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I remember vividly, during one of my many fights with my parents during teenage years, telling them how I had never asked for the Gift of life.

I had my reasons for saying it. It felt like the ultimate act of control over my life. I wasn’t given a choice, I was handed this gift without asking first if I even wanted it. It would be logic to assert that there was no way of asking before life was ever given to me, but the point was that I have never really been asked my opinion about things by my parents. Of course, knowing how my mother has always been extremely selfish in everything me-related made my opinion stronger.

But I look at it from a very different angle today. I linger in the wisdom of those words. Some 20 years later I still feel the same way. I feel like I am living this life because it has been given too me, but if I could, I would do without it. I don’t really consider suicide an option, because I am sure that one of the reasons why I suffer so much is the huge hope I carry within me to finally be able to lead a better, fulfilling happy life. A hope that has not turned into reality yet. But yeah, I would really like to do without it.

Not because life in itself sucks, but because often times I find mine sucks. Because I don’t want a life where I can catch my breath two weeks a year at a time, I don’t want a life where one day I start crying and never really know when or if I’ll ever stop. Because my life is tainted. As much as I hope for it to get better and I am trying all I can to turn it all around, I don’t really expect it to. Because I have no evidence that it can be any other way, because it has never been any other way for me. I expect to keep suffering and battling against this forever and forever asking myself: what the hell is the point?

What is the purpose of this life? It would make a whole lot of sense if I believed in paradise. I would look at it as a sort of atonement and wait for the end grinding my teeth because then I will have deserved eternal salvation. Sorry, the Catholics have tried this with me, but I decided God didn’t exist when my rational mind found absolutely no evidence of him in everyday life. I believe the day we die it’s game over, so I damn well know I’m supposed to get the best of it in the years I have left, because there will be no 40 fucking virgins waiting for me on the other side. There will be nothing on the other side. (No offense intended to all of those who believe, lucky you indeed).

Whenever I am enjoying myself or just doing something interesting I don’t even pose myself this problem, but it’s not like whenever depression doesn’t have a tight grip on me I have it figured out. I just don’t think about it, it’s exactly like numbing myself in front of the TV. It’s when I drown in tears and desperately try to find a handhold to lift myself up that I can’t find that superior purpose to look up to.

There are a hundred things I like, enjoy and which stir all of my passion out there, but they all seem temporary. I’m talking long term, the ultimate purpose of one’s life, the only thing that matters when you turn off all the rest of the noise. Because this my present life doesn’t have one.

I love skating, and the last two weeks being deprived of this goal and unsure whether I may have gone back to practicing or not have been tiring, but that’s going to last a few years at best. My knees can avoid breaking only for so long. After that I will still have photography, but I am not that talented. I suck at interpersonal relationships and most of the times I feel like my friends aren’t there at all for me, I’m just a past-time at best. I basically have no family in the strictest sense of the term. I don’t want to have children because… well, see above, like I would ever want someone else going through this shit because of me. What the hell is left?

My purpose so far has always been love. Finding love, living love, enjoying love and supporting the person I love. Now I face first of all a very real possibility of not finding it. Not because I am not enough or I am wrong, but because of how hard it is to find someone really right, of how difficult it is for me to handle feelings in general, and a general lack of time and opportunity. Plus, there is this sense of necessity to refrain from it. Because I feel worse when I have to handle a relationship, because I should battle this sense of need for love. Then again, I am sure that the only way I can learn to get a clue about love and how to handle myself with it is by having relationships. Nobody learns how to do stuff by not doing it.

I don’t think I will ever reach the point where I believe I am happy alone. Just as I don’t believe I will ever really be fine and stable, either with or without someone.

And the fact is I just can’t forgive my parents for not only bringing me into this world, but leaving me with no tool to tackle it, let alone finding a purpose in it. My only purpose right now is undoing all the damage that false ideologies imprinted in my brain over the early years of my life have caused. I can’t help but thinking how much suffering could have been avoided if only I had being raised to appreciate being a human being instead of a machine. I won’t solve anything just blaming, and I know I am the one who has to repair the damage, but I am angry. Because it’s not right, because I didn’t deserve this. And I have already struggled so much so far that I just don’t want to be bound to this for eternity, because really, I never asked for a life like this.

A few days ago WordPress offered its congratulations on my first blogging anniversary.

It’s been hard, at times it’s been nothing short of terrible. It’s been a steep learning curve and yet I have no way of discerning whether I have been a good student or not.

I know that 12 months ago I found myself for the first time feeling great, feeling strong, beautiful, confident and worthy. I know I lost all of those feelings along the way, plummeting to a depth far lower than I have been for the rest of my life. I know I have been climbing ever since. Trying hard to gain altitude again every day, sometimes slipping, sometimes gaining ground.

I haven’t reached the top yet, but I suppose I am not that far away anymore. I felt the air getting brisk last week, smelling like snow.

It had to do with two main events.

I managed to let go.
After a week of no invitations from Andrew and a refusal to my invitation, I decided to let go. It wasn’t the decision itself, it was the consequence. I felt liberated. I gained back satisfaction for my life, happiness to have my own goals, a sense of belonging somewhere in this world and no anxiety around the corner to spoil it all away in a minute.
I was lucid. And in that lucidity, I could really see this story with Andrew and understand feelings without having to sift them out of anxiety and attachment.

I stumbled upon Dr. BrenĂ© Brown’s talk on Vulnerability.
Half of the bloggers of this site talked about it and I see why. I watched the video and all I could think about was “here is the missing piece”. And its meaning, its lesson, I could understand now only thanks to the path I’ve walked in the past three years of therapy. In that moment, I realised how far I have come and how near I am to touch the tip of the mountain. After seeing the video, I knew everything would be alright if I could just stay focussed on the goal of finally finding and nurturing my vulnerability. If every action is guided by this, I will never make the same mistakes again.

And so it was, that after I had given up on Andrew, when he wrote me again, and again, and again finally asking me out, I knew very precisely what I had to do. I thought I would never see him again, and I was fine with it. Because I (thought I) knew he was not the kind of person I thought he was, wished he was. But I also knew I missed that person. It was the clearest image, because it was no longer about needing someone, it wasn’t about fear of abandonment, or inability to cope with life without someone. It was just about seeing the colours of a soul and missing the idea of finding out every possible shade.

I knew I had to come clean and tell him exactly what it looked like and how under no circumstance I was ready to accept this situation as the next best thing. It wasn’t the need of an answer, not really. I needed to say it, as a fist step to be seen. To learn what it feels like to expose yourself to fight for what you believe, because the day I will meet that special someone, I want to be ready to be the better version of myself.

There is no guarantee that someone may like you or love you back the way you love them, there is no control in feelings, but if there is a way to try to steer things your way it’s this. You let them know who you are, how deep your feelings are, how much you are ready to sacrifice for them, how you don’t care about shame and saving face when your relationship is at stake, how you and only you are who you are and they can have it all, because you offer it to them. You hold nothing back.

You may be wrong, you may well chose the wrong person, it could all go to waste. But more than anything else here it’s about not losing the magnificent opportunity of being right. Not talking yourself down into believing an imaginary worst case scenario just to avoid confrontation. Not crippling yourself with your own hands. And believing in miracles.

Because sometimes they happen.

They look nowhere near as glowing and explicit as you might think a miracle should, but that’s what they are: the 3D moulding of your shyest hopes and longings.

In a lifetime of self belittlement and insecurity, where you’ve been holding back in every single relationship you’ve had, it’s as insignificant as someone telling you it was all a misunderstanding while they hoped you would call.

It’s not that, someone hoping for you to call is not the miracle. It’s that you made it possible for the miracle to happen.

Is there more?

While reading one of the blogs I follow (thank you for the inspiration, Megan!), I happened to ask myself the same question. Is there more to me than my mental issues?

Formally, I suppose the answer is yes; if someone with hepatitis, cancer or diabetes is a person regardless of their conditions, so am I. Funny how I unconsciously chose chronic or deadly diseases for the comparison.

A little less formally, it’s not so easy. Of course there are sides of my character that are unrelated to these issues, but my perception of my character is way too focussed.

In the process of opening up to Andrew I can’t help asking myself how I’m presenting myself, what is there for him to find out and know about me. Of course there are habits, hobbies, activities, likings and more than 30 years of past to talk about and that comes naturally. Then there is the person: our dreams, our hopes, our reactions, our secrets, our weaknesses, our fears. In that, I see close to nothing more than my issues.

My dreams and hopes are somehow distorted by my issues, my secrets are all about this, let’s not even discuss weaknesses and fears. Everyone has weaknesses and fears, but not everyone calls them issues. I tend to call issue every negative aspect of my character, I blame everything that doesn’t work in me on my issues.

I can’t seem to look at the whole as a superior entity: there are facts about my life and then there are the issues. I feel like I am nothing more than my issues. I feel like I can offer nothing more than my issues.

But if I think about it really closely, instead of just listening to the louder voice in my brain, it’s not so true.

I am honest, even when I should lie a little more, I just can’t.
I am trustworthy and loyal. Because I just am, and I think it’s right to be it.
I can make people laugh; it might be a coping mechanism to shield my shyness but it’s still true that I enjoy making people laugh and it comes natural to me.
I understand people. I would like to state that I am a good listener too, but that’s something only other people can confirm. But I am more than sure that I can see everybody’s point of view and give good advice accordingly, because if there is one thing I’ve taught my brain well is analysing pros and cons.

I should think about this much more often, repeat this as a mantra every single morning, to make sure I remember I am worth something, I am not just a tangle of paranoia and low self-esteem.

As for weaknesses and flaws, those I still think correspond to my issues.

Provided that I have issues, I look at all my life bearing in mind that my psyche does not work properly and that I have to over analyse and second guess every emotion or thought or feeling I experience. I tell myself I need to do this in order to truly understand what’s going on, under the constant suspicion that my own mind is playing tricks on me. Every time I am weak, I blame my issues. Hence, I exhaust myself thinking the issues are everywhere and never shrinking, that I will never be able to eradicate them, that my life will never be “normal” until I do.

Sometimes though, I wonder if I’m overstepping. I wonder if I know too much, if I’m just hiding behind a more or less comfortable cover up. I blame my issues for everything, so much so, I almost think that if I could defeat my issues completely, my life would be free of worry and bad thoughts.

I used to be blind, true, I used to be clueless as to where some reactions and thoughts came from whereas now, I recognise the path as clearly as a directory. But maybe I should not fall in the opposite pit.

There must be a threshold. Some of my paranoias, maybe all of them, are common to most people, maybe just not as intense, or maybe others aren’t so sensitive to the same topics as I am. How do I recognise the threshold between sane and insane, between the longed-for normality and dysfunction?

It’s all about the serenity prayer: how do I know what I need to change and what I should actually accept? I feel defeated in this battle against my issues, because they seem ever-present, they look untouchable, unassailable. What if they are? What if part of them is just the fundamental core of human heart?

Am I fighting the wrong war, all geared up with armour, sword and shield when all I’d need is a mirror?

Or patience.

Maybe in all of this, my only real problem is impatience. As for many other things, I blame myself for not being able to see things clearly from the start, for understanding things a little too late. Maybe it’s not late at all, maybe it’s the right time, and I wouldn’t need to blame myself for not seeing them sooner, because sooner they weren’t there at all, they were only still cooking. You can’t tell whether the soup is good before it’s ready, you need to wait until it’s done, if you taste it too soon, it will always be bad. Because sometimes only time can tell, and flogging myself with a thousand questions a second is completely useless.

Maybe I can trust myself with my judgement, because all I need is to listen to my mind saying “enough”. All the rest is jibber jabber.

It’s not love, not really. Not yet. Maybe it never is.

It’s just the first time someone opens the door to me, even just still keeping me outside. It’s the first time, this 32 year old me opens the door when someone knocks.

I am incredibly weary of my old habits, still haunting me every single minute. My ghosts follow me at short distance, every time a text isn’t answered within a reasonable amount of minutes, every time details for a date aren’t set in advance, with every word seemingly left unspoken. It’s the first time I ever recognise this anguish for what it is, calling it by its first name: fear of abandonment. Knowing what it is and approximately where it stems from, though, isn’t helping me yet in pushing it back to hell and sealing the door behind it. I only know it happens and it’s excruciating.

Dating like this is a struggle of titanic proportions, and in this I really do feel like an addict. Because it hurts, a lot, at times it frustrates and drains me so much I wish my heart were completely anesthetised, that I could gulp down a magic blue pill that could make me impenetrable to men, attraction and feelings. And if I could I would choose to quit.

But in the reality of things, not only I don’t want to, I can’t. I feel a deep and unconditional need of love, affection and physical contact, the kind of affection only a partner can give. Giving up on my quest would mean surrender to cold and loneliness and feeling deprived of the small joys even the slightest contact brings. Without the hope of finding someone to be close to me, I would feel dried out and hopeless.

And then there is the Ghost of Wedding Past. The crystal clear awareness that my last and only meaningful relationship ended because I as much as he couldn’t tend to it, that it was a relationship I failed to keep wanting, that I didn’t recognise as a part-time and void-filling activity more than anything else, glued together by blindness and fear of loneliness. The same fear of loneliness that makes me wonder now, and always will from here to eternity: do I care or am I just scared to let go?

In all of this, in this atomic aftermath environment, a timid light at the end of the tunnel – still unclear whether it’s the end of the dark or the headlight of the running train meeting my tracks.

More than once I’ve told myself he’s not the man of my life, because if it’s true that love can find you in the most unexpected places and perfection is not of this Earth, it is also true that there is a point in setting a baseline and if someone is excessively different from you, it is likely not going to work out.

Still, I am not thinking about eternity right now, I am not hoping for Mr. Right, I am waiting for Mr. Right Now.

And right now, it feels like I am dating for the very first time. It feels as if I were reborn. I am approaching all of this with an awareness I have never had before. Feelings should not be dissected under a microscope, it’s not that, it’s being aware of sensations and discovering the feelings that these sensations cause.

The first time we went out together I experienced something I had never felt before: at the end of the night I had the clearest impression that I had been on a date. There was no kiss or any other move, nothing practical and matter-of-fact. I wouldn’t be able to describe it any better: it’s like recognising the taste of a dish with your eyes blindfolded. You might not be able to tell the ingredients, but you definitely know it’s that one food you’re having. It might have been that I liked him physically, but I liked Hector too and it didn’t happen, it might have been the restaurant, but I’ve been to better places and it never felt like that, it might have been the conversation, but I’ve had other more stimulating and flowing ones and it still wasn’t the same. He made me feel calm, like there was no need to put up all of the barriers I tend to erect in social circumstances, even the ones I would be lead to believe are the purest example of myself. I felt free to be a woman with him, with no need to resort to strategies and deceptions, the girliest part of me, naked and shy. He made me want to be like that.

It was probably the way we look at each other. Straight in the eyes, as if the rest of the world and our own mouths were on mute, like we are resisting a magnet.

When he first kissed me, I only stopped to think of the historical value of it. I wanted and half expected him to kiss me, but the point right then and there was being kissed again, being liked again, feeling normal again. I liked it but it was too short, too early and too clumsy to tell the difference. The second time it was clear. It was clear how I was living that kiss and feeling it with every single sensor of my body with no trace of shame or self-awareness. I had never kissed someone like that before. It felt as if every single kiss in my life prior to that night had stopped at the intrinsic and social value of a kiss, I had never really enjoyed one in its simplest form.

It’s very hard to determine what of all of this was caused by him, rather than by myself. It is most probably just me, just in my head and he is just the lucky bystander. I have changed my attitude and this change would manifest itself with anyone else in his position.