behind the curtain, Christmas, December, Depression, dithering, faceades, gently smiling smoke-screen, hermitage, kirtan, parties, PTSD, socialising, solitude, system overload freak out shut down, trickster-self, wandering sadhu
For the first time in way too many years my end-of-year dance card is in danger of collapsing under the weight of my social commitments.
Honestly it’s a first since… well, since I moved back to Melbourne towards the end of 2004.
Don’t get me wrong: I was never a social pariah exactly and once in the mood I enjoy a good party. Really. And December of 2004 included a decent heft of socialising. That was back when I had an actual boyfriend (the one I had before I dumped his ass and several months later met the guy who caused this blog to come into being). I mean, the ex-boyfriend had friends and we did stuff with them. Nothing too hectic, and not really about the heavy drinking – which has never been my scene anyway (well, not after I turned twenty-one anyways). It was nice.
The 2005 end-of-year social season began just a couple of months after I’d landed upside down and back-to-front on the mental un-wellness rollercoaster and into a rather noirish Tim Burton version of my life. Where nothing grows and the order of the day is pretty much hiding: your wounds, pain, trauma and desperately trying not to look too freaked out by anyone, no matter what.
Generally speaking, living in that world means doing less and staying the hell away from people. Of course, I’d go to the odd work event because I’d already decided work was a “safe zone” – one where I’d managed to stuff the nightmare my life had become into a densely compacted travel compartment: it came along for the ride as a stow-away. But mostly I’d keep my out of work socialising to zero.
In fact, there was even a year in there where I almost didn’t make it to the ol’ family Christmas lunch due to a whirlwind of indecisive dithering: I couldn’t figure out what to put in the salad, which was really about stalling for time so I didn’t have to be around people too soon erecting yet another gently smiling smoke-screen to fend off the worst of my inner demons.
See my wounds? No, please DON’T see my wounds because why should you be as horrified as I am numb and scared and pretty much completely fucked up?
And so going out in public meant not just the usual make-up, hair and wardrobe choices. It also meant the careful concealment of heart-rending anxiety, draping the curtains just so over the gaping chasm of my chest so no one would be the wiser. Because everyone knows that nobody’s allowed behind the curtain. Right, Mr Wizard?
Fast forward a few disassociated years of madness and despair…
Then there was 2009. It was a huge one for me. Not so much socially, although my diary was inked with a couple more “do’s” than usual… but it was pretty much the year I came back to life. The first time I felt real relief from the ongoing doom of depression stalking my every second.
I remember that lightness as something I noticed… hey, what’s this?? This extra energy, this impulse to leave the house for more than just buying food or going to work? This… delighting in nature, talking to cats and dogs on the street and taking photos of street art. This… feeling of spaciousness and lightness and… HOLY SHIVA, PERHAPS I’M FEELING BETTER!?!!
For months I waited and watched and hmmm, that did seem to be the case. Although this year hasn’t exactly been full of candid camera type happily-ever-after moments, there’s definitely been a slow-burning series of incremental improvements in my ability to handle the ups and downs. Give or take a few one step forwards, and two back.
And perhaps it’s just some kind of coincidence, but hey, whoah! Trying to keep track of December 2010’s comings and goings is proving eventful. Who is that girl impersonating a butterfly? Thank goodness for the blessed and painless synching of Google calendar with my iPhone!
Thing is, I think I’ve grown accustomed to my solitude. As desperately lonely as I’ve felt in my self-exiled world of personal torture – alone is safe. Easy. Comfortable. There’s no unexpected surprises. Well, not once the flashbacks stopped anyway! 😉
There’s a party tonight and while this wretched neck of mine still ain’t its usual frolicking self, I feel obligated to go out even though I’d rather invest a few more hours in slumber. Thing is, I still sort of want to go and I know I’ll have a good time. These are people I like. Yogis. There will even be kirtan and potluck dinner at someone’s home.
Yet the call of “take it easy – you’ve had a hard week” shoots rippling soundwaves of longing around and around… that old comfort of not being anywhere in particular. I hear it’s logic. I know what my night would be like. Safe. Fucking safe and going nowhere fast. And safe.
But. BUT. I feel like if I don’t go then I’m just kind of failing, you know?
Letting little excuses keep me home when I know I could just as easily hang out at someone else’s place, enjoy some music, giggles and hugs from people I know. People who might even become friends rather than mere acquaintances if I’d just leave the door open a little wider.
Because I’ve done this already more times than I can count. I’ve painfully deliberated and often deliberately missed going somewhere I was invited, kicking myself for my cowardice while feeling grateful I didn’t have to try and remember how it goes, all of this small talk business.
All of that fitting in and feeling comfortable and knowing how to be witty and thinking of stuff to talk about when really, I kinda prefer less talk. Maybe it’s all the meditation, or the self-imposed solitude? Dunno, but I’m really not that same chatty girl I used to be, the one who’d find almost anything to talk about in almost any circumstances.
The way I see it though, not going = encouraging how things have been. And I think I’ve had enough of that already, don’t you? I need to bust outta my somewhat hermetically sealed environs and loosen up a little, yeah?
However this is a bit of an ask, especially in fucking December. So a red flag’s been raised. Danger, Ms Svasti, danger! I feel that slippery bastard-trickster part of my nature spinning it’s wheels, just looking for an opportunity to wreak a little havoc.
Most nights right up until Christmas are booked out. There’s a few free ones left but I’m being cagey about those. And I’m sort of in denial about the state of December because there’s a good chance that trickster-self of mine will engage in the arcane art of sabotage, giving me a perfect out on at least half the invites I’ve accepted already.
Just call it some kind of system overload freak out shut down mode. I need my alone time, it seems. Time to regenerate surrounded by a fifty meter zone of peace. No talking. No noise. Thank you very much.
Which is just… hey if I’m going to be like that, I might as well take my place as a wandering sadhu already, yeah? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’d like to think I can find my feet again in the world of social interactions before I take up permanent residency in the hermitage. One day I’m pretty sure that’s gonna happen but hopefully not until I’ve spotted my first grey hair at least. Right?
P.S. Don’t worry, I’m going! Might be getting there a little late but I am dragging my sorry ass over there. Fucking December!