Throughout my life, I have had some pretty exhausting and long-lasting periods of deep self-hatred in which I could not look in mirrors or tolerate the idea of genuine self-care. Against my better judgment and against fifteen years of therapy and against eleven hospitalizations, I am in a dark period again. I am avoiding the nightmare of my reflection so I don’t have to deal with this annoying and hostile disconnect I have with this body I’m in; this annoying and hostile disconnect and disgust; this broken relationship with the vessel that carries my soul.
For most of my life, I believed I did not belong here on Earth, or even in this pocket of the universe. I feel like an outsider in my own family, country, society, culture, species, world… I am out-of-place. As someone with schizoaffective disorder, I have heard this is not “uncommon;” that believing you are from another planet or another dimension is not “uncommon;” to feel disconnected from the rest of humanity is not “uncommon.” Another major part of me explained by a diagnosis, I guess. Because it was–and still is–a core part of my identity. I never felt “at home” with anyone. I never felt the company of anyone. I believed I was so utterly and totally alone so vehemently that I created a whole creed centered around that core belief. And while someone has broken through some of the walls, I still can’t shake the whole structure down. Because, you see, throughout my life, I have hated myself more than I’ve hated anything else, and I’ve also gotten very close to loving myself and admiring myself and respecting myself, but regardless of how I feel, and regardless of how commonly symptomatic my feelings and ideas are, I know I have always been a remarkable person. Always.
Even clinically, I’m extraordinary: I have schizoaffective disorder that has built ultra thick walls between myself and the people around me, yet I am so deeply empathic that in my teens I could pinpoint people’s deepest stressors almost to a psychic degree by studying their eyes. I am so disconnected from the universe I am physically in and so utterly alone, but I am brutally connected in an undeniable way. But I think one of the most extraordinary things about me is one of the worst things about me: I remember nearly every wrong that has ever been committed against me. I remember every one for ever. Again, probably another autobiographical fact that is symptomatic. I developed PTSD at a very early age. I am trained to remember people are dangerous. I am trained to keep remembering. I am trained to forever remember: People hurt people, and people will hurt me.
But I am remarkable.
Several weeks or a month or so ago, (time escapes pretty wildly these days), I did some cleaning up in my room. I found journals and notebooks I kept from childhood. Many of these were littered with depressing entries, “Why are people like this?” and “I just want to sleep forever” kind of entries. Entries seven year-olds shouldn’t be writing. Entries nobody should be writing. But interspersed between them I’d write entries like, “The sun was pretty in my room today. I listened to my favorite song and forgot where I was. I love the light.” I also wrote things like, “Twinkle [my cat] and I raced downstairs to the kitchen as we usually do in the mornings. I love him very much and he always makes me smile.” I caught things like “I wish my mom wasn’t so sad because I love her so much” and “I love my sister but she is mean” and “I love climbing trees” and “I love the snow.”
There were a lot of entries in later journals and notebooks about the ignorance and hatred people have, particularly when I hit puberty and shit really hit the fan. Many phrases like “people are hateful” and “people are cruel” but interspersed with Gandhi’s “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” generic but beautiful quotes like “love is the answer,” and later, the saying “hurt people hurt people.”
When I was 12, Moulin Rouge! was my favorite movie. Rewatching it now, I grimace and blush because it is absolutely terrible. I’m not a fan of musicals anymore to begin with, but it’s just a campy, silly, ridiculous mess. But at the time, I was obsessed with romantic tragedies. Like Christian, Moulin Rouge!’s male lead, I was obsessed with love. I was obsessed with the movie’s mantra: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is how to love and be loved in return.” It was more than wanting a romantic connection, however; and while in my young mind, I was desperately seeking a knight–and desperately seeking the “and to be loved in return” bit–there was more to it. Much more to it.
Throughout most of my adolescent years, I was a suicide hotline to over probably a good thirty+ people. Most were strangers I met online. Some were from disordered eating rings when I was in the throes of my self-hatred. Some were from my hometown. Some were from tumblr or other sites. I’d get calls at 2, 3, 4 in the morning. I’d call hospitals in their area with only names and telephone numbers to try and locate them and keep them safe for the night. I saved lives of people who wanted to change their lives. For moments, I saved lives of people who did not want to be saved. Most of the time, it was the latter. People would use me tirelessly. They would call me up at all hours of the night to vent or worse, complain, and not take my advice. When I needed help, I had one person to call, and by the time we were 15 we had 2,000 miles between us, and she had had a baby to take care of. She could no longer take care of me.
I was falling apart. But I kept searching for people. I’d search online journals for hashtags like #suicidal and #depression. I fantasized about running away from my life and starting a peaceful revolution somewhere. I wanted to give everything I had to the world and then give it all again and all again and all again.
Ok so before we go further, let’s get something straight: I’m not a saint. I’ve committed sins I cannot forgive myself for. I cyberbullied/downright harassed a girl for years because I didn’t take the time to see the differences between people that engage in true intellectualism and the ones that engage in self-masturbatory arrogance. I am not saintly, and I am not trying to convince you I’m saintly. This entry is not to say “Why is the world so cruel to me? I’ve been so kind.” This is to say, “The world is so cruel, but it cannot stop me.”
Just keep listening.
Eventually, I ended the toxic relationships because I could not support them all. People coming to me for advice they would not take, calling me at all hours, draining my energy–I could not survive that way, however much I wanted to help them. I gave them resources for services in their area and then turned them away as gracefully as I could. I was alone and things were better, more breathable, but inevitably, broken people kept finding their way into my life. They always do. That is okay. I think I am a broken person, or largely a broken person, and I find my way into quite a few people’s lives as well.
I hope that you understand from this entry that I have a great love for people. I do not trust them. I do not like them. I do not think that I’ve even fully trusted a single person in my life. Not him, not her. Not anyone. I don’t know if I ever will. But I do have a great love for people. And throughout my childhood and growing up, I wanted so badly for them to love me back.
I had a teacher that once said “To get respect, you’ve got to give respect.” Ironically, he was a monster. He stole and tore up my notebooks, insulted my writing, intentionally and unfairly marked my grades down, spread rumors and divulged confidential information about me to my classmates, and made sixth grade a living hell for me. The only respect that’s ever really earned is that true, solid, genuine respect from true, solid, genuine people, but there are few true, solid, genuine people out there, honestly. You’ve got to realize that what you give you may never get back. You loan money out, you have to expect you’ll probably never get it back. It’s just something you have to realize. The world doesn’t work by way of reward, and karma is a security blanket. That’s something I’ve had to learn and accept. I can easily turn this lesson into something political, but I won’t right now.
I had always wanted to be loved. Not admired. Respected or appreciated, sure. It’d be nice if the “KICK ME” sign that’s been on my back since I’ve been born could come off eventually, and maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but people will always hurt me. I know that. I remember everything. People will always hurt me. Life will always be hard. I may never be able to trust a single soul or be loved by someone else as much as I think I need to be, but I trust enough people enough for now, and I am loved enough by enough people for now, and I love the world so much that even if I keep being kicked, I will keep getting up. I guess it looks pathetic to narcissists or sociopaths or people with that kind of emptiness, but I am so full. I am so full and voluminous. I am wont and hungry for nothing anymore. I am alight and vivid and vibrant and full of fire. I am marked with severe depression. I can hardly get up in the mornings. There are some days where I am so crippled I cannot move. But I am never empty or dead or done. I am never, ever, ever empty, dead, or done, because I am always growing, always moving, always developing as this ever-flowing vision and suffusion of love.
And for that, I am fucking remarkable.