BY BRANDON MINIA
“I’m glad you’re able to sort out your emotions with logic. I wish I could do that.”
A friend of mine told me this recently, and it hit me hard because it was the first time in the last year and a half that I realized: yes, I really was finally able to think rationally again.
There’s not a lot I’d like to explicitly say about my life’s recent history. I was trapped in a very toxic environment, one that made me lose a lot of my ability to think rationally and methodically. It all culminated into one excruciating period when everything started crashing down. From August 2014 into the following new year, a lot had happened. I lost a few important people, I fell out of a long-term relationship, and I was facing an existential crisis with my academics. But most importantly, my physical and mental health had both deteriorated.
Growing up, I was always considered a very bright student who had a very cool demeanour, so it was a very hard fall for me when I was no longer able to think and function normally. I used to be praised for being so positive and hardworking, even in times of distress. My personality took a complete 180.
It was hard to continue into 2015 with such a negative outlook on life. I was afraid of
rejection and humiliation in even the smallest form. I was convinced that I would live the rest of my life in fear of meeting someone, or rather, a group of people, who made me feel the way I did during that period of turmoil. I wish I was exaggerating about how paralyzing these thoughts were. I was scared of being with people who only wanted to use me for their sick fun. I lived in fear.
As of writing this, my health has pretty much stabilized, my sleep is returning to a normal pattern, I feel safe and secure in my social circle, and I now have aspirations to be a youth counsellor. Despite what I thought would be an endless pain, I made it through and survived.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an entry to tell readers how to ‘get through it.’ It’s really just a way of saying, ‘it’s possible.’
And that’s mostly because I’m still very deeply afraid of talking openly and explicitly about what happened to me. The people I had to deal with when life was going not so great are some of the most terrifying people I have ever met. They proved, first-hand, by the way they treated me, how they can violently manipulate people into believing whatever they wanted in order to serve their selfish needs. The things they said and did to me, (which, by the way, all were forms of emotional abuse), made me doubt a lot of my emotions. I felt various forms of guilt and humiliation just for feeling sad, angry, and unloved. I was confused and unsure how to react to anything around me. I felt like a ghost.
And that’s why it hit me hard when someone told me that I was (finally) able to sort out my emotions with logic. It was something I never thought I’d be able to do again.
There seems to be a popular narrative that we can end a toxic chapter in our lives for good once we forgive and become something like life coaches to help others in similar situations. I don’t believe in that. Not entirely, at least.
For some people, yes, the chapter ends – for good. But for people like me, it’s just the start of a new story arc. Characters change, plot points thicken, but the story never ends. You’ll still have to deal with whatever shit you just plodded through, and you know what? That’s okay.
I don’t even want to pretend to be some sort of hero. Not all protagonists are heroic. They just get through the conflict. I’m still doing it. A lot of things that happened to me over the last year and a half are still affecting me at this very moment, and I’ve accepted that’s going to happen for a long time. That doesn’t mean I give up.
We all get through our turmoil in different ways, so I’m not going to pretend to be some sort of wise elder and offer some epic advice on how to deal with what I had to deal with. In fact, I wouldn’t know how to put it into words. I kinda just did.
That’s it, really. You just live. You refuse to accept that it’s the end for you.
Even when you mess up in your attempts to get back to the person you were — maybe you’ll suffer an emotional or mental setback, maybe you’ll accidentally lurk on an abusive ex’s social media, maybe you have a (near) one-night stand and feel guilty about it after — that’s honestly OK. Making mistakes is part of doing. Just the fact that you are moving about in this world is a good start.
I’m also speaking from a position of relative privilege. When my health fell, I was lucky enough to be caught by my friends and family, and I won’t pretend that I don’t have a lot of them. Not everyone has that. Some people have to go through it alone. Some people don’t know anyone they can turn to for help. That’s why I can’t give you advice. Your situation is different from mine. We’re not the same.
Well, we do have one thing in common. We’re both living. You see what I’m getting at?
I won’t list a bunch of cheesy scenarios where I think you should try to live, because a part of that is to be fearless. Or maybe it doesn’t have to be fearlessness. Maybe it’s determination. Maybe it’s to just be happy. We all have a deficit we wish we could overcome, and that’s not for me to figure out. But you won’t be sure unless you push hard.
For me, being able to finally revert back to the rational person was my biggest deficit. It’s not that I wanted to feel emotionless, I just wanted to be able to think again. My intelligence was always something I knew contributed a lot to my character. And once I was able to grab hold of that, I was able to work through a lot of things hat made me anxious and depressed. It’s been a long time coming, but I honestly feel alive again.
The ending line for this is not something new. You might be disappointed that this is what I’m leaving you off on. But there’s no other way to say it.
We all have our battles. You will find a way to fight through yours.
24OurMusic – http://www.24ourmusic.net/author/brandon/