There are days when I simply and desperately want to enjoy a cigarette. There are days when a really well made drink seems to be the answer. And then there are the days that I wish I could bang my head on the wall repeatedly.
I try not to complain, seeing as I have a good life. And interesting fact, my seven year old thinks I whine too much. I told him he is lucky to not be in my head. Life is life, we all know it and we all live it. Despite the incredible amount of thoughts otherwise, life is life. We can try and change it, we can even move in different directions in the hope of changing it, but as long as we are ourselves there is not many places we can go.
I dislike that about life. I dislike that I can’t simply find change deep inside of me where those hopes and dreams live and pursue it with all my concentration. The truth is between money, time, children, and the myriad of other decisions I thought were a good idea at the time, I am stuck.
I know that everyone’s life revolves and evolves. I know intellectually that we all have highs and lows, but what I have never been able to figure out is if my ups and downs are more pronounced. Could it be I am just a whiner? Does everyone suffer from knowing that tomorrow could be a really bad day? Does everyone instinctively know that a certain time and a certain place means a certain pain?
My disease makes it possible for me to see all the range of human emotions that are allowed in the deep psyches of our brains. My disease makes sure that I am intimately connected not only to the everyday but the secrets of the next. My disease means that I can and will fall. And I truly have a hard time knowing if that is a good thing or not.
In darkness, in the bad days, there is a release. There is the knowledge that you have probably sunk as low as you are going to. There is the silence of the darkness that allows us to rest and find comfort. And there are bad days when I know I finally have an excuse to sit down and stop pretending.
I think one of the greatest tragedies of mental illness is the desperate need we each have to pretend. After years of being told it is all in our head, denied medical care or medicine, and even mocked we learn to pretend. The times I have been gently let go from my job, I have learned how to pretend. And the thousand of times I have been told by a doctor that not only am I their wet dream come true, but that I need them desperately, I have learned to pretend.
When we are born we don’t have an innate ability to pretend. When we are hungry everyone in a two mile radius knows it. When we are tired our parents can sense it before we make one step out of bounds. When we have a growth spurt our parents know. There is nothing externally or internally that we can hide because it is not a gift when we are born.
Some may blame the childhood games of cops and robbers or the ever popular dress like a princess afternoon. Some believe that these games not only ensure that our imagination and therefore our ability to see the other is engaged, but that our need and in some ways our ability to pretend is engaged. By teaching pretend, some believe we encourage pretend.
I dare anyone to meet a person that isn’t pretending. Quite frankly in this day and age of internet sensationalism and million dollar discrimination it is no wonder that we all pretend. Despite who and what we are, we all desire to be a part of a larger circle. Maybe that circle only includes those with the same disease as we have, but it is still a circle. It is probably one of the few human instincts that scientists and religion can agree on.
There are days when I am smoking my cigarette or drinking something all those little pill bottles warn me against that I know that all I am doing is pretending. I know that those around me, those who love, truly believe that like a child they can predict and know who and what I am. For the most part, however, I am pretending.
I pretend to keep people’s emotions from being hurt. I pretend to keep people from knowing that I have a disease. I pretend so that my children are considered by others to be safe. I pretend so that at the end of the day I can find that darkness that I so love.
I pretend to live. I pretend to have at least the illusion of freedom. I pretend in order to hide my true self.
When did it become necessary for me to pretend what I am feeling? When did it become necessary to hide my true self in order to protect the world that I have built? When did it become essential that no one knew what I really felt? When did it become necessary to lie?
I grew up in a normal household. Lying was considered to be a punishable offense, and if caught I could expect any number of lessons. I was told that lying was a bad thing, that I needed to be true to myself because I was great just the way I was made. It is the same thing that I teach my children. Who and what you are is plenty enough for anyone; and if they don’t like you simply walk away.
But that isn’t what happens at some vague point in your life. All of sudden you come to the conclusion that you have to lie. You have to pretend in order to save feelings; even the feelings of those who don’t give you the same respect. You have to pretend to the doctors that you aren’t falling in a way that can’t be recovered because there is fear in where they will send you and if you will ever come back out. You have to pretend because the consequences of being yourself is so dangerous as to make sky diving without a parachute look like a sane idea.
Most of the time I am so used to pretending to be something that I am not that I don’t even notice the difference. Many times I am concentrating on surviving to a point I don’t realize I have regressed into the lying and pretending diseased person that I have to be. Most of the time pretending is so ingrained to be as much a part of me as breathing.
I take those cigarette breaks in the hope that for that five minutes I can let down my guard. I take that drink in the vain hope that somehow the liquor will finally give me the courage to be me. And the banging my head on a wall? That is simply me trying to shake my self into not giving the truth away.