Announcement: my new book, Stubborn Soul, is out! It’s an intensely personal autobiographical account about struggling to find sense in a tumultuous life. Read more about it here.
Christmas and New Year were very stressful for me, for a number of reasons. One of the reasons was that my landlord, who in order to support my projects had been giving me free rent for some time, asked me to start paying rent. This would require a change in lifestyle for me, one which I wasn’t sure if I was ready for. Last year had been characterised by a struggle to stay above the water as far as my mental health was concerned, and at the time, I needed that free rent. Though things had changed by the time of my landlord’s announcement, my initial reaction was to fear for my survival.
So, when I got the news, at first I freaked out. More than that, actually, I had a panic attack. This kind of set the tone for the rest of December.
A day or so after that, I also had some major drama with a recent ex, and another panic attack. From there on I had more panic attacks and generally poor mental health for the next two or three weeks. In January, I finished having talks with my landlord, and at last had a reprieve from all these stress factors and could start recovering.
Earning A Living
From there I experienced two weeks of crippling depression, a process which is sadly becoming somewhat familiar to me. Nowadays I understand these depressions as being when I’m unable to deal with the buildup of all my emotions, and am paralysed by them, until I finally manage to work through them and get them to a manageable level. Well, that took only two weeks — rather than nine months — this time, and finally I emerged as a functional human being again.
From there, I was faced with a new challenge: to start earning a living.
Since beginning to live alone, I’ve rarely earnt a full living without help from outside sources. I had one year teaching English freelance in Barcelona, where I mostly managed to earn everything I needed, and one year here in Berlin where I was being supported by a partner so that I could focus on my writing. For the rest of these seven years on my own, I’ve had varying amounts of support from my parents and recently, my landlord.
The trouble is, I’m not good at jobs. I have an intense negative reaction against hierarchy, and as I can see, most jobs seem to involve hierarchy. There’s also the recent problem that I have developed social anxiety and generally find myself uncomfortable around most cis people.
There’s another issue though. I realised it recently, but perhaps the biggest reason I had been economically unstable for so long was because of self-love issues.
I made a large advance in self-love with the discovery I outlined in How Non Coercive And Coercive Self Motivation Feel Different. I had become more aware of the way that I was basically whipping myself for motivation every day. This mental “whipping” constituted an act of self-cruelty, even if it ostensibly seemed to have the purpose of helping me get stuff done. I learnt to ask myself the question, “What would be the kindest thing for me to do for myself right now?”. This question seemed to be much pertinent than my previous formulations of, “What do I want to do?” (as opposed to what I think I should do), or “What do I feel is right to do?” (an attempt to bypass the thinking mind and access more holistic signals). Looking at things from the perspective of self-kindness seemed to get to the root of the problem.
After this discovery, I felt like I was finally overcoming the whirlwind of self-destructive behaviour that had made up my life ever since experiencing abuse at a young age. The actions I was taking, were finally my own.
One day recently, I looked at myself in the mirror and noticed that I still felt some disassociation from my image, despite that having much improved since my gender transition. I investigated that and realised it came from the sense of loss of control that I had felt all my life. I looked back over my life, and I realised that if I looked at it in a certain way, the discomfort was alleviated. Basically, I had to imagine myself before I was born – in the pre-life state – and all the way up to the present. I had to imagine a timeline of all the things that had happened. By being able to see myself outside of the traumatic events rather than trapped in them, I felt in control. I felt, for the first time, that my traumatic past didn’t own me.
This required me to have gotten over my trauma to the point that I COULD look at them from the outside rather than being trapped in them. So, I think this realisation was less to do with the exact mental exercise I was inspired with, and more to do with the moment I found myself in.
Self Love With Finances
All this seemed to lay the groundwork for me overcoming one of the biggest ways I’ve been violent towards myself: the economic. I suddenly realised that my big block regarding money wasn’t so much to do with a lack of opportunities. It wasn’t even to do with my allergy to jobs, as freelance work can be quite okay for me. It was because I was on some level intentionally fucking myself over, again and again. I wasn’t able to be kind enough to myself to do what I had to do to have a stable life, so all I could see was that it seemed too hard, or that there were other things I wanted to do rather than spend so much energy on this.
After my recent short depression ended, the need to be kind to myself was sharply underlined. Nowadays, in my stable but fragile state, I can’t afford to keep beating myself up. Financial instability is a huge stress factor, and right now every single stress factor could be the one that pushes me over the edge into depression or panic attacks.
That wasn’t so much a logical-level realisation, though, as a feeling-level shift. Perhaps better said is that I have gotten tired of these cycles, especially as they have brought me this close to self-destruction, and the intensity involved has finally allowed me to de-identify from them and for a shift to happen.
Interestingly, only a day or two after I had this internal shift, a friend of mine told me about an opportunity for some freelance translating work, enough to last me at least a month. I accepted, and have been working on that since then. Even though the work will end, I’ve been feeling much more comfortable this last couple of weeks as I’ve been able to work to secure my means of living, rather than being anxious about my future. I’ve also found that I might be able to get more translation work from odesk.com, and so, it could be that I am at the beginning of a newly stable time in my life.
My New Year’s Vision
As long term readers might know, every new year I have a vision. I’m not a great psychic, but my new year’s visions tend to be accurate. The year I was to start my gender transition, for instance, I saw a vision of roots, signifying an increased connection to the Earth. I had no idea that I would transition that year, and even less idea that transitioning would change me from a very ungrounded person to one who feels closer to the Earth than to any other element. But, in the very first week of gender transition I discovered a connection to the Earth in my meditations that I had never been able to feel before.
My vision for last year was a bit strange. I saw an image of chaotic, discordant energy. Normally, when I see a vision, I enquire into the vision to see what it actually means, and the meaning comes to me in a sort of claircognizance.
This time, I saw the image but couldn’t grasp the meaning. Or rather, I got the idea that it might mean something bad, but I didn’t want to believe that, or didn’t imagine that I would get a negative vision, as my visions normally tell me what sort of life lesson or energetic shift I will have in the next year. So I pretty much decided that my psychic faculties must be faulty, this time.
Looking back, it was clear that the vision was telling me I was going to have a shitty year, full of struggle, breakdown and pain. The meaning was right there, but I ignored it. In the end, my vision was exactly correct.
Now, this year, my new year’s vision was of a white light, bright and expansive. I knew what this meant. It meant that things were going to get better this year. Like, seriously better. Things would finally start working for me.
Actually, as I later discovered that aforementioned sense of perspective about my past, and my new understanding of self-love, I realised the vision had a more extensive meaning. It meant that the struggle that was the first twenty-five years of my life would come to an end. I would finally stop fighting and start living. I would finally take control of my life.
I’m usually scared to announce psychic impressions publicly in case they are wrong and I end up looking stupid. But I feel this understanding so deeply, so profoundly, that I don’t fear that at all. I simply know this is true.
I’m starting a new chapter of my life. No, a new book. (Perhaps literally: when I write my sequel to Stubborn Soul, I can see it ending at this point and the next book starting).
It’s a down-to-earth feeling. It feels like coming home to reality, as opposed to continuing down the road of escapism. I can’t write the end of this post with wild hype-y fanfare. But I think that’s how it should be.