On a Scroll
It’s the end of the day.
I look up from my phone screen and see the space around me for what feels like the first time since I opened my eyes this morning.
I’ve had a quiet few weeks at work which were much needed after the very full few months that preceded them. But I’ve found that in this slower pace, I am falling back into bad habits and creeping closer to the kind of melancholy that makes it difficult to get out of bed in the morning.
I’ve lost entire days this month to endless scrolling, meme-sharing, tv watching, and click-click-clicking every piece of click bait that floats onto my screen. And the more I indulge my desire to “relax”, the more that lonely feeling intoxicates me. Each time I give myself the permission to sidestep reality, I am also taking one more step away from vulnerability.
The thing is, I adore my alone time. The quiet spaces for solitude I’ve created in my life are often what puts the air back in my lungs. I can feel everything around me come back into focus after a few hours of time by myself. But too much time spent like this and I start to dip into the darkness. My anxiety and depression have changed over the years and this most recent iteration manifests as lethargy. It’s a completely empty brain and an inability to focus. On anything. Ever.
So, I scroll. I scroll on my phone which is held inches from my face while my laptop is open on my legs while my TV blares across the room. If I create enough noise, I don’t have to acknowledge the darkness. If I don’t try, I can’t fail. If I don’t reach out to anyone, I can settle into loneliness and I can almost convince myself that this is how I’m meant to be. And, if I spend enough time here, I can tell myself all kinds of stories about my shortcomings and my failures. I can believe that as my dear friends and their spouses begin to create new life, that I will be left behind on my couch watching everyone’s life from afar. I can believe that I’ll never feel financially stable again. I can convince myself that I’m a true imposter and it’s only a matter of time before I’m caught. If I scroll long enough, it makes sense when I realize not much in my life has felt real since my dad got sick. If I scroll long enough, I can make believe that all of it was fake.
In many ways I felt like my life stopped three years ago. My grief is old and new and familiar and foreign. Every big life moment, every business milestone, every father I see with his daughter is a reminder of moments I have lost. Almost without fail, when I begin to mindlessly numb my pain, I realize that I’m attempting to sidestep my grief. And sometimes, it takes a month of lethargy and blank stares at screens for me to even realize I was hurting at all.
I am constantly learning how to move through my feelings rather than around them. It is painful either way. But when I consider the way I want to show up in the world, I am confident that I do not want to be the person who loses days of her life to screens in an attempt to sidestep pain.
I want to be the person who decides to stop scrolling and chooses to look my pain directly in the eye.