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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Can I even believe anything I tell myself anymore?

Have you ever broken a promise to someone you care about?

It feels terrible. We feel guilt, disappointment, and if you're like me vow to make it up to them however we can.

Why is it not the same when we break a promise to ourselves?

I remember a time, a younger happier time, when anything I decided to do or told myself I was going to do got done. It wasn't an issue. There was no question. If I wanted it I went out and got it. If I told myself I was going to do something it darn well got done. I made decisions, albeit it easier ones than those I face now, with confidence and ease. And once a decision was made, that was it. There was no second guessing, no doubt, no decision paralysis, no problem. Decision made, action taken. Every time.

I don't remember the first time I broke a promise to myself. I wish I did. I wish I could remember if it was hard. If I felt the same guilt, disappointment, and need for redemption that I have felt the times I broke promises to other people. I wish I could remember the second, third, and fourth time as well. I wish I could remember so that I could see just how quickly any negative feelings disappeared. So that I could see just how quickly I went from dependable and constantly following through, to not believing a damn word I say to myself and breaking every promise I ever make to myself.

The loss of trust in myself is bad enough. If it ended there that would, on it's own, be sad, damaging, and darn near incapacitating. Unfortunately, as with most things, it doesn't just end there. When it becomes easy to tell yourself you're going to do something and then just not do it, it also becomes much easier to give in to the evil voice in your head that is Bipolar. It becomes easier to binge eat to stuff down your real feelings, to stop seeing friends so they don't see your decline, to stop cleaning your house because what does it matter, to stop getting out of bed, to stop self-care, to stop exercising, to stop going to work, to just give up. After spending any significant amount of time telling yourself you're going to try and then just not doing it, any conscientious effort to begin trying again is infinitely more difficult.

"I'm going to stop bingeing on junk food, eat healthy regular meals, and start being active again" gets met with "shut up fatty you're too lazy and sugar is delicious, you'll eventually cave and eat a cookie so just eat an entire box right now instead of going for a run".

"I'm going to clean my apartment this week, organize things, and keep it that way" gets laughed at while your front room begins to look like an episode of Hoarders.

"This time I'm not going to get scared and drop out of class, this time I will graduate" may last for a month or two, but is soon replaced by "you're dumb, everyone is laughing at you, even if you do graduate you'll still be sick stupid and useless so just quit now".

"I am going back to work. I am going to be strong, beat this, and take care of myself again" very quickly becomes "don't even try. People will just laugh at you, you're qualified for nothing, you're just gonna screw it up again so why go through the anguish?"

Once you make it nearly impossible to trust anything created in your inner monologue the acts of dreaming and goal setting become non-existent. Early on in the promise breaking you still attempt to have dreams and still attempt to set goals, but once you abandon enough of them you begin to abandon the concepts all together. You don't bother dreaming, what's the point? You stop setting goals, or even being able to think of goals you might want to set.

You then stop making decisions. Without dreams and goals there is no direction, and without direction how do you know what path to take? Without confidence in yourself and your abilities the ability to make even the most simple decisions disappears. Decision paralysis sets in so deeply that your life quite literally stops. You are alive, but there is no action, there is no growth, there is no healing, there is no anything. Years, in fact a decade, can go by and you have no idea where it went or what you actually did for ten years. Suddenly you are ten years older, your kids have grown into teenagers, and it feels like you missed it. There are snapshot memories here and there, but there is no real involvement or appreciation. All of the sudden you are a 25 year old in a 35 year old's body. Everyone around you has grown, changed, accomplished things, but you are no better off and no different than you were in 2002.

That is a very frightening and regretful place to be.

Fear and regrets accomplish absolutely nothing, but when a decade of your life has disappeared before your eyes while stuck in a state of complete inaction it is damn hard not to let them creep in.

The only answer is to jump back into life with two feet. Start with small goals, accomplish them, rebuild your faith in yourself, learn to trust yourself, and learn to feel worthy again. Simple right? Ya, sure. Ask me in another ten years.

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