The mood swings are big lately.
I have moments of empowerment and hope and connection followed by moments of a deep feeling of aloneness (which is real, because as important as other people are and as powerful as our connections with other people are, we are ultimately alone within ourselves, which is a scary feeling sometimes) and self-hatred.
Sometimes I feel good enough as I am. Sometimes I’m able to see my sensitivity and empathy and passion and pain as strengths in a world that lacks these things (all but the pain anyway). Sometimes my sense of humor and ability to laugh makes things manageable. Humor is one of my greatest strengths. In the good moments with my children I’m able to see the good parts of myself as a parent and a person, and I can see the incredible people my children are becoming, partly due to the good parts of me, partly due to the good parts of my partner, and partly because of who they are in spite of us. (They can also be huge assholes, so.)
Other times I don’t feel this way. At those times I feel unlovable, unloved, like a burden, a failure who can’t manage the simplest tasks, who is barely managing life at all.
I keep writing words because it helps me work through things and I hope my words will resonate with someone out there. Sharing my words is invigorating. Empowering. An expression of strength. Speaking my truth and trying to speak to what I believe and sharing my process of learning is a privilege. And then, immediately following those feelings is the creeping self-doubt: Am I just narcissistic? Why would anyone care what I have to say? Am I alienating people?
A good friend of mine said to me this morning (in a text) that struggling really reveals who your true friends are. Some people can hang, and some can’t. The people who can’t aren’t bad people, they just don’t struggle in the same ways or want to make any effort to understand other people’s experiences (when I put it that way, it does make them sound like kind of bad people, but things are not that simple). It’s uncomfortable so they ignore it. They can’t or don’t want to deal. It’s funny, actually, because it makes me realize that I am the exact opposite when it comes to relationships. Tell me about your struggles! Your joys and triumphs too of course, but let’s talk about the real shit. I’m not interested in small talk. I want to have honest relationships, so if you’re not comfortable with openness it’s going to be difficult for us to connect.
I lost a friend recently (she’s still alive, she just decided not to be my friend anymore), a friend whom I thought was a lifelong friend. Yesterday I accidentally saw a photo of her (posted by a mutual Facebook friend), and all these feelings came back to me. I am unlovable, I am too difficult, I’m not worthy, or more accurately, capable of real friendship. I have written her a few emails since we “broke up.” I wrote her a letter recently, explaining some things I needed to explain, taking my responsibility, and expressing hurt and love and gratitude. And while I didn’t expect her to respond, the fact that she didn’t respond at all just deepened the hurt that was already there. I’m not even worth responding to when I pour my heart out. She completely shut me out. Like I was a switch she could just turn off.
With regard to that situation, sometimes I feel like, “FUCK YOU,” and sometimes I feel like, “I’m grateful for what our relationship was,” and sometimes I feel like, “I’ll always be here and am full of forgiveness if you decide you need a friend.” Sometimes I feel at peace, knowing I’ve said everything I need to say, that I’ve tried to extend love and kindness. Often I feel all of those things at once. But among those feelings is this nagging, insidious belief that I am too broken to have relationships or to be loved. The truth is that losing this friend confirmed my deepest fears.
I don’t think it’s true that I am too broken to be loved. And sometimes I make self-love posts on Facebook to try to combat my inner voices (they are so mean), but I don’t always believe my own words. On a logical level I believe them, but my emotions don’t always match up. What I need to remember are the wise words my friend shared this morning. Struggling reveals who your friends are. The friend I speak of above was unable or unwilling to deal. She was unable or unwilling to accept that I don’t experience the world in the same way she does. And that’s not a friend I can keep. When I’m able to see it that way, it feels freeing to have let go of a relationship with someone who does not accept or support me the way I am.
Today, I combat the inner meanies the best I can. I will be partially successful and partially unsuccessful. Here, I will end with some self-love as a first step.
I am lovable. I am loving. I am enough. And so are you. (Unless you’re an asshole. In which case you should stop being an asshole.)
See? That feels better.