To Whom It May Concern:
I’d like to think I’m in control of my thoughts and my dreams. That my body is my vessel and I am its god, but the fact is, I’m just its keeper. I don’t get to control the beating of my own heart. My blood pressure rises and falls on its own. My lungs breath in and breath out. My eyes blink. My body moves even when I’m trying to lie perfectly still. My brain is constantly thinking and feeling and functioning. I don’t control many things about myself, but I’m somewhere inside this vessel of mine and I have the privilege of doing things with it. I can make it run, though I don’t do as much of that as I should. I can make it jump. I can make it sit. I can think about things. I can feel things. I can want things. I can make it feel good. I can make it feel bad. I can consume healthy foods. I can drink lots of soft drink.
Sometimes, my vessel and I don’t work well together. We fight. We argue a lot. It gets hungry. It craves things. It desires things. Even things I’ve introduced to it that I probably shouldn’t. Caffeine. It has to relieve itself at the most inopportune times. It has anxiety and gets depressed. It has weak kidneys. It has genetics that I just cannot tolerate. Sometimes, I wonder if we were even compatible to begin with and yet some thing somewhere put us together.
I think, though, in all of its chaos we create together, we both agree on one thing. We want to be a good person. Not every vessel is like that. I’ve seen it. We’ve seen it. Not everything put together is good, but whether it is innate in me or a bunch of experiences put together, I have this underlying great need to be…a good person.
What is a good person, though? The thing about definitions is that they are defined by different vessels. What I deem beautiful by definition is not necessarily beautiful to others. What I think is cold to different degrees might be warm to others. What I define as choice might be defined as murder and what I define as truth might be another’s lie.
So my vessel and I agree that a good person is someone who is: kind and compassionate, loving and gentle, open-minded and forgiving, wise and understanding, a constructive critic who is aware of their audience, a teacher and a student, a medic and a patient, they do not view difference but see that the same act differently, accept the imperfection in all things, especially themselves, they listen and speak, they breath in and breath out, they are thoughtful and aware, they have patience.
And so, with that definition, we fall to the other thing my vessel and I seem to agree on…that we want to be as perfect as we can be…in hopes to fit that definition. It’s difficult because we’re not perfect. At all. In fact, we’re absolutely flawed and that’s okay because isn’t that part of the definition of a good person?
I don’t know if I’m a good person and one of my biggest arguments I have with myself is answering this question because despite the evidence and despite what others tell me and what I tell myself, my vessel and I are conflicting with each other at different times.
Sometimes, I have this thought: I am not a good person.
I could list you all the reasons why I wasn’t a good person. I could go on and on about it. And I’d argue with each reason, too.
Sometimes, it isn’t a thought, though. It’s a feeling. I feel like I am awful.
I can think something but it doesn’t mean I have to feel it. I can feel something but it doesn’t mean I think it, as well. It’s one big pile of conflict and contradiction.
I don’t know why I go through these moments. As I sit here typing this blog, I think I’m not a good person. But deep down, if I’d let my thoughts go there, I’d feel like one. I have these moments and feelings that so desperately want my thoughts to listen to. But I just can’t think about them now. All I can think about is: I am not a good person.
I’m glad my vessel and I are at odds at the moment because there was a time we weren’t. There was a time that we both thought and felt like we were not a good person. We weren’t worth the breath we stole.
And that’s the thing about mental illness. It’s all about conflict and contradictions? Even if we can’t see it. A vessel. Some are more in control as others. And my definition is not going to be the same as another’s. And that’s okay. It has to be. It’s part of the definition for me as a good person.
I have to believe that the choices I make, the definitions I make, the conflicts I have and the contradictions my flaws will present will still answer that one question I will probably ask myself when I steal that last breath…
Am I a good person?