Trying to explain to someone how you feel can be quite intimidating, and you find yourself subconsciously asking yourself if it’s even worth it. Whether they understand or not is a totally different question.
Throughout my life, I have wanted nothing more than someone who just understands. I’ve had therapy, counselling and what have you, but it just didn’t work. As someone that talks a lot, it’s almost ironic that I have trouble talking about myself and my vulnerabilities.
Instead of being open about my past, I tend to sweep it to the back of my mind and pretend it isn’t there. But, spoiler alert, it’s always there.
What I have recently learnt, is that no matter how hard you try to conceal something, it doesn’t change the underlying fact that it’s still there. So although you may have hidden the issue temporarily, it’s not permanently gone.
For over ten years now I have persistently tried to act as if things haven’t happened to me and occasionally I slip up or I let my guard down. But every action has a reaction, right?
In context, when I was 12/13 I confided for the first time in an old friend. I rang her up crying about something that had just happened and instead of helping me she told all of our mutuals that I was attention seeking and lying. In hindsight, that person was toxic to my life anyway and also what twelve-year-old is going to believe or understand the perhaps severity of what I had just said?
From that moment, I have always been reluctant to open up to friends, or anyone for that matter. It’s not that I don’t trust them or believe they’ll provide support, it’s the subconscious worry of the past repeating itself.
Of course, it’s unfair to plague these insecurities and assumptions on anyone, so instead of airing my issues out with my present-day friends, I lock them away. I’m the sort of person who puts on a very believable happy face. I hid an eating disorder for over four months until people started questioning my habits and aesthetics (greasy hair, sunken face, baggy clothes etc).
It’s those sorts of experiences that force me to not live in the past, but because I have not addressed the very things that I place to the back of my mind, I can never truly get over them.
Sometimes you just have to accept that the people in your life are not there to be agony aunts or support networks, they’re just there because they’re supposed to be there. Over the years I have let other people in, and they too have shown me reasons that some things are better unspoken. But just because a person can’t understand a situation doesn’t give them a motive to treat you how you fear.
Between you and I, I am exhausted of pushing the same things to the back of my mind. I have very, very specific moments in my life that I simply cannot forget; and on various occasions have had terribly, vivid nightmares that like to remind me about those experiences and how I felt. No one needs to relive their past. And no one needs to relive the pain they have since moved on from. But for me, it’s not that easy.
If you know me, you know vaguely of my story and that I live with an alcoholic. 80% of my worries are imbedded in my home, 24/7. I can’t escape. I can’t act like it’s not there. I can’t really move on.
I can however move on from the past, but the issue with living with an alcoholic, is that the scenarios I’ve been through before, are likely to happen again. They say the worst kind of torture is giving someone hope and then taking it away. So for me, it’s giving me the hope of long-term sobriety and then finding him drunk. Every time I go away for a night or a weekend, I travel home with the uneasy question of what I am going home to. Sometimes my worries are justified, other times proven wrong.
Thus a lot of my worries are placed on friends and I ultimately push people away. The fact is I’ve been so used to receiving shitty behaviour that I just accept it off others. Almost as a norm. They don’t even need to be of close relation, because I know that if someone blood-related can hurt me time and time again, that means anyone can. And because of that I assume everyone is the same and the not-so-good personality traits I have outshine the good ones.
But now it’s time to let go.
As I said before, the people in your past who have done you wrong don’t give present-day people a motive to do the same. I think with a lot of us we are so conservative in our actions that we just keep putting walls up preventing anyone from either knowing our truths or the real versions of ourselves.
I’ve only ever understood myself because of my past experiences. I understand my pain, I understand my history, but who am I without all of that? What happens if I let go of my worries, who will I become?
That’s the adventure I want to start. I want to reinvent myself. I don’t want to live with worries. I don’t want to just be a victim or someone who has had x, y and z. I am strong, I am happy, and I am only 23. It’s just time to let go, because letting go makes space for something better. I’m never going to move on from pain if I won’t let go of those memories.
I am lucky that I have the family that I do. I realise by writing this I somewhat make a monster of my dad; which he is wholly not. Alcohol is the monster. Addiction is the monster. My family are imperfectly perfect, and I love them with all of my heart.
If by letting go I open myself up to more hurt, then so be it. I’d rather regret risks that didn’t work for me than regret the chances I never took. As I wrote in a previous blog post, I’d rather be able to tell my grandchildren “I can’t believe I did that,” than “I wish I did that.” I don’t want to be someone who lives with the unknowns or what ifs anymore, it’s time to just do it.