Listening to: Tablo (ft. Lee Sora) – Home (집)

It’s hard to say most of these things without them sounding trite, or resorting to tired aphorisms. But I know these things now — they’re integrated into my DNA after this year. Most of them are things I struggle with, still.

1. Love does not conquer all.

No matter how much you want love to win, it won’t.

It won’t win JUST because it’s love. Love isn’t enough. Stories we tell prepare you for a world in which if you love enough things happen and lives change. But sometimes that simply isn’t true. You’re probably thinking, “She’s been alive this long, she should already know this.” Or “…then it wasn’t really love.” Perhaps. But until this year I had a little girl in my heart who hoped and believed against all odds. I haven’t seen her in a while.

2. I am not responsible for others’ emotions; I’m only responsible for my own happiness.

This is a difficult one for someone who has thus far believed that she should carry others’ misery in her heart to help them lighten the burden, and that somehow, if they aren’t helped by this, I’m not doing enough. Really, though, how you react to a situation is your choice (also a difficult realization), and should someone choose to be a worrier, a hateful person, a user, there’s nothing you can do about it.

If me doing my best to be an honest person who does what I feel is right for me makes you unhappy, that’s not my problem. I’m not going to do anything to intentionally hurt someone, and the only person I need to know this is me. There’s a certain freedom in this philosophy, but it also goes counter to everything anyone I’ve ever spent time with has told me.

But it sounds like the truth. I’m trying to figure out what it means to me, now. How much do I “owe” the people in my life?

3. No matter what you say, you can’t change someone’s mind unless they are open to change.

There aren’t many people whose opinions I actually give a shit about (I’ve evolved that far at least). I’ve spent a lot of time in my life, though, trying to convince people I love to change, and sometimes come smack into an Iron Wall of No. Not a wall of “maybe you have a point there” but a wall of “sure, you just said some words, but you’re wrong”.

I told myself to pick my battles, that it’s not enough to fight for, it’s just a little thing. I’ve had loved ones tell me they’re “afraid” of me when I’m mad, the intensity of my emotions. So I’ve given up many of those small battles, but I have lost the war already. I haven’t stood up for myself, because I wasn’t willing to fight for all of the little things. I suppressed what I wanted and needed and who I am so often that everything became a “whatever” situation. I became powerless.

How do I become more assertive without making myself into a complete “asshole”? When will I be able to convince the people in my life who are “afraid” of my anger that I am not a bully? How much longer can I keep just going along with things?

4. Depression is a great diet.

Best diet I ever had, aside from food poisoning. And I don’t even care. I always thought I ate when I was depressed, and I do, I eat when I’m unhappy, or stressed. But I know now that when I’m truly depressed I’ll have to convince myself to eat, that I need to eat. I enjoy my new slimmer figure(ish) but not as much as I thought I would.

I’ll know I’m past it when I care again whether or not I paint my nails, color my hair, and so on. But maybe my vanity has evaporated, too.

5. Asking for help, and even getting help, is not always enough.

Asking for help doesn’t mean your problems will be solved. Before this year, I thought I knew what depression is. I thought I had had the worst the brain has to offer.

I was wrong.

The excruciating pain of depression is hard to see past, or to hear past. Words are just words, and I just couldn’t make sense of them when compared to the misery I felt. When Robin Williams lost his battle, it nearly pushed me over the edge. I heard people call him selfish, say it was “a waste”. I even heard one horrible person say it was “disgusting”.  But I really really get what he felt.

For a while this year, I saw no other alternative. I saw no possibility for joy, no possibility for change. That’s a bleak motherfucking outlook. And many times I wanted it all to end, not in a dramatic fit of pique, but in a “make it stop, please” sort of quiet helpless desperation. Some of these urges happened while discussing my depression with friends, family members. Several of them happened while in treatment for depression. The only thing that got me through it was telling myself  to “do nothing permanent today“. I couldn’t think to tomorrow, or the next week, or the next year, for damn sure, but I could hang on today. Just make it through today.

So I’ve asked for help, been receiving help, but some days it isn’t enough. I wanted to just flip a switch and be done because I didn’t have any more strength to fight without being able to see even a flicker of light from the other side.

Oh and to the guy who asked me if I was depressed and said, “Oh yeah I felt like that for a while yesterday morning…” – you didn’t. Trust me.

6. Money can only buy very short-term happiness.

Along those lines, too, is the fact that money cannot buy happiness. Duh, right? But I tried, all right. I bought so many tiny things, each time upping the ante, and they provide pleasure in the briefest moment, which means I keep trying to find The Thing that will help me through, when my mind knows there is no such thing. I’d love to be able to buy happiness but everything pales in comparison to the reasons I’m miserable.

7. Some friends aren’t forever. Some you thought weren’t forever will surprise you. Season, reason, lifetime.

This year has been one of the hardest (as I imagine you’ve gathered), and I have relied heavily on my friends. But not too heavily on one, rather, reaching out below ground in desperation to individuals I can trust when I need them. I’m hoping this means that I haven’t exhausted whatever limits of friendship I have with them, but what’s interesting is the ones I reached out to who didn’t reach back.

They say people are with you for a season, a reason, or a lifetime. Now I try to figure out who is which – and some of them will surprise me. If you’re still here in my life, thank you. I appreciate you. I’ve needed you, and you’ve been here.

8. I can drink soju until I pass out and not have a hangover the next day.

Take note. IDK if it’s everybody or just me but soju is legit. If you need to drink until you pass out and go to work the next day, soju works.

9. Being “strong” for 30-odd years will eventually catch up with you.

I’ve attempted to take the kicks and keep marching on through life, don’t stay down, don’t give in. Dirt off my shoulder. It’s finally caught up with me, now, with that enormous blow to my heart. I’m having a damn hard time to get back up, but I am trying. It’s not that I’m depressed about Chicken, alone, but that I have finally been forced to feel all of the shitty things that have happened to me, especially in the past 3 years, and I just couldn’t deal with it anymore.

10. You can’t judge a book by its cover.

Some people have surprised me this year. I thought I had them pegged. Everyone else has them “pegged”. But they are far richer and more mysterious than I ever expected. I have also scraped bottom with some people, thinking there was depth there, but I came upon the bottom of their pool suddenly, jarringly.

11. Last year I thought it wouldn’t get worse.

I’ve been rent-or-electricity-or-food poor, I’ve lost loves, marriages, family members, pets. After the tumor scare, the accident and subsequent dental issues, the losses I experienced the last few years, I thought it couldn’t get worse. It can. It did. And that fills me with dread.

on a lighter note

On a lighter note, I have a kitten that looks like a cartoon dragon, and since I lost Chicken, the boys have become even more affectionate. My dog thinks the sun rises and sets in his mommy’s arms, and I have a great team, with 2 solid mentors and a superior group of coworkers who have become my friends. I’ll be fine, but I’m a lot less optimistic about things than I used to be. Maybe soon I will be at peace with that, but finding a silver lining is harder and harder every day.

Thank you for listening.