Memories are a contentious thing, and I have long felt the need to excavate mine.
As I live life firmly planted in my mid-20’s but still feeling like a faltering adolescent, it has occurred to me that perhaps I feel stuck, because I actually am. I grew up surrounded by adults who often lessened and invalidated my experiences and feelings. Now, as an adult who works with young children, I know that our experiences in the years from birth all the way up through our mid-20’s are arguably the most important in our lives. Our upbringing helps shape the temperaments and character traits that we take into our adult endeavors. As countless inspirational classroom posters have told us, “Attitude is everything”.
The honest answer to that question is, “No, my attitude is not worth catching.” I am angst-ridden, cynical, moody and despairing. I regularly acknowledge to myself and others that I am constantly miserable and ascribe to a fundamental life assumption that everything sucks. My nearly every thought is negative, and I find myself constantly wondering why, to my very core, I seem to repel any feeling of joy, contentment, satisfaction or happiness. I don’t mean to block myself from the possibility of really, truly, deeply feeling these things; they just never seem to come calling.
Though I may not mean to be a negativity-generating-machine, I’ve recently had to challenge myself to acknowledge that’s what I am. I scrutinized the person I’ve become, and I found a person who is self-centered, isolated, unmotivated and fearful. It is quite a jarring realization to suddenly become aware of the fact that you have become a person that neither you nor others likes very much.
In keeping with my character, my initial reaction was to despair of my existence and waste far too much time watching YouTube videos on how to tie a noose and Googling the LD50 of Klonopin. Obviously, since I am alive and typing this now, both avenues of inquiry were a bust. After a much-needed intervention from a friend, I regained my senses and began to wonder why, from the time that I finished middle school until now, I have morphed into a person who is really not that awesome. The answer came to me in a therapy session, when my therapist, who I’ve been seeing for over four years, confronted me on the fact that I don’t trust her or any human being. I sat in my therapist’s office and expressed my truth, which is that there is not a single human soul who I trust to genuinely love me, accept me and stick by me through thick and thin. Furthermore, no matter the efforts made by the friends and family in my life who care about me, I am incapable of breaking down this wall of mistrust that surrounds my heart. My therapist pushed me to articulate why I just can’t trust, and finally the truth erupted out of me: I can’t trust, because when I was a child I trusted and loved my parents so much, and when both of them ended up betraying and breaking that trust, in different ways, it left me so shattered, and the pieces of me were never melded. In fact, I’m sure that I’ve left some of those pieces scattered across the years of my youth, and I’m not sure if I can even relocate the shards to piece them back together.
Can we go back? Can we fix things? Well, the answer to that question is definitely no. Can we fix things as we inevitably move forward? That’s the question I’m so desperately looking for an answer to. If you have the answer, I would love to hear it. If you don’t have an answer, well, I’ll let you know if I find one.