I’m having a hard time coping. With change, with life, with the shit in my head and my heart. I don’t know how to manage a lot of my own feelings…some new, some so old and ugly. I alternate between feeling good and feeling shitty, wanting to change and giving up on myself. Somewhere in the midst of all this personal growth, I feel like I’ve lost a part of myself…a part that wasn’t meant to be lost. Something seems missing, something is not right. There is an emptiness. An inability to write, an inability to be funny in a way that was so easy for me just the other day. I worry that I won’t get that back, that I have lost such an important part of who I am forever and what now? The thing I loved most about myself is missing…how do I manage without it, especially when I found so little to love in the first place?
This is not a pity party, this is soul-searching. This is change. This is life. This is hard, dirty, uncomfortable work. This is one of the most beautiful parts of being a human being and also one of the worst and most difficult. I do not like being uncomfortable and in my life I found a way to be comfortable in misery, in self-loathing, in all the negativity. I piled the shit people said all around me as a barrier. You can’t cross this line, I’d say. You can’t get past this bullshit and into my heart and head because I’m not worth it. I’m a lost cause. I’m never going to let you in here, where it’s dark and ugly and scared and lonely.
Somewhere along the way, there was a crack and a beam of light. It was love and laughter. It was joy. It was holding my now-wife’s hand for the first time and believing I was worth being loved by her. In that moment things became easier and harder all at once…because feelings are so complicated and, GOD DAMN, I have so many of them all the time. But there was love, the kind I’d never known and certainly never believed I’d be allowed to have. Unconditional. And still, as beautiful as it has felt to have that, there are so many complications, so many reasons I have found to doubt it. That wall is still there and sometimes I find that I’m still building it rather than working to tear it down. Protecting myself from…from what? Or protecting other people from myself. Maybe I should be protecting myself from myself…from the stupid and hurtful things I say to keep me from changing, to keep me from loving other people and ultimately myself.
This, I know, is a large part of my life journey…finding that acceptance, allowing myself to let go – of the fear and pain of feeling something other than the pain of loneliness, the loneliness that I’ve spent 33 years learning how to live with. My mom has often told me I’m like an island, I don’t want or need anyone ever, for anything. I’ve lived a lot of my life that way, always thinking that, at the end of the day, people leave and you only have yourself to count on when things are hard. I realize more and more the value of other people, of letting other people in, but I can’t necessarily say I trust people enough to let go of that feeling, the idea that when the shit goes flying, they head out the door and leave you to deal with the mess all alone.
In the last few months, in these difficult hours of reaching and searching for the person I want so desperately to be, the person I AM but have hidden away because it has always been easier to pretend to be someone I am not than to be who I am and open it up to judgment, I have learned some valuable and unexpected lessons. I have learned what it feels like to trust…others and then finally myself. I have learned to rely on others for love, affection, kindness, support, friendship, partnership and reflection. There is great beauty in the my life, in the relationships I have surrounded myself with in this moment. I have let go of some old feelings that I no longer have room for, and have replaced some of the darkness with light. With joy. With acceptance. With a sense of affection for myself that I had never known was possible.
I know that these feelings will ebb and flow, my self-acceptance will be carried away by the tide of insecurity and then later will wash back ashore in a constant wavering….but each day it will find its way back, more and more until the rest is so inconsequential that I hardly notice it. I don’t know how long that will take. I have realized that the trick, the trap, is in thinking it’s not good enough if it doesn’t happen right now, in this moment, in an act of instant pleasure and gratification. I have always gotten so wrapped up in that idea – that nothing worth having is worth having if it doesn’t happen all at once. Patience. I need some. I know that it is the key to all of this, the patience with myself, with what and how I need to learn so many lessons. Lessons that will, ultimately, save my life, my soul, from drowning in the darkness of self-doubt and loathing. Patience to understand who I am and how I am and what I need to survive. Patience with myself and a certain kind of understanding that when I fuck things up, when I trip and fall, I can get back up and carry on without having to wander back to the starting gate. I do not need to be perfect in my efforts, I only need to keep going, to carry on…to live each day with a desire to make it a better one than the last. Progress.
I realize now that this is a lesson that is not mine alone. Though it is a lesson I needed, I did not arrive here without help from so many people, important people who have not once doubted that I am what I only thought was a dream, an unreachable mountaintop so far in the distance that it seemed worthless to even try. I only wish that each of those beautiful, magical souls could spend one moment inside my head and my heart to know not only the gratitude I feel for the priceless gift I have been given, but the deep and total love and affection I feel for them every minute of every day.
What has for several months now felt like a downward spiral of lonely searching and heartache, of tearing myself down, has changed so drastically in the last days. I now find that I am building myself up, piling on all the bits of goodness I found in the rubble and under the grime of years and years and yet more years of doubt and discomfort. What I thought was an exercise in ridding myself of ugliness has turned into an exercise in self-discovery, in uncovering the beauty rather than tearing apart the beast. This is completely new territory for me, and I know the journey I’ve just begun will not be as easy and as clear as it seems in this moment. But what I have learned is that I am not alone in all of this, that I have a family of people who love and believe in me without end. A group of people so magical in their collective goodness that it is impossible not to trust in them. So with that trust, with that love, I let go and move on from this crossroads with a solid foundation of support beneath me. I know they will not let me fail. And that makes all the difference.