I haven’t felt compelled to add to this blog in quite a while. I realized that I regretted not having the blog be completely private and the thoughts and feelings I wanted to share were too personal for the people who now had access to the blog. So I have been quite deep in thought for the past five months or so and didn’t really want some folks inside my head via this blog. Not because they were bad people, I just needed some space to work through some things.
I am feeling less of that need for privacy and I feel ready to share some thoughts that aren’t so private and feel more useful for the searchers out there looking to gain from other people’s journey’s.
I have been single for over two years now. I have certainly dated. I have dated hot and heavy. But I haven’t committed to a relationship in over two years. It felt too risky. Not because I was afraid of being hurt. No, because I was afraid of hurting someone else. It should have been a clue to me that I wasn’t afraid of being hurt. I have spent two years dating but keeping a safe distance from anything resembling emotion. And when emotions tried to get involved, I exited stage left…quickly. I never questioned my decision to walk away from a potential partner. I just knew they weren’t right for me. Or I wasn’t right for them.
A few months ago A woman I dated briefly said to me, “you’ve been shut down for so long, you don’t even realize how shut down you are.”
I have spent several years feeling pretty on top of my shit. I went from being the depressed girl pretending to be a happily married heterosexual mom of three…through a difficult divorce (oxymoron) and a very broken heart to being a fucking warrior. I haven’t been depressed in years. Seriously. I have been less depressed in the last four years than I have been in my entire conscious life. It’s been good and I am grateful for my fighting spirit and my energy toward the goal of creating a new life for me and my children. God it’s been hard but I have done it.
Seriously. I have been kicking life’s ass. Working hard. Building a career. Buying and selling houses and cars and saving for my own retirement and learning how to fix stuff and manage stuff and you know, basically just working my fingers to the bone getting my shit together.
My shit is together. You know, my garage is filled with crap and sometimes I struggle to find time to pay my bills before they are late. But generally, I am doing pretty damn well, out here on my own. I love my job. I have complicated but amazing relationships with my kids. I am good. We are good. It’s all good.
I have been (and still am, for the record) pretty proud of myself.
So the lady who knew everything’s words hit me hard. I couldn’t understand them at all. And as I explored what it meant to be shut down and what truth there could be in the words, I have teetered on what I used to call “falling down the rabbit hole”. This is what I used to call the depression I have struggled with for much of my life.
I did some sessions with the therapist I had stopped seeing (because ya know, my shit was together and I was doing amazing so I didn’t need her anymore.) I have been sucking down these herbal anti-anxiety pills that were recommended to me. I have spent days in bed binging on netflix, rather than keeping myself so incredibly busy every second of everyday in order to avoid anything resembling feelings. I didn’t want to get sucked down the rabbit hole again but I did, a little. A little too much. I don’t like it at all. I don’t want to go back there and I have wrestled with it hard.
The last few months I have been cracking a lot of jokes with friends about how I am “dead inside”. It’s a joke.
And it’s true. I am a little dead inside. There hasn’t been much risk that I would fall in love with someone I dated. Because I am dead inside. HAHA. So funny. Hilarious.
And the realization that I have come to, although I haven’t figured it out yet, entirely, is that the key to a reasonably happy life is finding a way to live in the middle place. The middle exists between dead inside and the rabbit hole. It’s the place where I give myself permission to feel, to grieve, to be angry, to be sad, to feel joy and excitement, all of the feelings and not fall into the rabbit hole. The middle place is where you feel without becoming overwhelmed with those feelings.
I responded to her at the time (and I still believe it) that I think love will and can melt the ice that surrounds my heart. I am experiencing the middle place now.
I am not perfect at it and I don’t expect I ever will be. I am aware of the deadness seeping in and I cannot always stop it but I am aware of it now. So that’s an improvement.
I am feeling deeply and I am not depressed. I am as open as I can be right now. I am willing to be open when someone earns the right to be inside my inner world. But not before. I am still going to vet potential partners and friends. We should all do that.
I am cautiously in love with my world, and myself, and the idea of learning to exist, at least some of the time, in the middle place. We can call it vulnerability but that word annoys me (because it makes me feel vulnerable) so I like seeing it as the middle place.
I have a view of the rabbit hole with my feet planted firmly on the ground. I am not overwhelmingly afraid of what will happen to me if I am a tiny bit less dead inside.
It’s gonna take some time. And somewhere there may be a person that is patient enough to be with me as I learn to let people in again. Perhaps there is someone out there willing to walk through that with me. It’s going to take some bravery and fearlessness and some willingness to be hurt. I am not in a hurry and if she is, she’s not the right person for me.
But I see what the middle place is now. It’s not a bad place. There are risks here.
But I suspect those risks are worth it.