It shouldn’t be so daunting, but it is.
2 months exactly from today I’ll be 25. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m no longer in my early twenties or that according to the life plan I constructed when I graduated I was supposed to have visited the Vatican, have paid off my student loans and started grad school by now. Maybe it’s that 3 years post grad I feel like I don’t have much to show for it. These last 3 years have been a blur of fresh starts, upside downs, and full 360’s like a game of chutes and ladders except the only piece playing is myself.
It’s not like I’m measuring up against anyone, just the only person that matters, myself.
2012 I had so much drive, so much confidence. And over the past few years it has whittled away. Perhaps I never had the confidence perhaps I was just faking it. But I can’t help and look at everything I wanted to accomplish and feel like I’ve fallen very short of my own goals. And the truth is, I can’t find that drive anymore.
I started seeing a counselor about a month ago and I mentioned to him how I have this nagging feeling that what I am is not good enough. Not a good enough mother, not a good enough daughter, not a good enough person. That I feel like I should be doing more, and he tries to remind me that I’m young yet. But I don’t feel young. I feel aged and weighed down because just the thought of having to undo 15 plus years of self hatred makes me feel like fighting depression and fighting my demons is going to be a life long sprint.
I’ve been cautious to wake up some feelings I’ve suppressed for a very long time. During college I did a very good job of suppressing a lot of what followed me around like a shadow in my childhood. In college nobody knew about my imprisoned father, nobody knew how much I had hated my childhood, nobody even needed to know how socially inept I was. I could take on an identity that from the outside appeared normal. Perhaps my attempt to repress my upbringing was what caused me to go through different stages of finding normative behaviors of other groups of people so that I could blend in. My sister has joked with me that I dressed and spoke differently for a time being. I soaked everything in. All I wanted to do in college was to blend in and forge a new identity and leave everything, and everyone completely behind. I couldn’t see what pieces of my experience served any purpose in being a normal functioning stand up citizen of society.
And I still struggle with this. I still grapple with what I can take from my childhood to keep as a part of my identity so that I do not remain angry and depressed all my life. I still struggle to put together the pieces of my broken identity to form a human being that I am proud of. I have to figure it out because by example I have to raise a son. I have to teach him how to express his anger in a healthy way not just repress it like I did for so many years. I have to teach him the warning signs of depression because it has a genetic factor and if I teach him self care he can take steps to help him get through it instead of wallowing in it like I did because I didn’t have any coping strategies. I have so many things to teach, and so many things to learn. And I feel overwhelmed, and I feel daunted by the task at hand. Because my biggest fear by far is to have my demons become my son’s demons. And there are days when I don’t feel the strength to fight them.
And that’s why 25 is daunting. Because that’s 3 years that I’ve let my demons control my destiny. 3 years of feeling like the light and hope have left not even a sliver of an ember to glow. I took the first step by doing things that will take care of me because for so long I have neglected nurturing the most important parts of myself. And for a while I feel like I’m making progress and doing really well, and then something shifts.
Almost indistinguishable at first. A whisper of frustration, a prickling of repressed anger, the feeling like I’m trapped and it starts snowballing until I can’t remember when’s the last time I smiled. And I draw into myself. I don’t reach out to friends to let them know I need to get out of the house. I give up on trying to make it to the gym. I let the smallest upsets serve as proof that I don’t deserve anything good.
Last June I promised that I would be better, but it’s April and although I’ve made significant changes I’m worried that exploring these dark places in my mind that I try to avoid is only going to pull me under further before I can finally swim to shore.
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