In my last post I wrote about how many of us are living with the wrong story, blaming ourselves for life’s cruelties when really they’re not ours to take responsibility for. I also wrote that I’m luckier than people who are still owning these untruthful versions of their life. In the past week I’ve wholeheartedly changed my mind. Just to make sure you’re in no doubt as to how contrary I’m feeling, I’m also going to reduce the complexities of human nature to a few simple words, despite regularly harping on about how wrong this is.
There are just three types of people in the world (when I break one of my rules I really go for it);
- A privileged bunch who know their own story, have made peace with it and can crack on and have a nice life.
- Those of us who have started to think that there might be another, more accurate story out there.
- People who are reading the wrong script and don’t yet know it.
I’ve been in the third camp for a long time. For over forty years I’ve bought into the idea that bad things are always my fault and I thoroughly deserve whatever punishments come my way. Over the past year I’ve been trying to own a different version of my story.
Anaïs Nin said that “when others asked the truth of me, I was convinced it was not the truth they wanted, but an illusion they could bear to live with.” I used to have that – a version of my own truth that I could bear to live with. It might not have been what others would call a good life, but I got by. Now, because I dared to think I might deserve better, I’m in the worst place I’ve ever been.
Unraveling stories is messy – you don’t just wake up one morning with a fresh perspective on your life. I’ve had to let my worst demons out of the iron-clad box that kept them contained for years. They’re here right now – always with me, always demanding my attention. Even when they don’t completely take over I can never forget them because they leave reminders everywhere. The smell of a freshly washed pillow case, the sound of a kettle coming to the boil and the sharp edge of the kitchen work surface at my back have all made me want to throw up over the past year.
I think I live in a perpetual state of fear, but I can’t be entirely convinced because I’ve forgotten what it’s like to feel any different. If fear’s the new normal then terror is the new fear. As well as the little love notes these demons leave around the house, my life is regularly interrupted with memories that fill me with such terror that it takes me at least a day to start putting things back together – and in that time there’s a very strong chance that I’ll be hit by an aftershock. Even the simple act of going upstairs in my home can trigger memories that mean I’m frozen to the very spot I desperately need to leave, but at least that’s never coincided with me throwing up.
Back in January, during the whole CPN-being-a-bitch saga, I told my therapist that I didn’t want things to go wrong between us because now I’d let the demons out, I didn’t want to be stuck not knowing how to deal with them. Winter turned into spring. Spring is about to turn into summer and still, I’m stuck in a world between the present and the past.
Remember the worst nightmare you had as a child. Think about how it made you feel and the impact it had on you, albeit probably only for a few hours (I really hope that’s the case). That’s my life. The demons won’t get back into their box and I can’t tame them, I simply don’t know how. They cripple me with fear when I’m awake. If I sleep, they wake me up screaming or shouting at them to stop. They never leave me alone.
How am I supposed to exist, let alone live?