Every once in a while when I’m in a introspective mood I’ll say something about being more of an observer of reality than a participant in it, but I tend not to articulate why I say that or what it really means.

The people who hear it I think take it as a comment on my own passivity. Like it’s a self-deprecating thing, because usually when people say that they do mean it in a self-pitying kind of way.

For me that’s not strictly you correct. But, again, I’ve never really articulated why I mean so I can’t begrudge anyone the misunderstanding.

For me, being an observer rather than a participant is a defensive mechanism. I’m bipolar, and my mood swings tend to be profound. I have a long history of physically hurting myself over really weird, mundane stuff. So I pull myself back to protect myself. I make myself not care about shit.

In the bigger picture this involves not going after the things I want for myself in life, because I know that failing to get them might cause me to kill myself. Because I’m not afraid of rejection or failure. I’m afraid of me.

This year I’ve acted as though I had myself under control, and I did believe it. Things have been going well, and I make real money for the first time in my career. But it was a lie, and I know that because recently I started feeling weird things. Happy things. Hopeful things.

I also started feeling scared again. My mind is self-sabotaging — when it sees the positive possibilities it also pulls up the negative ones. I see how things will go wrong, and what I will do after they go wrong.

So I hedge my bets. Or I try to. It’s not as though I’m thoroughly in control. For the moment, the doors to happiness and terror are opened and I can’t just close them. This simply is where I am, and I have to see where these paths lead. Bringing with me everything I’ve learned about myself over the many years I’ve struggled with being bipolar.

The whole thing about being an observer is, basically, my attempt to avoid this kind of situation. But here we are. Whoops.

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