is it true that it is impossible to lie to oneself?
switchfoot in their song dare you to move sing,“Where can you run to escape from yourself? Where you gonna go? Where you gonna go?”
i don’t know. where does one run to anyway. when all is said and done, in the dead of the night, it is just you and your thoughts. you and your ugly truth staring at each other. it does not matter whether your ceiling has glow in the dark lights shaped like the stars and the moon ( like mine) the mask will fall off. that is the point, the mask always falls off. either you peel it off yourself or it falls off. i think that is the crude nature of the roles we play ourselves into. they are not permanent. regardless of how hard we try to shape and reshape our being to fit these scripts, the play will have to come to an end some day, some time. we cannot be masters of the assassination of our true selves forever. the curtains will have to fall, some day, some time.
i am thinking of how much of an imposter i feel when it comes to being mentally sick. god. i cannot even say that out loud. say that i am sick. this is not about professing or confessing or manifesting. this is saying how things are. i tell people they cannot heal wounds whose bleeding they deny. healing does not work like that. you have to acknowledge that there is a wound in the first place and that it is bleeding, then the cleaning and bandaging will come after. damn it. i wish i could follow my seemingly wise nuggets of advice. but we all know how difficult it is to follow one’s advice, or is it just me?
i have been hiding the brunt of my symptoms for such a long time now. i hide them away until the dead of the night or when i am all alone that i remove the mask. the fake smile. the nonchalant attitude. i know of late it is getting harder and harder to pretend that something is not wrong. not the first time feeling like a ticking time bomb. but the first to be really afraid of what that actually means. afraid of the carnage i might leave. afraid of all the gruesome details.
i mean i can see it in my eyes the rare moments i look in the mirror. there is a swirling sadness in them, some very acute melancholy. like the remnants of a vibrant fire. the fire is almost out and if you look closely, you will see the cooling hardening ash. it is like Pompeii isn’t it? luckily for me, i think, i wear glasses. so it is twice as hard to see my smoking (not the flattering kind) eyes. it is one of the things i love about wearing the glasses apart from helping me see better: you cannot see the sadness hiding behind my eyelids. away from the eyes, i know it is getting harder to pretend. but to be honest the knowledge has not hit me like a brick yet. i still wake up every day and put on the mask and take my place on the stage. read my lines and wait for the tide to turn.
i tell myself that one day, i will get rid of this destructive second nature of mine i created. it is destructive because you cannot get help or help yourself if you are pretending. real help requires authenticity. i feel like a fraud for being such a loud advocate for people to show up as they really are. when i, i know that i am still reading my life as written by someone else. it is all fake. it is all smoke and mirrors. all an illusion. do not fall for my bravery. do not fall for my courage. it might all be Dutch without the help of intoxicating alcohol. a friend of mine told me my bravery to be true inspires him and i was appalled. what bravery?! (sure, i will fight for the peace and wellness of those i love, but my vitality diminishes when i have to fight for myself) i, who swallows my truths like water and lies through my teeth everyday just not to disrupt the peace, being called brave. my lord. it is like stabbing me in the heart and well i deserve that stabbing. maybe the pain will wake me up even though it has not yet. my mother calls me all these wonderful things and i keep thinking she must be talking about someone else surely. she must know that it is not really me, or is it?
do you know why i keep hiding my symptoms? or why i dull their appearance and presence until everything looks like a painting done using cheap watercolours? until it seems that when i speak of being mentally sick it is not my story i am talking about, it cannot be, it has to be that of someone else? i mean do i not appear ‘normal’? do i not have bursts of production, so great and creative? even though what people do not see is that there were weeks of numbing paralysis, thinking of death and feeling utterly lonely, useless and worthless. do you know why i am living what looks like a double life? because i do not think i am sick enough to warrant help. or recovery. or all the money spent on my road to wellness or whatever. i tell myself that i need to hit rock bottom so that all the effort and time spent on me will be worth it. the thing is, i have hit various levels of rock bottom, i am beginning to think there really does not exist a concrete one. but i would not know, i have not been there yet. “And this is how it hurts when I pretend I don’t feel any pain” – Red (breathe into me)
i wish i knew how to not hide my symptoms. how to not care about whether you believe me when i say i am sick or suicidal or not. but as it happens, i care too much. too too much. i wish i knew how to just show up this way. the way i do in my own room when i am alone. or in my thoughts when i do not really say aloud what i am thinking. i wish i knew that i do not have to play hide-and-seek with my mental health. well i know all this but i just cannot do it. it has been so ingrained in me how to hide and pretend for the convenience of others that i just do not know how to undo it. last year during the Christmas holidays i decided i will pretend less around my family. you know baby steps, etc, etc. so i had a breakdown precipitated by something that was said about mental illness and mentally ill people. ( something very hurtful, incorrect, disgustingly stereotypical, that it just tore me into pieces. what can i say, triggers are real. you do not choose them. forget the hogwash that is being sold to the masses). anyway, normally i would just withdraw, be silent, and forcefully swallow my raw feelings until i am the picture of composure. that day though, in the spirit of being ‘real’ i just broke down right there and then. i ran out of the room because i could not take the embarrassment. lies. not the embarrassment, but the reaction i got. or the one i did not get. it was like i had just but punctured the peaceful bubble we had been in by this ‘lack of self control’. if only i could go and do this ugly crying somewhere and come back civil, everything would be okay. so that is what i did. i went and did my ugly crying somewhere, (my mum followed me to talk to me after some moments) came back ready to be ‘civil’ and that incident was largely ignored. not swept under the carpet, no, it was thrown out through the window. like it never happened. and it seems so, like it never happened but it did. i know it did. ( sometimes my niece asks me about it. what am i supposed to tell her?) ( i know this seems a bit harsh to them. i cannot blame them for not asking why i had had a breakdown. but i do not know. if you say something callous about someone and they cry, are you still going to ask why they are crying? seems a bit stupid don’t you think?) (but then what was i expecting? an apology? a following up? a talk? i don’t know. maybe some acknowledgement. anything but this pretense that nothing out of the ordinary had happened. indifference hurts like hell).
my sister says that it should not matter what everyone else believes as long as one knows their truth. which is to mean that even if the others think i am not sick, and i know i am, it should not be reason to not get help. or seek my recovery. but i doubt she gets the internal mechanisms of this situation. i am not as brave as she is. she is not obsessed with how others view her as i am. i do not know if she knows about gaslighting onself by doubting every damn thing you feel or think. about setting oneself on fire in order to keep others warm. i do not know if she knows all these things. it is a maddening venture to be your own worst enemy.
so yeah. i hide my symptoms intentionally. to avoid being an inconvenience to others. to avoid the ugliness of my illness. of my symptoms. of how jarring it is to be sick. all this is not pretty. ( i am a bit obsessed with beauty in a skewed way).but i also hide them out of circumstances beyond my control. like my worst breakdowns happen when i am alone. it is not my timing. maybe it is about when i feel safe enough to let all my walls down. safety, a place without judgement and shame is imperative for a breakdown, ugly crying and just allowing emotions to tear you apart. the problem is finding these safe places. and sometimes you are your own safe place. ideahlism (on Instagram): to be your own home is to be enough for yourself.
plus it is hard to talk about something from the past as if it were happening now. there is a certain element that lacks and somehow dulls the sharp blade of the truth. i hide and hide until i can barely tell my truth from that of others’ about me. i question myself. i dissect my feelings and thoughts. i am my own worst interrogator. no one can be as harsh to me as i have been to myself.
maybe this is a sign that the mask is falling off. maybe the whole bravery thing is finally rubbing off on me. maybe it is time i just say the truth as it is. give me a copy of The Bible, i will swear and for once, be the honest witness to my own life’s story.
No one sees what you see
even if they see it too. – Anon