I may or may not suffer/have suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder. I may or may not suffer from Bipolar Disorder. I sometimes suffer from Depression, and have had one suicide attempt, and one suicide plan, in my life. That plan remains a source of comfort, a “back door exit”, in the back of my mind even at my happiest. I suffer from Social Anxiety, which I have learnt to identify as the greatest trigger behind the above possible conditions, and as such, by playing around with it and adapting my life to making it happen as little as possible, I have been leading a fairly calm life, compared to my old standards.
Why do I feel the need for this summary?
Because I need to state that for most of my qualities, thoughts and core beliefs, I have no idea what they really are. I will feel very strongly about something one day, and then very strongly about its opposite the next day, or even half an hour later, depending on who I’ve been reading or who I’ve been talking to.
In most subjects, I tend to agree with whoever makes their case better. That is one aspect that is quite unnerving for me, about me.
I am not stupid, I was never stupid.
When I was between 7 and 10 and I was left alone in a big flat by myself for most of the time, I read everything my parents had in the house. A few stood out: I read the whole of the Bible when I was 8 but not much older, as well as this wonderful book, El Gaucho Martín Fierro. It was a leather-bound copy, with the Gaucho on the cover sitting on his horse. An incredible book.
I understood these books. I remember having a rare occasion when I had my two friends over and trying very hard to make them like it: I read it out loud to them, and explained the poetry. I remember the way they looked at each other and asked me to just watch TV and I insisted “No, wait, just give it a chance, you’ll see how wonderful this is!” and they looked at each other again and just left, of common accord.. even though they didn’t know each other before.
I felt heartbroken. Not only had I failed in sharing something I felt was so beautiful with my two best friends (my only friends, asides from a little girl with Down syndrome who lived downstairs, but she wouldn’t have understood that book). But now, because I tried to share that and was perhaps a little too intense about it, I was left alone. I should have just put the book down and watched TV with them instead.
Instead, I was alone, and at the time, as I was little, and I had no parents or siblings or anybody who would talk to me and explain: “You know, these things you like, they’re great! But most kids don’t like them, so just enjoy doing other things with your friends”, I would sit and commiserate myself for a bit, then carry on playing alone. The few occasions I did seem them again, individually, I would just let myself play silly games with them, and it was so much fun and it was wonderful. I always felt a little sorry, however, that there was nobody to share my beautiful discoveries with.
Growing up all over the world, I was always ignorant of habits and customs and a lot of stuff that a lot of people take for granted. What is polite conversation, what isn’t. What it’s ok to say out loud, what isn’t.
I had cause to once more remember our driver, G. (his name escapes me, for the first time. I am really losing my memory :(). We were sat on the little hill in my garden, in Arequipa, Peru. We sat together in silence and watched the silent and steady munching of grass of my brown Llama, Bibo. I was 10, and he was just an adult to me. Looking back now, he was a young man. He was my favourite type of Peruvian, those who still have Indio features, like the Incas, rather than those who have Euro-Spanish features.
He just sat there, and I next to him, and I felt these waves of sadness engulf us. We were both silent. It was not unpleasant at all. It felt gentle, somehow warm, comforting, but it was very, very deep sadness. Grief. I may not remember his name right now but I still remember that feeling as though I could recreate it now. So I asked him, after a while: “G, why are you always dressed in black?”.
He responded without taking his eyes off Bibo, without attempting to dismiss it all with a smile and a shrug, without pretence.
“My wife died, a few years ago. I still miss her”.
That was all. Life went on as normal. We sat some more in silence and sadness then it was time to get up and get stuff done. I saw him smile and be efficient and just be himself. But he always wore black, till the day I left that country. He was unashamed to show his grief, unashamed to say why it was there. You might think it was because I was a child, but he wore black, you see. His statement was clear, even to the adults. He was Real.
I started this post explaining that there are many things I don’t know where I stand about. But there are some things where I do.
The one religion I have, the one steady presence in my life, is compassion. Those who suffer will always have precedence in my life to those who don’t. I felt I agreed with Jesus quite a bit on that one. And don’t get me wrong, I am made up when someone is happy! It makes me happy that people are happy, when they’re happy! But I don’t believe in the pursuit of happiness to the detriment of others. And even if you do no evil, you are still detrimental to others when you choose not to care. When you choose to not feel compassion.
Recently, very recently, I have learnt that I need to turn that same compassion to myself. That I have a right to it too. I am still learning, the process is hard because I grew up with such a desperate need for affection, that if you weren’t actively abusing me I would be grateful for just accepting me in your presence and making me feel loved (although often, that was not the case). And if you did abuse me, it would take me years to identify it, and in many cases, even to accept it. It’s a work in progress. But I am starting to see that if you feel it’s ok to make me suffer just because I am inconveniently real for you, if you feel it’s ok for people to suffer just because they’re inconveniently human, dirty, unable to masquerade their issues or feelings for your benefit, then you’re not ok. In my book, you’re not ok.
I do not advocate everyone stopping whatever they’re doing and all becoming charity or social carers or fighters for the rights of others (though some do! They are heroes), take homeless people home with them, and so on. Of course every person has a right to get on in their own lives, they can’t all be human rights lawyers and fair legislators (hurray for them, more heroes!).
But the indifference. The indifference is what seems normal in these western societies I have come to experience, and I believe that indifference is the one quality I am becoming increasingly intolerant to. You can be as successful, well off and happy as you want. THAT I won’t begrudge you. But being indifferent, and non-compassionate of others, I think I have found the one thing about me that never budges, never changes. If you are indifferent to the plight of others, then I will judge you, and find you failing.
That is the one right I claim for myself.
Edit: Gerardo! His name was Gerardo 😀