I have to admit, I completely forgot that I wanted to translate this last post at some point – well, here it is:
(This article, as the last few, is not supposed to be some cry for help. I observe my thoughts and I try to put them into words for those who have an interest in understanding me. That is all.)
I remember my very first psychotherapy. I told my therapist that, deep inside, I’m actually a very happy person. I described my moods like an ocean; the surface can be whipped up by storms and the skies darkened, but deep underwater it always remains calm and quiet. At that point, it was like that. I lead the structured, externally guided life of a child – although biologically I would long have been counted as an adult. I did question the purpose of my own existence from time to time but at that point, the answer “for the happiness of those who love you” was more than good enough.
Now, the image of the ocean still holds true, with its changing weather at the surface, but through the loss of these supporting, externally defining structures it is now more of a quiet sadness and emptiness in the depths below. The challenges I face in life lead me more and more to the question what the purpose and reason for my existence is. The answer that was valid so far is of course, still true, but it is no longer satisfactory – if it is just because by now I came to the conclusion that there should be an intrinsic purpose to life which seems to unquestionably natural for most people, they cannot even imagine it not being there.
The advice I’m given is usually obvious but not very helpful; a purpose is not necessary to solve the immediate challenges I’m facing. Maybe that is true, but when is it relevant, then? At what point is it legitimate to say that there seems no purpose to ones own existence? I do try to follow this advice and I struggle through these “small steps” I’m supposed to focus on. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes not so much – of course the successes feel good, I fought through some obstacle and achieved the result I set out to reach. I tell myself it will get easier with every step I take forward, every task I can check off (after all, that’s what all these habit advisers say), but I found out that this is not true. At least not for me. It doesn’t get easier or less taxing at all. If I successfully completed the step before doesn’t have any influence on the difficulty of the next one; and thus all these little steps drain my strength. Every morning, get up, struggle, sleep; every morning getting up is a little harder; every morning my mantra that I have to just hold on a little longer and it will all get easier feels more like a lie. Each task takes more of a struggle and this unanswered question what it is all good for is harder to push away.
This is then the moment when it all slips away again, my self-imposed structures collapse, my careful documentations lose all value, my contacts and hobbies become exhausting and encumbering. Training plans, work schedules, journals, mood diary, food diary, painting, drawing, even video games which have always been my last mean to escape reality, lose their supporting function and break down. I escape into sleep because it seems the only way to escape these constant questions, doubts, responsibilities, for which I have no answer and no one else seems to, either. To use another image, it feels like it’s getting darker around me and the struggle to keep this flame burning, is getting harder, everything slowly losing every significance. All that is left is a tiny, flickering candle telling me that there is nothing I have to give to the world that no one else could give in my stead; nothing I could be for anyone that not someone else could be better – except one: my parents’ daughter.
This is what I hold on to; they, who did everything right, who I could not imagine any better way, deserve it least of all people that I shatter their world so utterly, intentionally and knowingly. How ungrateful would I be to do such a thing. I am supposed to articulate my thoughts, this emptiness inside, see the despair and horror they provoke in those who love me, realise that there is no valid reason to inflict this kind of suffering in people I care about. And thus I get up for the next little step…
And my own cycle of light and darkness continues, fight and capitulation, until my carefully constructed life starts slipping out of my hands again and it, once more, needs the despair of my loved ones to spark my little flickering candle to new light – which always also illuminates the chains of expectancy, love and responsibilities tying me to this path. And still, nothing seems to get easier, needs less struggle, has more meaning. Every idea I have for my own future is as transient like all the other interests I follow but only briefly distracts me from the inherent meaninglessness. I followed so many ideas, always full of hope that this one, surely, will be the one that lends meaning to everything. By now, I sense them but I lost the enthusiasm they used to spark within me, knowing it is yet another failure. I don’t have this kind of strength anymore; I need it for my next little step that everyone expects of me.
PS. I recently came across the difference of “expecting something of someone” and “thinking someone capable of doing something”. I have to admit, none of those is a positive enforcement to me; if someone is expecting something of me, I disappoint their, well, expectations, if someone thinks me capable of something, I not only disappoint their expectations but I disappoint at a more personal level since their expectations were fuelled by their impression of my abilities to solve the given tasks.