A couple of weeks ago my friend D~, looking genuinely upset, said that he ‘wanted the old Caroline back’. That one has really stuck with me. It hurt, almost a physical sensation of being stabbed in the chest, not because I think he shouldn’t have said it, but because I agree with him. The problem is, I don’t know how to do what he is asking. I don’t know how I got so broken in the first place. I can see, almost feel, the person he is talking about, but I cannot find her. She went AWOL a couple of years ago, and only seems to want to put in brief cameo appearances. She’s on vacation. Lucky bitch.
A~ and I were talking about my blog in the context of traditional stories, specifically ‘the hero’s journey’ – you know, trials and tribulations, followed by eventually rising phoenix-like from the ashes. Well, if this is a hero’s tale, then this is definitely the chapter entitled ‘Our hero suffers a set-back’. Today, I am a long way from phoenix-like. Imagine a baby pigeon on a rainy council flat balcony, and you’re probably nearer the mark. When you’re clinically depressed, rising out of bed is hard enough, let alone from some ashes. Let’s just say today was a soup day and leave it at that. Anyway, you’ll be thrilled to know that I am now hurtling towards the actual point of today’s post.
Did I mention that I wasn’t enjoying DBT? Well, this week, I am hating DBT. The theme (taught in group education and to be practised every day for homework) is ‘acting opposite to emotion’. The general idea is that if you have an emotion that is not valid or not helpful, then you should act completely opposite to that emotion. So, for example, if you feel sad, then you might want to stay in bed, on your own, and cry. Instead, what you should do is get up, wash, eat, go out, go to work, laugh, smile, keep a “bright posture and an upbeat tone of voice” (I shit you not) and take some exercise.
Why am I hating this so much? I’m not sure. Maybe because it’s bloody exhausting. Maybe because I already do it most of the time and it doesn’t seem to be helping (grandmothers and eggs spring to mind). Mostly I think I hate it because it’s so behaviourally-based. Like, if they teach us all to act okay, then we are okay. We fit nicely into society, don’t cause a problem, and hey presto, we’re cured. Success! Never mind if I still spend hours every day wanting to die, I can function, I’m not causing anyone a problem. I feel like this isn’t a cure for my illness, but the fucking cause of it.
Be a good girl, stand up straight, stand up for yourself (but not against me), act nice, make people happy, don’t take those pills (but do take these ones), make people like you, don’t complain, swallow it down, do as you’re told….and smile while you’re doing it. And the one I hate the most…..the prize winner…. “You don’t want to do that”. How do you know what I want? What you mean is, you don’t want me to do that. When did I get so eroded and worn down that I didn’t even notice anymore? What happened to the person who, when she got kicked and punched at school for how she looked, went home and made a T-shirt that said “Vegetarian Lesbian” and wore it the next day? What happened to the person who, when someone said they didn’t like something she was wearing, would wear it every time she saw that person, just to prove the point (even though it was actually fucking hideous, but hey….)?
If anyone reading this thinks I’m having a go at them, I’m not. My friends are an amazing bunch of people and I love you. I’m not angry with you. You are the ones who listen to me without judging. You are the ones who give me excellent, sound advice and then continue to love me when I totally ignore you. I’m not angry with you. I’m angry with me.
Okay, in the past I might have been an unpredictable, hung-over, caffeine-fuelled, chain-smoking, pathologically-late, emotionally insane, sarcastic bitch… but at least I knew I was alive…. And we had some good nights out. I’m suffocating in my own life and I can’t escape. So yeah, today I realised I’m a doormat. And then a few hours later, I realised that I may be a doormat, but now I’m an angry doormat. Which is something, at least…….