Where am I? Not geographically, I’m thinking more general than that. Where am I in life? More importantly, where shouldn’t I be right now?
To try and figure it out, I’ve been drawing lines today. Lots of them. No idea why I started but here I am, drawing and labelling lines. A happiness line. A health line. A stress line. A food line. A sleep line. You’re getting the idea… Each end gets marked with a good and bad label. ‘Happy’ and ‘sad’ on the happiness line, ‘stressed’ and ‘calm’ on the stress line, and so on. It’s really not hard work… And yet it is.
Because each line has three marks today. The good end, the bad end, and then where I am on that line. The entire exercise is about me being honest with myself with regard to where I sit on these lines – I need it to force me to examine myself as I really am, not the person I think I am inside my head. That’s the hard part. Reconciling that I am not the same person outside as I am inside. And really, why is it so hard to see myself as I actually am?
I’m not a professional mental health expert, same for nutrition and exercise, or even just general wellness, but I am smart enough to realise that I’m hanging on to my younger self. The version of me who was thin, had healthy eating habits, exercised regularly, and had an active (perhaps too active) social life. I don’t know the exact reasons I’m hanging on to her, but a bunch of plausible explanations jump right out at me:
- She was obviously in a much healthier place than I am, in all aspects, and I would rather see myself as that than what I really am – a potato with self-image problems.
- Everyone – no, seriously, everyone – in my life who knew me back then has at one time or another commented that they miss that version of me and wish they could see her re-emerge.
- I have a lot of unhealthy attachments to the ‘old me’ in my head; I remember life being so much easier back then (and it was because I was young and had no responsibilities), but I am conscious that in my head those things are explained as having been so much easier because of how I looked/was. So, clinging to her now, seems to be giving me the excuse of “If I can just get back to how I used to be, everything will start being easy again.”
These are all things I want to discuss with a mental health professional. Need to discuss with a mental health professional. And for anyone reading this and thinking “Oh, I do that, too,” I urge you to find someone you can talk to as well. Because the loudest message I am getting from reflecting on these things, from reaching out and actively trying to change my life from hanging on the bad end of the line to sitting comfortably on the good, is that I need to let go of all the things that are holding me back. Even, and especially, when those things are me. And although this journey is frightening, and challenging, and painful, my desire to not be the way I am now, the person I am now, is strong enough to give me the push I need to get through it.
The person I used to be so long ago, however beautiful, passionate, vivacious, strong, and free, absolutely was never the shining beacon of perfection I choose to see her as. And, more importantly, she’s gone. Long gone. Over 10 years have passed since I last saw her and while I have fond memories of her, that’s all they are. Memories where I’ve pushed out the bad and focused on the good, because it’s easier than admitting that I, right now, am unhappy with my life and need to change. It’s easier for my mind to cling to her than to accept me.
And that’s where I am.
So, as my journey begins and I’m reflecting on why tf I’m writing any of this, I’m keeping these scribbled lines close to me as a reminder. This is where I am. One day, it’ll be “where I was”.
If anyone is wondering why I’ve chosen not to display my scribbled lines here, it’s because, after a lot of thought on it, they don’t really matter to anyone else and showing you I’ve drawn a bunch of lines with ‘good’, ‘bad’, and ‘me’ written on them doesn’t do a whole lot to help anyone other than me. So, instead, I’m going to let my reflections on the issue be the focus. Because hopefully, my realising that I need help, acting on it, and documenting that here in all its painful glory, will be the inspiration someone else needs to also make their journey towards health, rather than a drawing of a bunch of lines on the back of an old water bill.