Do you find that regardless of how you feel at any given moment, in that moment it’s hard to remember or imagine what it might be like to feel any other way?
Or if you try to think back to a time when you did feel differently, you end up projecting your current mental state onto those memories, coloring nostalgia with regretfulness or grief with gratitude.
This makes relating to your own past experiences much harder, and pulling yourself out of a dark place — next to impossible.
Whereas the former makes your memories seem abstract, foreign, somehow scattered, or even “fake”, the latter suffocates you with a sense of utter hopelessness. Losing positive associations is bad enough, but it’s the incredulity about any chance of future happiness that slowly but surely chips away at your will to live. Not because living hurts — that in and of itself might be manageable — but because being numb isn’t much better.
That’s what happened to me: I was tired of the extremes, the neverending cycle of hopefulness and motivation inevitably followed by anxiety and inertia. The shame that comes from disappointing yourself once again is draining. The frustration and worthlessness are debilitating. So… I eventually settled for feeling nothing. Hoping for nothing, striving for nothing… doing nothing.
And I have felt nothing for so long, I can’t imagine ever feeling anything different.
Maybe my life only ever had any semblance of cohesion back when I had no self-awareness to speak of, and others were doing all my dirty work for me. My parents, expecting me to do well in school. My best friend, getting me to try new things. Religion, telling me the difference between good and evil.
The moment I start trying to think for myself, I get lost and indecisive. I’m overwhelmed by the mutitude of options, and by how much whatever decision I end up making is going to affect my life. I’m not sure if I’m afraid of change; I’d like to change, if only i could know the outcome of my efforts beforehand. What I cannot handle is uncertainty. Knowing that I might choose wrong.
All my attempts at happiness so far have backfired. Admittedly they were few and far between, but the result was always poor at best. Even things that on the face of it make me “happy”, I have a complicated relationship with. It’s as if I don’t think I deserve to do things I enjoy, so I come up with ways to make them less fun. Or prevent myself from reaping the benefits of the things that I do.
I gave up on running when I was in the best shape of my life. After three years at uni, I didn’t get a degree simply because I failed to write my goddamned thesis, even though I helped some of my friends write theirs (and loved it). No matter what I do, it feels like I’m playing pretend. Like I’m faking a life.
Eventually I got tired of faking.
But if I truly want things to change, it’s up to me to start making decisions for myself. Where do I begin, when it’s something I’ve never done before? And being as detached from my emotions as I am — past, future and present — how do I know how high I should be aiming and how much I can manage?
I’m gonna need to start small.