This Is What Life Is Like When You’re Recovering

Last night I revisited feelings of distress. Feelings Id long avoided out of fear, shame, inadequacy. Its funny that a movie, something made-up and fictional, could catalyze this and end up making me feel so uncomfortable. But didnt feel all that unreal to me. Instead, it felt deeply familiar.

I had to pause the movie a couple times to take it in, breathe deeply, and not let the panic take set in as I processed. Unlike the main character, nobody had really pushed me to the brink. Not like that, anyway. I mostly did it to myself.

I know whatwantingno, needingto be perfect feels like. In fact, I know it too well. I know the desperation of trying to succeed, even at the cost of running yourself to the ground. I used to have tunnel vision. Sometimes Im afraid Ill develop it again.

I resented the people that wanted my well-being. I didnt see it that way. It felt like they were telling me to settle, that I wasnt good enough. Fueled with anger, I only tried harder.

I didnt realize how unhappy I wasuntil I did. The realizationhit me like a terrible blowback, but only onceeverything around me had already crumbled.

The hardest part wasnt giving in, it was the shame I felt after proving everyone right. The first feeling was disgust, feeling so weak and hopeless, and sickened with myself.

Happiness didnt start for a while. Sometimes I think Im still chasing it. It felt like a long endless tunnel. The sun couldnt touch my skin. I had to get up in the morning and set small goals, get through the day. I wasnt even telling myself not to cry. That wasnt a goal; it was survival.

I remember the light at the end of the tunnel being a mere hypothesis. I remember how faint it felt: the exit very far ahead. I wasnt sure there would be light out there, because Id pushed myself so very deeply into darkness I just had to hope, keep going, not look back, and most importantly attempt not to judge myself so harshly.

Writing now, I realize I havent fully healed yet. I did find hope. Im a different person, but I also leaned back.

Today, I still struggle; Im still scared. My legs still buckle under me, my feet still fight me over the steps I take.

Ive spent a lot of time waiting for things to settle, to pick up, to be better on their own. Today, Im not saying patience isnt the key, but you have to help yourself.

No fate, but what you make. It almost feels ironic to think of this quote, right now, right here, when Im in this state.

Im sharing this because I think there is a life after you think youve failed yourself. And then you have another setback, and you look up, assess, keep going, and learn something new about yourself; the obstacles you can face and overcome, the limits that may be for your well-being. Its a long road ahead and the learning never stops.

Life is, after all, a great big giant lesson that leaves you altered. Somehow, as hard as it appears, its also kind of fantastic we can keep developing endlessly, test ourselves, expand.

But expansion is, irrevocably, tied to entropy.

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