These lines came from a dream I had last night and it’s spawned a million little whirlwinds of thought. One of them is the following:
I feel like I’ve spent most of my life running. It was almost always running away from something. Running toward something has always seemed like a luxury. Running from the past; running from fears; running to avoid the feeling of being trapped; running away from the realization of mediocrity; running because a moving target is harder to hit.
I’ve struggled with depression since I was a child, although it was a long time before I was able to recognize it for what it was. For a long time I just thought I was an extremely sad person. It wasn’t until sometime in my early 20s that I caught glimpses of another way of being. I am self-reflective, ruminative, sentimental, and overly-sensitive and these characteristics can bring on frequent bouts of sadness, but I have gradually discovered that the true me is rather…joyful. For lack of a better word.
I was still very much learning this about myself when, around the age of 24, I could feel an overwhelming blackness trying to overtake me. I felt like inside of my own brain I was running, running, ducking, dodging—trying to get out of it’s way. Trying to hide inside my own head, in a sense. I felt completely powerless over my life. I worried that there wasn’t enough love in the world to fill me up, that I would always be this big, black well: the bottom of which no eyes would ever see into. The vast expanse of emptiness was overwhelming.
I finally admitted to myself that I should probably talk to someone about these things. And when I did, I likened the running to trying to run out from under a tidal wave: the shadow is looming over you and it’s growing larger and larger behind your back and all you can do is try to get away. He said, “What would happen if you stopped running? Maybe it won’t be as bad as you think.”
I did. It was. And no one that loved me knew how to help me. I didn't know how to help myself.
I smiled all the time because I didn’t know what else to do.
One day I was leaving the psychology department where I went to school, and I passed my advisor, Faye, on the way out the front door. On that bleak winter day I was feeling more like an empty shell than ever. I smiled and said hello to her, and she said, “Amie, you have the prettiest smile. You’re always smiling about something.” Without thinking, I blurted out, “It’s completely fake,” and kept walking out the door marveling at what I’d just admitted and, yet, still feeling nothing, nothing.
I’ve come a long, long way since then. Much of it came by allowing myself to admit that I needed to make some changes in my life. That I needed to feel some sense of control over where I was going and what I was doing, over who got pieces of me and who didn’t.
I’ve never quite been able to shake the sense of running, though. It feels like as long as I keep running I can always chalk not having what I want up to the search, and not admit that it’s actually me that could be the problem.
My dream last night where I said, “Okay. I’ll stop running. I give up” is particularly poignant to me because I’ve never actually been able to utter those words until that moment in that dream.
I guess I feel ready to be found.