If I lose myself, I’ll lose it all…
If sudden realizations were a physical thing, I think I would be severely bruised. But since they are thoughts in our heads or words we hear, the bruising is internal. And lately I feel like I need some stitches for all the wounds. Hey Friend, it’s been a minute. Fancy a drink?
These four lonely walls have changed the way I feel
The way I feel, I’m standing still.
The silence speaks louder than words, as I stare at the liquor cabinet. As if the time suddenly slowed down, making the simplest decisions very difficult. This past week was full of these internal blows, you know? I am almost tempted to say I feel like a survivor, but you should’ve seen the other guy. That comment makes you smile, as I finally pick the bottle of whatever.
Exactly 7 days ago, but a few hours later – in the evening – I had a gigantic panic attack, caused by our good colleague, imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon where essentially you start doubting your skills, talents, or accomplishments. You experience persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud. It is common, and there are several ways to deal with it.
None of which I could remember at that time, you know? I forgot how to breathe, I forgot that oxygen actually helps me stay alive, and maybe, just maybe… Ice or no ice? Ice, then. These small cubes feel almost alive, dancing between my fingers.
Funny how our brains work, you know? Because this imposter syndrome is nothing else but my reptilian brain trying to save me from potential embarrassment or failure. The look on your face is almost apologetic. Yup. This one is on you, Friend.
Memories turn to dust, please don’t bury us…
For the first time in years, as we talk, I don’t know what to say. Should I be thankful or maybe just mad? The first sip of the drink actually sobers me up a bit more. It’s the cold, you know? Turns out, it’s not that bad and actually… Ever since I started taking these ice-cold showers, I feel better. More creative, which was always the point.
But none of that matters, if you are using the primal survival instincts on me, Friend. It is almost as if I was incapable of handling it on my own. We can’t even look at each other now, both staring at the new Monstera my dad bought me. Britney, my old one, sadly did not have what it takes to survive in this fast-paced environment.
Is that what you thought of me? That maybe I don’t have what it takes and maybe it’s better to just skip, make a different decision? Come on, I am not mad, not anymore. If… If there was a moment that I felt furious, it is long gone.
Because now I know that what I felt on Sunday night was normal and really – it’s more complicated than people think. That primal instinct is not just limited to the “freeze” response. It’s also flight or fight, but most importantly, it’s what’s keeping us alive and breathing. Even though for a short minute, I forgot how it’s done.
And nothing else matters now, you’re not here…
Suddenly, all of it makes sense. All of the signs, all of the red flags – anemia, anxiety, panic attacks… Abusive form of primal protection. Do you remember our walk in the woods? Remember the mind-hug? I promised and I delivered. Ever since we spoke that day, I’ve been going above and beyond to make sure I never put such bullshit ever again.
So, imagine my surprise, imagine my confusion when the anxiety was spiking. When the panic attacks became more regular, as if I was on a schedule. Turning my gaze from Rosie M. (that’s the new Monstera’s name), I realize you were never this quiet. Is it because I never truly understood what was happening?
This is exactly why context is important. And how do you get to the context? By the power of knowledge and science. I mean, don’t get me wrong Friend, but who exactly reads the theory of triune brain just because they feel like it?
Speaking of, there is one thing I am not sure I can forgive you – watching Top Gun just because it was on TV? Seriously? That’s just low, Friend. And there it is, the chuckle I was waiting for.
So where are you? I’ve been callin’ you, I’m missin’ you…
I know, I feel like I haven’t been myself lately. Maybe it’s the spring solstice, or maybe it’s just that gut feeling that some things are about to change, forever. Maybe, just maybe, the wheels are already in motion and there is no going back now.
With that said, I need you to understand that the primal protection, and using imposter syndrome as the general of your army, is not helpful. I know things can go wrong, I can fail and… I stand up, feeling uneasy. There has to be another way. Look, I know fear is necessary sometimes, but… I must not fear.
Trust me, every attack makes me appreciate being alive and kicking and 9 out of 10 only motivates me to do more and be better, but… What if that one time it’s different? What if I then decide that you were right and writing is pointless? Your drink is untouched on the coffee table.
We have to be a team – want it or not, Friend, this thing… You and me? That’s forever. I promised to take care of myself and I’ve been doing my best to fulfill my promise. But this really has to go both ways.
I’ve outrun the fears that chased, they’re standin’ still
I’m runnin’ still, I’m runnin’ still.
See, if we follow that triune brain theory, we have my “favorite” lizard brain. There is also the limbic system, paleomammalian brain which is responsible for the social needs, acceptance, hierarchy, behavior and all that jazz. But what I want to thrive is the cerebral neocortex. Okay?
And I know that I need to do some things like drink enough water, get a reasonable amount of sleep (also, can we talk about that? What is it about the restlessness lately, Friend?), and get as much daylight as possible. Yes, basically I am a complex plant these days, but if that helps me reach my true potential, so be it.
See, the cerebral neocortex is responsible for analyzing and understanding emotions and yet it struggles to communicate with the reptilian brain for whatever reason. I, just… Looking at you like that is painful.
Did you know, by the way, that paracetamol works on a heartbreak? In that particular moment you are experiencing a heartbreak, it can feel like a physical pain and taking a painkiller actually helps. So, is that something you need right now?
I am not mad. Not at you, that’s for sure. Am I angry at myself for not learning about this sooner? Maybe, but… Better late than never, right? It’s going to be okay. One would think that years in therapy will help, but sometimes… Ah, often than sometimes even; we take obvious things for granted.
And every voice that cried inside my head, forever drives…
A quiet exhale from your side sounds comforting, as if you realized the importance of breathing. I know, right? Groundbreaking discovery, breathing keeps us alive. Drinking water makes us feel better. Ending a shower with a stream of cold water wakes you up better and helps you drive through the day more effectively.
Obvious realizations. Things we take for granted. You love the sun, don’t you? So why every time it’s out, you decide to wear sunglasses? Come on, let’s go out on the balcony, let me remind you how amazing the warmth can feel on your eyelids. Hesitantly, you take my hand but there is no other choice.
Spring is upon us, whether you want it or not. And hey, I know I’ve always been the one to lose myself in autumn, but… There is something about spring and blooming. I feel like this might be a good change. Not that I’m ever giving up on pumpkin spice latte, but…
The warm wind tickles our bare arms. Don’t narrow your eyes, just close them and face the sun. Let it wash over you, and I promise it will feel nice. Sunglasses are good, but sometimes we can pretend we forgot they exist, okay?
At least now I know all of what is happening has a reason. Stupid as fuck, let me be clear, but… At least now I know and it makes all the difference. And we can start here. Let’s use that as a new beginning. Let’s start over.
Ain’t runnin’ from myself no more
Together we’ll win it all!
Damn right, Friend. This training I attended was the hot, liquid concrete to my decision – I can’t keep it up like that. If there is one thing I want to do in life, it’s writing. Okay, one thing might not be enough for me, so maybe… Hey, don’t laugh. I am dead serious here! But I crack a smile too.
Do you want to know why I feel like the wheels are already in motion? Because when inconvenient things happened, I was losing motivation to do this. You’re trying to understand my hand’s gesture, but I can see the struggle. This blog, writing, Melancholy Hill… The things that actually bring me joy.
For a little while now, I feel like if something happens at work, I just lose the corporate spark in me. It’s getting dimmed, and for the first time in years, I don’t mind. As long as the fire is still burning for this place and Movie Club and my book – things will be okay.
And it’s not that I stopped caring, I am just indifferent. After all, at the end of the day, it’s work. Pays the bills and concert tickets, helps me develop my skills and from 9 to 5 has my undivided attention. But that’s it.
For the first time in years, I feel the purpose I was always destined for: greatness. Look, I am not being cocky, I am simply being focused. For the first time, for real. Sure, there will be downs along the way. And I know for a fact you will be throwing that army of primal protection my way, but this is your twisted way to keep me alive. Now I know.
I’m ready to face it all…
We go back inside. The ice has melted and it made the glasses cry. When I pick mine up, I can see the water on the stone coaster. It’s now or never, Friend. If there is something that makes my cerebral neocortex happy, it’s this. Picking up my laptop and pouring out the words. Or stopping mid-conversation because I have to make a note of whatever.
For each their own, is it not? Your protection army is full of demons, but it is also full of cool soldiers, like the ability to breathe or you know, making my heart function. It helps me detect danger and in a twisted way, tries to keep me safe.
And I know that without that primality, my cerebral neocortex would not be able to function at all. So… Give me some time to figure it out, Friend. Let me sleep on it, because… As shockingly obvious as it might sound, in the deep sleep phase, we (and by we I mean you) separate emotions from events.
Do you remember how this place got its name? I had a dream, and back then I’ve been thinking about going “pro” for a while, just couldn’t come up with a good name. As it turned out, it was nothing that a good night’s sleep couldn’t handle.
It’s going to be okay, we’ve been through worse. After all, there was a time where I was calling you my worst enemy, not a Friend. Things change, and it’s scary. For example, am I starting to like Tom Cruise? Is the world going mad?
If I lose myself, I lose it all…
Most importantly though, I know I will survive all of it, because I have the most amazing people that are willing to lift me up, each time I sink down to the bottom. I love you, Friend, I really do. Just sometimes it’s a bit much, too much to handle on my own.
If all of this carries a lesson, it’s a damn fine one, Friend. Because no matter what happens, running away from it is no longer an option. I don’t want to. I mean, sure – we can go for a run, we can even train for that freaking half-marathon, but… Promise me something.
I am gonna take care of you – water, green veggies, daylight, cold shower, nuts – full package. And you… All I ask is to switch the frontline of your army. Move the quicken pulse and heart rate up first – I can calm it down with the right breathing. There is a solution to every problem, but I don’t think throwing your worst general is a good idea.
Let’s make a toast – to you, my dear Friend. I know you are the most unique brain in the history of brains and I owe you so much. All I ask in return for putting up with you (aw don’t give me that look, I’m joking!) is to trust my gut. Sometimes I am a genius. Our glasses almost break, but we don’t mind. Come on, let’s watch that damn Maverick all over again.