Friday, July 8, 2016

"Only a dark cocoon"

"Only a dark cocoon before I get my gorgeous wings and fly" goes the ending of the song that named this blog. For a long time, I've comforted myself in tough times by saying that all of the crap - the rejection, the heartbreak, the unpopularity, the opportunities denied, the hurt, the trouble - was just the prelude to something glorious. I had to walk through the tough stuff to get to the good part. I had to have some doors close to lead me to the open ones. But I'm not so sure any more.

I guess my life has improved, but only after everything crashed and burned. I guess I've benefited from the tough times I endured, but would I really be that much worse of a person if I hadn't had those things happen to me? I've told myself, and other people have told me, that I will be able to use my experiences to encourage others, but how is that going to happen when no one listens to what I have to say? Maybe there isn't any reason for all of this bad stuff. Maybe I'm just an unlucky person. Maybe shitty things just happen. (Wow, I've never used that word on here before.) I mean, there are people with lives much worse than mine that never get better.

I feel like I don't matter. I feel like I don't have a voice. I feel marginalized. I feel not as important as all of the other crap going on in the world that is making the headlines and eliciting the empathetic tweets and social media posts of people normally so callous. I'm sure it's selfish to say that, but what I mean is that when people die, we start to care about them. When people are alive, we only care about them if they're beautiful, rich, or famous. And even then our caring is very superficial. Everyone else is just the backdrop to the drama we're playing out. We are too busy to talk to them. We could care less what they're thinking, feeling, or doing. Unless they're getting engaged.

I've been feeling so worried and discouraged, convincing myself that friends don't want to talk to me and they're just tolerating my friendship to be nice. I feel grieved over a friendship that has been dear to my heart that I recently realized is most likely dead even though I wrote a letter apologizing and trying to salvage things. I don't know what I did wrong. I miss the relationship and I care about my friend. She was one of the few friends I made freshman year of college and remained my confidante until I left. I try to be a good friend, but maybe my mental illness was too much.

The organization that's all about telling people that their story matters and that there is hope has robbed me of both these convictions. My story isn't good enough for anyone, even me. I'm always hoping I will achieve something greater or be more loved. Part of me feels like resigning myself to fate and ceasing to dream or aspire, taking the safe career path that I'm on, that makes sense and would be lackluster but acceptable. The other part of me feels like fighting back, but is usually squelched by the practicality that was trained into me growing up.

I feel demeaned by the lady I worked with today who kept insulting people my age and saying they don't know anything about history, without ever bothering to talk to me and get to know whether I knew about history. Why else would I want to volunteer my time to learn about a random old house? I feel cut off again from my friends and family, unsure of how to convey this hurt and vulnerability. I feel confused yet again about which road I should take in life. I feel like nobody wants to talk to me.

People can speak all the inspirational things in the world, but their actions speak so much louder. People say you matter, but don't write you back. Friends insist they care, but don't reach out. The church says it represents love, but offers the cold shoulder or even outright antagonism if you don't appear practically perfect and follow all their rules. And people say that things get better and life, but they don't always. Even though I feel better, I'm still stuck. I still have these old hurts come back to haunt me. My dark nights are dark for the same reasons they were when I was twelve or sixteen or twenty.

I know I'm young and there's still plenty left to happen to me, but I see the people around me who I'm sure all once had hopes and dreams as grand as mine, and they all end up in the same place: settled. A spouse, kids, a house, a job. None of it was what they imagined, but it's good enough. They're not exactly happy, but it would be too hard to change.

They say that conditioning has a powerful influence on human thought and behavior. Maybe that's why this pessimism and self-hate keeps coming back around to my doorstep every time rejection visits or I'm reminded of others' success and my comparative failure. Those advocacy organizations and speakers are always telling you to have hope and believe in yourself and your worth, but who is reaching out to me? Who reaches out to the socially anxious? We're always overlooked, even in the mental health advocacy movement. And we're too shy to voice our needs, too anxious to do the speaking and marketing necessary to make it in the public eye, too afraid of being a burden on others or committing a faux pas. I tried to take a risk and put my story out there, but it only made me more miserable.

They're always pushing you to be positive, even the people pushing to talk about the negatives, but here's the reality: sometimes everything just seems to suck. Maybe there are people that not many people care about. They matter, but how would they know? How can they have a voice? And does a person have a voice if nobody is listening to what they say?

"Only a dark cocoon before I get my gorgeous wings and fly / Only a phase, these dark cafe days"

Maybe the wings don't come. Maybe the flying doesn't happen. Maybe I'll just be a wriggling worm stuck on the ground, chewing and chewing these stupid leaves, trying desperately to pass muster so I can finally be granted access to metamorphosis. Few marvel at the caterpillars, after all - awkward and ugly aliens, tiny and grotesque. They pay to see the butterflies - elegant, bright, colorful, flirtatious, graceful, brilliant, attention-catching.

I feel stuck in pupae purgatory. I will never break free and find my wings. I will never be marveled at by the captivated crowd. I will never brighten the day of some burdened soul who smiles at the fluttering reminder that hope springs eternal and somehow cruel nature produces winged masterpieces of intricate art.

But then again, even beautiful butterflies only last a few weeks.

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