I am feeling the need to write about holding two opposing truths in our minds at the same time. Knowing they are both true. Knowing they are opposite. And being okay with that. There is a space where there are no words. It is past the explanation. It just is. Then what? Am I okay with that? Where do I file that understanding in my brain? I like rules, absolutes. Grey area is tricky to navigate. Or is it?
I remember reading something as a child: "you are unique... just like everyone else". This always stuck with me. I could see the humour in that. The opposition. Is COVID-19 the worst thing that has happened to us, or the best? Am I the victim or the crime? Both. Now that I am older I realize that it can be both. Always is both. It is a necessary part of being human. Does that mean it is easy? Absolutely not. There is a pain point, a pinch where I realize I am contributing to _________. I am responsible for the _______. I may be the subject of some perceived micro-aggression from someone else, but if I am honest I realize that I do the same thing to others. To another person, being, animal. It is unjust when it is done to me, but it is just the "way it is" when I do it to someone else, to something else.
I fell apart when I was around 25 years old. I had a very difficult time putting into words what was happening inside my head at the time and for years afterwards. For a long time I let it cripple me. Suffocate me. I was drowning in it. I felt so exposed, so ashamed, so naked. I was full of guilt and shame. I retreated to safety so that I could rethink and rehash all of my life choices and decisions. I felt like I was spiralling down into a darkness I did not understand. I became depressed. Ashamed. I was not who I thought I was, deep down. I guess I had held a pretty high opinion of myself until then, and my realization that I could be mean, shallow, petty, a thief, a liar rocked my world. How had I gotten to this place? Confusion and pain paralyzed me. Nothing made sense anymore. The lens that I viewed the world through had been switched. All of my bearings were gone.
The hardest part was that I felt I had no framework to try and climb out of the hole I had slipped into. It was so hard to articulate what was happening, I didn't think anyone else was capable of understanding. Even that was my inflated ego. I actually thought I was the only person ever to have felt this way. I did not have the skills to reckon with this shift, process it and then keep moving. I got stuck. In the guilt, the shame, and the confusion.
I am older now and I can finally understand a little better what I was going through. I needed help. I needed to talk it out. I needed a light on the path being shone by someone who had been there, and who knew a way out. Eventually I found the help I needed to take a step. Then another. Then another. I got myself to a place where I could function at least. And then twenty years went by. I always knew there was wisdom and guidance in that experience that was painful, but necessary to unpack. I knew it had opened my mind in a way that was horribly painful. I knew it had changed me forever, deep down inside.
Over the years, I have witnessed other people reckon with things that cause them pain. I began to understand that this is a necessary, beautiful part of being human. It hurts. But it also taught me to give myself grace. Accept that I am human, just like everyone else. That being said, I must also extend grace to others in situations I don't necessarily understand. We all make choices. We all make mistakes. The best we can do is hopefully learn from these experiences. Offering grace to ourselves and to others expands us in the most beautiful, compassionate way. I see you... I truly see you. And you are loved. Just as you are.
I don't mind going through hard things now. I enjoy growth. What I don't like is getting stuck in guilt and shame. Feel it, write about it, talk about it, and then take a step out of it. Keep moving. Movement helps us process things. Just don't get stuck. Don't set up your home in the guilt and shame. We are always learning, growing, changing. Hopefully. The alternative kind of sucks. Ask for help. Be vulnerable. Articulate what you are feeling. Try. There is help for you, just keep moving forward. We are all human. You and I are unique. Just like everyone else.