“And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
This quote from one of my favorite books summarizes the first half of my year – and the aftermath – perfectly. Sometimes, I look at myself in the mirror not to see what I look like, but to wonder how I’m still here. It’s also timely, as it’s been storming for the past few days, and while I love the rain in small doses, I miss my swimming, my morning walks, and being outdoors in general.
While most of my days have been filled with company, and I’ve been keeping myself busy in general since moving to Austin, I spent most of today alone in my house, in the rain, with nothing but TV and my thoughts. And while this might be something I need right now, it’s certainly not what I want right now.
The storm metaphor resonates with me, because – as I’ve talked about recovery before – getting out of the major storm doesn’t mean there won’t be smaller storms you won’t have to weather along the way. There are very few things about being alive that are predictable, and some of the storms you don’t see coming will be easier to push through than others.
When something like this happens, I try to scan my thoughts and reactions to see if there are ways I could be treating myself and others better. Feeling shitty in a general sense might be an inconvenience, but when an inevitable storm approaches, it’s also the best time to ask myself if I’ve been handling a situation poorly or need a change of perspective on something.
Usually, the hardest part about being alone with my thoughts for an extended period of time is the realization that I don’t give myself the same compassion that I extend to others. It’s not always easy to convince myself I deserve to be treated well after going through an extended rut. I overanalyze interactions I have with people I know enjoy my company, yet when I get in my head, I tend to assume the worst instead of what’s most likely true.
I’ve been writing about my experiences with recovering from anxiety and PTSD since February, and whenever people contact me to say I’ve described exactly how they feel, I’m still surprised, even though it happens all the time. I’m constantly being reminded that I’m not the only one who feels this way and that there’s nothing that sets me apart when it comes to my anxiety. My anxiety is the least interesting, least unique part of me – every thought I’ve worried about, millions of others have ruminated on their own version of that same thought.
And way more often than not, it’s been a complete waste of energy. So instead, even in the middle of this storm, I’m going to be grateful for all of the times I’ve been wrong in doubting myself. I’m going to be proud of all of the excruciating bullshit I’ve waded through only to find light on the other side.
As always, if anyone feels like reaching out, even if we don’t talk that much or know each other that well, feel free to do so. If there’s anything I can do with my brief time on this planet, I hope I can spread empathy and let anyone who needs to hear it know that they are excellent and deserve to be happy.