DISCLAIMER: This post contains topics such as suicide, abuse, and self-harm.
Now that we’ve taken a quick look at the numerous Life Traps at hand, we can start dwelling deeper into the abyss of my mind in an attempt to find out how I can start unlocking the Traps. Together with gaining some understanding of my inner realm, my recovery and the re-wiring of my brain should be off to a running start.
A house is a prison
When I look at my life I see that the most prominent fact about me is that I didn’t want to leave the house for years. I mean, I did go to the mandatory meetings and some gatherings but other than that, I stayed inside. Why? Because I was so anxious about being looked at badly that I never wanted to show my shameful face and body outside. The house was safe, and I was mostly alone.
Of course, this safety of mine got repeatedly violated by the person I was living with, as my room was supposed to be mine, and respected as my sanctuary. The person would bust in with his friends no matter what I was doing, or if I had told him that I need time alone. I couldn’t handle house guests much. I couldn’t handle even my family in the end, but then again considering that I had and still have boatloads of issues and hurt in those relationships and how things have been handled it’s no wonder I got tired of being around.
I got so used to being constantly judged, constantly looked down upon, constantly hearing people give me negative feedback that I said fuck it. Maria will not come out. The thing is, At the end of that part of my life I ended up being a prisoner in my room. The friends I had around me, even if they turned out to be incredibly toxic and harmful, were online. And so, online is where I was. Online and in my room. Much like when I was a kid and started to roam the chat rooms, except this time I knew exactly how to play the game to get that little boost of endorphins over a compliment from a stranger.
Soon it became evident that there was no need for me to get out, and so I stayed in the room. Silent, unloved, criticized, and misunderstood. My comfort came from the virtual world, Final Fantasy, and other games. It was safe there, I could be whoever I wanted to be, and vanish from sight whenever I needed to do so.
Leave me alone
I was already quite introverted, and seeing the world turn on me, not giving a damn, I got even more separated from humanity. People stopped calling since I never answered anyway, I was too scared of it. Too scared that it would be someone telling me to bugger off, someone just calling to tell me to ‘’get a grip’’. Or maybe it was someone who would ask how I am, and would be satisfied with the most told lie of my life: I’m fine.
What contributed to this is that my live-in partner at the time started handling all running errands, effectively hijacking my finances, diet, and even phone calls. I wonder how many of you know what it is like to be in a situation where you think your parents would rather have someone else as their child instead of you and then also finding out all the lies and complete and utter crap that has been going on for years, as your family gave up on pestering you about you. If I ever wondered about anything, it is that why are people so easily swayed to believe what other people tell them about a third person.
So, I became a hermit. It went well with the feeling of being such a waste of space that I could just disappear from the planet almost entirely. Somewhere along the years, after the savior complex finally faded and I realized I’m not where I’m supposed to be, but unable to get out of it, I lost my will to live. Colors faded to grey regularly, and the only thing in my mind was that I am waiting to die. Waiting to die so I can finally go home, as I thought home was with the dead in the afterlife.
Please don’t make me do this!
Of course, occasionally I had to do things, such as go to my meetings or rehabilitative work. I hated doing anything new though, and every time I was faced with something like that I had to take some days off just to mentally prepare, and even then I got anxiety and panic attacks. It got so bad that I convinced myself not to go after my dreams, writing and publishing my stories.
Every time I got introduced to something new in rehab or otherwise, my body physically tried to reject it, my cells screaming like a cacophony of doom: Please don’t force me into this! That’s how it felt, and still sometimes feels to me, that I am being forced to do things I’m not comfortable with or ready to do. What this says about my past that I have such a strong response to it, I’ll leave it up for speculation for now. Fact is, I feel like I’m driven into a corner, and I hate it.
One of the things I hated beyond belief was money. I wanted nothing to do with it as it made me anxious. Over the years that live-in partner of mine took over mundane tasks such as applying for benefits, and I see now that it was a terrible mistake to let them do it. In the end, he turned into a tyrant, shaming and guilting and fighting me over me wanting to take back control of my own finances and not to allow him to take every penny away from my coconuts as soon as any came in. Needless to say that this led me to be quiet. I was, and still am, a Borderline Person. When I have to face the decision of pissing off the only person I think cares about me, no matter how messed up things are in the relationship, I would rather sacrifice and yield than be abandoned. So, staying away from anything money-related, be it managing my own or needing new underwear, became a safe zone that I still have not got out of.
The first ‘’forced’’ out of the comfort zone moment that comes to mind I recall was in vocational, a few years after I met my ex-partner and he had convinced me that I need to go and study to be a waitress so we can start up a pub. Guess if that happened, sigh, though I learned a lot of skills that benefit me in my housewife journey so I suppose it was not all too bad. Either way, Within my school time I was a trainee in a hotel restaurant. One day might’ve been my assessment day, my superior just told me to take care of the breakfast buffet. I was like:” Alone?” and she was all:” Alone.” Long story short I did it.
It has never been a question of if I can do it or not, more a shadow in my mind that keeps telling me I’m a failure at everything and shouldn’t be trusted to do things if there is anyone else present to do them. Even if I’m the best person to do the task, I’d still think someone else can do it better and thus will avoid getting out of my comfort zone if it is possible. And it’s not like taking care of the serving of the breakfast of a hotel is rocket science.
Tragedy as a teacher
Another lesson of my ability to actually manage things came to me in the form of a motorcycle accident. The ex that had taken over my finances and had made sure I didn’t have a penny to my name, got smashed by a car in an intersection and rushed to the hospital. I was devastated. I was doomed and nobody would rescue me from that shadow. I thought there was no way for me to come out the other end alive. I mean the man was in a medical sleep, I had no money, he had all the cards.
Luckily, in some haze-fueled epiphany, I had hidden a 50€ bill inside one of my books. Yay! I could live for a moment now! Problem was, I had to go to the store to do so. Which I did. I even managed to accompany the ex’s family to go see him in the hospital, all messed up and in tubes. The crazy thing was, that I wasn’t scared he wouldn’t survive, I was scared I wouldn’t survive long enough with my 50€.
Now people obviously extended their arms to try and help me, but I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t and wouldn’t as there was no way I would leave the one place where I felt safe enough, my room. The thought of having to be surrounded by people that don’t even like me was too much. It was better to be in my room, under the illusion of security.
Drive, Go out, Live!
Soon after this incident, I was in the dumps, not knowing how to go on with my life. The life I hadn’t even wanted for eons. I had no money. No access to it. No way to get out even if I wanted to. I was scared. Scared that my family would reject me, my friends would reject me.
I had nobody, or so I thought. In this dark time, there was one person who undoubtedly cared for me. One person was ready to jump on a plane and be by my side when I was ready to give up. Shocking, that a person I hardly knew was willing to do something even my family didn’t do.
With my husband’s landing in Finland came the inevitable hurdle of me having to muster up my strength and go get him from the airport. I had never driven that far, or in that traffic before. I had never even thought about trying to figure out the intricacies of an airport parking hall, but there I was, my heart beating a million miles per hour as the panic was trying to creep in. Yet, I did it. Once again I got out of my comfort zone and was greatly rewarded for doing so.
When you go mental
As far as I can remember, my go-to place when I’m in severe emotional pain was self-harm. Sometimes even wanting to get out of it by taking my own life. It was comforting to know, that I had that power, that one ounce of control over what happens to me when everything seems to go so terribly wrong all the time. In a world shaded in grey, and not the sexy kinds of grey, my options were limited. And depression with all its ache and pain and darkness was a thing I knew. There is comfort in familiarity. I knew, that If I saw a droplet of my own blood, the pain will go away. And so, I cut.
About a month back from me writing this post, I had a psychotic episode. The pain was so immense that I couldn’t handle it anymore, and so, in my desperation, I started bashing my face into the kitchen wall. It was a complete lights-out moment for me, but it taught me an important lesson.
As I was not wanting to talk to the paramedics, and unable to say much from the shame to the doctors in the hospital, I realized something: I don’t want to die. I just want the pain to end. Now, how is this related to the comfort zone? After the episode and my lovely moment of clarity, I am now willing to venture beyond the border of pain I couldn’t take before, and cope until it ends. I am now leaning towards more positive self-soothing behavior instead of destructive ones, as there is something much scarier than the pain I have to endure: a psychosis gone wrong. As I said, I’d rather not die yet.
I couldn’t have done it alone
I am happy to say that nowadays, I don’t have to try to struggle alone anymore, as I did in the past! With my husband’s help, I’ve managed to come out of my shell and am able to go for long walks in the park, go shopping and have conversations on the phone, which I now answer 70% of the time! I see myself going forward and progressing, being less and less anxious about the world as I do so. And who knows, maybe I’ll even get that book writing and publishing going in the near future!