It's called happiness anxiety and if I never experienced it again it would be too soon. For me, it's the inability to enjoy the things that make me happy because there is a certainty in my mind that they are going to disappear or leave me behind just when I need them most. It hurts and it feels like I can't win. Happiness is fleeting because I crush it beneath the weight of my frantic thoughts and I wish that I could just make it all stop.
Just stop. For a moment. For a second, even. Take a deep breathe and allow myself to enjoy the air in my lungs and the sun on my face. But such a feat seems so impossible right now that I can scarcely imagine it. Somewhere inside of me dwells a thought that everything that makes me feel good will not leave me behind but I am struggling to find where I left that thought in the dark corners of my mind. I know on some level that it has to be true. Everything good can't eventually turn out to be bad and abandon me. If that were the case then there really would be no point in living.
If that were the case then there wouldn't be anything holding me back. If that were the case then I'm afraid there might be no tomorrow to look forward to anymore. Wash it all away with a bottle of pills and a handle of liquor. Why not? Because I know it can't be true. Because I know that things will get better at some point. It won't always be this difficult, because it can't be.
At some point, someone or something is bound to prove me wrong. At some point, I'm bound to prove myself wrong. One day, I won't sabotage things just when they start to feel good. One day, I won't tear it all down before anyone else gets the chance to do so. One day, I'll smile and the first thought in my head will be how nice this moment feels instead of oh my god, when is this going to be taken away from me? For now, I'm trying to navigate my way through the moments of happiness and the days of anxiety that follow in their wake and I've calmed down significantly from where I was at a year ago. I can see the progress though people who don't know me might look on in amazement at how quickly I move from joy or happiness to utter terror at the thought of losing something that allows me to feel decent for a moment.
It takes at least a few moments now, sometimes even as long as a few hours before the anxiety sets in after some positive occurrence in my life. I believe that eventually it won't set in at all. I believe that eventually I will be able to experience happiness and let it casually and gradually fade into an ever present hum somewhere in the background of my thoughts, keeping me safe and warm. I believe that my happiness will be strong enough to withstand trying times and that it will not be shattered when someone leaves me behind. I believe that this is what I'm working towards because I need something beautiful to be waiting for me, basking in the light at the end of the tunnel. It's barely more than a pin prick someplace off in the distance but I can see it now. It's not just cold, dark, blackness the way that it was once.
Some days the end of the tunnel feels so close that I swear I can hear people laughing on the other side. Other days it seems that I will never reach that spot of light. And still other days I swear that I have left the tunnel completely, that I'm living out in the real world with real people to keep me company, in a place where it takes more than just my thoughts to hurt me. Those are the best days. Those are the days when this all seems possible. Those are the days when I feel proud of myself for holding on to my life through the toughest of times and those are the days when I know that all of the pain and suffering were worth it.
But it seems that I am not ready to live in that place just yet because I always pull myself back into the safety of darkness. I may not retreat into the tunnel as far as I did once, but I still spend the great majority of my time here, watching and listening to the world as it passes me by. Soon enough I will be ready to leave the blackness and never look back. It may be lonely here, but for the most part I know what to expect and I find safety in that knowledge. The world of light out there in the distance is full of things that I don't understand, full of things and people outside of my control who could potentially break my glass heart. I need to know that I can withstand the happiness out there but also that I can endure the hardship that is part of living in the real world and interacting with people who have no idea where I've come from.
These people aren't trained to ask how I'm feeling and if they happen to ask, I hardly believe that they really care to hear what I have to say. "Fine," is the correct response, is it not? And maybe that's what I need. Life can't always be about deep emotions and feelings, sometimes it has to be very surface level and disconnected for anything to get done. I get that. But that doesn't mean that I don't miss treatment and the space it provided me to just feel what it was I was feeling. I don't have time for that now. There's homework to do, class to attend, work to be the best at, hardly any time at all to just be an emotional being trying to survive in the daily hustle. And I still need that time to feel, otherwise the feelings are happening all the time and they're just being buried deep down inside on top of one another until I feel like vomiting because I am so full of shit and piss and vinegar. Who's going to clean up the mess?
But things are not all bad if I'm complaining about not having enough time to just think and feel my emotions. Doesn't that mean that I'm staying busy at least? Mustn't that mean that I am functioning in some capacity out there in the world with everyone else? I think it must, though I forget this fact because most days it still feels like an act to me. It doesn't feel like I am a healthy, functioning adult but it feels like I play one on T.V. Maybe everyone feels like that. I have no idea. But I do know that I'd like the gap between what I do in my life on a daily basis and what it is that I'm feeling to close until the two become one constant thought put into motion with a certainty that comes from my head and is approved by my heart. Right now it feels like the different parts of my body are operating autonomously and it's exhausting to keep track of them all. My head is telling me one thing while my heart is pulling me in another direction so that any action I make ends up feeling wrong somehow.
In the end, it's good though. It's all good. At least I have the mental clarity to do something beyond exercising, binging, and purging. My life has expanded rapidly in the last 18 months and it's no wonder that I feel overwhelmed sometimes. They show you how to measure your cereal and fit exchanges into a meal plan in treatment, they don't show you how to function out here in the world and it's perfectly clear to me why so many people go back again and again. Life cannot be lived within the confines of a meal plan and it's only once we break away from the safety of the rules laid out for us in treatment that the real work of recovery finally begins.