I’ve been working on change lately. I thought I’d been giving it a pretty good go for years – I’ve been through so many, countless programs and therapists. But real change, in the real world, I’m learning, is a lot harder, and involves some very different strengths, tools, and tactics, than I realized.
I think the two hardest things about trying to change, about trying to “recover,” about trying to implement new ways to cope with a turbulent, punitive, and self-hating mind are this:
- Realizing you’ve wasted too many years blaming others, “bad treatment,” the media, or social injustice for your dysfunctional coping mechanisms, you have to pause, look in the mirror, and see the reality of your very flawed – and rather ugly – soul, character, and life journey staring back.
- Not knowing whether any healthy coping aid can make living with the permanent, irreversible consequences and pain of all the bad decisions you’ve made tolerable: All the wrecked relationships; your permanent unhire-ability; a prematurely old body (particularly those bones); that you’ll never have a significant other much less children, and you’re now even a banished aunt; the heavy and costly burden you’ve been to others; and the thousands of hours of your short life you’ve inexcusably wasted.
And you’re trying to do this when you’re just so fu—ing exhausted – from so many years of pain, of fighting a mind that constantly attacks itself. And, in my case, additionally exhausted from decades of malnourishment and the physical and psychological impairments resulting from – nearly one year ago – jumping off my apartment roof*.
And that last thing – that suicide attempt – has only added more deceptively-thin but unyielding filaments to the web of interior confusion, pain, tumult and questioning which underlie my dysfunctional coping mechanisms in the first place. Now, the why-am-I-like-this puzzle is even more complicated – possibly impossible – to solve. My mind is such a labyrinth of issue building upon issue, of experience building upon experience, that the only possible end seems the Minotaur.
Each time I have even one tiny victory – one imperceptible (to others) movement toward change – and manage (as I must, because the OCD calls) drag myself out of bed the following morning, I feel as though my body, mind and spirit have emerged from some kind of grueling, Herculean battle with Greek gods throwing emotional and cognitive lightening bolts at each other for days. And I’m once again sitting amid the embers, attempting to recuperate, haul myself up, and return to my troop. But more and more these days I don’t seem able to recover from the battle wounds. Each sortie takes a little more spirit and life out of me, knocks another chip out of my soul – a chip that vaporizes instantly and never comes back.
And as the saying goes, I’m just so tired of being tired.
Here’s one thing that’s so bizarre about my life now: I look at people performing the most routine of daily functions – showing up at work at 9 a.m. and leaving at five; walking down the hall with
*That suicide attempt bears an important reminder, readers: If you’re thinking about – or ever do – taking your life, please consider that if you survive, your life and your relationships will only be exponentially more fu—ed up than before. So in other words: Don’t do it. Not that I’m, obviously, the best role model on this topic – but please, ride the urge out.