We get used to looking at the crap
I went to my therapist yesterday. I was wallowing in confusion and self-doubt. She asked me about my past.
“How were you when you were in school?”
School was a mess for me. Even without the troubles at home, I was very up and down throughout my formal education. I was great when I was interested in a subject and had trouble paying attention (zoning out) when subjects were boring or I couldn’t see any point to the subject.
I was terrible in Math until I studied Algebra and could see how it was a puzzle to be solved and numbers aren’t solid but have a malleability. I read the interesting parts of materials and ignored the assigned readings sometimes. I was often defiant about being told that I ‘had’ or ‘needed’ to do things, especially if they were ‘important’.
Yeah, ‘Defiant’ was me. I almost didn’t graduate high school because I refused to do an assigned report on which a course was graded. Two months of summer school got me a degree, but it took my father reasoning with me for a while to get me to do it.
I wasn’t openly defiant most of the time. It was more ignoring and doing what I wanted. I got used to having people upset with me at home and in school. If my family had been physically violent, I might have suffered beatings. But, I just ended up with emotional scars.
This set the tone for my early adulthood. I studied things that interested me, collecting books and magazine articles on Oriental philosophy, arts, poetry, fiction/fantasy, theology, and such. Working at a number of jobs, burning through several relationships (including a marriage), taking off on hitchhiking ‘vacations’, borrowing money that I was unable to repay and, in general, trying to get a handle on life.
I can be charming, intelligent, witty, and powerful, as well as moody, inconsistent, emotional, and cowardly.
My purpose today is to find the things that have inspired and motivated me. A short inventory of positives.
I have believed that I should feel ‘bad’ about much of what I have done and been.
Honestly, I have a sense of pride for my ability to have survived the trials and tribulations,
even though I caused much of those through impulsiveness, defiance, and not considering possible consequences.
I have earned respect at jobs that required autonomy and the ability to think on my feet and be flexible at a moments notice. I have been able to manage several different aspects of a task within moments of one another. There’s an adrenaline and dopamine rush when I am in a situation of handling multiple demands on my attention. I receive admiration and a degree of status by doing things better than most and it carries me through. On some jobs that I’ve left, I ended up being replaced by 2 and sometimes 3 people.
Resiliency, adrenaline, intellect, and status…
And Luck. I have to say that I have been ‘Lucky’ often enough to acknowledge it. Work has come looking for me at just the right time. Help has pulled up within moments of a vehicle breakdown. ‘Something’ has taken care of me when I was desperate and dispirited. It could be a god or the universe or something that I have a connection to on a spiritual level. Defining the ‘what’ is less important than knowing ‘It’ is there.
Sounds esoteric, I know, but it is a concept that has been acknowledged for millennia. It is the realm of the Muses and alchemy, magic and active spirituality. Luck is a living thing, it makes me feel connected to the All. But it operates in its own way and will not be forced.
Life involves a lot of chaos. Bad things have gone down, but it’s important to remember the good ones. Yes, I have ADHD and its related problems and CPTSD. But I have won the game at times. I do have abilities that get buried in my mind if I take them with me down into the morass of fear and emotion.
It is important that we not define ourselves solely by our mental illnesses and problems. And be willing to look in the mirror and say, “Hot damn, I good!”