The Side Effects of Thinking

I suppose no one will ever know why, at least not specifically why, things happen or why we feel the way we do — especially when we don’t want to feel the way we do; yet, we still do.
We still think. We still feel and there is an aim to feel differently.
There is a desire to think otherwise but the thoughts keep coming. I say this with a distinct understanding. I say this because of my past that was unrelenting. There were people who would say, “Don’t think like that,” or “You’re just being paranoid,” but it wasn’t paranoia. Besides, there was a difference. 

I know what paranoia is. I felt that when we were kids and doing things that we weren’t supposed to do. But there’s a difference here. What I was experiencing was different from staying out past curfew and coming up with an excuse as to why my eyes were bloodshot or why I smelled like cigarettes. 

Someone told me, “Build bridges, not walls.”
I thought to myself, “Man, that’s brave.”
I heard this and thought about the walls I built and the bridges that I burned. I thought about the relationships that I had and lost. I thought about the relationships that I cultivated, regardless of safety or the warning signs. I thought about the pathology or the science of my life and the war I began simply because I was afraid.

When I began this journal, I started with the intention to talk about the nights out with the boys. The idea was to collect old stories and map out the paths of my friendships — I wanted to see what I did in my life, where I was and, above all, I wanted to report the truth of my interactions. Whether good, bad or in-between, I wanted to strip my life down to an honest inventory of emotions and events. But my intentions changed once I began.

I can say that yes, I was alone in the crowd. I can say that I felt dissimilar, that I was unlike everyone else or, that at least to me, it appeared that way. I can say that there seemed to be a wall around me. There was something impenetrable that kept me separate from touching, feeling and experiencing the same exhilaration or exuberance for life. And dig it — I know this is not something people want to hear about or talk about. Least of all, this is nothing anyone wants to read about.
Then again, there is someone out there whose life has a pattern that language cannot describe. To them, there are floods of thoughts and feelings that come without invitation. There are ideas that plague the mind and next, the thought machine takes off and the anxiety awakens. 

I understand that not everyone understands what an anxiety attack feels like. I know there are people who understand stress. We all have coping mechanisms and chemically, we are all individuals. We all have our own science. I am me. You are you. And that’s just fine.

I used to have fears that someday my past will creep up and find me. I used to have nightmares about this. Sometimes, I would have anxiety attacks anticipating that something was about to go wrong. I was petrified that I was going to have to pay for my sins; that it was time to pay the band and the piper was on his way. I believed that one day, I would have to stand and answer for what I had done. I would have to pay for my reactions to an itch in my mind that no one else could scratch. 

There was a time when I sat across from a professional seeking help, but I was doubtful this man would be able to help me. I was doubtful that he would be able to listen without judgement. I explained my reasons for the appointment. I was forthcoming and honest because my shoulders were tired of carrying the weight. “That’s a lot of shame,” he said.
I learned from this.

It’s not paranoia. It’s low self-esteem. It’s an idea that I was unworthy; therefore, anything I ever got would only equal what I believed I was worth. This was not a baseless suspicion of other people or the projection of personal conflicts because I thought people were out to get me. No, this was because I believed that what goes around comes around; and me, I was somewhere in the underbelly of the cycle. I wasn’t paranoid. I thought I was deserving of terrible things. There’s a word for this.
Ever heard it?
It’s called depression. At least, that’s what I call it for myself.

Whenever I hear people talk about their depression or their anxiety, I always ask how this affected their relationships. I think about the saying, “Build bridges, not walls,” and then I think about the depressed misinterpretation which says, “Burn bridges and build walls.”

I think about how depression will often lead to the ultimate sabotage — and I say this because although we understand the rules of transaction, we know depression, we understand the weight of this, we know the science, and we know the feelings. Still, there’s nothing tangible. There’s no explanation. There’s nothing to touch or see but there is so much to feel. There are too many ideas that come at once and they come without warning or invitation.
The errors of our thinking cause us to believe in the errors of our life and thus, we react. We respond. We burn bridges and we build walls.
We crumble and we crash. We fight and we argue yet the bulk of our fears are based on imaginary demons that are sculpted by fears of outcomes that do not exist (yet).

I used to see my failures before I even started. I could see people and notice how they moved or acted. I could see that people were not always good to their word. Then again, I used to own this. I used to allow myself to be codependent over other people and their deceit. But none of this was mine. Yet, I still let my ego take hold, which is interesting to me. 

People assume our ego is strong. I disagree. I think our ego is weak and scared, like a little child, too afraid of the dark after watching a scary movie, dressed in pajamas and crying because it’s time to go to bed. That’s ego . . .

The power of suggestion is real. As I see it, depression is filled with suggestions. Depression comes with worries and warning signs and the overly sensitive thinking that in the end, this is all going to hurt and that somehow, we will end up uncovered and unprotected. 

It was nearly impossible for me to keep good, strong friendships during this time in my life. My wants and needs and the worries that neither would come true had left me to be an obvious target for those with cruel intentions. Plus, I pushed my good friends away because they grew tired of my catastrophized thinking. Secondly, my worries of lonesomeness led me to seek company of any kind —  even if the company was unsafe or even if the relationship was dangerous — being with someone was better than being alone. 

After learning more about who I was, where I came from and why I behaved as I did, I learned that there are no victims. There are only volunteers. And me, I volunteered far too often. I was always looking for my place. I was always trying to find out where I’d fit. Where could I go or where could I be and be comfortable?

There’s a saying, “No matter where you go, there you are.”
Ever heard it before?
It’s true.

I spent much of my life trying to evade the process of feelings and disappointments when in fact, no matter where I went, my feelings followed me. 

Change your thinking to change the way you feel.
Change the way you feel to change the way you perform.
Change the way you perform and you can change the way you live. 

I had to change myself before I could change any of my relationships.
But how?
As it was, I never asked for my thoughts.
I never asked for the feelings I had. So, then how could I change any of this?

Action creates change. Movement creates change.
So, I replaced thoughts with actions.
I did things that helped me. 

I fought back by moving because as anyone with depression would know, movement is the enemy of depression. So, I moved.  

Some people might help. Some people might not help but in all truthfulness, the only person who can truly advocate for me is me.

Building bridges instead of walls was a new phenomenon for me. This was daring and uncomfortable. I had to learn that wars between people are expensive and that collateral damage can be irreparable.
I don’t have to get along with the entire world. Hell, I don’t even have to like the world but I do have to interact with it.
I have to coexist, which isn’t always easy — especially in business. Everyone has their own agenda. People will smile and sharpen their knives behind their back. And when it gets cold, people will use you for firewood just to survive and keep warm. 

The difference is I don’t have to own any of this anymore. I don’t have to seek approval. I have the right to walk away at any time. But then again, I can’t keep looking over my shoulder to see if anybody misses me.

Know what I mean?

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