Thursday, August 11, 2011


"Experience has taught me this, that we undo ourselves by impatience.  Misfortunes have their life and their limits, their sickness and their health." ~ Michel de Montaigne

This entry is going to delve into a bit more personal territory, but for more reasons than one, I'm going to try and find a balance in its level of exposure.

Patience in healing, overcoming fixation and relearning have been three prominent concepts rolling around in my head and heart these days. The reason why really goes back quite a ways ...

When I was a teenager, there was a relatively lengthy period of time where I fell into a pretty dark depression. I believe in hindsight, the "dark" factor was in part due to relatively common teen angst compounded by hormone changes and perhaps genetics (there's depression and anxiety in my family, though I was unaware of it at that age).  But it was also during a time when school violence (Columbine), bullying and racial fights were high, at least in my school system. 
I used to essentially wake up every morning angry for having to be up that early and go to a school where I couldn't stand most of my class and felt misunderstood by virtually everyone. I'd wake up, skip breakfast, not eat much for lunch, come home and go to sleep. At that time, sleep was my escape. I also wrote some pretty dark, twisted stuff in those days.

Then, shortly after I turned 18, I had a bad experience at a party where I was taken advantage of by a guy who was 26 years old. Slowly, my depression flipped to anxiety and it was around this time (I was 19) that I went to counseling at Tri-C. My counselor was a woman probably in her late 20s or very early 30s who helped me work through a lot of my anxiety. She explained that depression and anxiety are more related than people may think and that you can, indeed, have both, but one often overlays the other. In my case, my depression had been overtaken by social anxiety at that point. The twisted part of this is, I'd gotten so used this constant drone of melancholy that part of me felt abnormal during any good days that I did have. I would morbidly miss that depressive feeling because it had become a familiar companion for so long and I sought out comfort and familiarity at that time.

The reason I'm going this far back is, after that incident at that party, I had to virtually rebuild my self esteem, self confidence and self respect. My ever-so-patient and respectful boyfriend at the time was invaluable to me and that process in ways I'm not sure I'll ever be able to express in words. But I'm a definite believer that the people in our lives during moments of trial, of growth, challenge, happiness, whatever the case may be, they are in our lives for a reason. And in this case, without a doubt, he was everything I needed then and remained so for years to follow in so many other ways.

Another part of anxiety is fixation. So, at that time, I would fixate on various situations or people or memories that were or had become a source of anxiety. Little by little, one by one, I faced these sources, albeit sometimes at the pace of molasses. Then, when I moved away to Bowling Green to finish out my Bachelor's Degree, I was forced to face a lot of other challenges, such as living on my own -- though I had my boyfriend with me, which definitely helped that transition -- and forced to obliterate any qualms or social fears I'd ever had before by my job as a student journalist. In those early years of my 20s, I became a much stronger, happier, more content woman and no longer a frightened, angry, depressed teenager. 

However, a great deal has happened to me since then and I will say that the depths I tumbled to made those dismal days of my teenage years look like child's play. Someone once spoke these words to me: "Cassandra, the only thing I can say to you is, do not lose yourself." While the context in which these words were said to me may give them more meaning, I will say this much, whether it's a person, an unhealthy or abusive situation, a trying time, a job, or multiple situations, whatever the case may be, I realize now more than ever how easy it is to lose myself. Back then, it wasn't that her words fell on deaf ears, I just didn't realize how far gone I already was.

Whether you've been scarred or abused by something or someone, whether you've lost someone and lost yourself in the process or even if you've simply witnessed the former in those around you, I would hope those reading could relate to these things in some way. Because, like a weeping willow amidst uncertain winds, I continue to have moments of forward bending as well as my fair share of backward bending. And part of me hopes I'm not alone. 

And just like I held onto the comfort of depression all those years back, I sometimes find myself sickly fixating and holding onto my more recent sources of anxiety, fear and pain because they'd been such a prominent, powerful presence in my life for so long, I'd forgotten who I was or could be without them. So now, during the days when this tug-o-war continues in my mind, I have to remember that I have already made strides, some of them ... truly, most of them, only known to myself. For, during those years I was lost, only I really know the things I failed at then and have overcome now.

But relearning, that's been the trickiest part so far. They say once you learn something, the relearning is easier, such as cursive hand-writing, long division, stick shift or an instrument. Like the cliche, "It comes right back to you." But when it comes to relearning yourself, who you truly are, what you have to offer, your self respect, confidence and inner beauty, it doesn't come back quite so quickly.

So, to return to Montaigne's quote ... Impatience, whether in myself or being expressed by those around me, can easily unravel me, bending me backward a bit. But what I realized today is, I don't have to let it undo me. Because the truth is -- misfortunes, scars, periods of strife,  they do have their lifeline, yes, but like anything in this world, they are not without limit. And though they will exude their share of illness ... 

If allowed to, those misfortunes have the power to nourish.
~ C ~ 


  1. In case you didn't know, I love you and treasure you and seeing you talk so openly about such difficult things like this is only one of the many reasons I'm so blessed to have you in my life.

  2. Oh Chan, I'm having a hard enough time keeping it emotionally together as it is;-) Thank you, I love you, too. Not like you don't already know this, but when I talked about the people in our lives being in them for a reason ... you're one of the ones I was referring to <3