We have all heard a thousand cliches in our lifetimes. Some are cute, some are ridiculous, and some are so useless one has to wonder where they came from. I don’t mind cliches, little bits of wisdom, because sometimes it truly can be a calling card for your future; a call to arms for your future.
My therapist decided I needed one, “Walk Through The Door.”
Before we get into the hidden and oftentimes multiple meanings of this rather bland statement that is supposed to help me in some vague way I have to go back and give you the story that led to these words. Most of the story is one you may have heard from me before. I have found that although I began this blog as a personal diary, once the public gets involved you end up having to remind everyone the details so that the whole becomes a piece. It’s sometimes annoying and sometimes I look at it as a way to get my word count in so I can move on; it depends on the day.
So the background. First, it should be noted that I am bipolar. And while many of millions of people have mental illness for some reason I have a pretty severe strand. This causes problems; (imagine me laughing because I have no idea how to use those yellow circles with eyes). The severity causes so many conditions, days of running the world only to fall into an abyss of darkness, medications that have literally destroyed my health and a roller coaster that everyone from my children to my doctors have to navigate in order to get me back to the one with the more calm turns. It is my world. Not a world I would want anyone to live in, not a world that is fair that the people in my peripheral vision have to live with. I have been fighting this disease for twenty years and yet there are moments that are so different than anyone can explain that I have to sit down and catch my breath. I live in a world where the inevitable death will be a wonderful release; and while I can’t (and you can’t) bring that death towards you, the freedom of knowing that one day I won’t feel like my normal self is intoxicating.
I recently turned one of the big “0” ages. I have had some previous birthdays prior to this so I am not sure what switch was flipped when the big day came along, but for the first time in my life I started to look around and hate what I was, the health problems I suffer from, and the person I was when surrounded by those who live in a better version of life than I do. It wasn’t like looking in a mirror, it was like looking in a telescope and swinging that amazing apparatus around and around. I realized that the person that I am contributes to the severity of this disease; it wasn’t the disease, it’s always been me. One hates to say words like, I am the problem, but there isn’t a better explanation. I am the problem.
It took me many, many years to realize that there is a difference between my disease and my own self. I am not my disease. I am not this perpetual crisis that exists in this world to suffer. And all of these thoughts started coming to me a couple of months before that big “0”. I looked around for the first time without rose-colored glasses, without the hope that something would change and automatically become better. I finally looked beyond my own depression to try and figure out who and what was causing me this level of sickness that no amount of pills were actually going to fix. Could I find a way to get healthy by paying more attention to what I need? Could I find a way to lower the dosages of all these pills, and therefore reduce the amount of side effects? Could I find a way to be strong and find my own path?
I actually still don’t know the answers to these questions. But I have started the journey to see if it is possible. I have taken the first tentative steps to try and understand what I need to give up and what I need to gain. These questions do not make the monsters simply disappear. These path I am trying to find is not going to cure my bipolar. These walks to find courage, strength, and ultimately health, is not in front of me laid out like a carpet. It is a path that not even the great Frost would travail. Thoreau wouldn’t be able to find peace in the chaos of this journey, because it requires so much more than a simple amount of steps that lead you in the right direction. Trying to figure out who and what I am, and who and what I want to actually be, doesn’t come with instructions. It doesn’t come with guarantees, and it doesn’t come with the assurance that who and what I am right now will last beyond the moment it is in.
But it may be something that is important to do. Not because I have a great desire to be a better person, but in reality I want to stop living for everyone else’s happiness because I can’t find my own. I don’t have a desire to ruin my ability to listen to those in trouble. I don’t have any desire to stop going out of my way in helping those in need. I just need to find the opposite path that includes finding the desire to love me. I have never liked me, much less loved me and although I could spend hours discussing my childhood and why that might be, the truth of the matter is, I am so tired of looking at everyone else that I have become a shadow of a human. Being a shadow of a human isn’t about losing yourself, its about the need to go in a direction that will allow you to find yourself in your own self. The shadow gives you the outline so that you can finally find the answers to the most simple of questions: what is it you need to feel good? I am not a bad person; I am a lost person who is completely blind to the reality of my own self. I am completely blind to who I can be and who I am allowed to be.
So now you have some background; probably more than I really wanted to share. But it sets us up for the finale.
My therapist has spent years trying to get me to recognize that I am not a disease. She has worked diligently to try and make me understand that I am more. In other words, she would very much like me to know that I am a human being. And because I am a human being I am allowed to be all the myriad things that most humans take for granted. According to my therapist, I don’t have to like everyone. According to my therapist, I don’t have to try and make everyone around feel comfortable and liked. According to my therapist I can feel anger, or disappointment, or even sadness despite the fact I have always thought that I needed to be greater than that. According to my therapist, there are places on this earth, in this town, that can give me happiness and there isn’t any reason I can’t go find them. According to my therapist, it’s time to live for me not for the rest of the world and certainly not for the rest of my family.
I don’t know if I was actually taught that every other person on this earth is more important than I am. I don’t know if that was a subject in third grade class that I simply observed. I don’t know the true reasons for why I struggle so much that my health is physically and mentally destroyed. I don’t have a book on my shelf, just the knowledge that somehow and in someway, I am so much less than anyone else in this world. It’s not a lack of self-confidence because ultimately it is a truth that I can’t seem to change.
So my therapist decided the words, “Walk Through the Door,” is what I needed to understand. In her mind there were a thousand doors right in front of me, and thankfully (for me) they were labeled in neon post-it notes. I have to get close enough to the doors to read the post-its, but once I do, I need to start walking through them. I need to open doors to different opportunities, different directions, different freedoms that are waiting for me to explore. I need to find not what others or even my own heart thinks others should have, but maybe what I should have. I should walk through a million doors until I start to finally figure out all that I am.
It’s not about destroying friendships or putting my family at risk. It’s about freedom, comfort, security. It’s about believing that what is behind the next door might not be exactly what I need but it might, just might, began to relieve the horrific pain that I spend most of my days within. Opening doors isn’t about finding answers to questions I already know, but to skip the obvious that comes from years and years of therapy and began finding my own way home. It’s like having a simple pair of sparkly red shoes on and learning the definition of home. It’s like waking up and deciding I am not going to be part of the walking wounded because I am going to find a way to give the wind a chance to move me into dreams that I never knew were sitting right there. Opening doors with little sticky notes on them is about staying up all night and basking not in the sun but in the moon itself. Opening doors is about learning, finding, searching, and ultimately knowing. There are a thousand doors surrounding me and I have to find the strength to finally turn the knob and walk into a new experience. Because I am afraid that if I don’t, I am going to lose more than anyone else the power to find a moment’s sweet breath of freedom.