Stretched Thin to Breaking

Today I feel stretched thin. I feel as if I’m losing touch with parts of myself in the tumult of life. Maybe I lost touch long ago and I’ve been carelessly blabbing into the receiver, not realizing there’s no one on the other end anymore.

I know I lost touch with my body even before the injury. Now I feel so detached from it. This drawing I did shortly after my accident, and like many of my pieces at the time it portrays a disconnect from my lower half. I felt alienated from my body. Trapped in a malfunctioning vessel. And now, searching for ways to reconnect and recover I’m trying to exercise with a focus on wellness. A way to practice self-love instead of a kind of punishment. It’s difficult to make that mental adjustment.

I’ve been working so hard at recovery lately; keeping to routine, filling my days with purposeful tasks, really believing in myself in a way that’s sadly unfamiliar to me. I’ve been enjoying things, little things, that I haven’t appreciated in so long. But things are getting to me in that same old way and looking down from this elevated state I find myself missing the security of the valley floor. At least then I knew I couldn’t get any lower.

Life is scary. Taking risks is incredibly scary. But I’ve realized I’m also very afraid of wasting my life in misery.

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”
― William G.T. Shedd

There are so many times I never even tried to reach for something because I believed it was beyond my reach. Now I’m reaching. I’m believing. And I’m terribly afraid I’ll find out my arms are too short, and they always have been, and they always will be.

This is one of my cognitive distortions. When things stretch infinitely in all directions. There’s no room for change or development. It is what it is.

It’s scary to try, and find out your best isn’t good enough. So I never give my best. But no one starts out a master. And no one starts out depressed or broken. The only constant in life is change and that doesn’t just mean you’re liable to get fired from some jobs or move to a new town or get a new group of friends. We change whether we want to or not. Our brains change. We learn new things and we become new people and it is in our power to decide who we want to be.

We learn to be miserable because it’s natural or safe at some point and it persists and tumbles us down a dark and frightening slope sometimes. It did for me.

We learn to be happy again somehow. It doesn’t happen over night, just like you don’t wake up one day able to play the oboe.

Nothing in the universe is permanent, and as scary as that is, as unnerving, it’s also freeing. You may think sadness or obsessions or fear are who you are, but they’re not. They’re just familiar patterns printed on your neurons and they can be changed. Believe in yourself.

Stretched Thin to Breaking by Camille Willis

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