Now, when I say ‘positivity,’ that doesn’t mean I won’t discuss negative things. That doesn’t mean I won’t delve into the negative things that weigh me down. In fact, I think my very next story will be a venting of the toxins my former roommate left behind, since writing has really helped me repair the damage they did to my mind.
No, by positivity I mean I am going to make an effort to find the positive edge in the day-to-day issues I face. Maybe traffic is awful one morning, with that guy weaving in and out on the highway and using exit lanes to pass people, putting my life (and many others lives) at risk. But that doesn’t need to set the mood for the day.
A couple years after high school, I hit what I think is rock bottom, for me, though I don’t want to jinx it since life has a funny way of saying ‘Hold my beer!’ every time people dare challenge it. I was so stuck inside my head, so convinced that everyone in the world saw me as worthless, and stupid, and that I would never matter. I didn’t see the point of continuing to live, but I did, every day. And every day I told myself ‘no, those thoughts are wrong, you do matter to me.’ Because, while cheesy, I do matter to myself, at the very least. I like being alive…most of the time.
But slowly, day after day, those self-reminders seem to have worked. I also had others, that catered more to specific thoughts. Like, if I caught someone looking at me, my go-to reaction would be to hide myself in shame, assuming they were thinking ‘how disgusting!’ because that was how I saw myself. So to combat that, I would remind myself ‘you are not a mind reader, and, besides, does it really matter if they don’t like how you look?’
I don’t know how long it took, but I don’t think the way I used to anymore. It was like I had taken a bath in pure sunshine when I realized that I’d managed to change the voices in my head. I had thought it was impossible — sure, songs and positivity campaigns told us to do it throughout our childhoods. Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead. It’s not an easy thing to do, though, especially without help.
Now, a few years after graduating college, I’ve been struggling with myself again. The voices are new and different from the ones that plagued me then, but they still echo in my head as I try to fall asleep, and weave nightmares that leave me in tears when I wake. I have specific incidents I can point to this time, but the long term haunting is still there all the same.
Burying feelings never helped anyone, but neither did dwelling on things that haven’t happened yet or things that can’t be changed. Set a plan, admit to and face your anger, but don’t lose sight of the bigger life beyond the immediate misery.
Maybe I’ll get another notification from my credit reports that that former roommate attempted to take out a loan in my name. Yeah, that happened. And yeah, the government shut down is severely inhibiting my ability to fight that. But that doesn’t need to define my week, or month, or year. I’ll write about it over the next few days, after I’ve let the feelings settle a little and done my research on my options (and railed against the shut down a bit more on Twitter). There’s nothing else I can do that I haven’t already done anyway. It’s time to move past that, for the moment.
It’s time to let myself be happy for a minute. Especially when good things have been happening.
For example, I met one of my neighbors. Given my schedule, I rarely get to see people outside of work, so it was nice to at least have a name to put to the person who lives next to me. Especially in a world where fewer and fewer people know their neighbors anymore.
I also got a lot of cleaning done that seemed impossible just a few days ago. Thank you Target for a super sale on multi-gallon storage tubs.
Despite the frustration and misery, I also have a plan, and I’m doing ok. Yeah, I am working an uncomfortable number of hours between my ‘real’ job and my two ‘hobbies’ that aren’t yet profitable, but I can see a light. And that matters.
When life gets you down, you have to hold onto that light, even as the world is trying to drag you under. It’s hard, especially when my brain is determined to spiral, but, every now and then, I get little reminders that there’s hope, and that I can hold onto that.
I have a plan, and a back up plan. And I have people who believe in me and are rooting for me.
I can be a bit more positive this year. Even if I have to remind myself daily.