The New Year is just the flippant tail-end of melancholia accompanying the holidays. Since fourteen or fifteen years of age I felt this very palatable sense of responsibility watching time crawl past, as if every quiet moment of unproductively will be weighed against you when your life on earth comes to an end. So much wasted time! "You could have become a ___________! So-and-so became a CEO of a successful start-up by 23!"
I'll be thirty-three in March and I made the realization I'll soon have spent half of my life rebuilding and restructuring my life outside a childhood raised in the Unification Church. There is so much bizarre and often hidden programming that has rooted itself in my subconscious, the process of identifying it and being faced with how it's probably irrevocably fucked up your life can be nauseating. A good visual example for me was in the most recent 'Fantastic Beasts' film where Newt Scamander pulls a parasitic worm from a wizard's eye, which has been slowly poisoning him from inside.
In retrospect I often wonder if others I spend time with can see the flicker of some demented madness slide like a shadow across my eyes and hibernate in the back of my skull. Luckily, I have one or two friends that I can be candid with about living with depression, one of whom I explained that you never really defeated your demons - you just get better at training them to sit up, roll over, and lay down on command. Other times, it's me physically laying on the floor and wondering how human flesh can feel this weighted and heavy.
As a recovering self-proclaimed pessimist I've decided that making more positive and impactful choices in my life is reachable, albeit in baby steps and tiny bites. Encountering people who live and breathe positive manifestation often makes me as nauseous as watching a person willingly consume a gooey-duck clam. Or as I call them: dick clams. Telling people about them is my new bliss, watching their faces shift to horror as the google image results pop up. But continuing in the theme of gross work-like things, I decided it's time to pull out the tweezers and start tugging out the leeching ruminations from my mind.
Both the therapist and psychiatrist I see specialize in people who have experienced trauma. I've never quite settled with the terms PTSD or civilian-PTSD, as I've no military/combat experience and I wouldn't want to detract from their understanding and life overseas. But my psychiatrist in particular shared that people who've lived through physical, emotional, mental, sexual abuse have similar responses and reactions to veterans. For example: the inability to sleep at night due to heightened awareness. I turned down the offer of sleep medication in exchange for instilling habits like exercise, yoga, and my attempts at meditation. I've never felt settled enough to meditate.
Yesterday, I attended an audio performance and experimentation with sound/meditation revolving around the subtleties of tea preparation. The onslaught of noises the city makes took a backseat to the sounds of a tea kettle boiling on an electric stove, scooping dry tea leaves, Tibetan singing bowls, and pouring of water. With the cordless headphones on, I tried to shift into a comfortable position on the floor cushion - maybe this would all blend together like the combined sounds of a coffee shop that lull people into a productive zen, or perhaps even something akin to the white noise app I use to trick my brain into sleeping.
Instead, I ended up in a dark place in my mind...self-reflection for me is rarely an empty mirror. As a second-generation child born into the Unification Church, you're raised with the conflicting ideas that you were simultaneously born of perfect blood lineage (thanks, Reverend Moon?) and yet on a lifelong path of being constantly reminded you are NEVER good enough. Rejection and abandonment experienced in adult life feel like affirmations that you're unworthy instead of the searing cut of a new, unpleasant feeling.
My legs were falling asleep sitting on the floor pillow but I couldn't focus on my numb toes or even the subtle processions of the tea ceremony. The voices in my head were screaming over the honking of cabs, the talking tourists who pressed their faces against the glass of the gallery we were at, or the distant audio recording of another art-piece emitting from headphones ten feet away. Sometimes, your demons are ill-behaved shits who pay no attention to the progress you've made recently, instead of giving you space to celebrate your leveling-up they decide to stand in the corner of your bedroom and leer at you like a Babadook.
Shame is a huge component of control for most religious groups, I was no exception as being a woman we were handed extra pieces of baggage. Shame was the cloak my feelings of worthlessness wore. As a girl in the Unification Church I wasn't beholden to many life expectations other than keeping my sexual purity until marriage (oops) and being a baby-making vessel for God (oops 2x.) My own father told me that I didn't need to go to college, primarily due to my artistic inclinations and inability to concentrate on grades.
I'm 32 and I still troll myself for being single, especially when my peers are cohabiting, married, having families. I don't know how I feel about marriage and family but a resemblance to a normal relationship extending beyond a year sounds nice. With my most recent ex having spent months anticipating his exit strategy and looking for better options, I feel an immense feeling of humiliation for willingly living in this false world of him being my best friend and source of light. Looking at the women he follows on Instagram, the women he dated previously, and still maintains friendships with now - if I go there I'm baffled. How am I still not good enough?
So now is that arduous journey of "self-care" and appreciating yourself that will eventually lead you to a sense of completion and acceptance. Giving up my hair was relatively easy, to a degree I felt like I didn't deserve it anymore. Without a my crown of witchy hair, without a man, without money, without much of a support network, and probably minus the whole bathtub-surrounded-by-candles zen - I need to be able to look myself in the mirror without flinching in shame.