Vulnerability has been synonymous to weakness in my mind for the past 14 years. This happened when my ignorance was realized in a puddle of tears and what seemed to be infinite sadness. What started at 20 years old has brought me down a path of what can only be described as the Olympics of bipolar behavior. I use the term bipolar not in the traditional ways we think of it – high highs and low lows. I use it to describe my ability to care deeply and my opposite ability of not giving a single fuck. In my stages of not caring I tried to find a word to describe myself. The term sociopath was something I did an inordinate amount of research on. In my research I discovered that I did not fit neatly into this category because I do genuinely care deeply about people. I was this enigma in my mind. I have an extensive education on many topics in the field of psychology, surely I could figure out what appropriate label could be used to describe myself. But the more I thought, the harder I searched, the more people I asked…the more confused I got. I was so good at being guarded that I guarded myself against MYSELF. I was both the cult leader and a follower of my own imprisonment.
I have lived the last 14 years of my life in fear. I had recent conversations with a friend of mine who also happens to be an amazing psychologist and within one of these meetings we had an extremely challenging conversation about the concept of ego. He mentioned to me that there have been a few times (very few) that he was able to see my genuine self and that what he was able to witness in those brief moments, was beautiful. I immediately asked him what exactly that looked like. What happened…. what shifted when I became this genuine representation? And almost simultaneously with asking him that question, I knew the answer. I can only describe it with the visual of what someone looks like when they exhale after doing something challenging. I exhale. I am suddenly no longer a melody of defense mechanisms.
In the past 14 years I have hit 2 extremes when dealing with people. The first was unbelievable paranoia. During this phase (ages 20-28ish) I was incredibly controlling. People that have only known me within the past 6 or so years would have a hard time believing this because I am so drastically different than the person I was at that time. I was the queen of the checking internet history, checking wallets, checking cell phones and reading into every single glance my significant other accidentally unleashed in front of me. What made me even more difficult to deal with was my ability to make incredibly sound arguments for my behavior. I was able to make my significant other actually feel bad for my personal demons as if he had contributed to them in some way. Being smart and wildly insecure is a treacherous combination for anyone to deal with. I wouldn’t allow Maxim in my house nor would I allow Victoria Secret magazines to be left around my house. If a girl seemed threatening to my well controlled environment she would immediately be banished. I had the most elaborate set of expectations for those in my life to follow. As a result (and I know this is shocking information) I lost a lot of people that I cared deeply for.
To me, control was power. Control was the way to make damn sure that I wouldn’t get hurt. I think what happened was I just got so tired of controlling everything in my life that I transformed into the complete opposite. If controlling was intensely exhausting – perhaps not giving a shit would be easy. AND IT WAS. Within 1 day I went from being the dictator of chastity to the ambassador of strip clubs. I remember where I was and what I was doing when this transformation occurred. I swung the pendulum from one extreme STRAIGHT to the other. I stopped caring. I checked the fuck out.
I have been checked the fuck out (as I so eloquently put it) for the past 6 years. During this 6 year period I developed a pretty impressive panic disorder which should have been some sort of profound sign to me but alas….every sign of my incongruence was met with a stubborn, stern and internal “fuck off”.
That is….until the past 6 months.
My panic disorder being well controlled by medication, my mind turned to alcohol. I was so clearly attempting to run from something but being of the “I don’t give a fuck” mentality, I refused to look at what it was. The past 6 months have been extremely telling in terms of the internal struggle that I am fighting. In the past 6 months the fun, silly drunk girl became a crying basketcase… displaying a terrifying admittance of being extremely unhappy by using terms like “suicide”….. repeatedly. Now, being of sound mind and judgment I can promise you, this is not something that I would ever actually do. I believe (reflecting deeply on why I would say such things) that using such an awful word was my way of best describing how empty I felt. Only in the depths of an alcohol induced comfort could I really show the level of sadness I was really feeling on a daily basis. This was the only time that my pride allowed these demons to surface. This was my cry for help.
BUT…being perceived as the strong female does come with its disadvantages. The dominant one in this particular story is that people didn’t know I needed help because I was busy showing the world my fucking tough chick mental muscles.
Last Friday it all came crashing down around me. Last Friday I lost my shit. Last Friday I had a grand mental fucking breakdown. Last Friday was my lowest public moment. Last Friday was the last day I deny the work that needs to be done in order to be my genuine self. Last Friday was the last day I will consciously allow myself to not give a fuck.
It’s amazing what you can learn in a week when you drop the internal bullshit.
The part of me that cares for you at your darkest moments….. that is me. The part of me that tells you randomly on a Tuesday that you are a beautiful person and you should never doubt that…. that part is me. Don’t worry my fellow readers, the part of me that can tell a perfectly timed dick joke…that part is me as well. BUT…..I am not strong all the time. I will now allow myself to be loved and to be appreciated because I fucking deserve it. And the people that show me these things…deserve it in return. They deserve the genuine me. They have earned and deserve my vulnerability.
So… this is me challenging my ego. It may not be what you have grown to expect from me but this is what I need to be right now. I am letting you in. I am becoming vulnerable and more importantly…… I am becoming okay with that.
Michelle (it stings the nostrils) Lynn