In this exhausting, cathartic, havoc-wreaking, daily-self-inventory-and-renovation I’ve been undertaking since I actively started working on recovery a few years ago (I might’ve mentioned it here… a few times…) I’ve had to dig out a lot of personal muck (usually of the self-induced variety), filter it, clean it and then put it back in my foundation where it belongs. It’s been pretty taxing and has lead to what seems to be an unending series of epiphanies about me as a person but, for the most part, I’ve been able to look at it all, deal with it accordingly and then move on when the time is right.
As it should be, I think.
But in the last couple years, it has become more and more obvious that I wasn’t just a terrible person when I was drinking or in my throes of depression or even when I started adolescence, as I’d first suspected when coming out of my drink-driven stupor. In fact, in the last six or so months, I slowly became aware that there might not’ve been a time in my life before a few years ago when I wasn’t completely self-involved, malicious, spiteful, wrathful, jealous, insecure and pathologically dishonest. And that stings way worse than the thought that I had an illness or even an addiction to hide behind.
I’ve discussed this ad nauseum (so if you’ve read anything on this blog before now, feel free to skip this paragraph because you’ve probably heard me talk about this ten times minimum) but, basically, I sobered up and started trying to figure out this whole mental illness-cum-self loathing lifestyle I’d clung to for the better part of a decade because I realized that I sucked to be around to everyone, especially myself. And I kinda went about all the follow-up work (making amends, identifying my flaws, addressing my insecurities, avoiding the catalysts/antagonists) in hopes that, eventually, it would chip away at this character my addiction and illness had created and reveal the bright, polished, pure person I used to be way back in the life I could no longer remember, mentally or emotionally. That was kind of the end goal- I wash away all the muck so I could get back down to basics and start rebuilding from there.
But what really happened was that I started making amends and looking at my flaws objectively and doing the really embarrassing/humbling work of raking myself over the coals to find out what the hell I was doing and try to fix it all, only to realize that my original foundation was made of crap to begin with.
I know that sounds really harsh because, for Christ’s sake, I was just a kid when the depression really started setting in. (I can remember my first episodes at 11, which is still “childhood” for me, I guess.) But even before that, I was never a nurturing, compassionate child. I was bossy and domineering and totally self-centered and brutal and meeeaaaan. Good Lord, I was mean.
Don’t think this is me just feeling sorry for myself or blowing typical childhood cruelty out of proportion; when I had this epiphany, I spent a good while going “No, that can’t be right. You’ve had friends since you were a kid; surely you didn’t suck that much. You’re just in a funk. Go walk it off and come back and look at this more objectively.” And, after a ton of deliberation it seems that this isn’t just a fluke.
I was manipulative and dishonest for as far back as I can remember. I can remember bullying other kids and enjoying taunting people who made me feel weak and imperfect as early as preschool. I can remember saying horrible things to and about other people at every age. I can’t remember doing selfless or unprompted kind things for those around me at all… not even once. And what’s worse is that I can’t remember doing anything really kind or selfless for my siblings at any time during my childhood, which is something that really tears me up to think about, to be honest. I could go on but, truthfully it hurts a bit too much. The point is that the evidence is present and clear. These are the things that were only magnified once the hormones and disease kicked in later on.
And, yes, okay, I’ve realized and explained where all my chronic meanness came from before now. I totally get it. I was so insecure and was so certain that someone was going to jump out and mentally assault me (which, incidentally, happened a number of times) that I preemptively did it to as many people as I could in hopes that… ::sigh:: it would make me feel better? I could beat everyone to the punch? Who even fucking knows? It’s all very textbook. It’s all very pathetic. I know. I get it. And, as aforementioned, the worst part was that I honestly thought I was so insignificant that the awful things I said and did to people couldn’t possibly have any sort of repercussions because who the hell cared what I had to say? I didn’t. And, as blathered about for a few years now via this blog, this is what I’ve had the privilege of wading through and sorting out in my search for sanity and a better, cleaner, lighter soul. So far, it’s been working.
But now, at the bottom of all of it, when I make deliberate actions and I’m fully accountable and responsible for everysinglething that I do or say or think and I don’t do anything or say anything I don’t mean, I find that there’s not anything else that’s left for me to work with. There’s no real memory of anything likeable about me from before I was some sort of monster and I feel like I’m sort of grappling at straws while having to deal with this awful realization that the reason I was so eager to escape my reality to begin with was that I’d always just sucked to be around since I was like, 3.
Ouch. Didn’t see that coming.
Now my personal recovery is not just about knocking down all the rubble and shaking it off my limbs but it’s also trying to figure out likable aspects of myself as a base skeleton.
Shit. I don’t have the energy for all this. Wouldn’t it be easier just to do an Etch-A-Sketch restart where we shake it clear, pretend it never happened and start over?
And, of course, more than half of my problem with this realization is the utter grief and remorse I have for being that person and not realizing it up until now. Naturally, this is the part that I’m honestly trying not to assault myself with the hardest but it’s proving to be nearly impossible – seriously, who wants to think that they were never a genuinely nice person at any point in their youth? I just have to keep reminding myself that rolling around in the muck isn’t going to help me get clean. (I love cliches. Thanks, Aldous Huxley!)
But still, there’s a level of defeat and frustration to this huge realization that I’ve been working to fend off in order to keep moving forward. I guess I had always figured that, if nothing else, I had a real pure Self under there that I was hoping to recover and reconnect with once I got my Demon Era properly handled and filed away. Problem is, it looks like this going to be more of a discovery/construction mission than a reconnaissance one and I’m not sure I packed the right tools.