I suppose like all good stories I should start at the beginning. Except, given that I have no current direction and feel so lost, the beginning seems all but a myth. I’m struggling; greatly. In ways that words could not hope to convey. I, like many others have, are and will, am going through the adjustment period of attempting to start a new life from its beginnings whilst feeling like I have no control and confidence in my decisions or their consequences.
The last words in my previous post about not wanting to come to Australia were that I hoped I would feel some sense of relief once I had arrived. Sadly I have found the opposite to be true. Before I began my 36 hour journey to Sydney, anything was possible. I knew my rough plans and goals and they offered a minute source of comfort to me in my darkest times but faced with reality once landed, I have felt worse than I ever could have imagined.
My first week was lost to a blur of tears brought on by physical pain I felt from my mental despair. Unable to sleep and eating nothing more than a banana a day, I was plagued (and still am) by the thought that I had made the wrong decision in the most momentous of ways. I questioned how I could have been so selfish to leave my mum after all that she had done for me despite her being my emotional cheerleader, wanting me to go out and seek a new, happy life. Crying in my dorm room I have felt like a failure to myself and my friends and family whose loving expectations weigh heavy on my shoulders. I feel ungrateful yet knowing of my emotional need to feel whatever my body and heart is telling me to.
I’ve been here a month and yet emotionally I still feel as vulnerable as I did in my first week. I have no job, I’m still living in a hostel and the ‘Australian dream’ seems to be slipping through my tear-stained fingers however desperately I try and fight to hold on. I am mentally and physically exhausted but I want to be honest so bear with me…
I had expectations of myself in Sydney. That I would arrive in the city, see the sights and think ‘yes! I made it!’. Instead, I saw the bridge and the Opera House on my first day and felt nothing; except guilt for my emptiness. I made friends on the walking tour and I smiled in my photos but inside I was empty. I expected to find a job and a place to live within the month and yet today, they feel further from my grasp than before I left home. I thought I would fall in love with Australia and yet I currently find myself resenting it for making me feel the way I do.
Family and friends also have expectations. They want to live vicariously through me as I have my adventure and watch as I hopefully become happy which is sweet but how am I supposed to answer their ‘how is Australia’ questions honestly without feeling embarrassed? How am I supposed to tell them that I want to be anywhere but here right now despite my ‘beautiful photos’? That I want to get into bed and never leave? And so, in the spirit of honesty, ironically I lie to them because it comes back to my previous writing; when you’re chronically depressed, upset or feeling negative, no-one wants to keep hearing it because you’re ‘complaining’ so I stop saying it because I can’t handle the ‘it will all work out’ speeches even though they are said with love and comfort.
So on that level I feel an immense of guilt for how depressed I am. I KNOW that I have worked myself into the ground to save enough money for this trip and I KNOW that I have been through hell in the last 2 years so deserve it but knowing something and feeling/accepting it are two entirely different matters. I feel I SHOULD be happy because everyone wants me to be and because so many people would love to travel in Australia and the fact that I can’t weighs me down with guilt that I know I shouldn’t feel but can’t help myself. If ‘hindsight is a cruel mistress’, guilt comes a close second.
I also can’t begin to explain how discouraging and ruthless searching for a job and a place to live is. No one acknowledges your resume and you’re lucky to get a call back to view an apartment which comes before an ‘audition’ to see if they like you enough to become their housemate. It’s hard not to take it personally when your calls go unanswered (or they hang up) or you keep missing out on places because someone else’s personality fits the house better than yours and your friends find places quicker than you.
The catch 22 is that in coming here I feel too depressed right now to do much of anything which leads me to feelings of self-hate, embarrassment for not ‘loving it in Australia’, guilt for not making the effort and shame that I can’t ‘get my act’ together. To say I’m currently trapped in a downward spiral would be a sad understatement.
And yet, I have had some amazing times here this past month, even if I have been unable to truly feel their pleasures on a deeper level. I took a short but solitary walk to the top of the Barrenjoey Lighthouse to gaze upon Palm Beach…
I sat in a net (attached to a boat) in Nelson Bay to allow dolphins and their calves to swim feet away from me…
I stood on the viewpoint and watched whales breach in the distance…
and I have made friends with some of the most amazing women I could find sometimes laughing until it hurt to do so any longer…
Which leads me to a beautiful equilibrium in that I seem to have collected the wounded souls who feel as distressed as I am. My sadness allows me to see it in others. It allows me to spend my mornings on the bathroom floor of the hostel talking through a toilet door because the girl is too upset to come out. It allows me to be the person they call when they’re lonely and want some company just to read a book together. It allows me for a few minutes, or hours, to be their ‘person’; the one who will listen without judgement as they cry, safe in the knowledge I can comfort them by revealing that I and many others feel the same. Receiving a text this week from a young girl thanking me for making her feel ‘so much more comfortable here’ felt bittersweet; I am able to help others and yet feel powerless to help myself in the same regard.
However, a dear friend reminded me this week that maybe the only achievement I needed to accomplish was to get on the plane; that I should expect nothing else from myself except the satisfaction of knowing that I did something that many in this world are too afraid to do.
If my words sound depressing it’s because they are a reflection of my thoughts and for the moment, this is my journey. If I can’t be happy in myself, I can’t write happy words simply to make someone feel more comfortable and to avoid them believing I am ungrateful for my opportunity. For now, my thoughts don’t afford me the luxury of optimism or believing that ‘everything will work out for the best’. They are bias towards the negative and don’t allow for objectivity in how I perceive my journey so far but I got on the plane and I’m trying; every day I’m trying. That’s more than most people can say in their lives.
I can’t be truly happy right now; my soul just isn’t ready for it yet.
But I’m trying; everyday I’m trying.