Encouraged (Isolation)

My restraining order against her has been expired for years and I don’t need another one, yet she still haunts my life and fosters discouragement within me. How to rebuke discouragement? Are we driven by praise? Pride? Regret? Why keep trying? What is discouragement? Perhaps a mild paranoia, a sense of shame, embarrassment— cures are often derived from the poison once analyzed and understood for its base components, so recognizing sources and manifestations of discouragement is key to escaping it. How do I escape this person from my past who won’t let me go?

Paranoia may come from trauma, our internal associations leaping to conclusions based on our history. Our values are eclipsed by our trauma reactions but we can recognize the concealment. If I can realize I’ve strayed from what I believe then I can begin giving less energy to the reaction and more to investigation. What’s familiar? What insecurities are my trauma responses pointing to? What next response best realigns me with my values while still honouring my pain? I struggle to remember I can still validate what I’m going through while simultaneously debunking distorted thinking.

Someone refers me near daily while posting online, someone I was once close to but eventually had to end our contact through court. For years since she’s still posted intimate details of my trauma, posted my surname, and posted her extensive opinions of me; I constantly feel degraded and humiliated and live in dread each day. I rarely write about specific people who are still alive because of this experience, as I wouldn’t wish even a fraction of it upon anyone.

‘She’s reading my blog and laughing at me.’ I think to myself. I fear she’s laughing at my desperate attempts at hope, at the way I write and present myself, at my trust, my effort, at my struggles, at my choice of topics, and I remember. Sometimes I need help remembering. Eventually, something or someone reminds me that the outside sources which cause discouragement within me must be met by an internal source in order to manifest a reaction.

Much of what rises to greet the stressor has little to nothing to do with the subject or context of discouragement. Severe childhood bullying, sexual trauma, damaging relationships, education systems, being autistic, being an artist, many factors have instilled a feeling of inferiority in me. It’s my duty to myself to live according to what makes me happy and feel powerful, and though writing often brings me great stress and insecurity, I’m at my best when I can create and not fear the outside world.

Everything in the world is conducive and hindering, dependending on how you interact with it. What do I care about? I care about being conducive rather than hindering, I care about learning to be better, I care about my quest to trust myself. Finding faith within my values has been my drive, has been what helps me try to rebuke discouragement. My partner said to me, “You don’t laugh at her when you read her writing, you cry. I know you, and if you were in her position I know you wouldn’t ever laugh at what you’ve put out there.”

I worry often that I’m wasting my time with my endeavours, with my hopes and dreams, and of all the influences which cause me such doubt I will not be discouraged by the false power someone has over me.

I must end my self harm addiction of frantically checking what she’s posted, knowing my paranoia stems from the fear she does the same. She will continue to give me reasons and she will continue to goad me and whether I check or don’t won’t make a difference.

I have been struggling to feel any sense of power, living and working with my parents and on a hiatus in therapy while my doctor is on vacation. Under the pressure of my current project, fifty thousand words of poetry, my self confidence has been plummeting and I’ve been wondering if I’m deluded. I’ve always believed I’m destined to write just as I am to make art, regardless whether anyone appreciates it. I appreciate it and I grow and heal from it and that’s what matters, that’s why I do it.

I’m worried, though, that I’m wasting time and energy. These worries directly oppose my beliefs. My most grounded and functional levels of psyche know writing is far from a waste of anything, that being blocked and stagnant germinates self-sabotage. Bearing these anxieties and continuing on is difficult but has been helping me grow as a writer and a creative. 

I care about expression, communication.

I don’t care that I know (“for a fact” the goblin in my brain remind me) many mutual acquaintances in our small local queer community have read what that person has written about me. Parts of me do, the poor goblin does. I don’t have any friends and have always struggled to make them, parts of me tell me I can’t afford anymore social isolation. I don’t care though. 

Am I the reactions born from repeated trauma or am I the person who can be the compassion container for them, once hermetically sealed but now capable of letting these reactions escape without a pressurized explosion? What does this person care about? What do they value?

Why would I care when she romanticizes some of my most desperate and despairing times, bedazzling her second hand perceptions while simultaneously blaming me. The tragedies and violence I experienced and the pain it caused her to be close to me, to feel helpless standing by, this I do care about. I’ve never denied that being close to me would have been inherently traumatizing for most people. I’ve always wished recovery for her just as I know she truly wishes the same for me though her actions have not shown it, just as my actions have not always aligned with my values. However, the things she has said in order to hurt me, lashing out when I’d been distant while still her friend, were of topics I’d never speak about in cruelty.

“You’re right, your body is toxic and your soul is poison.” 

I was still grieving my loss of choice for abortion among all the other surreal grief of accidental pregnancy and miscarriage as a transgender person, and I needed space. There was nothing I could have done. Being open and vulnerable, or being distant and closed off, either would have caused her to hate me. The day I cut her out of my life completely she had told me she wished she’d never met me. I believed her, and I did her the only favour I could. I left. If she felt that way, she should have left a long time ago but she didn’t and she would refuse to let me go.

I did the right thing. I wasn’t able to the right thing perfectly but I don’t owe anyone who treated me with such cruelty and anger an apology for being distant or for leaving. I owe myself forgiveness and I owe it to myself to stop giving her words power. I won’t let go of my values. I won’t let go of what I believe. It took me a long time to stop blaming myself for everything that went wrong.

My values haven’t let me down and I won’t let myself down by believing the paranoia and shame, by being embarrassed by what I extend out to the world, by regretting the time I invest into art and writing, or by being ashamed of who I am and how I struggle. I’m still trying to learn that I don’t need to protect anyone from my PTSD, that I don’t need to hide so as to not burden anyone.

Discouragement sounds mild and fairly benign. However, when it’s left to feed and breed, it’s what leads us down the most terrible spirals of shame, disgust, self hate, and drags our self esteem back into the cage whose lock we’ve been diligently picking. Discouragement can be brushed aside and made to be benign, but only when there is enough sturdy courage to take up resistance.

To break the cycle, I had to be free to refuse and be loved for it. The stars aligned and I re-met someone who’d caused me great suffering in high school who, after extremely intensive therapy, had become the most empathetic and communicative people I’ve ever had the honour of knowing. Upon reconnecting, we immediately became close friends and supported each other through our recoveries for over a year before realizing we were falling in love. I was allowed to be who and what I was without punishment. I was encouraged to live at my own pace. I freely expressed my boundaries and was met with respect.

I’ve been given abundant and undeniable proof that I don’t have to give what I can’t afford, or be what I can’t be, in order to be loved. From the start I was given space to be distant so I would feel comfortable coming home, I was shown compassion when I shut down or shut them out, and I was given endless patience and care.

I was encouraged to be true to myself, to heal at my own pace in my own ways, and I’ve dedicated my healing to being as good of a spouse, friend, lover, and partner.

Within the last four or five years, my life has sublimed with no middle phase, going from the lowest to the best it’s ever been. I’ve given myself permission to leave behind more than one person. Any isolation I experience now is nothing compared to the isolating haze of the life I once lived, one of self abuse and ruination.

In this isolation I have self respect, something I’ve never known until now. Here, I have peace and security. Seeds germinate within a shell to protect from disease and harm in its vulnerable state. 

I’m ready to send out roots and show off my first leaves.

My partner encourages me to reach out and take opportunities to make new connections, but understands that it’s difficult. I would love the honour of calling their friends my own, but I haven’t gathered the courage to build independent bonds with them outside our mutual connection, only speaking to them on occasion though they’re wonderful people whom I admire. My autistic social impairments and deep seated anxiety make reaching out and building relationships challenging now that I’ve stabilized and can’t rely on drugs, alcohol, and chance in order to freely socialize. 

Letting go of the past and remembering what I care about encourages a new way of living.

It’s unsustainable and unfair to rely on one person to make up for a social circle. When I need another opinion, I have to talk to my mother. The biased opinions of a fiancé and a mother cannot build my confidence for me, as much as they work to uplift it so I may construct the foundation and walls. They will be honest, fair, tell me when I’m mistaken, wrong, or have done wrong, but only have their own perspectives to work off. The encouragements, constructive criticisms, and trust between several people is of the group living we started out with in the early days of our species.

I value a vast spectrum of experience, and I want to be someone who can be a good, healthy friend to many. I’m not the person I once was who didn’t believe in the future. My housing situation is stable, I’ve been sober from alcohol for several years, completely sober from everything but cannabis, and I have a hobby of researching social skills.

Isolation isn’t forever. If I let it be soul sucking, it will suck my soul out. If I let it be healing, it will heal me. Moreover, if I don’t choose willingly to leave it, it will never end. It’s my choice to extend my energy outward.

Encouragement comes in many forms. My paranoia regarding how I’m perceived is encouragement to make peace with myself. What could be a hindrance becomes conducive to self knowledge. Medicine from poison. 

In my isolation I’ve learnt the type of person I want to be around and who I want to be. I never in my life expected to live this long and I will make the most of my second chance (every day is a second chance).

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