I struggle to connect to my past selves. Shame and anxiety become overwhelming when I look to where who I’ve been still resides within myself, to see how I’m the same and different. Morsels of pride crop up here and there, signs I’m healing and growing— but the pain keeps deterring me from making peace with myself. I haven’t been convinced of my ability to reconcile despite the overwhelming evidence of my capacity for acceptance.
We seem to make exceptions to our values when it pertains to our insecurities and our self hatred, we grow up loathsome and so convinced of our own loopholes in what we believe. I make judgements of myself that I would never make of someone else like me.
Even looking back at my sufferings now lessened I feel guilty for not being further along in my recovery. It’s as though if I look back, I get set back as well. Sometimes it’s simply perception, connection, but sometimes my mental health does genuinely relapse. Proudly I can say I’m no longer suicidal and when habitual thought processes arise I can identify and move past them. I now, though, live with the guilt of how I’ve lived my life up until now and the consequences of my lack of self preservation. It hurts to acknowledge the past.
While I can recognize I was coping with circumstances that forced me into the mindsets I had, being able to look back and see other choices I could have made and potential within myself causes difficulty in extending the needed compassion.
I can’t yet forgive myself for what I did or didn’t do. I still struggle to be kind to my current self let alone the tragedy I used to be.
Self awareness keeps me from falling into decay, keeps the self hatred manageable. I still combat issues with empathy in general, but exercising kindness and understanding towards why I was who I was helps flex that growing muscle in my mind. To connect with memories emotionally is a hellfire trial for a traumatized autistic person. If I reach deep, I can feel sympathy for the person who felt they had nothing. I remember the hopelessness. I didn’t deserve to have experienced the horrors of my life or suffer the twentyfive hours a day eight days a week torture of mental illness. I shouldn’t have to carry this weight on my shoulders. Reality is as it is though, and I deserve to live a more peaceful life anyway.
I value transformative energy but I’ve been so drained that the vague connections I make between my shame and sympathy sizzle out. I want to transmute my guilt into education, but I’m tired. Alchemy of the mind is tedious and fickle, I’ve dedicated myself to trying to understand but it’s not easy or simple.
Pain and exhaustion are payments and side effects in alchemy, but I will only be rewarded for consistent effort as well. Pain and exhaustion alone is little value without something to power the transfiguration of energy given. There has to be will.
Each time I flinch back from remembering I must then turn to face the memory fully. Wide eyed, unblinking, this is how I can fully process who I was and still am.
Letting myself be open in my awareness and willingness to submit to reality, I can look for what I admire. The endurance it took to survive on so little for so long, the danger that taught me valuable lessons, revelations I had about myself, how in psychosis I stepped into the universe, these are important things that shaped who I am now. I’m someone who experienced the utmost cruelty of people, evil, and also have been witness to divine miracles. Life has exceeded and underwhelmed my expectations over and over.
I’m here now.
Others who I novelly saw myself in, and who saw themselves in me, are dead. We were alike, and they are dead and I am alive. I dwell on this sometimes. I feel guilt that I survived and they didn’t, horror that maybe they could have as well. Then there are those who teeter on the liminel edge, who I’ve lost but may not be gone— I was friends with someone who I thought had died and years later he showed up in town as an Elvis impersonator. It was a lot to process, I’m sure he never knew I blamed myself for his assumed suicide. We drifted apart once more and earlier this year I thought I spotted him behind a bar. He looked half dead, frail and unkempt. I didn’t explore further to determine it was him. I regret not checking.
I know in order to extend compassion out and help people, I have to heal myself and learn from guilt and shame. I will only continue to repeat the cycle. Opportunities to help myself and others will keep slipping by because of fear. I must not fear reality.
We are all alchemists, magicians, healers and scientists. This is how we change and grow. This is how we face reality.
By changing myself, I bend reality to my will.
I’ve been sabotaging myself my whole life, consciously and unconsciously. Often the cause is dwelling on insecurity and shame— before I cared too little, now I care too much. When I perceive a failure, I hate myself with all the passion I have for hope at any given time. Double edged swords, I need to learn to wield them.
I am who I am. I will be who I will be. I know who I have been.