A friend of mine recently told me how proud she was of how far I’ve come, and how impressed she was about all the hard work I’d put in on myself during the course of the last few years. This is a friend who I’ve known for fifteen years and she’s seen me go through everything, so when she makes a declaration like this out of the blue, it really stays with me.
I’m a person who’s notoriously difficult to get to know, I don’t open up easily and because of all the walls that got constructed during years of depression and misery, betrayal and hardship, people usually give up on getting to know me before I’m ready to let them in — because it can take a while for me to be ready, and if a person tries to push through then I shut down even more. Or did. Apparently I have changed.
It’s strange… when you get used to how you are and you know all your triggers and the things that’ll set you off and make you happy, the things that’ll make you stressed or wear you down, and over a stretch of time you begin to realize as more events occur that you’re not responding to situations as you’re used to. Where you expect panic, paranoia and stress to come knocking there suddenly is calm, happiness and curiosity instead. Things you’d never dream of trying on your own is suddenly something you crave to do, because a part of you wants to see what it’s like and you’re curious, and, suddenly, even adventurous.
I suddenly find myself making new friends and acquaintances without shutting down or keeping them at arms length, without distributing personality traits onto them that they in reality don’t possess. I am getting to know them and they are getting to know me.
When did this happen? When did I blow up my comfort zone so effectively that I no longer know where the lines fall?
Rewind a few years and you’ve got a twenty year old girl who is on a constant wave of stress; everything is the enemy — the world, the people, the places, herself — and she’s calculating every look, every smile, every word coming from the people around her in case they react to her in a negative way, she doesn’t want that so she needs to be on her toes. She knows all the exits, should she need to get away. Lies are ready on her tongue should she need an excuse to leave. She hopes no one will ask her to do something or come out because she’s not up for it, but she doesn’t have it in her to say no either.
Fast forward to today and that girl does no longer exist. She hardly exist if you look at her from the outside either, sure she’s the same height, same face, same body, same hair, but simultaneously she’s the complete opposite. Fear doesn’t torment her eyes, her face isn’t a mask, her body is relaxed and her smiles and words are real and heartfelt. She now enjoys meeting new people and hearing what they have to say, she loves to try new things and expand her horizon. This girl has dreams, this girl has fallen in love with life. This girl is no longer her worst enemy, but rather her own best friend. And it shows.
Somewhere along the way pieces fell into place. Somewhere along the way I learned to accept my own thoughts and emotions. Somewhere along the way I stopped hiding. Somewhere along the way I learned to accept me! And that is quite possibly the most important feat I’ve ever come to do.
My emotions are valid, my thoughts are valid, my illness is valid, my desires are valid, my fears are valid — you get what I’m trying to say, I hope, I’ve become my own friend and I accept everything about me now, and that includes my illness.
I am going to say something that never even crossed my mind back in 2013, and had it crossed my mind I would’ve gotten angry that I even went there, and it is this: me and my illness have become friends. I haven’t succumbed to it and withered away, no, but I accept it, I understand it, and together we’re working towards a healthy life. It took me a while to realize that I needed this illness in order to get to where I am today. Without my mental and physical crash in 2013 I never would’ve become a person that I actually like; the well balanced, happy, optimistic, loving, open minded person I am today, because I never would’ve been forced into a corner where I had to decide to face down my worst enemy: myself.
Somewhere along the way I tore down all my walls. I decided I didn’t want my past to rule me anymore, I didn’t want to miss out on great people and experiences because my walls were too high and my mind too guarded. I decided I wanted to live, wholly, fully, without mental restrictions put there by my very own self. It was far from easy and I suspect I’ll have to continue on this journey for the rest of my life as new events and experiences will continue to shape me, but I’ll do it gladly because I’ve seen how much I’ve gotten out of it, how much stronger it has made me. And apparently so have the people close to me.
To quote miss Swift’s song State of Grace:
this is the golden age of something good and right and real.
– Martie xx