Hidden Creatures

They say that you can only be loved if you first love yourself.

That’s bullshit.

I do not love myself very much this week and yet I am still loved.

I feel like a big ball of tension wrapped in rubber bands and self hatred just waiting to be thrown against a wall… repetitively. Even writing this feels difficult- as much as my writing serves as a place for honesty I still struggle with authenticity. It’s almost as if my mask proclaims I am vulnerable while simultaneously being strong- but don’t forget soft, I am creative and funny and I always have just the right words to say.

This is not the Ida I wake up with everyday.

It was easy for me to make excuses for my actions, my thoughts and my words when I felt like I had excuses to use (school, shitty jobs, unloving partners)… Now I am left with little to cover myself with other than a very honest “I’m sorry I’m so messed up”.

I stopped taking birth control two months ago because my body and mind could not function on it. After years of being on and off of it in desperation to “fix” all of my menstrual related problems I finally got to the point where I realized that my hormones were destroying my life. After coming off of it I started to finally feel like myself and felt confident that my depression and anxiety were solely from birth control and yet, here I am two months later stuck on the spin cycle yet again.

Tuesday felt like the peak of a roller coaster that I didn’t volunteer to ride. I became so physically sick I spent what felt like hours dry heaving in the bathroom and rubbing my sides raw just trying to feel connected to my body. I prayed like crazy, repeating positive self-affirming mantras but when I stood up to run cool water over my face I was confronted with a strange creature in the mirror.

A reflection that was not my own.

I have seen this creature before.

It stares back at me-consuming my joy, my little mountains of victory. It stays quiet long enough that I forget about it and then, all at once, it comes in the night- the thief of joy- robbing me of what at times feels like a life time of working on feeling good enough- even for myself.

This monster tells me to hold my tongue, to suppress my emotions- to be silent until the words that fall out of my mouth burn a fiery trail around my heart. I’m so sick of pushing love away.

But here I am doing it again. Picking fights with Connor over nothing. Choosing to find moments to be “right” instead of admitting that I am wrong. I am so deeply proud of him- and where he is now with his career, but I was not around for the early days. I don’t know what his struggle looked like- all I see is him making his own schedule and loving 99% of it. I look at where I am and instead of admitting that I am unhappy with myself I convince myself it is him that I am unhappy with.

This is the same man who lets me cry on his shoulders- the same man who just two days ago rubbed my stomach when the anxiety was gnawing a pit inside of me until I fell asleep, who fights for me to be creative, who puts me first constantly... The man who is trying with every fiber of his being to love a girl who has been told her whole life that she is too much. And honestly I’m starting to believe it and at the same time I don’t think I am enough. Why can’t I find myself in the middle?

I can’t even tell my counselor how I truly feel most of the time because I feel some weird twinge of guilt at the thought of emotionally dumping on her and being seen as a burden.

Through a wall of tears Connor asked me what makes me happy- all I wanted was to find time to walk in nature and visit museums. It isn’t a hard list- but it requires me to take initiative. I have to learn how to paint for myself and I need to have a whole heck of a lot more grace for myself in the process.

This shit is not just going to dissipate. Healing comes from a place of honesty and this is my first step toward that in a while. It’s painful…. but damn good.

This week I am challenging myself to resist the urge to polish my creative process. To be more fully present in all that I engage in. To write more. To give myself me time and to take things a lot slower.

If any of this feels a bit too close to home- know you are not alone. Here is a podcast for you that might help you take those first few baby steps. Give yourself a hug or better yet give someone else a hug and remember we are all on this journey together.

ida patton