Some say, “Ignorance is bliss.”
When I was in my early 20s, I heard a man in a meeting say he wished he didn’t know now what he didn’t know then. At that time, I was using my 20-something ears, and I laughed it off as something crazy old people might say. I didn’t know then what I know now, and I was still joyfully soaking up the benefits of blissful ignorance.
Today I understand exactly what he meant. Some days when I’m already up to my eyeballs in shit, cleaning up some mess I’ve created with one thing, awareness of another pops right up in my face. Oh, hey there! I’m subtly destroying your life and thought you should know…
I know awareness is key to all the changes in my life, but gatdammit, it’s not always super convenient and often its timing sucks. I’m grateful for it, even when it’s awful, but sometimes I wish I could send an outgoing message to my brain. Something like, “Your bullshit is very important to us. Please hold and your call will be answered in the order it was received” might be perfect.
Awareness is a tricky bitch, because along with awareness comes choice. As soon as I become aware — of a behavior, thought or relationship pattern — whatever it may be, the choice is up to me. I can take immediate action to change the thing or continue to suffer the consequences, but it’s up to me.
Asking for help is never easy. Accepting the help can be even harder. I’ve never been very good at letting people close to me see my broken bits. Sometimes Most times it’s a lot easier to drop them here and be reminded by others that I’m not alone. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily provide the glue I need to mend the bits or hold myself together.
It’s incredible how many connections it’s possible to make online while still feeling isolated and alone.
Loneliness in the age of social media is quite the conundrum. Perhaps it’s even more complicated for those of us suffering mental illness who rely on remote connection for support and respite from the isolation that feeds the fear of reaching out.
I’m trying to be more vulnerable in real life about my struggles, and honestly? It’s terrifying. I don’t ask and then sit. I ask and then run — just in case — so I won’t see the pity, judgement or disappointment in your face, even if your words are encouraging.
It’s so much more rewarding to be the giver than the recipient of time and compassionate support. I know me, and I know you will always be met with that. But I also have limits and sometimes need to ask while giving, and for that to be okay.
I’m just learning how to voice my own needs and allow myself the time to process and heal my own shit, and I’m realizing how often I’ve hidden my broken bits behind certain relationships or the roles I play in them.
This shit is hard, and sometimes I wish I wasn’t 100% sure all the old “coping skills” that used to offer me relief will only leave me feeling worse in the end. Sometimes I wish I could forget that I need to find the solution, for whatever is ailing me, within myself.
Sometimes I just wish I could go back to a time where it was actually worth the try. A part of me wants to pretend that it’ll be different this time and believe, against all evidence, that I can just (fill in the blank with any bad behavior that may result in horrible consequences) a few times and shut down the daily gatherings of the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee between my ears for five whole minutes without it taking 20 just to get there. Sometimes I wish I was still comfortable being numb — reckless, selfish, ignorant, and numb.
I haven’t had a drink since 2000, quit smoking in 2011, and have hit a wretched bottom in almost everything else I’ve painstakingly abused, misused, and exploited. I’ve done it all until I couldn’t do it anymore, and then a few more times for good measure. I know none of those things will work in the longterm and that the consequences will be far worse than I’m feeling in these moments.
Sometimes I miss the joys of blissful ignorance, and wish — for just a few moments — I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.