of tissue and glass

I’ve been crying a lot lately.

It’s mostly been over inconsequential things, like dog videos. And they’re cute videos about dogs tucking in babies or hugging other dogs. Just generally being sweet and adorable. It sounds lame on the surface to cry over this kind of thing (What the heck, am I a pregnant woman?) but I just love animals and dogs are just so amazing and beautiful and have pure souls. I’ve never met a bad dog. And they’re just so cute and it warms the coldness I have inside. And when I see those damn ASPCA commercials or the inevitable screen grab of abused animals that are advertised on the web, it breaks my heart. I don’t just see the images of freezing puppies chained to a fence or a cat with one eye sitting in the corner of a cage. My mind goes beyond the images. What happened to them to get them in that situation? What cruel person took this innocent creature and tortured it and neglected it? I step into their fur and see the world the way they do. I wonder how long they suffered. I hate that they never got to know love. I worry for them. I wish for them to be okay. And it just makes me so sad that there’s so much suffering in the world, especially suffering animals because no one cares about animals. We hear, “Save the Children, Save the Refugees” and I totally agree with that. But you don’t hear “Save the animals!” as much.

And then on Facebook I saw this video of this kid who had a mental and physical impairment but this guy at Starbucks gave him a chance and made him a barista and the kid said he felt like his life had a purpose now. That made me cry, too. And I thought that was just really nice of that guy to help out the kid and I thought it was great that the kid felt like he had a purpose. And his purpose was making coffee. And that seems so simple and inconsequential and maybe it is, but to him it wasn’t. Maybe it was just the fact that he had something to do, something to contribute to the world. He could help people. It was something so small but he was so grateful for it.

I turn that on myself and I feel like a jerk. I feel like my life has no meaning. I go to work every day and I fold shirts and tell customers their coupons don’t work on Levis and they get pissed at me and give me a hard time and then I go home. What am I contributing to these people, to the world, to life? I have dressed a lot of people for funerals, both attendees and the deceased. I suppose you could say by helping these people dress for a difficult situation, I am easing some of the burden. And maybe I am. And maybe they don’t think twice about my small contribution. I don’t know. All I know is that it’s not enough. But should I not be grateful for the little bit I do? Whether I’m pushing coffee or khakis, if I’m assisting someone make their day easier, isn’t that enough? Shouldn’t we all be helping each other, whether in small or large ways?

I constantly go back and forth between feeling useless and realizing that I am not. Or if I am, I could always do something about it. I could be an activist. I could spread good news. I could give to charity. I could hand out compliments and positive vibes to others. It just never feels like enough because I don’t see the effects of my actions. At work, I send people off with their clothes and never see how good they feel wearing their new outfit. I compliment someone’s haircut and don’t get to know how that might cheer them up if their in a bad mood. I donate blood and never know if it might have saved a life.

I guess this kind of sounds selfish, right? I do all these great things and get nothing out of it! It’s not that I’m looking for recognition or accolades. I just want to know that the admittedly little bit of good that I do is making a difference to someone. In the grand scheme of things, we are all useless. None of what we do or say is really going to matter. But some of us can make the littlest blip on the cosmic radar. Your great leaders. Your great artists. Your presidents and advocates. Those who created a lasting change. Those who started a revolution in thinking, working, loving, living. Even all that might not matter once the world explodes. But at least it might ease the burden on others for as long as everything is still standing.

Sometimes I get so emotional over the smallest things. Love songs and sweet videos and even my own thoughts. And then there are days when I feel so cold, so void of any emotion at all. I know we all have our mood shifts but mine feel so drastic and often uncontrollable. If I’m not distracted by movies or music, when I’m left alone with my thoughts, they always go dark and tend to dim all the rest of me. I wish I could say I start thinking about how awesome I am but I just repeatedly go over all my mistakes. I think about the stupid things I did when I was in middle school. Like, what? Something I did 15 plus years ago is still bothering me? I just keep going over these certain situations in my mind and wonder now how I could have acted so stupid. But of course, I was a different person back then. Aren’t we all different in that span of time? I stretch my mind and see jagged crystals of fouled up social situations and awkward physical phases. I wish I could pull up memories of smooth moves and smooth skin but there are none to be found.

Again with the useless.

I wonder if people have that one great memory that they are proud of. A great basketball game in high school. A winning poem in college. The day you saved a girl from drowning. The day you saved the relationship with your parent. Winning a thousand dollars from a scratch off ticket. Going to an amazing concert. Falling in love for the first time. Or for the fifth time but it was the best time. Graduating. Feeling like you made it. A weekend of fun with your best friend. Your wedding day. Your wedding night. There are so many special moments to recall, some life changing, and some that are just special even if they aren’t huge. And all of them valid. But I don’t have that.

Maybe if I had a best friend or at least a consistent friend I could say that maybe I mattered to someone. I heard once that if you are friends with someone for 7 years, you will likely be friends with that person for life. But it’s not true. I’ve had “friends” for 10 plus years who have faded away.

I don’t know who I am. With as much self-reflection as I do, sometimes I feel I have a good idea of this Brannon guy. But sometimes I feel I haven’t even scratched the surface, which is funny ’cause there’s not too much to explore. I’m a basic bitch in many respects but yet I’m quite complex in other areas. I guess getting to know yourself is a life-long process. Do we ever really know who we are? Why is it that sometimes it seems like other people know us better than we do? You would think no one would know you better than yourself but that simply is not true. It’s all about perspective. It’s the inside looking out. But they are outside looking in. We see the exterior and they see the interior. Why didn’t anyone tell me the carpet didn’t match the drapes?? And how embarrassing that there was something about myself so glaringly obvious to everyone but me.

A lot of the time my heart feels like glass. It’s cold and not quite comfortable. It’s sharp. It’s heavy. And then there are fewer times when it feels as fragile as tissue paper. Anyone could break it (or break through it) at any time. It pulsates with this need to care, to burst open and pour love onto people. And it also stays shut and does not care for interaction or compassion.

And the worst part is I don’t know which one is the real me. Am I the lover buried under insecurity and circumstance? Or am I the loner who feels guilty for not feeling anything at all? Is it possible I could be a mad mix of both, some hybrid of humanity and hell?

I really, really want to be good. But deep down, there’s a shameful part of me that wants to be really, really bad. Am I fighting human nature? Or is it my own nature, this individual behavior born from genetics and environment? How much of this can I blame on heredity and how much of this do I need to take responsibility for? I’m not in denial that a large part of my unhappiness is my own fault. Of course, that’s hard to swallow. No one wants to admit they screwed up their life and wasted away their youth on a cocktail of crash diets and detrimental decisions. No one is perfect, of course, but some people get it right more times than not. I am not one of those people.

I would love to move away, to start over. But I did that once when I went to college and it didn’t help. It only made things worse and I think played a large role in why I am (and where I am) today. But really, I think I just ran away from my problems and ran into a bearded barrage of other problems. And the problem with these problems is I never resolved any of them, only threw them in the deepest corners of my mind like a closet strewn with unwanted clothes, thrown together in a haphazard manner.

And I have no money. That won’t change because I can’t find a good job around here. And moving requires money. Or I could stay with a friend if I had one. And how do you learn about relationships unless you’re in one? It’s hard to make a friend when you don’t know how to be a friend. When you’re damaged. And there’s not a lot of guys like the Starbucks boss who wanna give you a chance. Everyone has their own baggage and adding someone else’s to the mix doesn’t make for a smooth ride. I understand that. I will admit that I’ve written some people off as too crazy to deal with so I can’t really blame anyone for not wanting to deal with my own craziness. But, I do anyway.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to get out, to go some place new, to meet a friend, to go to dinner with someone, to be excited to see someone instead of dreading the inevitable uncomfortable conversation. Wouldn’t it be nice to feel wanted, to get excited over a person, to feel warm with love. Wouldn’t it be nice to make someone laugh, to see the crinkles in the corners of their eyes as their face lights up with a chuckle. Here it is, you’re making someone’s day. You’re making them feel better. You’re helping. You are not lost. You are not useless. You can be fun. You can be soft. You can be wanted. By God, you can be needed by someone. Wouldn’t it be great if someone called you because they wanted to hear your voice, to have a good conversation with you because they wanted to get to know you better instead of doing it as a time killer while they wait in line at the grocery store or driving to work.

I float below restaurant tables and fade into the walls at work. I never feel grounded anymore. I am pulled between the advice everyone has ever given me and this urge to contradict all of it with my own hatred for myself and my actions and my mind. I want to scream that they don’t get it, it’s not so easy to pack up and move or to just “put myself out there” with others. I don’t have the best track history in either department. Maybe I’m being stubborn. Maybe I don’t want to try. Maybe I’m too tired. Maybe I’m not worth it.

And I’m crying again just thinking all these things, wondering if I am worth it. How could someone with such potential go off course so bad. An coworker of mine just recently told me he had been in prison for five years. But he’s already gotten a job offer from another company and if his background check comes back and the company doesn’t care that he was supplying drugs to other people, he’ll be outta there soon. And he has a girlfriend. And he was just released last October. And I think it’s kind of funny that a guy who’s been in jail for half a decade still seems to have his life more together than I do.

And I don’t mean to say that I am better than him or deserve better than him just ’cause he was in jail. No, not at all. In fact, I thought it was kind of cool. I’ve never known anyone in jail before and I asked him a lot of annoying questions about it. I’m just saying that he was held back in life for five years and yet he’s still ahead of me. Of course, who’s fault is that, right? This is illogical and selfish of me but it feels unfair. I tried to follow all the rules. Good grades. Good attitude. Never got in trouble and always tried to be nice. And all I ever got was kicked down, abandoned, placed in debt, and placed in a coffin.

You’re always told to do well academically, socially, and physically and you will be okay. But not everyone can be okay. That’s not the way that life or the world works. Someone has to fold those shirts and deny coupons on Levis. You think that cashier at McDonalds wants to be there? You think that gas station attendant had aspirations to sell cigarettes to truckers? (And please don’t think I am looking down on any of those jobs because I am not. Those jobs require hard work, multi-tasking, and a thick skin, none of those skills which I possess, which makes me unqualified so if anything I should be looked down upon!) I’m just saying that these are not prestigious jobs. But, then again, who’s to say they still aren’t making a difference or helping someone? It’s just sad to me that there is so much potential and so much talent out there and people can’t show that because they are stuck in a financial situation that does not allow them to be the best they can be.

Why are we born with dreams if we can’t make them a reality? Why couldn’t I have a love of clothes and a natural way with people? That way, at least I could be happy with my job. If I was meant to make up mannequins for the rest of my life, why wasn’t I given the desire and drive to do so? Why was I given the talent for art and the need for expression, which I can’t/won’t even use anymore?

I think about that a lot. Why can’t all singers be on the radio? Why can’t all painters have a gallery? Why can’t all writers be in book stores? It seems cruel to give someone a gift and then deny them the opportunity to use it.

I wish we could all be happy. I really do. That’s the tissue talking. But when I see others happy, it infuriates me because I don’t why that can’t be me. Haven’t I suffered enough? Don’t I deserve for something to go right for me?? That’s the glass talking. You see how annoying and contradictory it all is? I have to live with that every day. The extreme highs and lows that never level out, the constant pushing back of bad thoughts while simultaneously thinking of ways to wake up the world to change. I know I have something good inside me but I also know I am a giant pile of crap. How do you reconcile that? How do you push through the diseased mind to make progress?

I don’t know. I don’t know if I ever will. And so I wake up again. I go to work again. I fold the same shirts again. I ring up the same customers again. I endure the monotony again. And I go home and eat again and distract myself with mindless zombie movies so I don’t have to think too hard about what a headcase I am. And I try to exercise. And I distract myself with more empty videos and calories. And I go to bed and I run over the past twenty years in my mind, picking apart every flaw until I fall asleep. And I do it again the next day and I try to find reprieves in relationships and fantasies about relationships. And I read a book. And I try to write one. I masturbate. I have cups and cups of coffee. I watch forensic science shows. I look up tech videos and lust over stupid crap that I don’t need. And none of it is important. It’s all just empty distractions that serve as a vehicle to get me to the next day, and the next. Because, really, that’s all I have. I have pretty much given up on life, people, God, and myself. I’m kind of just waiting to die at this point.

And even when I do allow myself to think of some kind of future, it fizzles quickly. I plan on getting out of debt and losing that weight and keeping it off and making friends and doing yoga and meditating and spending my time wisely but my hands go down my pants and the food goes down my throat and that instant gratification is more real, more practical, more tangible to me than something that actually requires effort. ‘Cause I’m tired and I’m not sure how much effort I have left in me. And no one is texting me or calling me or asking me to dinner. But you know what? I’m not calling anyone either. So again, some of the blame rests on me.

i was born with a sour spot on my soul. i am but death masquerading as a man. i try to revolt against the rot by divulging in every damning device. but it only serves to widen the hole to hell where they are waiting to take me back with open sores on open arms. i have experienced god’s teeth, the weight of enamel pressing down on my bones, the kind of pain that is blinding, everlasting, obliterating. each day i suffer and slough off another layer of skin, flayed forever and ever, amen.

I’ve been crying a lot lately. And I’ve been scared a lot lately too. Because I don’t know how to fix this. I’m not even sure I want to. It’s just easier to lie down and let it drown me.

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