Corsica Pt. 3: Lessons (hopefully) Learned

leifleifleifHi. I leave Corsica tomorrow morning. I’ll take the ferry to Italy and catch a ride to Florence, where I’ll probably stay for a week, more or less. Then Rome. Then Venice. Then, if things work out with Petter and his family, I’ll start making my way to Sweden and stay with Petter for a week.

Corsica has been intense. The first week was a blast, but in a pseudo-manic way. I was diagnosed with bipolar spectrum sometime last year and have been in denial about it since then, but I’m starting to see truth in the diagnosis. It’s incredibly painful to admit, especially when my list of diagnoses is as long as it already is. PTSD, dysthymia, Borderline Personality Disorder, substance abuse, major depression, etc.

It fucking sucks. I’m so tired of feeling crazy. I’m so tired of my brain.

But what can I do? Pretend to be okay while the thoughts and feelings continue to plague me internally? I tried that with Dustin. I tried to prove that I was normal and sane and ready to be stable. And then I exploded.

Dustin was wonderful to me in so many ways, but we fed something toxic in each other. Our nights were spent watching four hours of TV, not talking to each other except when we ate dinner. Perhaps if I weren’t so caught up in mental torment, things would have been different, but I was hurting and didn’t know how to express it, so I numbed it with TV shows and food and endless hours of Candy Crush (at least I didn’t send y’all Facebook requests). We lost our ability to communicate. I tried to tell him that I was suffering, but he didn’t know how to handle it. At the end of our relationship, we were smoking weed all day, everyday. We weren’t having sex. We were barely talking. I retreated into my shell, silencing the voice that said, “you’re making the wrong decision.”

And because I had bottled things up for so long, the intense emotions that I had suppressed burst out like a flame in a forest, burning everything beautiful to the ground.

I am so fucking ashamed.

I feel like I’ve let my friends down. I’ve had multiple people express that they feel they’ve been pushed to the side, replaced, that they’re just another chapter in my fucked up life narrative. I wish I could say something to alleviate those feelings, but I don’t know how. All I can say is that it’s not intentional. I am at war with myself. I love my friends so dearly, but I can’t give you guys the attention you crave and deserve until I learn how to give myself some of the love I try to share with you. I am a log in a river. You can’t stand on me yet. I’m rolling in circles, floating downstream, sometimes getting lodged in rocks and providing stability, but soon swept away again. I need to float down this river by myself for a while. I need to stop trying so hard to keep everyone else afloat while I stumble and flail and fail to take in the scenery. I’m sorry if that means I lose some of you. Please know that I’m not trying to hurt you — I am trying to save myself.

Actually, I just spent some time thinking about this in the shower, where all important ideas are born, and realized that I treat my friends like this because I don’t trust that they love me. I assume you all see me in the same way I see myself and are therefore lying when you express love for me. Trying to convince people who clearly don’t love me to love me somehow feels safer because it’s what I know and because it allows me to act like someone else. When I do get close to experiencing genuine love, I run from it. I don’t want you to see who I really am. But the funny thing is that by acting this way, I’m inadvertantly exposing you to it. I know most of you can see right through me.

 I reached a bottom yesterday. The night prior, I wrote Gorgonzola a letter, apologizing yet again and trying to explain why my actions look like insanity. He read it. I asked him what he thought. He said, for him, sex can be meaningless. He said I am the most complicated person at the Potager. He said no one else requires these long, confusing, dramatic conversations. He’s right.

I have been here so many times. I was here in Africa — the most complicated, needy, unstable, and disliked person on the trip. I was here in high school — friendless because I was too intense, too emotional. I was here in middle school — in the special ed class because human beings terrified me and I was too sensitive to be around them. I was here as a child — freaking out at a sleepover party and sending my friends home because someone hurt my feelings. I was here in treatment — so desperate to be loved that I scared people. And I’m here today. Too intense. Too intense. Too intense.

As it stands, my existence depends on validation from other people. Compliments, reassurance, and validation through sex are my drugs. I need at least five to ten fixes a day to survive. Otherwise, I am the scared child in the closet, screaming for help. I am no one and nothing. I am empty.

This is not working. It never has.

Yesterday, I took some hours off in the morning to dedicate to planning my trip. The owner said it was fine. When the trip planning was over, I went to my room and fell asleep without checking in about when I should come back. The owner was angry. She sent one of the Austrian girls to wake me up. I came back, started on the dishes, and tried to numb away the tension I could feel from fifteen feet away.

I pulled the owner aside after lunch.

“I just wanted to say that I’m sorry I disappeared this morning. I didn’t know when I was supposed to come back or that you needed me because you said I could take as much time as I needed.”

“Yes, but we had a lunch service today.”

“I know, I’m sorry I didn’t check in first.”

“It’s fine, but that’s why I was pissed. And I feel like since Lukas and Sarah left, you don’t find the Potager fun anymore, which is why you’re leaving. I am disappointed that we are not fun for you. And I think your relationship with Gorgonzola is part of why you’re leaving, too. Your emotions change based on how he treats you. We can all see this.”

“Yeah. But I’m not just leaving because of Gorgonzola. I feel like a chapter has ended.”

“I understand that, but I am worried about you. You are so intense. Your feelings are up here and then down here and no one knows what to expect. I think that is what scared Gorgonzola. You need too much from people. You need to start finding these things in yourself.”

“I know, I’m like a child.”

“Yes, you’re like a child. But you are 24 years old. You are a woman, not a child. You need to stop moving so fast. You’re like a bull. You need to take time to reflect before acting. And I want you to know that men are not the solution to this. You need to stop caring what others think and help yourself. But what do I know? I have only seen one piece of you in these two weeks.”

And this. Always this: “You are too intense.”

These words have followed me throughout my entire life. What do I do about it? Do I spend twelve hours a day meditating? Do I crawl into a cave and live with stalagmites and centipedes for the rest of my life?

No, I start with little things. I start with five minutes of meditation. I start with five fewer cigarettes. I start cutting back on caffeine.

I start challenging my thoughts. I start lowering the intensity of my feelings.

I felt a strange sense of relief after my conversation with the owner. Maybe it was numbness, I’m not sure, but she said all of the things I didn’t want to admit to myself. I had reached the low point. I had been exposed to the truth I was trying so hard to run from. It hurt like fucking hell, but it’s reality. I am too intense. I’m an emotional roller coaster. I make so. many. mistakes.

I don’t understand my friends who have stuck around for so long. I was thinking about it the other day, and realized that I would not be friends with me if I were to meet myself. That is a very uncomfortable thing to say.

So thank you. Thank you for putting up with my bullshit. Thank you for reading this. Thank you for having faith in me.

And thank you, body, for surviving this long. Thank you, heart, for continuing to beat. Thank you, universe, for letting me wake up with the opportunity to try again. I am really trying. I really fucking am.

I dreamt last night that I took a flight home instead of continuing my travels and it terrified me. I know a lot of you are worried. I am, too. But I know there’s something I need to find. I know I can’t give up yet.

Dear God/universe/whoever, show me the way, show me the light, show me the truth. Please, God, teach me how to love myself.

As the owner of the Potager said at the end of our conversation, “no, you are not ready to go home yet. You are not mature enough. You are looking for and need to find peace.”

Dear God/universe/plants and animals and rivers and oceans, please take my hand and guide me. Please show me peace.

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10 thoughts on “Corsica Pt. 3: Lessons (hopefully) Learned

  1. What level were you on? I’ve lost many many many hours to crushing candy, but not until I maxed out jewel mania. Those games are like crack and the developers know this.

    Also, I like this owner. She sounds cool. And I also really like your metaphors, but don’t let these compliments enable the addiction. Keep up the good work. You can do this!

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