If I look back, I am lost.
the above is a quote from the ever-popular character of daenerys targaryen in the song of ice and fire books written by george r. r. martin. throughout the books, we go on a journey with daenerys, as she is thrust unceremoniously into a very adult (albiet highly fantastical) life. we follow her as she attempts to navigate not only her hostile environment but the people who surround her, their intentions and what, if any, end goals she should be focusing on.
the phrase touched me when I read the books, resonating with me as I wander through my own journey of self-discovery and healing. I have a large tendency to over-analyse and dissect in an unhealthy way; I attempt to break these negative thought patterns using things I learn in therapy, though a lot of the time it feels like replacing one over-analytical stream of thought with another. at present it feels like my thoughts are just an endless barrage of questions; whys, what ifs and hows chatter relentlessly away as I try to navigate grown-up life.
a recent obsession that has been festering away is the fear that I will never “cope” with life, that I will never “get better”, that I will continue to be hurled and burled through life on an emotional rollercoaster, with no semblance of achievement or satisfaction to be found, no more true loves to be had, no enjoyment of anything for too long lest it become too stressful, too difficult, too triggering. the mere thought absolutely terrifies me to say the least, and my anxious brain works its hardest to find unequivocal proof that this is certainly the path I will be forced to tread. attempts to control and relieve the anxiety brought by this particular stream of thought generally manifest in hours spent googling and researching, desperately throwing unanswerable questions into the echo chamber of the internet, hoping to find some magic words, some proven theory that will provide me with the reassurance I so urgently crave. psychological theory, psychiatry research papers, comments sections and self-help articles of varying quality; they all get consumed, processed, churned out and considered as evidence. I think back to the very darkest times of my life and constantly self-assess to see whether I’m feeling now as I felt then, whether I’m hurtling head-first back into that terrifying black chasm of helplessness and despair.
it is prudent to remind myself that self-assessment was not my strong point when I was stuck in the aforementioned chasm; I had no questions, because I had almost completely accepted my “fate”, my fate being that the only real answer to my emotional suffering was death. It is quite the opposite now. the questions nowadays never seem to stop coming, but none of those questions are “how to tie a noose” or “painless ways to die”. recalling memories of that time are utterly painful, and I feel sad for myself, and those who lived through it with me. I have come a long way, but it appears there are still hurdles to jump over and knots to unpick.
so I shall keep going forward. I shall keep trying. if I look back, I am lost, and playing psycho-detective will amount to nothing if not further pathologizing of perfectly normal human experience, which I don’t think is a good thing (although at this point I could probably sit a Bachelors psychology paper and pass it, so that’s something). I’m just a human; a big soggy bag of flesh and bones and organs and electricity; and I truly believe that nothing except personal peace and happiness are important. we are one tiny dot, in a vast ocean-sky of planets and solar systems and galaxies and possibly universes. our lifetimes are breath on the skin of the world, let alone the universe; our supposed failure and suffering are eternally meaningless in the scheme of things. we feel important, but that doesn’t make us happy or peaceful. we should do for the pleasure of doing; be kind for the pleasure of kindness. to be clear, this is not some hedonistic analogy; you won’t be happy or peaceful if you spend your days chasing chemical highs and being a cunt to people you sleep with in the name of “absolute pleasure”. cruel people are cruel, and lost people are lost, because they suffer inwardly and place excessive responsibility on external experiences and objects (and their effects) for their inner own peace and happiness.
the key, I believe, is to live outwardly, and reap inwardly. to absorb the joy of the world, of living, of being here, now, at this very moment. to be child-like, to accept the utterly bizarre systems humans have brought upon themselves (like council tax) and fret not over what you achieve, but what you learn, and just be.
when your brain starts ticking with questions, with self-doubt, with suffering and memory;
remember, just to be.