When The Noise Is Louder Than Your Voice — Reset
“Everybody trying to tell me what I stand for, but you don’t fucking know me, homie. you don’t want war.”
Make it stop.
Sitting on a busy subway train with the voices all competing to be heard. In the middle of my life with each part of it competing for mental real estate that I just no longer owned. I didn’t know who owned it, but sitting on a plane looking down on a city that I knew as both home and hell, I just knew the owner was no longer me. I was a character that lived through the motions, but not a person who felt them in her heart because it’s hard to remember your heart is even there when all the people around you are trying to become its voice.
So, you disown it.
You start letting go of it, in such small ways that at first it's not even noticeable. Your heart still feels like it's yours even when there's dissonance in what you're told to believe and what you actually feel. Then, one day, you find yourself sitting on the floor wondering how the hell you got there and why no one takes your word and thinks their own is your truth.
The process of unbecoming the owner of your own heart is so exhausting that more often than not we let it happen. It feels like less energy is spent if we just go through the motions of letting our anxiety lead the way because then at least muscles won't get tired with resistance. At least our bodies won't feel the impact of letting our hearts go.
As defeating as the notion of just letting it all go seems, it's reality especially during seasons when anxiety seems to be your roommate. It makes it harder to remember that you shouldn't be competing to own a heart. Its ownership does not require jumping through hoops, it requires silence, understanding, and acceptance of a heart's ups and downs. Listening to your heart over the voices of anxiety, of other people, of your most mind-bred fears, is hard. It’s a challenge in accepting that your heart and your mind may not be in sync and that the disconnect may be your own fault. My anxiety has a way of disconnecting me from my heart and pushing me to live in just my mind — that work move doesn’t make sense rationally (but shit it makes me smile), that relationship doesn’t make sense to others (but shit it makes me smile), that move would surprise more than one (but shit it makes me smile).
My heart is where my excitement and my truest self lives, my inability to feed it with actions that are inline with its desire is why I’ve felt like such a stranger in my own life and in my relationships. It’s why I’ve felt so overwhelmed by every aspect of my own life. The biggest symptom I’ve experienced of the mental health version of the flu is finding yourself saying, “I just need someone else to live my life for a bit, so that I can breathe.”
No shot can protect against it. No dose of NyQuil can heal it the way that actual rest can. So, I ran away because I found myself saying that sentence too many times over the space of a week. I came up against a life I didn’t want to own as mine because it looks so different than what I want my life to actually look like. It felt so different than the life that I can be happy standing in the middle of. I practice gratitude for all I have but it doesn’t remove the uncomfortable feeling of knowing that there’s a gap between where you are and where you can be if you just moved an inch to the left.
I couldn’t move an inch to the left until I saw the bird’s eye view, slept on a friend’s couch, and started 2018’s tan lines.
I was so close to a mental breakdown that my body and mind had started operating under the impression that the breakdown had already happened. I was in despair outwardly even though my heart was calm and centered. I didn’t believe my heart, so I kept operating like the worst had happened.
The voices are convincing and they are loud. They speak to all of your fears. They usurp your loved ones so that in your mind it feels like they are the ones fanning your worst imagined realities. It’s not just about learning to quiet those voices, although that is step number one, I think. It’s also about learning to listen to your own heart and trusting that it won’t lead you astray.
I’d forgotten what it was like to listen to my heart. It’s the best antidote to my anxiety. It brings me peace and calms me like very few other things can. It is mine, for better or for worse.