These are unedited excerpts from my journal.
Some names have been altered to respect the privacy of the individuals mentioned.
17th December, 2018
I’ve been feeling really unsettled recently and I’m not sure why. I keep asking myself questions that I’m not sure I have an answer to and I don’t feel I’ve allowed myself to answer. Like with soccer, why do I care so much about making it? I remember answering that question months ago, but is that the real reason? Or do I just want a taste of “fame”? Is it purely an egoic adventure? Is it so I can say that I’ve “made” it? Why was I so stuck on making it work in Adelaide?
I think my experiences with soccer are comparable to those I had with Rachel – I thought I was helping her by talking through her problems and sitting with her in the darkness, but what if I wasn’t? What if none of that ever helped? We think we’re doing a “noble” thing, by listening, by being there, but at the end of the day, if it wasn’t us, it would have been someone else. I had similar thinking with United – I thought that what I had to offer off the field was unique and irreplaceable – I thought I was irreplaceable. But I was wrong. Again. Our ego wants us to think no one will be able to find another “us” – which is true, to an extent. But the real truth is; what you offer is replaceable.
I’ve never felt like my absence, in relationships or teams, has ever been noticed or missed. Is that because what I offer is easily replaced, or because of humans’ abilities to adapt to changes? Why does this concern me so much? Is it because I feel the absence of others so profoundly and I want the same for myself? Is this a question of being valued? In the past, I’ve felt that I’ve only been valued for what I’ve done, not for who I am. In soccer, it has always been about what I can offer on the field. In relationships, it’s been about what I can do for my partner and how I can make them feel – I’m not sure I’ve felt that anyone’s truly valued me or my mind. Perhaps that’s what I’m waiting for – someone to meet me and fall in love with my mind. And work with that. I know I have a lot to offer, I just don’t know how. I don’t know how to market my thoughts and my heart in a way that’s digestible to others.
When Nicole Gibson said to me, “Hello beautiful soul” – I felt seen. Seen in a way I hadn’t before. And I felt that during our conversation too – she asked me if I saw myself and I knew that she knew I didn’t. At least not completely. It’s hard then to truly see others when we don’t truly see ourselves. And I know that to be true with one of my friends. I’m struggling because I don’t understand. But I so desperately want to. All the pain I’ve known has stemmed from feelings of being misunderstood and loneliness, but I’m not sure that’s her pain. We’re so similar, but at the same time, so different. I keep recalling what Nicole said about lovers holding the key to our growth and transformation; the key to seeing ourselves. And I feel that with this friend. She’s challenging me, every day, in ways I didn’t know I needed to be challenged. Her capability of loving someone, and loving them without conditions, is more advanced than I’ve ever experienced. She doesn’t take anything personally – how? Is it because she’s so secure within herself that she knows it’s not about her? Or is she just so present, so focused on selfless love that she sees the real them and their pain? No matter what I give her, she still responds in the same way: with loving compassion. And with space. She often knows what I need even when I don’t have the words or courage to ask for it. Her love for me is challenging me to be better, to love better. As for her situation, her desire to no longer live is confronting. And challenging. I’m forced to live in a way that every day with her, every moment, could be our last. Some have told me, “That’s not a very good way to live,” but why? Does it not create a sense of urgency? A sense of truly embracing the present because that’s all that’s guaranteed? A sense of perspective of what really matters? Loving her through this is perhaps comparable to loving someone with a terminal illness, except for one crucial difference: time. I don’t know how much time I have with her. And I know there won’t be any warning. So I really do have to love her like tomorrow isn’t guaranteed because there are times when I’m reminded that I’m not. And these reminders make me sad, because I know I would miss her. Her presence, and subsequent absence, is one that doesn’t go unnoticed. Her energy is contagious. And I suspect it is such because of the pain she feels; the darkness she experiences and the depth of her wounds. She’s one of those people I’ve always admired; the ones who can always put their feelings aside and endeavour to be a positive influence, even when their world is shattering around them. How do people do that? – I don’t know how to mask any of that shit, I never have. And I’m questioning, which way of living is more beneficial?
I don’t know what to do. With soccer or with life. Is soccer on my path? Or am I working against what the universe wants from me? Even as I write that sentence, my gut doesn’t believe it – I know I’m not done with soccer. I just feel like a wounded animal. I’ve suffered so many cuts, so many heartbreaks, I just don’t know if I have it within me to keep fighting. I feel like I need nurturing. I need someone to believe in my abilities because my experiences and disappointments have caused me to internalise that I’m not good enough. I go through these phases of intense focus and determination; like, fuck yes. I will try again. I know what I need and I’ll ask specific people to help me get there. And then other days I think, what’s the fucking point? Do I really want to go through all of that again? Do I need to change my focus? Do I need to not work hard? Not prioritise soccer? Eat shit? Party? What needs to change for me to “make? it? I need to have “fun” but do I know how? Can I have fun and still work hard? Can I work hard just for me or is there a definite end goal in mind?
As for life, what do I want? And why? What is my why? I want to write a book, and I feel I can, I just need to figure out why I want to write it. What’s my purpose? To give something people can relate to? To encourage others to feel safe to express the parts of themselves that people have previously rejected? Suicide has been a recurring theme in my life, why? This friend is challenging my views and beliefs because I always thought connection is the answer. But what if it’s not? What if there isn’t an answer for some problems? Can I accept that? Or does that feel like a failure? How else can I view this problem? How can I learn about her pain? How can I better see her? By seeing myself more clearly? What does that even mean? Being honest? Letting go of wanting to be perceived as a “good” or “ideal” person? Perhaps that’s why I’ve never succeeded in soccer. I did the “right” things for the “wrong” reasons – because of how I wanted to be perceived. Has my whole life then, been one big martyr? Have I done the “right” thing with a “chip” in my energy that allows me to play the victim if it doesn’t work out? Why do I put in extra hours? What motivates me? Figure that out and be guided by your motivating force, not by what is “right”.
27th December, 2018
I’m getting bad again. My head feels like it’s in a constant fog. I feel like I’m constantly being tormented by demons in my head – the same demons that made me quit tennis all those years ago. I feel like I’m going through an identity crisis – I’m questioning everything I’ve ever done and everything I think I am. Why didn’t I drink or party when I was younger? To give me the best chance at soccer? But who told me partying was bad for you? Is it even bad for you? Why have I always cared about doing the “right” thing? What’s the fucking point of doing what’s right if it’s not actually what you want? We’re literally only here for one life, so why the fuck wouldn’t you do what you wanted? Does it really matter if you hurt others in the process? Are you even hurting them or is it their perception / expectations that are hurting them? Why have I always cared about minimising others’ pain but am happy to hurt myself?
I realise that I actually know nothing. I thought I’d overcome this darkness but I haven’t. And I realise that I’m probably alone in this because I don’t think anyone feels what I feel or is struggling with these thoughts. I feel like I’ve wasted these 25 years of my life. Now all I want to do is get fucked up. Do the things I never have because it wasn’t deemed to be “right” or adding value. Fuck adding value. I want to numb the pain and silence my thoughts.
I read something in my childhood journal on Christmas and it triggered me – it was feedback from coaches from over 10 years ago. It triggered me because those coaches identified my weaknesses back then and I’ve done fuck all about them. I never worked at it. Sure, I worked hard off the field. But that’s been my BIGGEST mistake. Because I needed a ball at my feet not dumbbells in my hand. Who the fuck even said you need strength and conditioning? Do you? Because last time I checked, I never got better at soccer when I didn’t have a ball at my feet. And this is what I regret. I regret investing in shit I thought mattered, but clearly doesn’t. So here I am, 10 years later, and what have I accomplished? Nothing. Literally nothing. Tennis yesterday drilled that home for me – I never had the mental strength to succeed. I have a competitive nature, so I can’t just have “fun” but I choke. I crumble under the slightest pressure because I get too in my head. I wasn’t good enough then and I realise, nothing much has changed.
I just want to disappear for a while. I need to sort my head and heart out so they’re not in a constant state of unrelenting torment.
I need to figure out my values and which one is the most important. And then I need to ask why it is. I used to think I knew – my values were; accountability, transparency, vulnerability, acceptance, and authenticity (lol). But why? Why those values? Am I selling myself short by having these? Sacrificing happiness for perceived goodness? Who gives a shit about that anyway? I feel trapped and confined by always considering what’s “right” or what will hurt others less, but that means I’m not free. I’m a prisoner to my own values. To society’s values. And if this really is the only life I have to live, fuck playing by the rules. 25 years of that has brought nothing but misery and failure. How much of “who I am” or who I think I am is actually who I am and how much is it who I want to be perceived as? How many times have I done what I wanted compared to doing what others would say was the right thing to do? How much have I lost by constantly choosing the latter? My happiness? My sanity? My life?
The reason I share these journal entries is because I think it’s so important to present oneself in a raw and unfiltered manner. The erratic writing and constant questioning present in the second entry clearly reflects my state of mind at the time. I felt like I was going through an existential crisis. I felt like I was questioning everything I’ve been raised to believe. And I still am. Why do we do the “right” thing? And what does that even mean?
From birth, we’re conditioned into thinking that right and wrong exist. And many of the conventions used to determine what is right and wrong are based on the principles found in the Bible. Wronging, in childhood, was synonymous with sinning. And if you sinned, you were destined to go to hell. Or at least, that’s how we were raised to think. So we continually did what was right, not necessarily because we wanted to, but because we were afraid of what would happen if we didn’t. And also because we wanted to portray ourselves as being “good” people, especially because “God was always watching”. But what does being “good” even mean?
I remember discussing my beliefs with one of my exes in the past and she almost laughed and said, “You have a lot to learn in your 20s. These might be your beliefs now, but they will change.” I remember getting quite defensive when she said that because I really liked who I was and what I believed in. But now I realise, maybe she was right.
So what’s spurred this recent onslaught of questions? Well naturally, it’s because of something I’ve been struggling with - I’ve found myself feeling an attraction towards someone who isn’t my partner. And I’ve struggled with this because it feels wrong. When you’re with someone, you shouldn’t be looking at anyone else. If you’re truly happy in your relationship, you wouldn’t feel anything towards anyone else. Or at least this is what I thought and believed. And I realise how flawed this thinking really is.
As my acupuncturist last week said; attraction is a beautiful thing and should never feel wrong. It only feels wrong because we’ve been taught to fear what isn’t always conventional; we’ve been taught that monogamy is the only “right” way to do relationships. Anyone that strays from that, or considers anyone else whilst in a relationship, is a “bad” person. But how can feelings ever be considered wrong, or bad? I used to think that I could never understand people who “cheated” – I understood how people could develop feelings for others, but to put themselves in a situation to allow that to happen? I considered that to be “wrong”. But why? Because at the end of the day, as I wrote in my journal, we only have one life. And if you’re on your death bed at 80, are you going to wish you did more “right” things? Or are you going to wish you actually did what you wanted?
Having said that, being attracted to someone doesn’t mean that anything is going to come of it. Part of learning who you are is allowing yourself the freedom to express yourself; to feel what you feel without judgement. When we suppress what we feel and deny ourselves of what we want, we live inauthentically. We end up sacrificing our happiness to preserve an image of ourselves. An image that doesn’t exist. An image that can never be obtained. Humans are complex creatures, but unfortunately society doesn’t allow for our true beauty, our true authentic selves to be expressed without some form of repercussion, some kind of negative consequence, some kind of judgement.
Aside from the judgement that I have of myself and my feelings, I’ve struggled with being honest about them with my partner. I’ve been in a relationship where I felt that my partner had a connection with someone, and I confronted her about it, but she denied it. And I believed her with my head, even though my heart knew there was something there. Once we broke up, she ended up marrying that girl I had suspicions about. And I’ve asked myself, what if she was honest with me? What if she admitted that she had feelings for that girl? How would I have reacted? Would that have been better for me, to know the truth, rather than thinking I was fucking crazy and reading into things? Or would I just have reacted and it made things worse? Admittedly, I think it would have done the latter given the headspace I was in. So what made me opt to do the opposite? Why did I tell my partner about this attraction?
Because of honesty. I don’t know how not to be honest. I don’t know how to lie. And almost everyone I’ve met tells me, “You’re too honest.” Or that, “There are some things you just don’t need to say.” But why? If that’s who I am, if I am an honest person that likes to talk, why would I suppress that? Is there such a thing as being too honest? I remember writing in a former post that you should fuck anyone off who makes you feel “too much” of anything – that “too much” is what makes you, you. And if people can’t handle that, do you really want them in your life?
As difficult as these conversations have been with my partner, I know that it’s the only way our relationship can move forward. Loving someone means giving them the freedom to be themselves and to do what they want, even if you aren’t comfortable with it. It’s in that discomfort though, that if discussed in a safe and open environment, that two individuals can grow together. And that’s what I posed to my partner – I want to know when things upset her. Because admitting that, admitting what makes us feel insecure, that’s what being vulnerable is. That’s where connection happens. And that’s when a true connection can be formed. You can’t connect with what isn’t true. And I suppose that’s why I try to live as honestly as I can. And that’s why I continue to write about things that don’t present myself in the “best” way. Will I be judged? Maybe. But if you’re judging me, who’s the one with the problem? Me or you?
So through these questions and by being curious about why I do the things I do, I’m learning to consciously override what I’ve been conditioned to believe and I’m following more of what my heart wants. And I’m doing that by letting go of my attachment to how I want to be perceived and to the fear of being judged. I’m learning what my values are and what’s important to me. I understand that every action has a reaction, but I find myself not attaching myself to anything anymore. What is meant to be in your life, will be. Because at any given moment, you actually possess everything you need; to live, to grow, and to prosper. Every moment you have a choice, to do what’s ‘right’, or to do what you want. So do you choose to live in fear, or do you choose to be free?