Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's not actually that I lie....

I have been accused recently (and throughout the last 20 years actually) of lying. I have even termed my actions in my own head from time to time as lying. But that's not exactly accurate. I guess in the strictest sense my actions could be termed lies of omission, but as there is absolutely zero malice aforethought, or malicious intent I am uncomfortable with classifying them as such.

See what I really do is hide. Not lie, but hide.

Driven perhaps by fear, shame, disappointment, or a need for protection. I started out life incredibly gifted. Both intellectually and athletically. I was even rather cute so I guess you could say I had it all. I was gifted, lucky, and incredibly happy. Unfortunately such gifts and good fortune tend to bring about jealousy in others. My first experience with this came at the age of 8 or 9. I was in grade four and was verbally attacked at recess for not dressing like everyone else in my one-horse prairie hick town. I was mocked and told I was a snob because I had left the tiny local gymnastics club in order to train and compete with a club "in the city". At 9 years of age I was told that what I liked was stupid, and going after my goals was ridiculous. I didn't realize at the time how much this affected me. I wish that I could say I got past it and thrived despite it, but I didn't.

The bullying continued. For some reason I seemed to attract friends who found it easier to be jealous than supportive. It all came to a head in high school when my already shaky self-esteem took a hit from a friend from it it would never recover. This blow triggered repressed memories, leading to to PTSD, and eventually a diagnosis of Bipolar 2 disorder in my early 20's.

I am sad to say that at 35 years of age, my self-esteem has never recovered. I am still that 9 year old. Sitting on the swings crying. Wondering what on earth is so wrong with my outfit. And why anyone would ever think going to gymnastics and wanting to do well is a bad thing.

So I hide. I choose what and how much of myself, my life, and my reality at any given point I reveal to every individual in my life.

No one knows 100 percent. No one. The last person who knew about 90 percent broke my heart and left me. So right now no one even knows much more than half.

And which half they know depends on who they are. There are people I've never met and probably never will meet that know more about my current mindset and mental health than my family will ever know. I can't do that to them. I'll feel like I'm letting them down. Like I'm hurting them. Again.

I moved to Vancouver just over two years ago for a fresh start. For a change that was supposed to turn things around and get me out of the rut that rural Saskatchewan and bipolar had sucked me into. New province, new rut. My family doesn't know this. I can't disappoint them. And I cannot let my parents know that there are still days, more days than I wish to admit, that I feel like nose-diving straight off the Cambie Bridge. I can't do that to them. I can't cause them anymore pain. My mother sat at my bedside day and night for nearly 4 days while machines breathed for me after I became too weak to go on. I cannot cause them pain or concern. I've put them through too much. Whether my fault or not, their false belief that I am well and life is good makes them happy and gives them hope. I feel like I owe them that much.

I edit myself with my friends, what few I have, as well. I have enough trouble believing that anyone would ever willingly spend time with me or like me, so I reveal the pieces of me that I think will be appealing to whomever I'm with. I never make things up, or pretend to be something I'm not. I just only let out the pieces of my true self I feel will be the most appealing, or least offensive to my present company.

As you can guess, this is not a very good way to meet new people or maintain meaningful relationships so I spend a inordinate, and most likely damaging amount of time alone. And I hide there too.

I hide in my house because it is easier than going out into the world to risk judgment and failure. I hide in my bed because it is a cocoon of protection and denial that keeps me from realizing how much time I'm wasting being afraid. And I hide from my thoughts which are often frightening or judgmental, but even when they are inspired and positive manage to make me feel guilty for never acting on them or following through.

I hide because it is safe.

I hide because there is less risk.

I hide because even I don't know what or who I really am. Or what it is I really want.

I hide because I am ashamed and afraid.

And I hide because it is easier.

I am sick of taking the easy way out.


So often brilliance and madness intersect. I was shamed for my brilliance so I hide in my madness. I use it as a shield, an escape. I must find my brilliance once again. It does not lie in science and math the way it used to. Over the years my experiences have morphed it into something else, changed its focus. The trick is finding it again.

Where did the brilliance go? And how can I use it well? I am convinced that the path to recovery and survival lies here.

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