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I hope you’ve been enjoying my continued suffering and getting some use out of it. Otherwise, if this is all for nothing, I don’t know what I’ll do. I know I get a small, evil little puff of satisfaction when I find out that somebody I previously thought was perfect and untouchable actually suffers in some of the same ways that I do. If you were ever under the illusion that I have any good qualities or any sort of life happiness, even with all of the admittedly stellar practical blessings I’m surrounded with, maybe I can bless you with that bit of satisfaction, too. Of course, I know what’s really behind it, so I don’t actually blame you. I get it, and I hope it can be a step toward self-reflection. We don’t enjoy seeing others brought down a peg because we relish in human suffering – we are just desperate for any sort of relief from our own, and knowing that someone else maybe isn’t as perfect or idyllic as they seem provides that relief. If someone who is like us in anyway nevertheless seems to be enjoying the pleasures of life that elude us so thoroughly, perhaps attainment of such pleasures aren’t as out of reach as previously assumed. If they’ve struggled, yet still have that sort of life, maybe it’s a teeny, tiny more available to the rest of us after all. Maybe that person could even be an ally. An insider that can offer tips on how to reach that fantastical summit.
As you can probably tell by the loftiness of my musings, I’m tired out of my mind at the moment. I’m maybe a tiny bit dissociated as well. My fingers feel like they are floating over the keys, and my brain is right inside of the computer. It’s that weird sort of surreal where I know it’s happening, but can’t really seem to stop it. Like lucid dreaming while wide-awake. Like being just a little bit high. Hydroplaning across reality.
From deep in this wretched pit, I’m the most philosophical, because my mind has disconnected from my brain somewhat. My metaphysical musings and self-reflection on the nature and causes of this miserable existence of mine become as sharp as glass, while the rest of the world fades away into a manageable haze.
Last night, while engaging in my third all-night video binge in a row, and everything was unpleasantly fuzzy other than what was on the screen, little revelations trickled into my mind. “Why do I do this to myself? I know that this is dangerous.” Dangerous, indeed. I know I’m digging myself into a hole, and I know what will happen if I don’t stop, and yet, I can’t seem to. Why is that?
My musings have led me to a few guesses that have actually been quite startling. Over the last few days, I’ve realized that I’m addicting to emotional self-harm for several reasons. This is slightly different than my addiction to chaos, bred in an environment where peacetime was simply a ticking time bomb to the next disaster. From what I’ve seen of myself, I enjoy doing things that I know I shouldn’t because it feels so good when I stop. That’s the basis of a lot of self-harming addictions, such as cutting. Creating pain that you can control in a world that is out of control. The second reason is that when I do things like procrastinate or stay up all night for no reason, it makes me intoxicated in a way. My inhibitions are lowered, and I can much more easily avoid thoughts of things that I know I should be doing. It makes it much easier to avoid the pain of failure that way. Thirdly, and paradoxically, doing these things to myself increases my stress levels to a critical point where my numbing mechanisms kick in. Not only is the activity itself numbing, such as watching endless videos or staring into space and listening to a book, but the stress shuts down my brain and allows me to exist in a world where my obligations and failures don’t exist. So, I get so stressed to the point where I can’t be stressed about anything anymore.
Fourthly, and most frustratingly, I think I’m trying to punish myself. I want my outsides to match my insides. It’s the height of imposter syndrome, combined with the boundary testing that comes with borderline. I want to be trusted and to succeed so badly, to be seen as reliable and worthy, but I don’t feel like I deserve to feel these things. This self-sabotage of leaving things to the last minute, being unreachable, completely bailing and dropping the ball, makes me feel like the piece of crap that I believe I am. Similar to distrust of peace time, I don’t trust myself to keep making good decisions when things are going well. The longer my good stretch, the higher my anxiety rises, as well as the terrible fear that everyone will eventually find out how horrible I really am. The more praise or success I find, the worse I feel, because I don’t think that I deserve it.
Fifthly, I’m just tired. These activities in themselves can be so self-soothing. Whether it’s YouTube or a book or a TV show, I can find education, entertainment, and inspiration that makes me feel good. In controlled doses, definitely not a bad thing. But when I’m feeling so overwhelmed by life that I don’t want to be in the world anymore, it becomes a sticky trap that is hard to break out of until I’m literally too tired to go on. Ironically yet again, night time can feel like an endless stretch of hours to relax and do what I want. This is probably a sign of burnout, but the beginning of a night of binging can seem like finally being able to breathe after a long, hard day. Combine that with the fact that even the smallest things can feel insurmountably overwhelming to me, and that when I get frustrated with my frailties it is basically game over.
So yeah. Whatever your addiction is, I know it’s making you feel better in a way. But more than that is the uncontrollable cravings that your body and mind have for these activities. Resisting can feel like pulling an elastic band. The more days you go without using, the more the tension builds, and then the relief is that much greater when you finally give in. It’s not always so easy as “using your strategies,” because you have to be vigilant and proactive all the time, to a point where you can exhaust yourself. Quitting isn’t easy, especially if it’s something that seems innocuous or feels necessary, such as working, eating, exercising, or cleaning. When it becomes an uncontrollable compulsion that you obsess over, it can interfere with everything in your life, ultimately causing more stress that you then need to soothe from through your addictions.
It’s a nasty, nasty cycle that we’re caught up in. One of many. And it’s tiring. And it sucks. And most people don’t understand. Even we don’t understand post-indulgence. We ask ourselves why do we do these things, why can’t we just be better, and we make all sorts of plans to fix the problem. But going without these soothing activities feels absolutely terrifying when you think about it too much, and the thought of fighting this fear can be overwhelming. And thus, we can end up right back at square one. I’ll let you know if I figure out the answer. For many of you, seeking a group or therapy or simply journalling can be enough. For others, not even completely imploding our lives and losing everything is enough. But I have to believe that having just one person who believes in us, and can offer us support without enabling us can make all the difference. These unicorns are rare, but if we hold on, maybe one of them will happen across our path just long enough to help set us on our feet.
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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.”
~ Romans 15:13