“‘Because you don’t notice the light without a bit of shadow. Everything has both dark and light. You have to play with it till you get it exactly right.’”
“But forgiveness… I’ll hold on to that fragile slice of hope and keep it close, remembering that in each of us lie good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice. We’re each of us our own chiaroscuro, our own bit of illusion fighting to emerge into something solid, something real. We’ve got to forgive ourselves that. I must remember to forgive myself. Because there’s an awful lot of gray to work with. No one can live in the light all the time.”
“When the music is over, she keeps her head down till she finds her seat again, and I wonder how many times each day she dies a little.”
So I’m not sure how to title this post. I’m a little unsure of how this post will go in general. I’ve been at my sister’s house doing absolutely nothing but babysitting her dogs in a town I’ve never been in and no car to go anywhere. So basically I am bored out of my mind. But it has allowed me to do a lot of reading and reflect upon what I read.
As I mentioned I’ve been reading the trilogy A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. I read the first book many years ago when I was still in high school. At that time I wasn’t really ready for the book. I found it really dark and disturbing. Obviously I’ve reread it and I’m now in love with the book. I think my high school reaction was due to the fact that I led an extremely sheltered life and I couldn’t relate to anything in the book.
I couldn’t relate to the darkness that was within and the light that hope brought to it. I had never really experienced it before. Of course I had hardships growing up, I mean you can read this blog and clearly see that…. but the darkness inside of me I tried my hardest to hide and so I forgot it was within me.
As I mentioned before, OCD plagued me as a young child… I didn’t understand why I was having such disturbing thoughts. I didn’t understand that I wasn’t evil. As I aged though I found that the easiest way to deal with it was to ignore it. Pretend that there was nothing wrong with me, so there would be nothing wrong with me (even though I did some ridiculous compulsions… but I would just forget about it right after it happened). But as Libba Bray puts elegantly in her book “you can’t keep up the illusion forever,” …“No one has that much magic.”
When I had my OCD melt down in undergrad…when my illusion finally broke… I can’t describe the constant pain I was in. I wasn’t dying a little everyday… all of me was dying everyday… only to be cursed to be reincarnated in the same body the next day and the next… to feel the constant pain and torment from the thoughts that plagued me. Thoughts of harming myself and others… thoughts that I was evil… thoughts that no matter what I did I was damned.
I fought it so hard. And with OCD… often the more you fight it without using the right type of therapy (which I wasn’t in therapy at all b/c I didn’t realize there was anything wrong with me beyond thinking I was evil) the worse it gets, because your brain gets stuck on repeat on the same horrible thoughts. Now that I know it was OCD that plagued my life, you think I could forgive myself… but honestly I still find that I can’t. What in the first place could possibly get those types of thoughts in my head? I had those thought… I couldn’t stop them… and what scared me even more was the constant thought it my head to stop fighting and to give into the thoughts and make them into actions. I’m proud and relieved to say that I NEVER acted on those thoughts… but the idea that I might act on the thoughts was a persistent OCD fear. I couldn’t trust anyone or anything… especially me. So really my OCD was like this: I would have a horrible obsession.. say harm obsession… then I would freak out that I would actually do it.. which would then make me obsesses over whether I was truly an evil person… and then my compulsion was to take myself out of the game and/or ask for reassurance. Confine myself to a life of academia and in my apartment so that I could never hurt anyone, as my obsessional thoughts were making me think I was going to do.
How can I forgive myself for this? How can I trust myself? How do I know that this really is OCD and I’m not evil? What person could possibly have these thoughts and still be a good person?
And knowing that it is OCD has honestly made me feel better… but also worse in some ways… I feel like I’m being desensitized to some of my horrible thoughts. When I realize one is rolling in I’m like “oh this is an OCD thought don’t pay attention to it.” I then begin to think of something else such as the weather outside. I let the “train pass by” trying not to give it a second glance so to speak. The problem is though… is that I realize that I have these thoughts still… and that they are just becoming a normal piece of my life… but I DON’T WANT THESE THOUGHTS EVER IN MY MIND. How can I possibly make them go away forever????? I don’t want to become desensitized, because what if being desensitized is what leads someone to taking action because it “really isn’t that big of a deal?”
Its like I’m constantly fighting the darkness within me. I don’t want to be dark at all. I want to help people. I want to make people’s lives better. I don’t care if my name is remembered or if my actions are known… I just want to bring happiness to someone who has never known it or heal the soul of someone who needs it. ….But… I’m too terrified of myself… I can’t bring myself to get close to anyone b/c what if I accidentally do something to hurt them?
So with the OCD… the obsessional thoughts have stopped thanks to medication.. but… its more like that I now have this haunting thought lying beneath all my other thoughts and motivations “what if my soul is really a dark place? what if I’m not good? what if I can’t ever control my thoughts?… and eventually what if my thoughts take over my actions?”
Maybe I should just continue taking myself out of the game. So that I can’t hurt anyone. Because what kind of life can I currently lead? I’m too scared of doing something wrong.
So maybe this is where I belong… in a city where no one knows who I am… doing a meaningless task of taking care of my sister’s dogs… it affects someone right? so I am doing good somehow right? But I’m out of the game of my life… I don’t want the control of my life nor do I want my thoughts to control my life… but how can one really live that way?
Do I need to do as this book suggests and find the balance between light and dark? Realize that I really am the light… but sometimes darkness overtakes my thoughts? Darkness may lie in my thoughts but I need to fight for the balance so that only light leaves as an action out of my body.
After all “you don’t notice the light without a bit of shadow. Everything has both dark and light. You have to play with it till you get it exactly right.’”
I can’t stop living life… so I must find a balance… between my OCD and who it is I am and want to be.. a light in this dark world and within myself. I must emerge as something beyond an illusion and become the solid person I am… bringing hope and compassion to the world. Now that I’ve had a taste of darkness… even just in my own thoughts… I feel as though I can now help those more readily who are still searching for some hope of light.