“What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.”
― Kobayashi Issa
The death of life
Spring Equinox symbolizes a new beginning. In the Northern Hemisphere, after the winter comes to an end, it marks the return of the light. In many cultures, We are encouraged to attune to this energy by coming out of our cocoon and plant the seeds of new beginnings. For me, this is the perfect time to reflect and reset. What intentions or resolutions have fallen to the wayside since January 1? Now is the time to reprioritize and realign myself (again).
It is funny to think that my last mental breakdown also occurred around the end of Winter two years ago — March 2019. The cause of the breakdown is also the same = the end of a relationship. By now, I should’ve known and seen a pattern. It has been emphasized by my friends and sisters too. It was always a relationship problem that became my downfall. I was always able to cope with other kinds of stresses, from job, life, to family stresses, but I was debilitated when it comes to relationships. The relationship's pressure would bleed to every aspect that it became a nuisance to my daily life. I was delaying to-do-lists, unable to concentrate, hate waking up in the morning, and became easily irritated by everything.
I was also disassociating. I ‘checked out’ from my reality and experienced depersonalization. I feel as though I am watching myself in a movie or looking at myself from the outside. Every day feels like a blur, and for a control freak and anxious person like me, it feels like a nightmare because I think I have no control over my life. Every time I’ve reached this point, I became suicidal.
And I finally relapsed back. Yesterday morning I felt that I couldn’t get out of bed and there’s no point in it. It was a familiar feeling. I’ve felt like that before. Two years ago, I was trapped in a limbo between not wanting to live and not knowing how to die.
And so I am back at Square One, and I am extremely terrified.
After March 2019, I worked hard to get better. I went to a routine check-up with my psychiatrist, abstained from alcohol, took my prescribed medications, focused on my studies, and finally did psychotherapy. It went on from April to June 2019, until I have to go home to Indonesia. By July 2019, I felt a lot better. I’ve stopped my medications; I was able to secure a job just a month after I went home to Indonesia; I was surrounded by my family and friends again. But, there was still a void in my life: it was the absence of a relationship. Until now, I still can’t answer why it is so hard for me not to be in a relationship even though I know that the stresses and baggage were unnecessary to my relatively stable life. I would always quickly fell to someone who shows the slightest bit of attention and cares to me even though eventually I realized that the relationship has no added value to my life; if anything, it lessens it. But I think, I am always so afraid of loneliness, of not finding the one, that I jumped into anyone who wants to be with me without even asking if I want to be with that person.
Three particular relationships after 2019 scarred me. Of course, my first instinct is to blame the other party, but eventually, I find that I can’t blame anyone but myself. With my free will, I was the one who decided to enter the relationship despite knowing that it wasn’t what I’m looking for. I poured my soul and heart into it — learning to be selfless, patient, and nurturing. All those three qualities are not my inherent qualities. I became someone that I am not comfortable with, and in the moment of conflict, I became the monster that I hate. All the repressed feelings, all the assumptions that if I tolerate someone's flaws, they will tolerate mine as well, came to the surface. And if there’s anything that I hate about myself is the fact that I know just which buttons or words to say to someone to hurt someone else.
I am toxic and emotionally abusive, and it immensely breaks my heart knowing that I’ve let my traumas ruin other people’s life and add to their existing traumas.
I need to stop.
I want to stop.
All this time, I just want to give this tremendous amount of love I’ve shared to my family and friends to my significant other. And yet, my unresolved traumas eventually overwhelm everything, and I became another toxic person in someone else’s narration. The realization that I was an asshole rots me from the inside slowly. Added by the equally hurtful words, accusations, and judgments from people whom I thought would accept me,
I can’t think of anything except that I am a piece of shit with no hopes of getting better.
The phoenix rises
It’s funny that one of the people I dated thought I was a bitter and negative person. I should’ve known by then. It was evident that she knows nothing about who I am.
The friends that I have been with for decades would know just how brutally damaged and scarred I have been — and they know that every time, I would rise, again and again. I would not preach about life free from pain. Because life is full of pain, there’s no way to rid yourself of it. The mere existence of yourself is already painful; we were brought to this world, without our consent, I may add, inherently aimless and had to find meaning without any hint. Isn’t that just terrible?
I still believe this: pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
I don’t hate my breakdown; I see it as necessary. I don’t hate any of my failed relationships; I see it as necessary. I don’t hate the unfairness of the world; I see it as necessary too. Without all those, I would not have reached a point where I thought something needs to change. The breakdown is a signal for transformation. It always is. And I’ve been on this journey several times now: 2012, 2019, 2021. Whenever I thought this is the end of it and there is no point in it anymore. I remembered my best friend, who kept saying to me:
“You’ve been through the worst episode of your life: the death of your father. Everything else from there on are treasured lessons.”
This Spring Equinox, I learned yet another treasured lesson. I was again at the brink of death, and that only means one thing: the phoenix has to die, so it can rises up from the ashes.