Mirror, Mirror

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For the first time in nearly five months, I am finally returning to my blog, which I had almost no time to write for throughout this whole semester. It was a long semester, full of multiple emotional blows and academic shortcomings. Pretty much the only thing that went close to well was my internship, and even that was fraught with ups and downs.

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To put it simply, this semester was the semester I lost two friends in ways that affected me deeply. One friend (I’ll call him W, for privacy’s sake) took his own life, right at the beginning of the year, and I haven’t returned to full emotional stability since then. I had very few good days this semester–most of them were either horrible or else just okay. The other friend (who I will call Q) is still alive, but in the aftermath of W’s death, while I was emotionally adrift and needed someone solid and firm to give me a sound anchor in the midst of the storm, Q became instead manipulative, demanding, and negative. Instead of finding something fixed to hang onto, I found myself being dragged deeper into the maelstrom of my emotional chaos. And in the end, the only way for me to prevent Q from dragging me under was to cut all ties with him.

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Losing W and Q in the same semester has really done a number on my emotional balance. W’s death made me realize just how deeply I feel driven to want to protect others. He wasn’t a close friend, but looking back, W should have been one of my closest friends. I still sometimes feel guilt for never having been there to protect and minister to him in his times of spiritual weakness. I still sometimes find myself almost in tears while listening to songs like See You Again and Sound of Silence. I found myself wishing he’d been there to celebrate one more Easter, to be snidely cynical on one more Singles’ (*ahem* Valentine’s) Day, to attend one more pre-finals dorm event, to watch one more graduation ceremony. Because of W, I have learned not only what it really means to be anywhere close to a grenade (in the metaphorical, John Greensian sense), but also how much we really don’t appreciate while we have it. I was well within the emotional blast radius when W exploded, and I didn’t appreciate him until after he was gone.

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Cutting ties with Q, and the leadup to the decision, made me realize just how broken I am already. A lot of people might look at what they can see of my life and tell me that I don’t have it all that bad. That I should be happy for what (and who) I’ve had in my life and for the ease with which I’ve gotten it. Yet that doesn’t cancel out the fact that I’ve been deeply hurt and rejected and looked down on by people I came to trust and to believe in. And each piece of damage, each crack in the vessel that is me, has made it harder for me to trust people and open myself up to them. I find myself isolating myself from people more and more, unwilling to be vulnerable.

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Graduation was also a strange experience. Looking back on the commencement ceremonies, it is saddening that I felt like walking across the stage was the only dream I had had left. And now even that is gone, and I am struggling to not feel like I am about to disappear any minute, vanishing into nothingness as if I were a character in Angel Beats. All I felt after graduation was a sense of relief, and a sense of having nothing more to look forward to. I haven’t found a new dream yet, and I desperately need one.

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In the soundtrack for RWBY, there is a song called Mirror, Mirror, which in Volume 3 has been given a sequel called Mirror, Mirror: Part II. These two songs have resonated with me since I heard their lyrics, and these lines especially keep playing in my head: “Mirror, Mirror, what’s behind you? // Save me from the things I see. // I can keep it from the world; // Why won’t you let me hide from me?” Yet in Part II, the singer responds to herself saying, “Some believe in fairy stories, // And the ghosts that they can’t see. // I know that I could do so much, // If I could just believe in me.” Maybe that’s where I am. Maybe I just need to stop believing in others and start believing in myself a little more often. Maybe then I can find the confidence to start dreaming again.

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Depression and the Scariness of Suppressed Emotions

Tonight I played a new FTP (free-to-play) game that I downloaded from Steam based on a Facebook friend recommending it. It’s not a happy game, nor is it meant to be entertaining.

It’s a “game” (more properly, an “interactive fiction”) that tells the story of someone struggling with depression. According to the game, the social decisions I made that seemed most natural to me would take me through “depression,” “deep depression,” and “very deep depression.”

More importantly, though, the game (called Depression Quest) once again reminded me of some things about myself that I find it all to easy to forget: how quick I am to try to hide my own struggles from friends, how slow and reluctant I am to open up and be honest even to myself, and how much I’m pulling myself down by deliberately marginalizing those problems.

Yesterday also provided another shock for me. I finally had a much-needed conversation with a very close friend over some personal issues. What scared me was that I found myself trembling from emotions that I had repressed and kept pent up for over 4 months without completely realizing it. Not bouncing or wiggling from emotion. Full on trembling and shaking that was accompanied by a very real sense of the blood pounding in my head and unintended tears streaming down my face. I have never had my emotions manifest themselves in that way. I have cried from despair and sadness before, but the rage, bitterness, and loneliness I had been subconsciously bottling up for a long time was new. Looking back, I’m still amazed that I did not experience anything worse than some higher-than-usual blood pressure and a bit of light-headedness during that time, seeing as I was releasing some pretty powerful emotions.

The lesson I was given there was that I need to learn to be more open about my struggles. I’m sure most of you have heard me say similar things multiple times before. But I think the last couple days have really opened my eyes to the effect that such concealment has on me both physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. Emotionally, I am deeply scarring myself by trying to suppress feelings that need to be let out, purged, and washed away. Spiritually, I am barring myself from the healing that God can give me through honesty and friends’ ministries to me. Socially, I am isolating myself by being hermetic and secretive, rather than straightforward and open. And physically, I am completely stressing myself out, quite probably leading to some of the health issues I’ve been dealing with lately.

Do I think I’m dealing with depression? Honestly, I don’t. A lot of the descriptions of the way that the “depressed me” in the game would think, act, and speak matched me closely, but I don’t feel it was enough to give me reason to think I am depressed. I do, however, know that I definitely need help, and that I need to start letting myself be open and vulnerable. And that’s hard for me, for a couple reasons.

First, some of the things I’ve dealt with/am dealing with are hard for me to talk to others about due to the very nature of those issues. Things that, from my point of view, could fundamentally change how my friends relate to me and interact with me, and I’ve (up till now, at least) been afraid of rocking the boat of my many tenuous connections with others. At this point, though, as my friend told me, those people in my close friends group are beginning to regroup after having been scattered to the four winds this summer, and a lot of dynamics between friends will be up for improvement–or destruction, as the case may be.

Second, I have almost a phobia towards the possibility of becoming a major burden on my friends. So many of them have been dealing with a lot themselves recently, and as a result I feel reluctant to do what essentially I see as saying, “Hey there! You’ve been carrying a lot that you won’t let me/that I can’t help you with, so here’s more to carry!” The thought of becoming a burden, an annoyance, etc. has scared me off way too often from mentioning things that really are affecting me, instead typically causing me to deflect the conversation with a simple “I’m fine” followed by a complete change of topic.

I’m sure both of these things will sound foolish to most of you (and I can probably name those of my friends who would probably be struggling to keep from laughing deprecatingly at me at this point). To be honest, it is a case of heart vs. head. I know the logic (both ethical and moral) of the situation, but I cannot help acting as my heart directs me. Just like yesterday, in my talk with my friend–I explained to him that I knew I shouldn’t be feeling those ways, but yet I did and my head had no control over my heart on that issue. Please just be patient with me and understand that I still in many ways do not truly know myself, and have struggled in the past with letting myself become open to external scrutiny. I have a lot to work through, and it’ll take a while for me to get it all out.