Change Is Paralyzing

Change is terrifying.

I think anyone and everyone can attest to this.

No one likes change (not initially anyway) and for someone like me, who has been through a lot of traumatic times in my life, who struggles with separation anxiety disorder and a deep sense of abandonment through various periods of my life, change is downright debilitating. At times, I am so overwhelmed by the sheer notion of change that I am paralyzed with fear.

I don’t fear death. I don’t fear injuries. I fear change. I fear abandonment. I fear above all else, the sting of loneliness that no physical presence can cure – the kind of loneliness that happens only when no one cares about you.

So with the change comes all those fears.

Whenever something in my life changes, I fight tooth and nail to hang on to what I know to be familiar.

Lately, familiarity has been forcefully thrown out the window as a result of many changes in my life. I know as a Christian I should rely on God as my rock but a lot of times, He feels so intangible that it’s hard for me to cling on to him. So instead, I cling on to things I can see, feel, hear, touch, smell – I know it’s fallible, yes, but it’s all I have right now so I’m going to have to go with it.

For one, S has been on vacation for the past 2 weeks and I’ve been really missing him. In his stead, he had appointed J to help mitigate my emotional instability. Last week, he helped me reason through my suicidality and this week, he helped me realize something important about the dependence I have on people (he helped me see that just because someone is no longer there physically in my life, that it doesn’t mean that they don’t still care for me, and that they don’t still have a connection to me – this was very important because lately I’ve been feeling like I’m unimportant in everyone’s lives because I can never get a hold of someone when I really need them. That my messages are often not responded to). Despite having J’s help, I really need S because he provides the familiarity that keeps me functioning despite my emotional instability.

I told J today that in an analogy of a someone trapped in a raging river that’s threatening to sweep them away, that S is actually like the rock in the middle of all that that the person can hang on to. In that analogy, I’m the person that’s trapped in the raging river – all my emotions are threatening to sweep me away. Most times, I contemplate suicide over facing these overwhelming emotions because it’s so much easier to stop feeling. Being swept away would mean giving up – letting the current take me. Having S keeps me steady. I slip time and time again but even if I still have on finger on the rock, I’m still hanging on. S is my rock. And having S on vacation means that temporarily, I have no rock to hang on to. I’m slowly getting swept away. J is like the errant vine that I hang on to temporarily while I try to get back on solid ground. Solid ground will be back next week – familiarity that I need. Every Wednesday, at 10am, I spend an hour with S. I watch him react to what I say, hear his words echoed in my head, feel his warmth and compassion, enjoy his attention and care.

I’ve been packing my things into boxes and I’m overwhelmed by the number of things that I’ve amassed in 4 and a half years of being here in the States. And these are things that I’ve already condensed from my previous moves. So for me to still have boxes upon boxes of things really irks me. I am agitated by the amount of things I have to consolidate – my mental energy being expended on nostalgic reminiscing, and into trying to organize and decide what to keep and what to throw.

I’m going to lose this familiarity pretty soon. I know it’s for the best. I am mature enough to realize that change is good. Yet, the child can’t. The child hates it. The child rued the day she moved from the home she grew up in and lived in for 6 years. She rued the day she moved from the second home she spent most of her childhood and teenhood in. She rues every single day she has to move. She is so deeply dependent on familiarity that any little thing that changes it upsets her greatly.

Anyway, I’m going through a lot of changes – things that I wish could slow down a little so that I can take a breath of air but the river doesn’t flow like that. The river is relentless and if I don’t learn to tread water, I’ll surely drown. I’m learning to tread water. Slowly, little by little, I’m gaining the strength to climb up onto the rock. Eventually, I’ll have enough strength to swim against the current and go to shore. Eventually, I won’t need the rock to keep me afloat any longer. Eventually, the rock will be the very thing that will help me gain enough footing and strength to leave it.

After my conversation with J today, and after learning that people are still there and they still care for me even if they haven’t talked to me for a while because there exist genuine connections between myself and these people, I was able to come home and start packing. I’ve been putting it off for 2 and a half weeks now.

I packed 3 boxes full of school material and books that I can’t get rid of, and now I’m taking a respite from the overwhelming emotions I’m experiencing. I had a moment of tears when I found the farewell card that my brother had written me 5 years ago when I left Malaysia – my heart felt torn to shred as I read his sweet words – but that was it, just one moment. I know I’m getting stronger. I can feel myself getting stronger. I am crying less lately. I don’t feel as overwhelmed as I did 2 weeks ago. The desire to end my life still lingers and comes out fully when triggered.

Yes, I did cut myself again this morning but that was after an intense trigger and I’d just reached for the hunting knife I’d kept in my pocket. I’d like to believe that I have more sense now – especially after speaking to J. This had happened at 11am this morning. Had I kept my appointment with J at the time that I was supposed to at 10am, I wouldn’t have done it, but because I had to push my appointment back to 4pm, I had no buffer for my sudden fear/anger/sadness. So I reached for the knife. Oh child, I wish I’d paid you more attention. I’m sorry that you felt like you needed to hurt me to get my attention. But it’s okay now. I’m listening. 

I have a much clearer state of mind now. After realizing that things with JS (Ex) were never meant to work out the way I had wanted it to (happily ever after), and that it’s ok that it didn’t, I’m much calmer. When J pointed out that it’s not his presence that I yearn, but rather the connection, and that his connection with me as the greatest friends anyone could ever have is genuine, I realized how selfish and blinded I’d been all this time.

I wanted him to be around – even if it meant that both of us were miserable in the process. That was what happened for years. I refused to acknowledge the fear that I had that was keeping us together. I refused to allow anything other than the notion of happily ever after to exist – even when it wasn’t happy. For the most part, it wasn’t ever happy. I lied to him. I lied to myself. I thought I was happy. I couldn’t figure out why I was always angry. Now I know.

It’s because change is paralyzing. Anything other than the notions that I’ve constructed for myself, I had nothing else going for me. Without this happily ever after, I was just a person struggling with her sexuality and her faith, I was just a shell of a person, I was just the person that tries hard to live up to everyone’s expectations and fails, I was just me. Without JS, I was just sad, and broken me.

I see now that my worth is not tied to anyone. That his worth is not tied to mine either. That just because our relationship didn’t work in the form of marriage, that it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work in other forms. I have learned in the past few months that we’re better friends than we ever were as a couple.

I have also learned that just because I was married to him, it doesn’t mean that it took away all my struggles with my sexuality. In fact, it amplified it and made it all the more apparent that I was merely struggling to appear “normal”. If I could turn straight, I would. I think it’s what I’ve always wanted. To just fit in. To just be normal. The more I realize that I can’t do that, the more distressing it is. Believe me, no one wanted this marriage to work more than I did.

Change has come upon me and I need to accept that I can either be dragged away by it, kicking and screaming, or I can be cooperative, and have a good time with it, while learning important life strengthening lessons. The adult needs to convince the child that it’s ok to choose the latter because the people who matter the most to me, will still be there for me because of connections that are genuine.

The child needs to also realize that her favorite person in the world, S, will be back next week. So calm the heck down, child!

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