My brother recently wrote an excellent post about his high school experience. It took me back to my own past (though not necessarily high school). Tonight I dug out some old journals from my Great Depression and revisited some buried demons.
2/7/00: "I finished my old journal this morning before work. Now it is in a box with the rest of the others, with the rest of me. Patty [old therapist] tells me she tries to put me in a box, but is frustrated because I don't fit. I am secretly pleased about this. I am satisfied about not fitting into a box. Then again, sometimes I'd like to be in a box so I can pinpoint what's wrong with me.
My monsters are not clearly definable anymore. It's all a big clump inside me now - but if this is better or worse, I have yet to discover. It's not just one thing anymore - when something bothers me, everything bothers me. It comes from the same place, and simultaneously a bunch of different places. Deep places that are nearer to the surface than I think. Yet still, the same place.
I used to see John's [first love] face in my mind all the time but now it's hard to conjure it up. Now it's a multitude of faces, words, and actions that make up one fucked-up version of Lucifer. Or maybe it's Jesus. These days I'm not sure what the difference is.
I see myself. I see myself trying desperately not to be a part of this cycle, trying to salvage myself from all these little pieces, all these forms.
Five years from now, will I still be Leslie? Will the monster have eaten me and turned me into everything I hate, everything I've become accustomed to?
I am trying to break free. But everyone around me is in chains. Almost everyone. Who can I look to? The person I am? The person I have potential to be? Who is there to fall back on?
In the end, when it all comes down to it, I am alone. Alone, afraid, trying to Break The Terror."
I have often referenced my Great Depression in blog entries, and while I don't believe in holding on too tightly to the past, those four, long, hard years had an undeniable impact on the person I have become. Those years continue to be my measuring tools for my state of being. Even now, if I am feeling unhappy, I think back on it, on those dark and lonely nights and days, and I thank whoever is listening that I made it through that awful time. I know that I can survive whatever life throws at me because I made it through my Great Depression. I honestly didn't know if I'd make it out alive sometimes. I was just so lost and so incredibly afraid.
It took a very long time and a lot of hard work, but my world of despair finally began to change (right around the time I moved to California in 2001, coincidentally). And when the happiness began to seep back in, it was like being reborn and wrapping my arms around this benevolent source of light. Life has never been perfect, and I've certainly had my fair share of emotional breakdowns since the Great Depression. But the bottom line is that I've learned to trust others again. I've filled my life with people who I think are wonderful. And I've really learned to focus on being kinder to myself and more accepting of who I am.
Tonight, oddly, I just feel proud of who I am. I'm not a hero, and I'm not a saint. I am really fucking flawed, as a matter of fact. But this life I have now and this person I am - I fought for both, and I won.