This is a Reminder That I Need to Chill
It sucks to have to wait for things. Especially if you are someone whose brain is particularly fond of rumination and you just. can’t. let. go. Get with the freaking times, brain. You don’t have to be in fight or flight mode all the time anymore… There are no wild bears chasing you out of your cave. No one is trying to steal the boar you had to kill with your bare hands to feed yourself. Just chill. Why can’t you just chill?
Since I am the most qualified person to confirm this with a bachelor’s degree that’s not even remotely related to science, I don’t think human beings are wired to delay gratification. That marshmallow experiment? Such an evil thing to do to little kids. Just let them eat the damn marshmallow. They are just kids!
The same goes for stuff that is painful. The longer you linger on, withholding vital information, the harder it becomes to handle that information once it is disclosed. It’s easier to just rip the band-aid off than to witness your expectations soar to the sun only to be shattered when the sun is finally just within reach.
If someone were to ask me to paint a picture of hell, I’d say A gazillion people waiting in eternal queues for absolutely nothing in the fiery depths of the Earth. That’s how much I hate waiting.
Lately, I’ve been looking back at my surgery last year and all the tests, waiting, and stressing out I had to endure to eventually learn that I had a brain tumor. Of all the things, including being sedated for 7 hours while they drill a hole in my skull, waiting for things has been the absolute worst… Waiting for the test results, waiting to be taken into the OR, waiting for your pain meds to kick in so that you can finally get some sleep, waiting for your hair to grow out over the incision scar, waiting for the headaches to subside knowing full well that they are now here to stay in some shape or form…
The one waiting that I sort of enjoyed throughout this process was the one night I had to spend in the ICU post-surgery. It was just me in a tiny room with all kinds of tubes coming out of my body. Tubes were handling all the necessities that day. Need pain medication? The tube on my arm delivers it straight into my veins. Have to pee? Didn’t even notice — the tube inside my bladder already took care of it (by the way, TMI, I know).
That was the only time, as far as I can remember, that I felt like I was allowed to just exist. I didn’t have to respond to work emails. I didn’t have to text back anyone. I didn’t have to think of chores. Existential dread? Dormant until my brain finally realizes that it has survived and life continues — so until the next day. I could just exist without having to abide by personal and societal pressures that require me to be the version of myself that everyone — including me— expects me to be.
Just a person, lying on a bed, no strings attached.
This sort of feels like a confessional as I feel guilty admitting this in writing. How can someone enjoy their time in the ICU? It sounds tone-deaf, privileged, lucky… To be honest, yes, I was really lucky and I am fully aware of that. I am not denying it. But I also can’t shake the feeling that an unfamiliar silence took a hold of my mind that day and it was surprisingly delightful. For once in my life, that cacophony of irrational thoughts swirling around in my brain had gone silent.
While some may find my writing triggering, I think those who suffer from anxiety in their daily lives can identify with what I’m trying to say. When you have a tendency to overthink, even minor decisions require maximum brain power. An anxious brain is truly exhausting to have because it works on overdrive basically all the time. I have been trying to figure out ways to emulate that peaceful state of mind ever since.
Only those who are closest to me know that, with me, it’s always either black or white. Never gray, never in-between. For others in my life, I allow gray to seep in but never for myself. I judge myself too harshly when I make mistakes and do not give myself enough credit when I accomplish things.
I am basically devoid of self-compassion. I rely too much on external validation and it is something on which I’ve built my entire personality. It sucks to realize that the fundamental building block of what makes me ‘me’ is something so fickle and, all things considered, is essentially irrelevant. Another thing that sucks is the fact that I’ve only just now, at 30, started to digest that what other people think of me says a lot about them. It has absolutely nothing to do with me.
I am learning to become my own cheerleader, supporter, and confidant. It’s a hell of a journey but one that I’m finally willing to take, no matter how long it lasts.
I think I’m going to end this here. Yes. Bye.