Under Construction - from the voice of a client
Written 15 September 2018
I feel like I am a house.
Recently abandoned because no one wants to visit anymore. The grass has grown too high, the paint is peeling and the window shutters are hanging crooked off the hinges.
Over the years I have layered on tactics of self-preservation, pushing people away without realising it. Slowly making my façade uglier, more repulsive – creating a warning for you to stay away. Please believe me when I say this was unintentional. There were feelings at play that I did not give names to. Ghouls and ghosts that haunt this house, making it more and more undesirable to enter. This was unconsciously done.
People have kept their distance from this house that I am, as I have kept my distance, too. I felt these changes inside me made me more shy, withdrawn, reserved. I was afraid of the house and all it contained.
So afraid that I started to abandon it, too.
I tried to decorate a new house, force it to be what I wanted it to be. It was pretty, it was grand, it glowed with a kind of eminence that tricked me into thinking this was ok.
It kind of worked. I did feel better, and not just in the short term. But I knew it wasn’t a true home. It wasn’t until I acknowledged the dilapidated house that I realised my ghosts were very much alive and they would follow me forever.
These were my down periods, my periods when I felt like I was underwater.
I used to think the solution was to wear an oxygen mask. I used to think the solution was to make it to shore. I used to think the solution was drowning.
Mostly I was drowning.
I thought it best to ask for help, after years and years of this feeling. I still thought the solution was to breathe underwater or get onto the sand. I still thought this even when someone swam out to help me. Only recently I started to see.
If I learn to breathe underwater, the sea will become all I know. The quiet noise of water, passing by my ears. The constant blue, blue, blue.
If I drag myself onto land, I will be dry and safe and warm. But life is not meant to be lived just on the sand. If I stay on the shore, I will not know the sea. She is an ancient entity full of life, love, death and vitality. Not deeming to even set a toe in the water, I risk not knowing her salty embrace. To watch from the sand does not mean I am swimming.
So where does that leave me? Drowning or dry. No. I could learn to swim and coexist with the waves.
This is my exaggerated and poetic way of saying that I could continue to swallow my bad feelings, suppress them and hope they go away. Or I could learn to see them, explore them, name them, live with them and not let them bother me.
So from the beach we return to my house; both the glamorous one and the one that is falling apart.
The new house, the glamorous one, is good and full of kindness, understanding, patience, self-care and dry, smudge-proof mascara. She is my front, my face, the kind of person I want (and am trying) to be. If I am not careful, she will become infected with my ghosts, my bad feelings, she will be destroyed. And I don’t know if I would be able to get her back.
I have realised that I need to revisit the old house, the abandoned one that I left to fall apart. I have resolved to try and enter the house and make peace with my ghosts. Together, we can try to coexist. I will open the doors and the windows, clean the place up and try to be a hospitable host. I know this is easier said than done.
I do not usually believe in explaining my words, but I do understand that what I write may be ridiculous and confusing. To put it simply:
I am like a house that is under construction.
It may not be visible to you, but inside I am changing. I don’t know in what way I will change, and it might take months, years, very possibly the rest of my life. I will admit that I am struggling as a lot of this is new for me. I have not been very open before. However, I am committed to trying. I don’t want to drown anymore.
I would like to apologise to the people I have hurt. My mouth can say some nasty things and my foul moods are not there to excuse them. I have pushed people away that have tried to peer in and help me. It was a harsh self-preservation that made me act like this, and it has wounded me deeper than I know.
I am under construction. Please be patient with me as I try to rebuild.