Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud

This may seem like a slightly jarring change of pace to the four people who have ever read my blog before. Normally I reserve tl;dr for rambly informative type posts and rants, few and far between though they are. I tried the "journal" thing before in past blogs, and it never went well. I suppose I'm just not good at talking about myself. But... well. I honestly don't have anyone else in my life to talk to. Those I would talk to, I can't, because they're either gone or just not interested.

That kind of thing doesn't normally bother me. I am absolutely not the "lonely" type. But I'm going through some changes that I might process better if I can articulate them in some way. I'm a healthy pessimist by nature, and therefore naturally expect the worst to happen. But I am not always prepared for the breadth of that worst case scenario. I am just now coming out of the very end of a complicated and somewhat emotionally devastating couple of... well, decades.

It's a strange thing, to ride through an inferno you know will obliterate you, and find yourself trundling back out the other side. The white-knuckle ride you thought would never end, suddenly you're stepping out of the rollercoaster and that consistent, persistent present has become the past. You know how when you watch a really engrossing movie? You get super into it, invested in that world, and then the movie ends and for a moment you have to kind of reacquaint yourself with your own life? It's kind of like that... only there was no pre-existing life to begin with.

I've always been obsessively self-aware, feeling like there was a camera trained on me every waking moment - but suddenly I'm conscious of feeling like the world is painted around me in some surreal Truman show-esque bad trip. Nothing feels quite real. I've been battered to the point of losing any cohesive understanding of my reality, resigning me to the role of a baby in a cot surrounded by strange shapes and sounds I have no thoughts about. I'm trying to figure everything out, trying to understand everything like an alien with no understanding of human ways or emotions.

It's difficult to express how I've experienced this change and just how drastic it is. There's this "how am I still here" question permeating my every thought with the insistence of a body that has been mutilated, broken, pulled open and reduced to a pile of bloodied meat - yet STILL remains somehow alive. To have come so completely apart at the seams, and still be staggering through the wilderness. How much more broken can you get? Everything is confusing to me because I'm viewing every experience through the lens of that giant question mark.

I suppose what's really confusing me is not having the convenient narrative of a single, unending emotion being the defining character trait around which I can base my life. Being able to wake up every day and know that "I'm the sad guy" has a certain stability to it. It took falling through a few extra cinderblock floors of anguish to really finish off what remained of that identity. Being brought so far past your capacity to contain said emotions that your whole world just sort of unravels into a naked, quivering ball of consciousness - and then you don't understand anything.

The final step was the hardest. Letting go. The Salvador Dali painting that had become my life in the wake of this trauma was already an endless nightmare. But those final dying convulsions of severing away the past, I can only compare to... well, I once had a tooth abscess. If you don't know what that is - be glad. My dentist screwed me over, and due to a complicated series of events, I ended up riding it out without any pain killers. The nerve in my tooth was infected. I had to wait for it to literally die before the agony would stop. It was like being electrocuted, bolts of lightning constantly streaming into my jaw, shattering it apart. My pulse became my enemy, squeezing cold flashes of concentrated scream into my skull every second.

Life wants to persist, even the smallest part of it. That's why we fight tooth and nail to survive, why a cornered animal is most dangerous. It is when the darkness of oblivion closes around us that we panic and cling hardest to life, and in that moment we learn to value it as we never did before. Even our bodies, the product of an evolution based on fear, respond the same way. That nerve tortured me with a desperate struggle to resist as it slowly withered into a twitching husk. I felt it turn necrotic, I felt it slowly die, trying to take me with it. So, too, was it that way with this trauma.

Letting it go was like pulling out my entire nervous system. Tugging against a bramble of heartstrings to escape, snapping them one at a time. I left so much of myself behind it felt like there was more of the person I once called me in the rotting meat slopping to the floor than in what staggered away. But, strangely, like the dying nerve, only the diseased parts of me had been cut away. It was the important parts that survived. There was that same odd relief in finding the pain had dulled to a quiet ache.

I honestly didn't think I would survive what I went through. I didn't even want to. But I did survive, somehow. And now, for the first time in years, I've gotten to a place where I don't feel like dying every time I wake up. But what's confusing me is I don't understand what I DO feel. Other than confusion, as I just said. And kind of hungry. Other than confusion and hunger I don't know what I feel. The pain has been my reality for so long I'm kind of tripping without it. Well, it's still there, but now it's just part of the furniture of my life. I'm learning that there's more.

It's kind of like someone switched off my life-support machine, and I just didn't die. There's nothing but a cold silence and a lot of confused staring. Maybe some awkward small talk. What happens now? The last few years have broken my psyche into so many pieces I no longer have any concept of where in all the debris "I" actually am. And yet, somehow... I am. It turns out you can't just stop existing as a consequence of having your sanity crumpled up into a ball of paper and thrown away. 

Soooo.... what now?

I feel kind of like the broom that's had both its head and its handle changed several dozen times. I'm so far removed from what I started out as that there's really nothing left in me of that person anymore. I've become this Frankensteinian patchwork of different ideas and personality traits. This has always largely been the case, and I've traditionally been okay with that. Exchanging different swatches of personality with new ones, designing myself how I want to be. But I suppose the key difference is what lies at the core of it all. The raw engine beneath the chassis. That's what has been destroyed.

And now I'm hovering around, this confused, embodied spirit awaiting a bright light, or a sign post, or hell I'd take a cryptic candybar wrapper. Not really sure where to go, or who to be. But here's the strange bit... there's almost a burden lifted from realising... I don't have to be the sad guy anymore. Yes it's bewildering, kinda scary and uncomfortable. But, I'm kind of... okay? Is that a thing? Is there a word for not-crushing-depression-despondence? Is there a word for kind of wanting the bungee rope to bounce you back up?

I've spent so long building this elaborate mansion around myself out of the very stuff of my pain. My masterpiece and home, where I can at least find safety in consistency. And then when it finally reached its critical mass, it all just kind of collapsed around me, and the sun broke through, and I'm like "Holy fuck what is that?", and then some guy, I assume he's a neighbour living in a slightly less-impressive pain mansion nearby, is like "Uhh, dude, that's the sun", and I'm like "Well I don't like it. Make it go away." But actually I kind of *do* like it? You know. That old chestnut.

So, what is this even? Am I complaining because of the complete implosion of my mind and subsequent annihilation of my self-understanding? Or am I expressing a cautious optimism about coming out of the other end of a very long, dark tunnel? I don't know that I'm there yet. Just to get to this point I had to sink to the very rockiest part of rock bottom. I mean, I thought I was broken already, but there was a time, VERY recently when I honestly couldn't take another second of life. Breathing was a poison to me. My heart was beating splinters.

I don't know that I'm all the way out of that, yet. As I said, that pain is still there, still very much a part of me. And I've been tormented for so long it's like my default state. Every time I think I am doing better, something sets off a chain of thoughts that leads me back into that darkness, and boom. Just like that, I'm back there, right on the brink. Right on the absolute edge. Hanging over, my stomach jumping with that weightless feeling that just precedes the fall, when the ground is no longer quite supporting you and you already know you're past the point of no return. That close to the edge.

My vagueries are probably annoying, as I'm obviously not comfortable revealing the gory details of just what my journey to this point has involved. Partly because it's not just my story to tell, but also because the details aren't the important bit. Suffice to say, I can sum it up with one sentiment. I haven't cried since I was a kid. Maybe once or twice, and a couple of sniffles here and there. But I've always held back from letting the tears escape my eyes. There was a reason for this. A reason I never shared with anyone. I honestly believed that if I ever let myself start... I will never stop.

Then something finally tipped me over the edge, and I started. And it went on... and on... and on. Did it stop? I don't know... but it did kind of abate over time. And now I guess I'm discovering that I needed that push. Many years of wrongness have been crystallised into this one symbolic act that I can wrangle and kind of subdue in a clean, tidy exchange of fluids and mental energy. I suppose, logically, that's the point of crying. But sometimes it feels less like a purge and more like being locked in an echo chamber, magnifying what I don't want to look at until it dominates everything.

Put simply, it took being finally and completely shattered to realise that maybe there's a chance that I can reforge myself into something new. And now, that's what I'm trying to discover. How to do that. Part of the dilemma surfaced in my first paragraph. I'm going through this strange paradigm-shift, this relayering of my persona, and I don't know who to talk to about it. In some ways this is tangentially related to how I got in this mess to begin with, but now I find myself with a burning need to sit someone down and ask them a bunch of questions about how life and stuff works... and I don't have anyone.

I've never needed friends. I find them needy and annoying. And they make you do stuff and go to things like parties, and talk to people. I mean, what's up with that? But now I... want to talk? Oh god, I just threw up in my mouth a little. Am I that guy now? I'm finding myself approach people whose company I can tolerate and initiating conversation. I mean I still lack any ability to talk about myself, but still. I talk TO them for some reason. I guess companionship is part of being one of those human things I'm supposed to be. I don't like it. It's too bright and sunny... I miss the clouds.

Joking aside - the hard part is that I know that even as I explore this spectrum of long-suppressed emotions, there are some I can never have. Maybe I don't have to be the sad guy. But I can never be the happy guy, either, and failing that I am predisposed to the sadness. I was better off not knowing that happiness could exist. Joy is something I have learned to fear, and fear is something I have to learn to deal with. Not least of which being the fear of what happens the next time that darkness takes me, and I find myself back at that edge, inexplicably incapable of handling another second of sentient existence.

There is one small silver lining, however. I can listen to music again. I haven't been able to for a long time now, not for very long anyway. Anything that can elicit an emotional response in me started to vibrate in my soul uncontrollably ripping apart the staples and duct tape that were holding me together. Now, I'm slowly finding that there are some songs I can listen to without feeling the cracks widening, and I'm obsessively gathering them all up. I'm also getting back into writing again, which I've had on temporary hold for the foreseeable... lifetime. I guess that's a good sign?

The bottom line is, I am becoming something new. This is the chrysalis of my next life. Part of that entails burning away what remains of the scar tissue wedged in my bones from the life that destroyed me. Part of it seems to entail learning how these emotion things work and what to do with myself now. I have to make some important decisions about who I really want to waste my energy on. Some people have become nothing but sources of negativity to me, and I don't need that in my life. There is a chance that I am on a positive course. Bruised and scarred though I am, and always will be, I can forswear the illusion of happiness and maybe begin to pursue something approaching contentment.

You know... my life was a lot less complicated when I was a godamned robot.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry that I haven't kept up with your blog for so long. Here's some cheers to looking at the sun!