bearded and smiling, was kissing the woman on the cheek. They were clearly in love and clearly very happy. The man reminded me of someone else, which triggered an emotional reaction… and I became acutely aware of how different the lives of those happy people must be from my own. I lay down and cried a bit in mourning and confusion and pain.
I got back up because I can’t really just cry all day, even if that’s what I feel like doing. I have some stuff to do and it’s unbecoming for me to walk around with red puffy eyes and a sad demeanor. So, I’ll just shove all those feelings into that dark pocket where they’re supposed to stay, and pretend none of this happened today. I’ll pretend that the small moments of happiness I found were just an illusion. I’ll pretend that looking toward someone who makes me smile is just a fool’s errand. I’ll pretend that I knew all along that I was just setting myself up for failure. I’ll pretend to be happy and carefree, because that’s the only thing anyone cares about – pretending.
Maybe I’m finally coming to the realization that there are no choices. As much as I want to feel like it’s possible for me to steer my life toward what I want it to be, I can’t. I think I’m coming to the understanding that hope isn’t worth reaching for, because I can’t depend on anyone else to see hope as something worth reaching for.
I guess, really, I’m just sinking back into the same gray blankness I thought I’d escaped forever – back into the numbness that comes from certain knowledge that hopelessness is the only way to avoid pain. I don’t want to, but I am out of choices. I am out of choices because, ultimately, there never was a choice.
I feel like the person I’ve found in myself these past few years – that person who loves deeply, that person who turns her face to the sun and smiles, that person who tries to find the bright spot in every situation… That person isn’t supposed to exist. That person was never supposed to exist? That thought is making me weep uncontrollably. That reaction tells me that avoidance via pretense or self-destruction is not the right answer to the problem.
One thing I have learned about myself over the past few years is that the pain comes from trying to force myself to change for other people, so that other people aren’t irritated or put off by me. I have never once tried to make another person change, yet I always feel the need to try to change for others.
I realize now that I have tried to change so that maybe someone (the man I thought of when seeing the random photo) could see me as worthwhile. But, that’s what has caused me so much misery – I can never be whatever that man thinks is worthwhile or worth risk because he’s probably looking for the carefree woman with flowers in her hair, but I am not that woman. I feel like I could be that smiling carefree woman if he could be the smiling man who wasn’t afraid to show love, but he is not that man. Yet.
I don’t really understand where that leaves me, how that leaves me. I don’t know what is happening now. I know I am hurting and I know I feel hopeless. I know I feel like I’ve wasted my heart and thoughts and growth, but I don’t know why. I don’t know why it all depends on the heart of someone who shuts me out because it’s easier than letting me see his vulnerabilities… even though I already do see his vulnerabilities and weaknesses and accept them because they’re just a part of who he is.
I probably did know all along that it was a pointless venture, but I think I thought maybe there was a small chance it wouldn’t be. I think I thought maybe there was a chance he wouldn’t be afraid, or maybe he’d be able to make an exception if he saw I wasn’t afraid. Even now, knowing it makes no sense, I feel hope that something will change or that I’m seeing it the wrong way. I don’t know. I don’t want to think about it anymore. The only thing I know is that I have followed my intuition.
I’m going to keep following my intuition, even as it leads me through these lost days of fog and shadow. I’ll keep following it until someday, maybe, it leads me into a light so warm that I turn my face toward it and smile.