I don’t want to jinx it, but I do want to tell myself (to make it real) that things are starting to look up. Earlier this week I got some great news: I’m getting benefits. What that means in my case is that I’m going to be paid enough money every month to, you know… live. Seeing as I am not capable of working in whatever form, I am not obligated to seek employment or anything of the sort, which is just the best thing ever for me. I have tried, trust me, I have tried. But I’ve had to learn that sometimes our limits are just what they are and no resolve can overcome them. And I’ve had to accept that mine lie in a department of life that is so crucial to being able to live in the first place, which is incredibly frustrating. Frustrating yes, not because I’m ashamed or anything, but because I always believed that if I didn’t make this work thing work somehow, that nobody would be there to care enough to catch me.
I was wrong: somebody did care.
Not the institution that’s going to pay me, of course not, but people I struggled believing ever could. I grew up in a family where love was conditional and the standards for receiving ‘love’ were hard enough for ‘normal’ people to achieve, let alone a girl who was just.. different. I’ve talked about this before, but I always thought I was adopted, and had been patiently waiting for the day my parents would sit me down and tell me ‘we are not your biological family, and that is why you could never truly feel at home here’. That day never came, and though I’m keeping my options open, I suppose it’s never coming either.
Anyways, I have never felt like I had a safety net of people who would be there for me, even if I failed to achieve what they wanted me, or hoped for me to achieve. Through many past experiences (that I won’t overwhelm with right now), I learned to believe that I was not worthy of being cared about enough to be supported in that way. I really thought I was unlovable, a freak, someone who would never belong anywhere. Adding failure to that list would mean the end of me. It would mean not getting a proper job, not getting the finances to take care of myself, eventually dying alone in a ditch somewhere.
I didn’t want to die. O lord, did I not want to die.
So I fought hard, so incredibly hard to avoid failing. Everything I did was concentrated in an effort to not fail, and then hopefully not die. Add autism to this mix of fear of dying and unworthiness, and you have yourself a recipe for disaster. Deep down I always knew I couldn’t do it: every day was a nightmare, the kind of nightmare you know is a nightmare but you don’t know how to wake up from.
Nightmares always reach a climax at which you wake up. At this climax, along with a pinnacle of terror, you are given a way out. Or no, not given a way out: you can always wake up if you know how. I was fighting to try to get by on my own, because I didn’t see a way for me not to have to. I thought nobody cared about me truly, so to me there appeared to be no way out for me there. It wasn’t until my worst fear came true and I was faced with the reality that I couldn’t take care of myself alone, that in a final wave of hope, I trusted that maybe, just maybe, somebody would catch me if I let myself fall.
That belief gave me the courage to open up to people.
I reached out, talked to people I thought maybe would care, even if it was just a little. And in doing so I learned that some of them (not all of them, but even one person who sees your worth makes up for a lot) actually did: I just hadn’t allowed them to prove it.
Sometimes belief is not set in stone, but it is more like a question. The belief that somebody cares leads you to ask: ‘do you care? Will you be there for me now? Am I worthy of your love?’
That’s why I think you have to believe that somebody cares, because if you don’t you are never going to give them the chance to answer these questions, and actually be there for you when you need them most.
After all, quite frankly, as much as we might want to not need each other, by some mysterious law of nature, we just do. That’s the uncomfortable truth of it. Yes, it might be easier for me to be able to get by on my own, that it wouldn’t be necessary for anyone to care, but the fact is that I can’t. And that is why I need to be willing to believe that somebody does care, and that if I admit to myself that I can’t do something, someone will catch me. That is a risk I think we all have to take. That said, it’s a bigger risk to believe in yourself too much, because you don’t see yourself the way others see you. We are a lot more beautiful to the people who see us smile than to ourselves, who can only see what’s inside our own heads.
And I think we can all agree that the thoughts inside our mind are useful, but so incredibly ugly at times.