I will take up more space

Sorry for the long blog silence, I'm very bad at multitasking and my entire life has been taken up by my art. It's making me feel extremely guilty but also like I am finally on fire.  So I suppose this is a sorry, not sorry.

My whole life has revolved around minimising myself. Becoming invisible. And for the most part, i managed. I struggled with my weight so the impact of that was just to make me want to take up even less space. I didn't allow myself to extend past this tiny little box I had erected for myself. My comfortable cage.

My life mantras were:

  • Never get into trouble - trouble means people notice you, people are mad at you and it has a knock on effect. It would mean that I have disappointed people. I wasn't even aiming for approval (the opposite of disappointment) - just not having a negative impact was enough.
  • Cost less - don't ask for stuff. Don't get into situations where someone has to pay for things I've broken etc. Don't expect gifts etc. Don't do extra lessons, studies, hobbies that were expensive. When I studied, I spent years feeling shame about how much I was costing my parents. I even felt guilty about my school fees, despite the fact that I had no say over any of that. No fancy clothes, no fancy phones, nothing unnecessary.
  • Don't take up other people's space - I never aimed to be top of anything. I never took part in drama productions (after the age of 13 when I started having the choice to say no). Don't be the star. Be the solid best friend. Supporting role. Support system. Caretaker. The person you can call at 11:00 to take you to the doctor at 14:00. Reliable. I was never anything but reliable. If you asked me to do something, I would do that plus more and be on time for everything, if not early. Never ever take up more space in a relationship than I am allowed.
  • Don't get angry - anger draws attention. You just learn how to bottle everything deep down and move on. You don't confront anyone. That would make them unhappy. Be the bigger person, just take the shit and never question it.
  • Don't have expectations - this one is the trickiest because as my therapist informs me, not having any expectations is an expectation in itself. It's also not true. In my attempt to not expect anything from anyone I accidentally developed expectations I didn't even know were there. The expectation that other people would do the same for me if I ever needed it.

In 2017 I started having panic attacks for seemingly no reason. I dealt with that for about a year before finally admitting that I had a problem. In 2018, my family went through something that no one should ever experience. Thankfully it didn't end anywhere near as bad as it could have, we are extremely lucky. But still dealing with the fallout - it's going to be a long road. But this hit me hard. Any progress I had made in the last few months was completely undone. I was shattered.  I was having thoughts of suicide but because of what had transpired earlier in the year, I knew I would never ever act on them. I was broken and I had no way out but up.

Something that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy is waking up one day and realising that the armour you built around yourself had become your reality. The armour was meant to protect you from other people but honestly... It was more to protect other people from you. I didn't know who I was or what I wanted from life. I was wasting my time. Realising that I would rather not exist than keep living as the support role in my own life.

This is where I fucked up, I let my assumptions out and made a big mistake. To a certain degree, I am still making this mistake every day. It is really hard for me to reach out to other people. To admit that I am not coping. I have always been the peacekeeper, the steady one, the empath. Sure, I have had issues in my life where I have not coped very well and I trusted some of my friends enough to open up and be vulnerable and much like most people there is always minor irritation that causes drama. But no one saw the real me. I made very sure of that. Even writing this is killing me because all I want to do is say to myself "oh stop whining, other people have it way worse". But why is my pain less than theirs because it's different? I don't necessarily have to throw a giant six month long pity party where all I do is complain and moan about why my pain is THE LITERAL WORST. But If I can't even let myself take some time to feel it, grieve, and hopefully heal then how the fuck am I supposed to be able to ever be there for anyone else. I can't keep putting myself second in my own life.

Anyway, I digress, my fuck up was that I assumed people would be able to be there for me without me asking. I assumed they would know what I needed, be it someone reaching out to make sure I am still alive, asking how my family is doing, even just giving me space to heal. Space to just be. Not be anything but myself for a few seconds. No demands. Space to be selfish for a while. I never voiced this because I didn't even know this is what I needed until I started seeing my therapist. My wonderful amazing therapist who told me to just take some time out. Maybe this was unforgivable, I'm not sure. To be honest I am still trying to figure this out. I have come to realise that I can be incredibly hard on people. I don't do it on purpose, or even consciously but apparently I hold myself and others up to a standard that is impossible. I am working on that. And I realise that may not everyone is as capable as I assume and that's okay.

"When you start taking up more space, people are going to get upset".

So, this is me. Unapologetically me. I am only just now figuring out who that is. I am trying very hard to like her, even maybe love her. I am also learning that not everyone will and I need to be okay with that. If the space I am claiming offends you, then I am choosing to make that your problem, not mine.

I have realised that I need to start working on a new set of mantras/goals.

  • Surround myself with people who see me, and are not just using me as a mirror.
  • Learn how to fill 50% of the space without feeling like I should constantly be letting everyone else have more because I deserve less.
  • Forgive myself and others and move on without overthinking everything.
  • Expect the unexpected. Or rather, to phrase it in a way I prefer; let things be the way they are and enjoy the surprise that is life.
  • Stop living in tomorrow.

I will try my best to start putting up recipes again. Balance is very difficult for me. I am an all or nothing kind of person unfortunately. 

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