Some days, it’s not the food but the fools that send me into a downward spiral.
As of this writing, I’ve been dieting/exercising for a little over 100 days and have lost a little over 40 pounds. The first week wasn’t too bad once I got over the initial adjustment. I’ve been down this road countless times before so I knew what to expect: hunger pangs, being more obsessed with food than usual, immediate feelings of wanting to give up as soon as a craving craned its neck in my direction. But I didn’t give in and all was well.
And then the second week happened and I hit my first wall. Yeah, that soon. You’d think the longer you do something, the easier it would get. But that’s not the case with Bran Bran. Things always seem to just get harder and more difficult the longer I’m involved in it. Either way, I pushed through and the next couple of months was pretty easy.
But over the past several days, things have gotten harder again. I’ve been craving food more than usual and I can’t seem to get satisfied when I do eat. It didn’t help that I took a 4 day vacation a couple of weeks ago. I just sat around the house and ate food. I didn’t binge but I ate more than I wanted to.
I thought I’d keep myself busy. I’ve got plenty of movies to watch and books to read and I wanted to catch up on some writing but every time I tried to invest in a cheesy slasher film on Netflix, the kitchen would come a-callin’. And most of the time, when I get it in my mind that I want to eat, I can’t concentrate on anything else until I do.
I’m also extremely stressed out. Both my jobs suck and my parents have been getting on my nerves and all the horrible things happening in the world have all gotten to me. I’m always worried about the next massive bout of destruction, whether it be man-made or from mother nature. I’m lonely and hungry and bored and lethargic. And all I want to do is forget about everything and eat. But I can’t.
My last defense mechanism is food and that’s gone so I’m just a raw nerve, constantly hurting and yearning for something that I usually pushed down with pizza.
But I can see my ribs again. So there’s that.
I’m an emotional eater. We all know that. And I’m an emotional person. Well, mostly I’m just an irritated person. So it’s easy for me to eat. It’s natural. It’s comforting. And there are days when I literally feel compelled to eat. Even when I’m not hungry. Even when my stomach hurts. Even when I’ve finished a meal or had a large snack. I want more. I always want more.
People are starting to notice the weight loss. Co-workers are saying my face looks slimmer, that my torso isn’t as rotund as it once was. And these are all nice compliments to hear. And then I had one co-worker tell me not to get too skinny. And it’s just crazy to me that people feel they can comment on my weight and dictate my size. I’m not reshaping my body for anyone but my self. Again, I like the compliments but I’m not fueled by them. And I’m not gonna stop just because someone tells me not to get too skinny.
And it’s hard to talk about food with others because no one seems to understand. It’s not about laziness or just “really liking junk food.” It’s so much deeper than a deep fried doughnut. Sometimes food feels like my last attachment to reality, the only thing that can ground me when I feel like going off the deep end. And that’s not something you can easily bring up to someone when discussing casual dieting. Someone’s just looking for a way to make kale taste good and I’m over here expounding upon my unwavering sadness and need to self-medicate with marzipan.
And because people don’t get it, they think they’re helping out by telling me I should have a cheat day. But because I’ve struggled with my weight for about 20 years now, I know what works for me and what doesn’t. I can’t just have a cheat day. You can’t give an alcoholic just one drink. I can’t just have one slice of cake.
Or people tell me to drink water before a meal or have a handful of nuts when I feel hungry. I’ve never been satisfied by a handful of anything. And I end up getting irritated with people because I’ve seen and done and heard it all. They can’t tell me anything new or effective and I know they’re just trying to help so I feel like an ass and a hypocrite. I’m sure I’ve tossed out those same tidbits to other dieters in the past.
At this point, only a handful of Xanax could probably help me now.
I’m constantly annoyed. The people I work with are honestly batshit and I have to put up with it every day. It really puts a strain on me because I’m also batshit so I can’t keep it together for me and them. It’s too exhausting. And I have many unresolved relationships that I can’t seem to sort out because I keep getting ghosted and I don’t know what’s so wrong with me to warrant that kind of exit. It hurts so much sometimes.
And food always used to soften the blow. When I got irritated at work, I stopped by McDonalds on my way home. When I felt like the last connection with a friend snap, I served myself spaghetti and it all went away. You can chart my depression by my pant size. The sadness has always been there but there have been times I’ve been able to suppress it. It’s in the moments that it becomes unbearable that I become a glutton again.
When you see me gain weight, that’s when you know I’m really suffering.
You’ve heard it before: depression comes in waves or cycles. You see people smile and laugh and tell jokes and you wonder how they could ever be depressed. It doesn’t seem like them. But that’s the tricky part about depression. It’s not always all-consuming. You can have decent days while you’re deteriorating.
Depression circles around you. Just when you think you can’t take it anymore, the symptoms alleviate themselves and you realize you can get out of bed. And you get this false sense that you can actually endure this. And that’s when it strikes again, just when you’ve become stable or complacent. It slaps you right in the face to remind you that you’re not in control, that it decides when you can be happy and face the world again. And if it wants, it can send you straight back to bed or straight into the arms of an addiction, something to numb the overarching sadness, the void that envelops you, the completion of becoming blank.
I work with a handful of nuts and I’m told to eat a handful of nuts. But food is not the solution. I know that. But what is the solution? I’ve tried different things. I’ve tried it through art and writing and meditation. Nothing has ever worked the way food does. So am I supposed to just continue to suffer or settle for a “healthier” but ineffective alternate form of therapy?
It’s hard to make a compromise when it comes to your physical health. It’s even harder when you’re mental health is also in jeopardy.
”Sex is the one thing, more than any others, that makes you feel human.”
”Remember, your children can’t praise the Lord if they’ve got genitals in their mouths.”
-Nudist Colony of the Dead
I remember walking into my first college class, looking at my classmates, and thinking, “I’m probably the only virgin in this room.”
That was over 10 years ago and every time I walk into a new room filled with people, I still think the same thing.
Living in a small, religious town, I learned early on that the true “F” word was fornication. Sex before marriage was about the worst thing that could happen to you, besides being gay. That sentiment echoed through the church pews and school halls. But as I grew up, my friends realized other people’s genitals was about the best thing that could happen to you. Even the most devout got dicked eventually and their stringent sexual views began to relax.
Except for the gay thing. That was non-negotiable.
But it’s easy to change your mind with a hand down your pants. I never got that opportunity so I was able to hang onto my shame over sex for much longer than my peers. And the interesting part was I actually didn’t mind it that much. Although preachers and parents warned of the religious ramifications of sex, they also lauded the beauty of intercourse between two married people. And that was the message I chose to hold close.
I actually wanted to wait until marriage. I’ve always thought of myself as a romantic and the notion of me and my future wife saving ourselves for each other sounded pretty special. We’d be the first to have that intimate connection, to reach that milestone in pulsating unison. And so not having sex was not a big deal because, at the time, marriage was not on my mind, therefore sex was not either. But just because I’d made a no-copulation commitment to a stranger didn’t mean I wasn’t affected by sex.
I used to be a great listener and great friend. My classmates came to me for counseling. I heard all about their relationships and through their confessions, I learned that sex not only changed relationships but changed people. And it didn’t necessarily change anyone for better or worse. But it did feel like there was more at stake. Emotions were either heightened or deadened at the point of penetration. Some people could turn off their heads and hearts while others’ only grew heavier.
And just by growing up and living and being interested in people, I learned more about sex without actually ever experiencing it. It came pieced together from conversations, observations, and, thanks to the power of the Internet, research.
I’d been looking forward to this mini vacation for months now.
Back in March, I searched my work calendar for the next holiday and almost keeled over when I realized it wasn’t going to be until the end of May. Would I even last that long? I circled the 29th and trudged through the work day, counting down each week as it slowly passed.
Since my company does comp time instead of overtime, I’d acquired enough comp time to take the Friday before Memorial Day off, which gave me 4 precious days instead of 3.
Right away, my mind raced with all the things I wanted to do. I had a lot of writing I wanted to catch up on. I also wanted to start working on some other art projects and get back into being creative again. What I actually ended up doing was staying in bed catching up on Orange is the New Black. At first, I was annoyed with myself. I’d piddled away 4 days when I could have been constructive. But then I realized I needed to recharge my batteries. If staying wrapped up in sheets and widdling away at my Netflix queue was how I needed to nourish myself, then I needn’t get so down about it.
Says the guy who thinks deep dish pizza is therapeutic.
I’ve really noticed a dip in my energy the past few months. I’ve never been a poster boy for stamina but the only energy I can muster these days is to fluff up my pillow before taking a long nap. I nap during my lunch break at work. I nap when I get home. And then I go to bed at night and I still can’t seem to get enough rest. The only time I feel good is when I’m dozing off.
The only reason I don’t sleep more than I do is that sleeping passes too much time. Before I know it, it’s a new day and a new crop of crap to deal with and I often try to prolong the morning sun as long as I can.
But at the end of the day, after I’ve dealt with mentally declining coworkers, sycophantic supervisors, and self-disgust at how horrible I am at humaning, the only thing I want to do is get out of my head. And the only two ways I can do that is either by eating or sleeping. But neither is a good solution yet I’m too tired not to take the easy route.
I know most would say I’m too lazy to be exhausted. I sit at my job and sit at home. I get it. But depression can be draining, too. As much as I try, I can’t turn it off. I can only delay it with dreams and donuts but as soon as my eyes open in the morning, the dull ache sets in as I set myself up for another struggle.
I wish I could get lost in writing and drawing again, like I was able to do when I was younger. But again, I get in my own way and I’m such a perfectionist that I can’t simply color an image or draw a picture or write a poem without picking it apart. I know I’m capable of better. I see it in my head, feel the rhythm of the word, taste the nuanced tones but I can’t seem to translate it to screen. And it frustrates me so I just don’t bother. Eating is often easier.
I only get out of bed because I have to, because I have a job and bills. And as much as I’d like to travel or learn a new trade, the exhaustion empties me out again and it all seems like an Everest-sized endeavor. My bulb has dimmed so much that I can only see as far as the end of the work day. I put up with bureaucratic b.s. and nap in my car and go through the rest of the day sleep drunk and scan my calendar and circle a date in July, a day steeped in the dark.
There’s always an instinct to eat. But it’s not predatory. It’s compensatory.
Food is my comfort, confidant, and companion. Any time things get tough, it’s the first thing I think about. And things are always tough.
I’ve gained quite a bit of weight again. Since getting this new job, I sit on my butt for 8 hours a day. And since my depression has gotten worse, all I want to do is eat to not think about how detrimental every day is. If I fill up my stomach, there won’t be any room for misery, right?
Yeaaaaah. It doesn’t work like that at all. But it doesn’t keep me from trying my darndest.
My pants are getting harder to button and the skin on the side of my stomach is irritated from consistently rubbing up against my too-tight-t-shirts. And this discomfort is directing me right to the Doritos. It’s all I can think about most days.
“Will lunch time ever get here fast enough?”
“What will I have for dinner?”
“If I go to bed early, I can have breakfast sooner.”
“Well, the next meal isn’t for about an hour or two. I can’t hold out that long! Let me have a snack.”
And I eat and while I’m eating, nothing can touch me. There is nothing wrong in the world and I am at peace. It’s that fragile, ephemeral contentment that creates the cravings, that evokes an addiction to that peace. Between feeling bad and feeling better, I’m going to choose to feel better. If I have to eat to get to that point, I will eat. And if I have to be physically uncomfortable to balance out my brain, it’s something I can accept.
Until I actually am physically uncomfortable. Then that brings me back around to feeling bad about myself again. It’s a seesaw of wanting and withdrawals, of addictions and adipose tissue.
Nothing has ever made me feel better than food. When I go out to dinner with someone, I’m more excited about the cuisine than the company. When I get fast food at the end of the week, it’s my favorite thing ever. It’s a treat for making it through another crappy week. My excitement is embarrassing. When the fast food employee hands me that brown paper bag and the scents fill my nose, I’m in heaven. I’m actually happy. And it’s just really sick that empty calories and liters of grease can make me feel something no one ever has.
There’s never been a pill or person, prayer or position that has brought me that kind of peace.
It’s an obsession. It’s a constant calorie count, a war between my stomach and my sensitivities. It’s the back and forth between food and feelings, of losing weight and gaining it right back, of feeling frustrated with the world and ultimately, with myself, because I cannot control my compulsions. I push down the guilt until it bubbles up in an overwhelming sense of self-hatred. And what better way to get rid of that hatred than to eat?
Thinking about food all the time is exhausting. And I just know if I didn’t have food taking up the entirety of my mind, I could focus on other things. My head is trapped, strapped down by the schedule of eating, planning meals and waiting to taste happiness again.
“But words have no meaning when it’s you that says,
‘I really do care, no baby I, I really do care!’”
-Anberlin, Never Take Friendship Personal
I think I can officially say I am not made to mate, date, or relate.
I know I’m not normal. I overanalyze all my relationships and usually come to the conclusion that I’m not well-liked. It doesn’t really affect me anymore as I gave up on friendships a long time ago. But when someone comes along and they make you feel like you want to believe in friendship again, or maybe even believe in something deeper, that’s when my silent alarm goes off:
“Warning! You’re headed for a heartache! Stay away!”
It’s this very weird thing, this anomaly of aortic function and fantasy.
One of the many reasons I’ve stayed away from relationships is because of my fear of rejection. I’ve had a bad track record of decisions in my life. My choice of college didn’t pan out. My choice of jobs haven’t been great. Even my long-term goals and dreams have left me decimated. And almost every friendship I’ve formed has fizzled. So I think my trepidation to enter territory with another person is quite valid.
I’m the guy you call when you’re wasting time in line at McDonalds. It’s reminiscing at the register and goodbyes when you’ve got your fries. Really. It happens all the time. And these reminders of people only giving me their time when they’re trying to kill it.
I used to wonder if I couldn’t make and keep friends because I was just too weird or boring or crazy. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized everyone, from average to abnormal, can find themselves in a relationship and manage just fine. So I can’t let my lack of social skills or bent brain take the blame. Maybe I can’t hold onto anyone ‘cause I’m just a bad person.
But sometimes people make me feel like I’m not a bad person.
And that’s what makes the frequent exits all the more disheartening. All the back-and-forth badgering of being an all around loser that my brain embroils me in goes quiet. I almost feel like a person. But, as always, I started to feel that familiar tug of separation again.
But it’s the whole idea of dangling hope in front of me and snatching it away that hurts the most. It’s not only the loss of another person but the loss of what could have been, the idea of closeness and love, all the experiences of humanity that hold so close to me before darting away. It’s the disappointment draped on top of the despondence, the reminder that I am not worthy of keeping around. And the internal insults rise in volume and frequency.
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy their company and still crave it without remorse.
It just sucks that they are not reciprocating that craving.
It’s hurt me a great deal but for some reason, I still feel a great deal of affection for some. Maybe I’m just holding onto the good parts. It’s funny how we forget about the bad stuff when we are lonely, when we are in need of knowing love. It all fades away in the promise of a kind word or caress. And that’s when I need to remind myself that as much good as I’ve experienced, there’s been quite a few times my feelings have been hurt. And it’s not been a playful tease but a cutting remark which, I suspect, was meant to put me down and keep me there.
Well, it worked.
Yet, I still wish they’d come back. I know if I had other loving people in my life, I most likely wouldn’t grip so tight to our tenuous relationships. But it feels like it’s all I have.
I guess I’ll just let this be, this weird relationship where they talk to me in bits and pieces, dipping in and out of my life and in and out of our conversations, fully immersed then consistently distracted. And I’ll be left wondering why I can’t hold onto them or anyone else.
I dream almost every night. Most people do. Most people can’t remember them. I can remember that I dreamed, just not what I dreamed about. And it’s frustrating because my dreams are often either pretty boring or pretty nice and I want to be able to recall a good feeling. ‘Cause I sure don’t have them in waking life.
And I always wonder why I remember some dreams vividly and others not at all.
A few weeks ago, I dreamed that I was in a building that looked a lot like a Blockbuster. I had an uneasy feeling, like I was out too late and should be at home or had a weird feeling about being at that location (maybe because most Blockbusters are closed and why the heck would I be in one?) but I shrugged it off.
Moments later, a guy came in carrying a gun. I was alarmed, of course, but tried not to freak out. Maybe he was just carrying it to make himself feel better or in case anyone tried to jack his membership card. I reasoned with myself that I would be okay. People only get shot on television and in movies. It doesn’t happen where I live.
But he turned to me, stepped up to me, and shot me in the ear.
The first thing I thought was, “I knew I shouldn’t have been here.”
I didn’t hear a gunshot or even feel anything but my vision turned into diamonds shining against a white light. I fell to the floor and once I hit the ground, I knew I only had a fraction of a second to live.
So I prayed to God to forgive me.
And then I felt this relief come over me. I don’t know if it was because God had answered my prayer or that I felt better that I’d had a final chance to get right with God or that I was just finally dead and didn’t have to be sad anymore.
And then (and this hasn’t happened before) I realized I was dreaming. But by that time, I knew my mind was being pulled back into consciousness. I felt myself being shot through that slippery tunnel that connects reality and dreams. And as that happened, I tried to get up from the bloody floor and fly away. I wanted to take over the dream but it ended before I could lift off the ground.
Most dreams of mine feel random but I could determine a link between this one and my waking moments of contemplation. I had recently listened to a podcast in which a guy said he woke himself up from his dreams by killing himself in his dreams. I guess he had the lucid dream experience down pretty well.
And I’ve been pondering the idea of reconnecting with God. I never turned full atheist but I just gave up on trying to get God to ease the ache in my heart. All the church and prayer and scripture never seemed to make a difference. I was, as I still am, beyond reach. Yet God is always in the back of my mind. I don’t know if it’s Christ convicting me or just that old time Christian guilt at work. All I know is the Holy Ghost is haunting me and it kind of sucks.
While the dream obviously incorporated the different things I’d heard, experienced, and thought about in the weeks leading up to it, it might not be anything significant. It probably stood out to me because it was the first dream I’ve ever had in which I could feel myself dying. I usually wake up before the last breath. But not this time. And instead of it being scary, it was strangely satisfying.
Santa should have stuffed my stocking with Gas-X for X-mas.
I know a lot of people overeat during the holidays. It’s a given. But as someone who has struggled with my weight and overeating in general, it’s safe to say that I took it too far.
It all started in late September/October when all the Halloween candle started arriving on the store shelves. Again, as I fell into another depression, I turned to food. I was losing more hours at work and going through some relationship struggles and candy was there for comfort. I fell into a dark whole of dark chocolate truffles and couldn’t find a way out.
There’s the logical part of me that knows what I’m doing is terrible for me, that the temporary comfort isn’t worth the time and effort it will take to take off the pounds once again. I know how destructive this behavior is. I know how terrible it is for my body. To a small degree, I’m abusing myself. But the numbing effect is so powerful that it overrides that logical part of me. I don’t care because I can make up for it later. I can fix this. I won’t let it get out of control. And sometimes I don’t let it get out of control. But sometimes I do.
My new job has created a lot of stress and has taken up a lot of my time so I haven’t had as many opportunities to work out (lame excuse, I know!). And I’m still at my retail job on the weekend and retail during the holidays is always a nightmare. And I’ve been working 6-7 days a week and I’m tired and I’ve been having frequent headaches and it’s taken its toll on me. It’s just easier to block it all out with a block of cheese.
But this month, I stood back and realized I was taking the “normal holiday eating” to an extreme. So many cakes and cookies and greasy fried entrees. So many bowls bloated with peppermint bark. So many candy dishes stashed around the house and at the office and in my face all the time. Temptation around every corner. And I’m a weak guy.
I’m pretty ashamed of myself because I know better. Again, this isn’t normal holiday bingeing. This is a hardcore relapse of relish and cool ranch Doritos. And I really have no excuse. Life never matches up with your plans. In fact, it often feels like Life will make sure it disrupts your dreams as much as possible. But you just have to find a way to pounce over the pitfalls and persevere. I’m having a lot of trouble with that last part, especially with all the leftovers in the fridge.
I know I’ll get it together. This isn’t my first time spiraling out of control. Once the new year gets here and I get comfortable with my job and find some balance, I’ll get my eating under control. At least, I really, really hope so.
After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.
-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
I keep trying to remember that when I die, none of this is going to matter.
I watch a lot of television and listen to a lot of music. But it’s all mostly fluff, nothing of real substance or educational value. It’s comprised of gossip and gore. It’s white noise. It’s filler to filter out the the continuing thoughts of sadness. Because when I’m alone with nothing to distract me, like right before I go to sleep, in that stillness, the depression comes marching, filling up my mind with footsteps of failure, reminders of bad decisions and lack of relationships. And it makes it hard to rest easy when my head is on the pillow.
My mind is hardly awake except for when I try to go to sleep. That’s when it lights up and pops with memories of decade’s past mix-ups and melancholy. It piles on top of me like a blanket of bricks. I sweat. I suffocate.
It’s only when I lie down for the last nap will my mind finally ease. I take some comfort in that, knowing that this will all end one day, the thoughts that clog my head, the ever-reaching terror, the clinging need to tear myself down. It will all cease to be. I just have to cease to be. Sometimes the trade off seems more than acceptable.
But even the release of death is diminished in its comfort when I think about my new destination. What if I go to hell? I might be a lapsed Christian but that Christian guilt is still as prevalent as ever, even stronger than my faith in God ever was. Isn’t it funny how we can retain only the worst aspects of a religion, relationship, or experience? We forget the jokes and only remember the jeers. We look past the accolades and focus on the fumbles. I’ve shed God’s good graces long ago but I still bear the weight of his condemnation.
One of the things that terrifies me the most is that I might not ever see peace, not in this life or the other. I might be tortured forever and it’s a fate I can’t even comprehend. I can die to get out of this. But I can’t die to get out of that. I can’t squeeze my way through, can’t bargain or bleed out to escape.
I can only comfort myself by thinking that hell is only a possibility while this current damnation is a definite reality. What if I could slip out of this? What if something better is waiting? I am now in my own hell. And then there is either another hell or a possible heaven. I’ll never win in this life but at least I have a 50/50 in the other. Is that a chance I’m willing to take? Sometimes, I think yes.
When I turned 27, I made a few plans. I told myself when I turned 28, I would start drinking in hopes of finding happiness. What if booze loosened me up a bit, made me less nervous and more fun to be around? I thought about trying it, thought that maybe a nice glass of wine or a few beers after a stressful day would help me cope. And if that didn’t work, when I turned 29, I would start having sex. The physical release in addition to the intimate meshing would help graft me to the ground, would help me feel less alone. I thought that a connection, no matter how casual or carnal, would be better than the severed state I was in. There’s nothing like a deep orgasm to open your eyes to how nice things can be. If that didn’t work, when I turned 30, I was just going to kill myself. Well, I never started drinking and I never started having sex. My 30th birthday was in December. I’m still here.
I’m not sure how serious I was about the suicide. I think when I made those plans for blood, sweat, and beers, I was far enough removed from them to actually follow through. There was the smallest part of me that hoped it wouldn’t come to that, that in the intervening years, something would change. Something would get better and I wouldn’t feel the need to die. But nothing has changed. Those years were wasted away with more dieting and more craving, lost acquaintances and more shirt folding.
It’s just fucked up to even think something like that, no matter how serious or frivolous those thoughts may have been. But I keep hearing the call of death. Every few months, the call gets louder and my thoughts go grim. And it doesn’t feel right to keep having these thoughts, to keep thinking about dying so much. Sure, most people have thought about it before but the thoughts are like answering machine messages that play on a loop. And I worry that this will always stay with me for as long as I’m alive, that one day I might answer that call.
I just need some relief. I wake up every day miserable and I go to sleep either wired or weary. I’m manic and irritating and easily angered. I want to run away from everyone and give everyone a hug. I need support, friendship, validation, and possibly some medication. I am not okay.
But I’m not going to do anything any time soon. I’m not actively seeking death at the moment and maybe if death came to me suddenly, I might even try to reject it, but I also feel at this moment, death doesn’t feel scary but saving. But I won’t be the one to pick up the phone. I couldn’t even crack open a beer, much less bite the bullet.
“Let’s rehearse the song and verse
the graceful dance of dying
when my friends mouth their validation
I can tell they’re lying…”
-Showbread, I am Horrible at Processing Rejection
Somehow, one of my coworkers got on the topic of my book and I shrugged it off, told her I was over it.
“I want to buy a copy.” Yeah, sure. That’s what they all say.
“Don’t worry about it,” I said. “It’s not that big of a deal.”
“Yes, it is,” she said. Yeah, sure. They all say that, too.
I shrugged again. She told me not to give up, to believe in myself, even when no one else did. I smiled and thanked her just to drop the topic.
The thing is it’s not so much about me not believing in myself. Despite a lack of confidence, I believed in myself enough to write a book. And I believe it was a good book. What bums me out is that no one else believes in me. I already feel so alone and insignificant having not contributed anything to anyone or anything, never having changed someone’s life or fixed a huge problem or created a piece of art that enlightened. I’ve just existed, taking up space and eating Doritos by the ton. It’s not a good existence. It’s no quality of life.
This book has helped me suss out all the insincere people in my life, the false cheerleaders, the fake friends, the ones who said they cared and showed they didn’t. Unfortunately, I’ve realized it’s just about all of them. And I didn’t have many people in the first place. So, chop chop, they’re out of my life. But I don’t feel any better, don’t feel like I’ve solved anything.
A few days later, that same coworker who was all about buying my book (she never did, I’ve been checking my sales. I told you) posted and inspirational quote on my Facebook wall. But that inspirational quote didn’t mean anything to me. Anything meant to be inspirational doesn’t mean anything to me anymore, holds no weight, does not move me. In fact, I read these inspirational memes that many people post on their walls and I just chuckle. God bless if it gives them comfort but to me, it’s just words shaped into a sentence intended for a smile. But I suppose those quotes are meant for those who still have a shred of hope left. I just bypass them and move on to the next post, a cat video or political cartoon.
Words mean nothing to me anymore.
Don’t tell me you believe in me. Don’t tell me I’m talented or funny or good-looking. I will not believe you. If anything, it will steer me toward not trusting you. Because I know the truth and I don’t need your charity lies.
But, if I’m supposed to be a writer, shouldn’t words mean everything? I tried to incite change through my words. I tried to drum up understanding and conveyed my heartfelt desires and losses through my words. I wanted a reaction. I wanted a response. But if my words continue to be rejected while their words are shoved down my ears, eventually eroding into empty symbols, how can I reconcile that?
I suppose it’s because I’ve never tried to cheer anyone up with my writing. I’ve never tried to write fluff to form a happy face. That’s not to say it’s all been negative or hopeless. When I first started writing in my teens, I was depressed even back then. But I still had some hope. And my writing showed that, exploring my feelings while holding out for a better future. Unfortunately, my future was blotted out with bad decisions and bad jobs. But with my book, even though it was filled with despondency, in the end, I tried to realistically write an outcome that was hopeful without being cheesy. There was hesitation. There was hellfire. But through it, there was human spirit. It didn’t go down smoothly but it was still palatable.
I just like realism. And for me, false positivity is not realistic. Let’s all just be honest about how things suck. But that doesn’t mean we should wallow in it (I know I’m totally guilty of doing this and I’m a huge hypocrite). Naturally, no one wants a downer. But I feel like people who are too happy or too positive are not to be trusted. It’s not about suffocating your sadness with another fake smile. And it’s not about spreading your sadness around like you’ve just peed in the pool. Ideally, we’d all find a balance, allow ourselves to go deep into the depression while also pointing out and appreciating the good moments. I feel like I succeeded in doing that in my book. In this blog? Not so much. But I’m better at it in my daily life.
The meaning of all things is slipping away. It’s hard to be inspiring. It’s hard to maintain connections. It’s hard to be a person when you’ve been voided out of humanity. Sometimes it takes something so little as validation, as a simple follow-through to turn a person from a floating glob to suddenly gathered together, allowed to finally find footing and move forward.
My relationships have no meaning. My life has no meaning. Food and taste has no meaning and now the last thing I had in my life, words, no longer have meaning to them. These are words you are reading but they are not reaching you. I will never reach you because as I’m writing this down, you’re writing me off as someone who is too negative, who is too sensitive. But I’m trying to tell you that while those things are true, I haven’t been given the kind of support most have. You try to be all smiles when your classmates and colleagues say they care and then crap all over you at the first chance they get.
There was a bird in my chest once, a heart made of feathers and profuse love. It sang with hope, with teenage newness and the shimmering hope of a better tomorrow. It took flight around those I admired, those I wanted to love me back. But those very people reached in and stuffed its mouth. My bad luck plucked it bare, then Life itself stepped in and stripped the flesh of writing and relationships until that bird was a just a skeleton, hollow enough to be blown away by the first gust of wind, then dropped back down to earth, shattered.
But I guess that doesn’t matter, now does it? It’s just words. Words I’ve said to people in the past to convey how I feel, to tell them they hurt me, that I’ve been disappointed, that I’ve felt abandoned. And I’ve been killed by their quiet, their apathetic rigidness. Their excuses. Their lack of sympathy or apology. I can only guess their callousness means their birds don’t sing anymore, either.
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.