I’ve been hunkered down for the past few weeks, barely leaving the bed, pincering all my free time between Netflix, international news, and my guilty Facebook game pleasure… New Rock City. Not very sexy, I know – but hey, trauma can’t always be hot.
This all began when I started mulling over the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt-level optimism that I’ve come to realize helped me truck through years of depression, emotional abuse, and religious bullshit all on my lonesome. See, I’ve always had this adamant faith – no, knowledge – that I will get better. That beneath all this crud, I’m an exceptionally energetic, social, and driven person. That I am going to build a life I love with my own two hands, and learn to let other hands help me along the way.
I mean, how else does anyone get through 4+ years of varying degrees of bullshit?
I’ve got no doubt where this, well, Fuck-All Optimism comes from. When you grow up being told that God works all things for good, you learn to see even cancer diagnoses, funeral RSVPs, and D minuses as opportunities to “grow closer to God” and “see his sovereignty in everything.” Literally everything is always going to be okay, because God’s got this shit figured out.
While I definitely don’t believe God is up there doodling some cosmic blueprint for my life anymore (and let’s be honest, if ze was, ze’d be drunk as fuck), I still maintain that I’ll recover, and you can always mine big beauty from little gratitudes. And this is a paradigm I’ll likely never drop. It’s what drove me to survive, and disbelieving would strip me of what I’ve always been sure of amid years of deconversion, gender exploration, and identity sculpting.
I’ve got Fuck-All Optimism. It’s what makes me so energetic and full of love for the world, and it’s what keeps me surviving on crappy days. But it does have one downside. Simply put, it irons my question marks into exclamation points. All the I feel lost and I feel that I lost what do I dos, the what triggers panic attacks, the I’m just plain sads, Fuck-All Optimism tends to paint over that mold with bright yellow paint. There must be a balance between this strange force which makes me believe unshakably in myself and find incredible wonder in the world… and the ability to let myself feel tiny and lost and hurt. But where is it?
FAO isn’t gonna go away. But so far, it’s got a track record of making me forget how much pain I’ve been through and still have to come to terms with. It makes a habit of making me pretend all is well to myself because admitting that I have to process shit and that’ll take a long time means that depression will gobble up more of my life despite my finally being away from abuse. And I don’t think radical positivity is sustainable if it means my mindfulness levels must bottom out. So… balance. Where the hell do I find it?
I don’t know. And it’s okay to not know. This is what I’ve got a support squad of friends and an incredible therapist for.
But I’m wondering – whatever your situation, how do you find a balance between processing grief, abuse, and trauma, and continuing to be social, positive, and energetic? Do you? Pro tips and amateur suggestions alike are welcome.