There is this perpetual emptiness that is always lingering inside me. There is a void my soul so desperately wants to fill. We have tried everything to fill it though, haven’t we? Addiction has roots that run multiple generations deep in my family. That ought to have been something someone told me about growing up. But part of addiction is the crippling shame that leaves us gasping for air, let alone with the energy to warn those we love.
I am twenty- two years old. It feels like everyone my age is figuring out who they are, meanwhile I am just now realizing that most of my life was only what I have fabricated it to be.
Emotions overwhelm me. I don’t know what I feel. I don’t know what the proper emotion to have right now is. I suppose, there isn’t one. There is no right or wrong way to grieve a life that never truly existed.
I don’t understand why I can feel my heart palpitating and I am short of breath when I lay on a couch across from my therapist who I describe my most vivid dreams to. Why do I feel so scandalous for wanting a life that is not the conventional prototype that was instilled in me as “the good life,” as true happiness, so long ago? How do you ask your friend if they have a black hole inside of them that sucks them in every night and spits them back out each morning, too?
Whatever it is inside of me, it makes clear its intent to strike harder the next night if I speak of it. The darkness inside of me needs not to worry though. I wouldn’t know how to begin to speak of it even if I knew what “it” was.
“What the hell do you have to be sad about?” I play that sentence over and over again in my head. I want to react. I want to lash out in anger. But maybe that is a fair question. Maybe that is why my sadness pisses me off so much. What DO I have to be sad about? I suppose, not much.
Is it possible to feel unworthy of depression?
My life is good. Checks off all the boxes that should equate to joy and yet… something is missing. I feel wrong. I feel lost. I feel fake. And at the same time, I am not sure if I truly feel anything at all.
The most peculiar part of all of this, is I am writing as if I don’t know any of the answers. Maybe that is what makes me part fraud. I know in part, why I am so unhappy. I know that if I keep thinking of milestones in life as little boxes to check off on my perfectly calculated to-do list I will never embrace the joy in my heart that is trying to break through every day.
In all honesty, I think I’m scared. No, I know I am scared.
What if happiness doesn’t want me as much as I want it? Isn’t that one of humankind’s biggest fears? A love that doesn’t love back?
When I stop trying to calculate what will make me happy and just live freely in the moment, the air becomes crisper and my laugh becomes deeper. The butterflies in my stomach tingle relentlessly because each minute of being who I truly am gives me childlike joy.
No more boxes. No more formulas. No more conventional. And most of all, no more shame for those strategies not working.
Happiness never needed a strategy, it needed a courageous heart. Here I am life, arms open, eyes shut.
I always tell people- often times random strangers, about how butterflies in their cocoon don’t realize they already have wings. And then when the darkness breaks, and they realize they were full of magic and beauty all along, they fly with breathtaking beauty. I don’t want to just be fascinated with butterflies anymore. It will no longer be a metaphor. I am ready to be fascinated with myself.
I don’t know exactly how to embrace joy. But I believe that’s the point. For once in my life, I cannot think my way into or out of this.
My heart knows a thing or two that I don’t.
It’s time to follow it.
Featured Image Credit: Jasmine Peardon