When self-love becomes an impossible task, what happens?

Have you ever woke up hoping that you are not who you are?

I’m sure you often hear your friends or family complaining, saying how much they hated their lives and that they need a break from it. Maybe even you yourself have said something among those lines, thinking of how great it would be if there’s less stress to deal with on a daily basis. It’s perfectly normal to feel that way and to say how you wished life can be better.

The scary thing is when thoughts of self-hate get into your head, brainwashing you into believing that it’s not life that’s horrible but it’s you who’s not good enough. I’m not talking about the times when you feel stupid after tripping over nothing or when you couldn’t find your way to a restaurant you found online. But it’s the darkest side of you that stays close to both your heart and mind, constantly feeding you reasons to hate yourself to guts.

The devil inside you will always be there. But whether or not you’ll let it take over you depends on how much you want it gone.

Everything started on the summer of 2017. And it happened without any warning because apparently, the devil doesn’t knock on the door and ask for your permission to enter your life.

I began to feel an unfamiliar sadness in me, that was triggered by almost nothing. It was just there and I had to deal with it without knowing what was going on. The strange thing was, things were going great at that time. There wasn’t anything in particular that could’ve caused that much sadness at all.

But it was there. The sadness was and still is real. And what else could I do but to deal with it?

Things got better for a while before it went completely downhill. There was a point in November in which I would wake up to the thought of hoping that I never did. I started to think if there are ways to fast-forward this painful stage in life and just skip to the happily-ever-after ending. But who was I kidding, such a thing doesn’t exist.

I had to continue life and I am aware of that. I talked to people around me, sharing these dark feelings I had about myself. I told them about my inferiority complex which had been killing me for months. Not only did it make me loathe myself, but it made me stop believing that I could be better.

What would a person end up like if he or she doesn’t put faith on themselves?

A few weeks ago when I was at the lowest point of my life, I came across an old man when I was on my way to my dormitory. He was an old man whom I’ve always saw on campus, walking around with his badly bent back and holding onto many plastic bags. He was always alone, walking slowly and occasionally stopping to take a break.

I’ve always wanted to approach him to offer some help. But I never did. I would tell myself that he probably wouldn’t want to be bothered and that going up to him is a terrible idea. I was afraid he would scold me for minding his business or that we might not even understand each other in the first place.

But with the encouragement of a dear friend of mine, I approached him that night, when I was on the edge of completely giving up on myself. I went up to him and spoke in Mandarin, “Hello there, I can help you with your things.”

The old man’s face lit up in an instant, raised up his head and gave me a genuine smile. His age made it difficult for him to speak properly, but he was trying his best to express his gratitude, “It’s alright, I can manage. Thank you very much. Thank you.”

We started a small conversation after several more times of me insisting to help and the old man constantly thanking me.

Old Man: Where are you from?

Me: Indonesia.

Old Man: Oh, Indonesia! Are you from Jakarta?

Me: No, I’m not. I’m from a place near Singapore.

Old Man: Singapore, Singapore is a good place! It’s an advanced city, isn’t it?

Our conversation was indeed simple but it opened my eyes to bigger things. I was surprised by the curiosity of the old man, who truly showed interest in knowing about my background. Even though talking was indeed difficult to him due to his health, it didn’t stop him from asking questions.

After a while, I offered help with his things again, in which he rejected me once more by saying he doesn’t live very far from where we were. Before we parted ways, he said a few words that moved me to tears.

You’ll have a good future ahead of you, I’m sure.

To me, his words were more than just a show of appreciation for my small act of kindness. It was a huge slap on my face, reminding me how I lack the faith I needed for myself. Someone whom I’ve just talked to for a couple of minutes showed true faith in me but I couldn’t even begin to like the person I am today.

Waking up is still difficult. When I opened my eyes in the morning, I would start to wonder what time of the day I would feel sad. Or what would happen today that would make me cry. And I would sometimes think that maybe staying inside my room would be the best idea because that way, I wouldn’t see, hear or encounter anything that could trigger sadness.

But that wouldn’t work. Because the trigger is in my own mind. And no matter how much I wanted, I couldn’t run from my own thoughts and emotions.

Even though things are mostly in my head, it’s real nevertheless.

I’ve always been terrified of showing vulnerability in front of other people. Even writing this is scary. There is always this fear lingering inside me as I wonder, “What do people think of me when they see how weak I can be?”. And there’s also a fear of people telling me, “You’re over-thinking. It’s all in your head.” When you see people taking your feelings lightly, it doesn’t only hurt but you’ll start to doubt yourself.

So am I really in pain or am I just hallucinating?

Now that I’m certain the pain is not just in my head, it made me decide that I wouldn’t run away anymore. I may not love myself right now but the belief that I would be better is growing. The growth is slower than I hoped for but it’s alright to take baby steps one at a time. There are instances when I would suddenly feel sparks of happiness and in the next second, I go straight into a black hole of what feels like eternal sadness.

But it’s alright, I just have to find a way out of the trap to catch the tiny fragments of happiness that I long for. I don’t dream of the day when I won’t ever feel sad. I dream for the day when sadness doesn’t make me stop believing that happiness is real.

I have depression and it hurts. But everything has a way out and I’m set to find my own path to a better life where I love the person I am unconditionally.

And perhaps one day, I will find back the part of me I’ve lost who shamelessly believed in the happily ever after endings of fairy tales.