Speaking fully, personally here. The most difficult battle for me, one that I face daily, is against myself. To be technically correct, my thoughts. My thoughts are my habit, and my comfort zone. Having cultivated them for sixty-three years, they are what I know. Actually, they are that for which I am accustomed. Trying to break free from their grip, is my battle.
When one not only feels different, but knows they are different, it brings a set of unique difficulties. I’ve heard the question posed, “Do you wonder if stupid people know, they are stupid?”. To that, I ask, is one who is unique, know they are unique? If they recognize there is a difference, do they then celebrate that difference or try to squelch it so to fit into that figurative square box of normalcy? How, does one find comfort in their uniqueness? Creative, imaginative, intelligent, empathic..the list goes on, people are unique in their own rights and ways. They seek to shine, but their light is vulnerable. How does one survive being different, in a world that seemingly demands uniformity over creativity? How does one survive, when the ones who recognize the beauty in the difference, then seek to use, abuse, and eventually create deep wounds in the heart of the unique? Wounds that left to fester, may never heal.
That stated, brings me back to me and my battle of wills with myself. As one who felt the outsider looking in, as one who has felt too different to fit in, as one who has sought to feel a part of something but never quite made it, I developed a mental safety net of sorts. If you don’t expect, then you aren’t disappointed. If you don’t believe, trust, hope, you aren’t discouraged. If you don’t try, you don’t fail.
It did not help that so many of the people who were supposed to love me, spent the better part of their time working to shave off the parts of me that did not fit into the person that wanted. I have read, that to memorize something, you read it over and over until you know it word for word. The same works for a person’s opinions on themselves. Hearing something repeated often enough, you begin to believe. And I did.
The past months where I have spent the greater part of my time alone, I have had plenty of time to think. There was no work distraction, taking up so much of my time. And contributing to the beaten down opinion I had of myself. When you stop hitting that same wound, the bruise begins to heal.
Over the course of the past months, my thoughts on myself have healed a lot, but still need work. Partly because negative thoughts, are a habit. They are often the first things that pop into my head at any given moment on any given topic. Consciously, I don’t believe any of the people I know think me a loser, but that little voice keeps whispering. Consciously, I don’t believe I am lazy, but the voice. Consciously, I don’t believe myself to be ……….. fill in the blank with any negative adjective. But the voice.
The voice is one I recognize. The voice is one that has been there for such a long part of these sixty-three years. The voice is one that is recognized, and familiar in its words. The voice that wants to tell me I am as useless as an unlit candle or a hummingbird feeder without nectar or birds.
The voice, so enjoys the discouragement, the tearing down and making one feel less, unwanted and unneeded. When all you want to do is feel, if not important but a part of what is going on around you. Instead the whispers of, you’ll always be less, there is no one who will step up and have enough time, energy or attitude to check on you or care. Accept it and settle in to the dark.
The battle, is in the defeating and silencing the whispers of negative. The battle, is in strengthening the voice of affirmation. I am not perfect, I am a work in process. I can stand and look before me and see the direction I need to go, but I can also look back and see just how far I’ve come. Once upon a lifetime ago, I smoked cigarettes. I quit that habit and never looked back. Once the physical addiction was gone, what I had to break was the habit. I’m facing a battle of wills, I have grown accustomed to the feeling of less, of knowing where I stand in the dim light. What I am doing, is breaking the habit of fear of the light, of removing the chains of less, and pushing aside the fear of what if something bad happens and reaching for what if something glorious happens. Life I know is an adventure in itself. We only have to face and win the mental battles, defeat the enemy within, and seek the glory that waits.
While I still work on myself, I have learned the things that work for me. I have learned what triggers the negative and how to bring a light to the darkness the negative brings. I have learned, that I allow myself to become too dependent on others. I want them to distract me, I want them to help me feel better. The problem there, people have issues of their own and they are working on themselves. They don’t always have the time or mental energy to lift others up from the pit they fall into. Especially if it is a routine occurrence. People are not in our life to be used. Their presence can gift us with a sharing of strength, but in the end, it is our battle to face. I am reminded daily, with each battle, that though physically alone, I am not alone spiritually. I do not fight this battle alone. There is a guide book and open path of conversation.
We also need to learn boundaries for ourselves. The unique often over share and in the process they weaken themselves. Making themselves more vulnerable to the dark.
Know that there is no shame in seeking help in finding your way and your strength. Especially in this day and time. Life has become hard on many of us in many ways. But the road forward, is never closed. The road to better, stretches out before us, waiting. All we need do, is take that first step.