The truth is that at the end of the day, there is only one face looking at you in your reflection. This is you; all day, every day. You are the start and finish and as I’ve always said, you are always the square root to your own equation.
No one else is and to be clear, I have been on one side or the other of this table.
To be or not to be is certainly the question. To be happy or to be free of “self” or to be rid of the nonsense that swirls in our head is certainly the aim. Or better yet and in the simplest most basic terms, to feel better or to find a sense of inner peace and be balanced is definitely the goal. But how?
I believe it’s true to say that to each their own and that in the case of “to thine own self be true,” I know that there is always someone around telling people “This is the way!”
But is it?
I know there are gurus and doctors and therapists who claim they’ve got a cure. Maybe they have something that works for some people. Then again, maybe they don’t. Maybe what works for one person does not work for all. Better yet, maybe this one-size-fits-all is a lie; therefore, in the effort to simplify a person’s journey towards wellness, maybe a simplified version adds an internal complication.
To each . . . their own . . .
I know about statistics. Yet, I wonder where statistics come from. I wonder where researchers come up with their population samples. Who was asked and who answered honestly? I know about the so-called norm but what about the outside versions who deviate from the standard?
I know this best which is that I know nothing when it comes to the inside of someone else’s mind.
I see this as a gesture of freedom which allows me the understanding that I have my right to my personal uniqueness as well as the right to understand that me, “as I am,” might require different needs or modalities of support.
I don’t know what fear is like through the veins of another body nor do I know what it means to have adrenaline aroused in different matters or through different states of mind.
I don’t know what it feels like to be brought up in somebody else’s home nor does anyone understand the culture of my home, which is great because this alleviates the discomfort when we find ourselves misunderstood. Sure, we might understand our similarities. We might “get it” from the perspective of a surface level; however, all I know is that I don’t know what it feels like to live in someone else’s skin. I know this is a true fact.
I don’t know what someone else’s anxiety feels like or what happens to them or their body when their fear receptors overreact yet I might understand to some degree. I might understand the physiological responses from at least an intellectual standpoint. I might understand how it can be hard to breathe when panic hits or why the chest gets tight.
Intellectually, I might know what the text books teach us about anxiety or panic attacks or how the mind can be soured by depressive or suicidal ideation. At the same time, I don’t know what this is like from another person’s perspective.
I can only relate to some degree. I cannot compare.
As much as I might understand, I know that I don’t understand everything which is excellent because once I allow myself this understanding, I am relieved from the burden of codependency. I don’t have to “fix” anything or have the answers.
I know that my association with depression or depressive thinking is a challenge that belongs to me.
Yours is yours. Mine is mine.
And do you know what? That’s just fine . . .
I think about the words, “You don’t get it!”
I think about the way we distance ourselves by saying, “You didn’t go through what I went through,” and the answer to this is, “no, I didn’t.”
Neither has anyone else.
However, in the same sentence, I offer the understanding that like-minded people want to be around like-minded people. This is why support groups are helpful.
And speaking of:
I was standing in the center of a circle where around me were parents and people who suffered the loss of a loved one due to an overdose. I was told that since I did not suffer the same losses that I cannot relate to which I object.
They also didn’t know what I went through nor did they see me sleeping on the floor in my Mother’s hospital room because of A) her bouts with five different spinal diseases but B) I was there because quite simply – pain management was mismanaged and certainly this was part of what led my Mother up to her death.
This is why I never tell anyone, “I know what you’re going through!”
No one can relate to me or my losses. No one was there with me in the hospitals when I was sick with my own problems. No one was there with me in holding cells or when my wrists were clasped together and I was escorted up in front of a judge.
No one was there with me when I woke up on the floor of a bathroom in an upstate facility; and while I was coming to the awareness that I was still alive in spite of my own efforts – no one was with me when I had to undergo the fact that this was me – depressed and angry, done and infuriated; but more, no one knew what it felt like to be or live within my skin or how gravely I wanted to die simply because I could not stand being within my own skin.
It was here that I realized that no one is truly known and there is a way for all of us to relate –
if we want to.
I know that I have not lost a child to an early grave, I know that I did not suffer the same consequences of life as other people; therefore, by not subjecting myself to the troubles of comparison, I can look to relate without judgment to their personal understanding as well as recognize one true thing: Pain is very personal!
Pain is personal and to take this away or to almost minimize it by saying, “Oh, I’ve been there too,” or that by saying, “I went through the same thing,” is something that comes off like a threat to someone’s personal severity.
And dig it . . .
Everyone wants to help. Everyone wants to say the “right’ thing but sometimes the right thing is to listen and allow someone their own distinct version of pain without trying to take it away – because guess what?
Pain is personal!
Although cases and feelings will vary, I have noted that while allowing people to speak or share their story or while listening to listen (and not to respond) and rather than direct people to a specific approach, the most helpful realization a person can ever come to is a realization that comes from within.
I never argue with people when they tell me “You don’t get it,” or that “You don’t know how I feel” because this is true.
I don’t. I might understand from my perspective but in the case of a person’s crisis – none of this is about me.
No one knows what’s beneath a person’s layers. No one will get it to the perfect level.
In fairness, we are all unique and sometimes, we are terminally unique.
Sometimes we don’t want anyone to understand because understanding would almost put a limit on an emotional despair which to us and especially at the time – the despair can feel limitless and lonesome – and by trying to take this away from someone, we bring up a personal defense mechanism because to them; this is their truth. No one can change someone else’s truth.
I am writing this to you as a layman and, as such, I cast any of my training and credentials to the side. I am not speaking as a world-renowned doctor. I am not someone who is famous or popular enough to go out on television shows.
No, I am me.
I am someone who has been training myself to live in my own shoes and understand that the world is not necessarily going to appease me or coincide with my beliefs.
I am a person who has dealt with depressive thinking and anxious thinking for as long as I can remember. I am someone who has entered into different ideas of treatment that range from different therapeutic modalities, talk-sessions, therapeutic communities, in-patient processes and medicated solutions which, in my case, the medication was resisted by my personal chemistry and made some of my symptoms worse.
I have had to go at this in different ways . . .
I say this because there are times when I listened to people who swore, “This is the only way to feel better,” to which I found that I was stuck and hurt because to me, their way was not working for me . . .
I have found that by allowing for ownership of my inventory rather than pretending my thoughts and feelings do not exist or faking a different projection of self, I allowed myself the truth of my position. Therefore, I didn’t have to “go along to get along.”
I was free to understand more about my own symptoms and when searching for the solution, I was given the freedom to understand that my personal ingredients are different from anyone else.
I am me.
You are you.
They are them and we are us.
The sooner we allow this, perhaps we can open the door to a comfortable discussion because trust me – no one wants to live with anxiety. Nobody picks depression as a lifelong partner. No one wants this yet nearly all of us live with some kind of emotional or mental challenge.
No one asks to be a “junkie” and yes, I cringe while using this term.
No one wants to be a drunk.
No one wants to be obese either yet if we add the yearly death tolls from the three issues that I just mentioned, we have more than a half-million people dying because of this in the U.S. each year.
The best help I ever received was from a person who told me, “I don’t know which way you should go, but if ya want, I can go there with you. At least this way, you won’t have to go at it alone.”
This was a man who didn’t try to tell me how “he knows” how it feels to be me. This was a person who never said “I went through the exact same thing.” Instead, this was a person who allowed me the be the owner of myself and the opportunity to come to my own conclusions.
I am like anyone else when I say I am a work in progress and, uniquely so, I am like everyone else when I say that there are times when feelings can get in the way of my best possible potential.
I don’t know what this means to anyone else
I only know what this means to me.
The day that I decided to own this understanding is the same day that I felt better about finding the course of what fits my recovery.
There are more than 7 billion people in this world
and there is only one of you and one of me.
I’d rather embrace this fact than struggle with it.
Know what I mean?