It’s easy to tell someone how they make you feel, or how “I understand what you’re going through.”
“Knowing you, I’m sure you’ll…”
“But, that’s just you!”
“That’s Roxby, always laughing when the shitty things happen to him.”
I’ve always had a problem with my identity. I look at myself in pictures and don’t know who that guy is. I’m told stories of things I did or said and I nod my head and keep the conversation going, but I can’t place myself. In the mirror it’s a stranger. But, the worst for me is that I get scared of people perceiving me wrong to the point that I go mentally mental if I hear that a friend or someone I met thinks I’m a certain way.
I had a friend who confided in our shared friend, my best friend, that I’m a university grad asshole, strutting around like I know everything and making people feel shitty when they don’t.
I know the guy was one of those alpha males with a thin crust and an insecure centre. He gets jealous. I can relate, I was that guy in high school but at a beta male level. I was never one to consider myself the type of person others would get jealous over and it makes me so angry. I just want people to know I’m nice, humble and caring. And if I do correct people about things it’s only because I’m honestly a geek when it comes to learning things and I want to share that with others.
If I ask you if you’ve seen the Shining, for instance, and you haven’t, I will sit you down and watch it with you to share the excitement of the emotional impact. I love to see people’s reactions. I lose a little bit of myself because I get thoroughly get involved in interactions with people to the point where I just have no sense of me. I’m like energy moving about with absolutely no physical recognition or understanding of how others see me. The only thing I ever wanted was to know someone who knew my psychological inner workings, the gears, the Freud stuff, what my daily experience is like and the stuff that runs through my head at night when I turn the lights out.
We all just want to be understood.
And it’s great when your partner gets you, but it’s better knowing what others outside of your tiny bubble see.
Last week, Meghan Bell, made this image for me. She’s quite easily one of my most inspiring friends of all time due to the fact that she’s a Category 5 hurricane of creativity, just blowing people away with each project in a chaotic central eye of deeply perceiving perfection.
And this is that image. My first reaction was that she used a photo taken by my former girlfriend and longtime friend Julia during the best summer in Tofino. So that had a reaction that was good and sad, looking at a me that was very much in a whirlwind of love and excitement. It was a rare image in that I absolutely recognized myself and the complexities of my life experience then.
With that thought fading, I took in this image and I just remember having all of this wind escaping my lungs and hearing OH SHIT escape.
She absolutely nailed my entire personal experience with life. I was never able to tell someone how being bipolar affects me day-to-day, let alone how I go about life everyday, how my mind and heart go about navigating through it.
This image shows that despite the hardships I’ve endured, be it the emotional scars of the cancer I beat, but especially living with bipolar, I see and walk through life with only the utmost positivity, optimism and see the good in things. And it’s completely correct, though this is a side of me that I’ve never had the awareness of it. And for someone to see this in me, to show that I am perceived this way, I’m understood and to put it in front of my face in such simplicity, reinforced a lost confidence in myself.
I nearly cried, but was so elated that the only thing I started doing was texting her in all caps lock and madly forwarding it to all of my family. Facebook profile photo six seconds later. In essence, this is my profile photo for life.
I always saw myself as too complex and hard to explain to people. I think we all do. But, now I get that I was struggling with explaining it to myself and needed the right mirror. I hope everyone has a Meghan Bell in their lives. I really do.