I am not a very smart person. I don’t have degrees and initials after my name and I have never had to write a dissertation on a topic that I have no interest in. I live in many ways a very simple life. I live in patterns; over and over again the same feelings, the same frustrations, the same moments of impotency rears its ugly face. I don’t change my behavior day to day anymore than my disease allows me to be the outwardly same person day to day. Despite the world’s fascination with a disease that they can’t understand, for the most part I understand all to well.
For instance, I know that I don’t stand up for myself. I don’t stop someone, even a stranger, from telling me the best way to do something or even what is wrong with me. The old adage that everyone has an opinion is never more true when it is focused on mental diseases. It doesn’t matter to me that the solution offered is so ridiculous as to be laughable or so far from my comfort zone as to be mean. Pushing someone out of their comfort zone so that your accomplishment can be felt is selfish; and I fall for it.
The worst part is I know I fall for it. Each and everyday I listen to those who profess to love me yet have no idea what I am actually dreaming of. And in this selfish world they have no wish to. I listen to them tell me what they want, how they want it accomplished, and what they want the end result to be. And then both of their eyes turn to me and wait for me it get it done. I listen to how their days went and deal with the commands, subtle or outright, that is placed on me.
The reason that my parents and my husband can do this is simply because I have allowed them to for the last thirty odd years. I don’t stand up for myself, for my feelings, for what I think should be done. I usually don’t demand help and I very rarely ever tell someone my true feelings.
I tried to explain to my therapist that this was because I knew that the people who loved me were trying hard. They weren’t pushing and pulling me in a thousand directions out of disappointment, but rather an asinine belief that I can handle it. And when I crumble, when I fall down and simply can’t get up, there is no helping hand. There is an expectation that I will continue getting things done and that I am only following because of this disease.
I think the part of this disease, at least out in the world, that is hard is the reality that you are fighting this disease alone because not only can they not understand, but they don’t ever ask. And when they do ask, it isn’t your answer they want, but their own. I dare you to look at my life and point to one person who knows what I feel about baseball much less the person standing next to me.
The reality is they can’t understand. The reality is, if you are anything like me, you will allow your parents and your husband to abuse and use you without complaint. If you are like me you will remember that the idea of someone liking you is better than the reality that they have to because they once thought they would marry you. If you are like me you will find the quiet easier than the truth. If you are like me you will keep the truth a secret because the consequences of being none other than yourself is a form of death.
In all these realities there must come a moment when we realize that although our family can’t understand, and we can’t find it within ourselves to disappointment them with the truth, there is something vastly profound that is all ours. Ours to visit, ours to leave, ours to destroy.
It isn’t a place that is necessarily on the map, although it may be a place that you can travel to. It isn’t a place that is necessarily dark, although it may be a place that only gives snatches of breathtaking light. It may be a place that represents that person, that place, even that sound that can comfort you when no one else is able. The truth is this disease and it’s many misunderstandings almost requires an escape.
When they push and push, when they give you a long list of requirements, when they forget how sick you can actually be, you need a place to go.
When they yell at you, when they give abuse as easily as they give love, you need a place to hide.
When they don’t care for your opinion, or don’t care for your feelings and reactions, you need a place more real than your dreams.
It is hard to find a spot. It is hard to search throughout both the material and immaterial worlds to find a place that you can let go and be safe. It is almost impossible to find a world that doesn’t require you to look over your shoulder every moment, and hide your eyes the rest of the time. It is a place that is so far away because it is the place that you are allowed to be you.
I find it strange that this world talks about conformity, or our children’s standardize testing as lacking individualism, but a person with a mental illness is dangerous if they find that same individualism. If we express a thought that isn’t necessarily in our lexicon, it’s just because of the disease. If we decide to go to bed early its just because of the disease. It is never our own thoughts and feelings, it is the disease.
I have been looking for my spot longer than I knew the reason I needed it. I once thought that it would be in my husband’s arms, or at least the eye’s of my son; it was neither. I once thought that sitting and listening to silence would help, or even listening to the greatest music of desperation ever written would do it. I thought the beach, the swing, the long car rides; but each time I thought wrong.
I haven’t found that place yet. I haven’t found the one thing that will make it okay to be simply myself. I haven’t found the moment, the breeze, nor the sunlight that will allow me to not hide but live gloriously. I know my place is somewhere that I feel safe. I know my place is somewhere were no tells me, but rather they ask. I know my place is somewhere where my mind is not subject to burdens but rather my own dreams. I know that my place has no expectations.
I don’t know if this place is actually obtainable. I will keep looking. I will keep looking until it is God Himself pointing the direction I need to go. Until then, I will try and find peace in others demands. Until then, I will work hard to make sure everyone’s expectations of me are fulfilled. Until then, I will work hard to continue to never tell them what it feels like to be me.