Masks, disguises, facades, whatever you want to call them; we all have them.
We put them on whenever we got to get through our day. We put them on whenever we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or cause trouble. We put them on because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be the most functional beings on the planet. So, we pretend everything is fine, our lives are fine, our psyche is fine, our soul is fine, but let’s face it: are we ever totally and completely fine?
Hi, my name is Liz, and I’m bullshitting my happiness.
Lemme rephrase that: I’m going through a very normal part of life; heartbreak, sadness, reidentification, yet I think I have everything under control.
I’m not depressed, nor am I in a bad place as I’m currently writing this. In fact, I’ve been doing pretty well; I have a job I absolutely love, I’m allowing my interests and passions to shine through without feeling judged for them, and I finally feel like I’m getting the time to know myself all over again.
But, I’ve been dealing with some things that are normal in human life, yet my mind does not want to process things properly without feeling I will send myself into a dark place if I *feel* too much.
Let me be honest with you guys: I’m 25 and dealing with my first breakup. It’s challenging, to say the least, only because a large chunk of my identity was (and still is) what I was in that relationship. I’m fairly young, and for almost half of my life I only knew what it was like to be in that relationship. To now be 25, single, and not have a clear image of my own identity makes things hard. It’s not just the grieving that’s hard. It’s not just the memories and remembering the good times that’s hard. The hardest part out of all of this is now having to figure out my own identity after a major part of it was influenced by my relationship. To say that I’ve moved on and “living my best life” is a lie; I’m still grieving over a major loss in my life, and that takes time to do.
Despite romantic relationships, familial relationships are challenging at 25. You don’t just see your family as these strong beings in your life that are invincible; you see them as real human beings with real emotions and feelings of their own, and with our current situation that maybe one day I will share out loud, it definitely makes things harder, especially when my empathetic qualities are more present for my family.
Despite everything that’s happened in the course of these two months, I’ve still been able to put a smile on my face, enjoy my days, and lie to my therapist.
That’s until my regular therapist came back from maternity leave.
My therapist, Cathy, has known me for the last year and a half. She’s been with me through the highs, the lows, the anxiety attacks, the weak points, the strong points, and even when the suicidal thoughts were at an all-time high. She knows me pretty well, and will pretty much call me out on my bullshit.
This past week, I went to therapy thinking I was alright; I didn’t have anything to talk about, but Cathy is the type of therapist that will dig deep and try to make you talk about something. She started off asking me about my family and how everything is going. Although she knows what’s been going on with my family, it still is so uncomfortable to speak out loud and give it existence. There’s still shame behind it, and it’s something that feels like a sacred family secret, but I did speak about it with Cathy. She asked me questions that felt extremely difficult to answer only because there are questions I don’t think about myself. To reflect on things and question myself about them is something I really do avoid doing; I’m afraid it will cause me to lose my self-control and self-harm or have suicidal thoughts once again.
The topic of my breakup came up and of course, it’s another thing that has become uncomfortable to talk about because it’s something I’m still constantly thinking about. As much of an expressive person I am, I truly to minimize and vaguely answer questions about myself because, well, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s a bad habit that is so embedded in me, I don’t realize I’m doing it. So, in true Cathy fashion, she made me dig deep into my feelings and my behaviors and emotions about this situation and called me out on some of the things that I was doing that’s still unhealthy for my healing. It’s completely normal for me to be doing these things because it was a huge part of my life that I’m now living without, but ultimately I have to be more aware and honest with myself whenever I do something that isn’t healthy for me.
Of course, it was all true. There’s so much holding back and holding on because I’m simply not ready. There’s a lot of distraction and masking up because I’m not ready to deal with it yet. There’s a lot of trauma built up in me that I’m not ready to address because of the fear that I might get bad again, and every time things get bad, I wonder if I will ever get out of that bad place again.
So, I cried and admitted everything to Cathy, and it was the realization that I needed.
The fact of the matter is is that I am happy. I am happy that I’m beginning to challenge the things that I thought I was bad at like socializing with people and keeping a retail job. I’m happy that I’ve gotten to meet some amazing people at my job and have been able to connect with them without feeling like I’m being judged by them. I’m happy that I’m not overthinking minor decisions anymore and are doing things because I want to do them. I’m happy that I’m learning how to embrace the qualities and interests that make up my being without feeling shame for them. I’ve made progress; a tremendous amount of progress, and I’m happy that at this point in life, I’m doing good.
But, that doesn’t mean that I overcame the emotional and mental trauma that lives inside me. It doesn’t mean that my bad habits are all fixed. It doesn’t mean that my depression and anxiety doesn’t get as bad as it was. It doesn’t mean that I’m ready to completely share my story to the world and not care about the backlash it may bring or the judgments it may carry. It doesn’t mean that the energy that the bad things carry doesn’t affect some of my life the way that it does. Trauma doesn’t get fixed by a couple of therapy sessions and medication. It takes life-changing moments, in all honesty.
I’m not bullshitting my happiness, but I’m bullshitting my happiness. Meaning, I’m honestly in a really good place, but it doesn’t mean that there isn’t still work to do. It also means that just because I’m doing okay, it doesn’t mean that my surroundings and the people I care about the most who are going through don’t affect me. It will always affect me because I will always care.
So, lemme reintroduce me once more:
Hi, my name is Liz, and though I’m doing okay, I still carry trauma that may affect my everyday life, so please be patient with me on those bad days.