Before I went manic I was miserable for a very long time. In that misery I would often isolate myself. A lot of that misery came from self-hatred and doubts about who I really am; how do other people see me? How am I interpreted?
I was my own worst enemy. Despite evidence to the contrary I believed I was incompetent, I was less worthy, fickle, a bad friend, a bad sister, a bad daughter, a bad employee and a bad partner. I suffered from an acute social anxiety. At the forefront of my mind was every stupid thing I’d ever said, every embarrassing moment, every misunderstanding; we misunderstand each other all the time.
It’s not right for me to blame other people for being this way. It was my own lack of belief in myself that caused the problems in my life and my lack of willingness to talk about things or ask for help that exacerbated the problems. My mind made me ill. Other people may have contributed to my illness; they may have made it worse, but I can’t speak for their intentions. The people who have hurt me most were living with their own internal struggles and their own way of seeing the world. Sometimes I ask myself “am I too quick to condemn others?”
Despite my doubt in myself I still trusted other people. I was too scared to speak about the knots and circles which plagued my mind because I was scared of myself; not of other people. If people were making negative judgements about me as a person they were probably right.
I’ve let go of that now. I’m not afraid to speak my mind; to tell my story. The only thing I feel I can be certain about is myself. And probably mathematics. I truly believe that the human condition is universal; and though we are shaped by our different experiences and our perceptions we are all, at the end of the day, essentially made of the same stuff. Maybe that is a contradiction?
In writing this blog I do not wish to try and tell objective truths, or to speak for anything other than my own perceptions of reality. I do not wish to undermine anyone else’s experiences with my words because I fully understand that we all experience the world differently. Maybe my words will resonate with your experiences but often they won’t and, in my eyes, that is a beautiful truth about humanity.
I want to encourage other people to share themselves too. I love hearing and reading about other people’s experiences. It helps me piece together reality; to learn how other people are experiencing the world, especially when we live in times of such stark divisions.
I believe in unity. I believe we need to strike a balance between individualism and collectivism. These two, seemingly contradictory ideas, need reconciling. Both are important, I need to love myself and love others, to celebrate both our differences and similarities, to be kind to both myself and others. It’s a hard balance to strike and I am still learning. I will always be learning.
And so I ask for forgiveness, if my words hurt you, if they offend in anyway. Please feel free to call me out with kindness. Tell me inconvenient truths with love. Tell me why you see things differently.
Living free from making judgements against other people is hard. I don’t always succeed in the moment. Most of the time these judgements come about because I don’t understand a person. Let me know you, let me really get to know you, unfiltered and uncut. Help me understand who you really are as a person, what your internal world is really like. Help me grow in the process. Help me find the certainty I am looking for.
We’re all unreliable narrators of our own stories but all of our stories matter because they shape how we see and behave in the world. Our stories shape the way we interact with the people we share this world with. No human is born into isolation yet sometimes it can feel that way, like we are trapped inside a fleshy prison unable to connect with each other.
Author’s Note: Featured image is a quote from Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk.