have I ever been happy? do I even know what that means? I half-heartedly swipe through the collection of memories I’ve kept easily accessible for reference and cannot make this determination with any true definiteness. I remember these moments, these captured realities. I remember the shots being snapped, but each one comes with an addendum sidled to it. I am unable to conjure up many times where that smile was not duplicitous; masking a nervous uneasiness I could never show or chose not to.
I can’t separate the good from the bad. And the bad usually always overshadowed the true unhinged laughter that I so desperately crave to let loose. I’m prone to fits of hysteria, true bellowing guffaws. I have an easy smile. I flash it freely. I hope to exude a warm energy to those around me. There is so much pain right below the surface, simmering, always on the precipice of erupting into something approaching cataclysm. None of it malevolent. None of it stemming from my repressed subconscious. None of it having any basis on actuality. I am sharp enough to realize my insanity.
I could construct an experience as a skilled neurosurgeon with a scalpel in hand, down to the last minute detail, and somehow only come away with a handful of instances packed full of misery. It’s not that I’m pessimistic. It’s not that simple. Nothing is. It seems that the lows are just so intense; so, disproportionately inflated that they crush the more joyous ones into ash. Those minor mishaps that most can nonchalantly flick from their conscious mind will embed themselves into my every surfaced recollection.
I can’t shake the shadow that looms by the bedside.
It happens in slow motion, but with stealth & mad determination, a fog rolls in casting a distorted shimmer over each frame and every scene. A flicker here. A ripple there. It’s a lens that I cannot wipe clean, a filter I cannot remove. All my lived in moments, those which should fit snugly and provide comfort, my timeline, all caked with disquietude.
Everyone encounters situations that test their ability to adapt All of us have faced the unexpected. Plans are never truly rock solid: shifts in circumstance or capricious whims emerge. The script, always susceptible to last minute rewrites or an impromptu ad-lib from the supporting character, dictates the forward motion. Those whose roles should never evolve to more than a silhouetted head-shot somehow infiltrate and imprint upon my conclave of Kodaks for eternity. I’ll never know their name, nor their face, but the impact will nonetheless leave a lasting impression. It’s the feeling that I fail to evade.
I don’t even know how to fully explain it. My complete and utter inability to verbalize my thoughts continues to plague me at every turn– is it a vestigial remnant from my alcoholism? is it damage that cannot be reversed? or just another symptom underneath the umbrella of anxiety?
And when I attempt to jot down why I encounter so much trouble trying merely to survive another day, it seems just as pathetic as I know it is. I appear dramatic. I appear infantile. I know this. I get it. I see it. But, it’s not just a case of theatrics. I’m not that person. I want to slip into the background. I don’t want to play a starring role, even in my own story. I want to be noticed, but remain unsung. I want to be cared for, but only when I care more. I want control, but please take the helm. No choices I make are correct, but I’m only safe when I lead.
Change petrifies, but I’m encased within a stone fortress as it sits. I’m dying here, but out where it’s unfamiliar is a fate worse than death. Or so I fear.
Yes, it always comes back to fear. That is all anxiety is, right? A fear of the unknown. A fear of what will come. I’ve always loved knowing the end to the tale. I loathe the suspense. No surprises. No loose ends. Nothing open to interpretation. Black. White. Oh, yes, here are again at the world’s worst game of chess.
Or perhaps I’m just facing an opponent worthier than I.
I am always engaged in these futile attempts to outmaneuver the other side. I foolishly portend that there are particular avenues and alleys that I can turn down & hide. I, quite naively, foresee myself rationing out ways to win. I can textbook this. I’ll even show my work this time. See, see! I scream to no one. I bleed out the equation, the ink spills over the crevices and folds. I pick and choose from self-help books, anecdotes and witticisms. Did you see this article?, they say. Take this pill. Eat this food. Try this exercise. WELL MY MOM SAID…
I stir up all that divulged to me and force-feed it down my throat. It burns and sears on the way down. This will be the antidote. My cure.
I’m always doubtful, but my eyes have a glimmer of hope to them, do they not? They’ve turned a new shade of blue this year. Still ugly. Still blind. But, that has to mean something.
I can convince that this time is different. I do that well. I wear that well. I’ve turned a corner. I’m cruising down easy street. I’m strutting. I’m stomping. I’m bouncing off the walls. If I stand upright. If I don’t let them see the lump in my throat, the clenched fists, the slight tremor rush over me, then I can fake it until I make it. I read that somewhere, right? I can beat this. What’s the worst that could happen?
This. All of it. My every second of every day is the worst that could happen. I’m living it. Every word I manage to eke out, to type, comes with a voice saying “give the fuck up, it’s all for naught.” I can do no right in my mind. All I can see are imperfections. No reflection of this visage placates the insatiable beast within. I hear compliments, but they’re spoken via a foreign tongue. I cannot grasp it. Dysmorphia might describe the physical aspects, but I believe it a disservice to the summation of this disordered way of thinking to whittle it down to just that. I meditate on the accolades accumulated along this path to nowhere and think them retroactively void of any meaning. Surely, my successes and lauded accomplishments could not exist without a grave misunderstanding. I deserved nothing. I earned nothing. All of it a fluke. Each checked box an exception to the rule.
It’s truly frightening to live as a captive, trapped within a body whose mind plays the super-villain. I attack myself until I’m nothing more than viscera & dulled bones. I’m afraid of the control room. I knock with trepidation, but the disconnect remains so great that the door never even cracks. Not once. I cannot connect the two parts of me. The expanse of the void, too vast. I worry that I’m too far gone.
I can see myself glinting off the light in your eyes. I know you see me. I can feel that. I fail when it comes to deciphering between genuine love because of who I am or an obligation to protect. And it matters to me. One is not enough. And one is all I need to survive. My fuel, my fire.
I wish I saw what others must. But, I can’t. I’ve tried. I cannot find one element to my being that I want to show to you. I can only present an empty box. I don’t know who I am until you tell me. Make me into something. Mold me into what you need. I’ve given up. I must have. The hollowed sunken eyes of a weary soldier, battered from years of war and neglect– bloated and distended as the process of decay begins. I walk around like that. I catch a glimpse in the dimmed window and that vision transmits straight to my psyche.
Yet, I still find something to get up for every day.
I’m fortunate to have family that protects me from becoming a statistic. Without them I’d take up life on the streets. I’ve mentioned this many times to faces of both utter disbelief and sheer panic, but the respect I have for myself ceased to exist long ago. I would, without hesitation, whore myself out for drugs, money, shelter. Whatever it took. I can dissociate and leave my body any time I need. It’s my only saving grace. Thank goodness for that.
As I’ve mentioned, my only satisfaction comes from finding my place in another’s world, whether ephemerally or eternally, as long as it can last. I’m yours. Abuse me, use me, but lay beside me at night and tell me that you love me. Let me feel that. Let me believe you, just for today. I’ve heard it, but my doubts have always proven impossible to shak. I think that love comes and goes. I don’t believe it to persist. It’s not static. I’m afraid if you leave, even for a moment, that next time won’t be the same. The charade will cease to exist. It’s all so much.
When I fall asleep at night, I do so unsure if there is a single person out there who could ever think of me as their eyes closed. I don’t believe I could ever exist in another’s dreams. I can’t imagine how I belong in anyone else’s story. And I want to. I just want to make someone smile. Everything that I find so challenging, I want to make easier for others. I want those who I deem worthy, those who I cling to, to never experience the pain I’ve relentlessly (and without respite) endured.
I’m numb now. It doesn’t hurt to the degree in which it has, once upon a time when I still felt as though great things existed just on the other side of the hill. I lost that last bit of innocence last June. I have never blamed her. I knew the liquor kept her from seeing what I knew all along, that I’m a ghoul. I’m a black hole absorbing all the light before us, sucking everything in, using, taking, needing, requiring, so much energy, so much mass, giving nothing of any value back, because I never had anything to give. She sobered up, wised up, and left for greener pastures. It did not kill me, but it extinguished that last bit of faith in a future where I could escape my cage long enough to feel that touch of warmth. I loved her, so much. But, that chapter closed.
I come from a family who would grant my every wish, within reason. I have none. They offer up money for anything I need. I have few wants. I can’t even name anything that would improve my situation without an avalanche of anxiety crashing heavily upon me.
Why do I fear criticism and judgment from others more than death itself? This continues to plague my every step. So what if I’m not interesting, cool, fun, successful, inspiring, etc (the list could go on)?
I look around me and every one I hold close to me exhibit all of those things and more. I worship at their altar. I admire them with such genuine sincerity. They fill me with so much joy just through proximity. All I want is to return the favor. But, all I can see is the drain I am on their emotional health, the toll I take on them. Watching someone you care about suffer can cripple you. I know this. I’ve lived it, too.
I want to free them of that burden. I want to improve. I want to love myself enough to crawl out of this endless abyss.
I fear I am unworthy and incurable.
Prove me wrong.