“Your mind is racing like a pro now
Oh my god, it doesn’t mean a lot to you
One time you were a glowing young ruffian
Oh my god, it was a million years ago…”
–The National, Racing Like a Pro
It’s Saturday night and I’m sitting here in the dining room with a cup of coffee and The National playing on my iPhone.
I feel so wholly, embarrassingly, desperately lonely.
My go-to move when I feel that way is to turn to food. I want nothing more than to eat. Emotions are filling my insides and I want to drown them out with soda and cereal. Sugary cereal that feels so good chewing but awful as soon as I swallow.
I want to talk to someone but I can’t think of anyone to phone. Because I really don’t want to talk to anyone. I’m too tired for a conversation.
I want to be social and it’s not that I don’t like the ones I talk to but it’s exhausting pretending to be interesting, to have to come up with witty things to say, to make someone laugh, to laugh at all.
I want to fall into a void, to be sucked away into a black hole as an excuse to get out of talking and texting and engaging. I want to talk but I don’t want to speak.
I hoped drinking enough coffee would fill me up, would help me get over this craving. But I know better. It’s not hunger I’m trying to satiate.
My head is a coalescence of rage and confusion. It spins faster than I can process. It begs, “Write! Scream! Sing! Get these thoughts out! Why are you just sitting there?” But I can’t answer. Again, I’m too tired. I’m invalid in creativity, apathetic in motivation. I want to sit down and get it out but that would mean I would have to deal with it. And we know I’m not good at that.
So I sit and stare at the wall for hours, take naps and read a few chapters of a book before my eyes go heavy. All distractions. All putting off my problems. It’s a trend I’ve been noticing lately and it sickens me the time I’ve wasted covering up my chronic shortcomings in favor of keeping pain at a distance. But in the effort to avoid it, I hit it head on.
It all piles up, these thoughts, these fears of mine. And when I sit down to express them, they come out in terse bursts, boiled down to base emotions, the extraneous fringe feelings already frittered away along with more brain cells.
What’s on my mind? What’s been festering?
When I was in my early 20’s, I had just become accustomed to my new body and my new, healthy lifestyle. I was around 50 pounds thinner, active, with a positive outlook on my future.
I remember walking past the candy aisle in the grocery store and telling myself, with confidence, “I have no desire to eat any of this. And I can’t imagine I ever will.”
I often think back to that moment. What happened to change my mind and my resolve?
Well, a lot of things.
A few years later, I gained all the weight back. And then I lost it all again. And then I gained it all back again.
When I think back to that moment in the grocery store, there is a numbness, an inability to face the fact that I damaged my body and my spirit over and over again. Nearly 10 years later and I’m still struggling with the same issues. And the same side effects that are so embarrassingly visible.
For a few fleeting moments, I wonder what it would have been like to have simply kept the weight off. Instead of being miserable and uncomfortable in clothes and out of them, I could be fine with my body today. I could have finally stopped fixating on what was going to fit and how many calories were going to be in my next meal. Without the distractions, I could have focused on my art and put my mind to better use. But the sugar has deteriorated my mind. The depression and the endless stacks of pizzas have deteriorated my metabolism and my ability to care about my decline.
After that day in the candy aisle, I wasted the rest of my twenties by falling into an endless cycle of weight loss and weight gain, of depression and determination. Of failure slapping me in the face over and over again. Of feeling helpless and confident and hopeless and salvageable. Of dying. Of living. Of being in between.
I am not a happy person. I never have been. My everyday existence is filled with anxiety and fear. But I do not deal. I ignore what scares and angers me until it is no longer at the forefront of my frustrations. They never go away fully but they are gently prodded to the recesses of my mind while other trivial trials take over. And I ignore by eating. Instead of tackling my fears, I feed them.
I’m stuck at 17 years of age and it’s depressing.
I feel like I’m getting too old for social media. I’ve really gotten into Tumblr recently and I don’t know if it’s just the type of followers I’ve accrued or if they are representative of the majority of Tumblr users but most of them seem to be young, high school/college-age kids. And I’m a post-college pudge ball who can still relate to their emo musings and pubescent longings. It makes me question my emotional maturity.
I think there might be something to Freud’s idea that we get stuck in certain stages of life while we grow up. I’m not sure about all the creepy sex stuff but I think there are certain rites of passage most young people go through on their way to adulthood. It’s the ups and downs, the lockers and lip-locking, the friendships and failures. Really, it’s about the experience. Each event is a potential lesson that serves to mold you into a well-rounded character.
But I haven’t experienced much, all through my own doing. But even lack of experience can shape you, although sometimes, as in my case, it hasn’t shaped me so much as it has flattened me out.
I never felt like I got to be a regularly teenager. I spent the majority of my time eating and watching television in my room. I was fat from the beginning so I had that complex hanging over my head and that crushed my confidence from the start. Being a weird artist didn’t help matters. I couldn’t relate to the jocks and cheerleaders. Football was a religion and I was an atheist among the athletes.
I went to very few social gatherings. I wanted to talk to people. I witnessed my peers mesh with ease and I wished that could be me but my belly formed too big of a barrier.
I mustered up enough will to attend the homecoming dance and prom but I didn’t have anyone special to go with so I went with friends and at the end of the night, instead of going to the backseat, I went back to my room and to my bag of chips.
I didn’t make out. I didn’t hug or hold or give anyone my class ring. I didn’t have many friends. I was lonely a lot. I was also full of acne, which increased my desire to dig a hole in my bed and wallow in it for all of eternity.
And without being taught by my parents, I learned about art and God on my own. Homophobia and racism and misogyny never made any sense to me. And frankly, neither did church. But I still put effort into God because I felt it was the right path to take and I felt the difficult into finding God must have had something to do with what all the preachers said about how terrible we all are as humans. But I didn’t need a preacher to inform me of my shortcomings. I knew that all by myself.
It’s just, I think part of me is always looking for someone to turn around, buy me a drink, give me a hug and say it’s all right. Because I just go off on one. For days I’m unbearable, I can’t talk to people. And it shocks me because I’m still doing it. I want to be alone and I want people to notice me both at the same time. I can’t help it.
I often feel like the world has been constructed for couples. In these economic times, most people need help from a partner’s income to live comfortably. And life can be so harsh that the only way to endure is to have someone to come home to and hold at the end of the day. New dating sites are constantly cropping up. Most books/movies/television shows contain love stories that end when the protagonist finally finds the one. Magazines tell you how you can find the one as well.
You can be happy on your own. I’ve always believed that. But the more I subject myself to those books/movies/television shows, and the more the people in my life fall in love and fall in line with society’s expectations to partner up and procreate, the more a need for a companion sets in. And because of that, I wonder if being happy on your own applies to certain people only. Maybe some are just better off with another person. I’m just not sure where I belong. Am I in the single person camp or would I be better off belonging to another?
I keep trying to find a balance between realism and cynicism. I don’t want to feel like my happiness is dependent on my significant other. I also don’t want to dismiss love in such a way as to say it won’t bring immense joy. I’m sure it does. It can also bring immense sorrow. And that potential sorrow has been one of the reasons I’ve never taken a chance on love.
I’ve been single all my life so with no one to be with on a Friday night, I’ve had plenty of time to come to terms with my loneliness. For the most part, I’m okay with it. The thought of being close to someone terrifies me to no end. It’s the inexperience and the conception that I should be more seasoned at my age. It’s the insecurity. It’s the painful mediocrity. There is nothing exceptional about me and I’d rather everyone wonder what’s underneath my clothes and in my heart than let them see and be disappointed.
My life has been a consistent walk along a tight rope of minimizing my true flaws while presenting an artificial visage of put-togetherness. It’s a battle with the mirror and my mind each day and the fight has finally worn me down. But despite the exhaustion, hiding is all I’ve known. I hate it but it also feels easier than being real and raw and having that rawness turn into rejection. I don’t know how else to be.
Despite trying to be logical about being single, there are days when I ache to be with someone. I see it all the time when people tell me about dating and forming deep, satisfying relationships. It’s plastered all over social media. I long to be a part of it but I can’t relate to the posts, prayers, and praise about love and I don’t feel real. It’s something that should be natural. But it’s foreign to me. Not only do I feel rejected but I don’t even feel human half the time.
It’s in those moments that the loneliness flares up. It comes about like a cold sore, striking and subsiding without my consent or control. It’s ugly and painful and it makes me not want to get out of bed. It makes me not want to face anyone. It makes me not want to be.
But I do want to know what it’s like to be in love. I want to know what it’s like to kiss and hold and be held. I want to experience sex and the closeness of two bodies bonding. I want to feel all the things most people feel. I want to couple up, to hold hands, to go out to dinner with someone special. I want to love. I want to be loved. I want the incidental touches and intentional body contact. I want skin. I want heart. I want soul. I want to intertwine myself with someone else, to feel integrated into their being.
But sometimes you get so far away from something you realize it will never happen. Sometimes that’s just the cosmic cards you’re dealt.
I’m trying to learn to accept it. For the most part, I have prepped myself for perpetual singularity. But the desire for skin never truly leaves. It comes and it goes. And when it arrives, I usually just wait it out, distract myself with something destructive, and redirect the pain to other places until it leaves for another day. I keep it all inside because I have no other choice. There’s no one to help ease my burden while helping me out of my skin.
My kitchen is in ruins.
My mother decided she wanted to redo our entire kitchen so last week, she had a business come and take out the cabinets, counters, sink, and dishwasher. We still have our fridge and stove but that’s it. Never one to be without coffee, Mom set up the coffee maker and microwave in the dining room. Every time I go for a cup, I feel like I’m in a hotel room. And I feel like I’m camping when plating my food on foam plates and eating with plastic utensils.
Mom estimated it will be like this for another week or so since the company is still building the replacement cabinets and need to put down new floor covering. Mom’s also started painting the kitchen so it smells like plastic and fumes.
All the cutlery and other dishes are stacked in the living room, which makes it hard to move around in there. Things are piled on the dining room table and in the corners. It makes the room a little bit smaller. It feels like my world is closing in.
We’ve been eating out a lot. It’s just easier. The problem is I was going to start dieting around this time. I told myself I would get back on track once I went back to the retail job and stayed there for about a month to get back into the swing of things.
I gained a lot of weight, all the weight I lost in 2012 specifically, while I was at the finance job. I was stressed and food soothes me. But I knew once I went up two pant sizes I needed to get myself under control.
But I don’t even want to.
I enjoy greasy fast food. I know it’s horrible for me and the calorie count is absurd but I don’t care. I’m still stressed because the retail job is slowly tanking. Our hours continue to get cut more each week and we are in the midst of a serious shoplifting problem. With the hours being scaled back, we are understaffed. There are entire departments that are not covered, which allows shoplifters to literally go in, take what they want, and leave completely undetected.
I honestly felt okay about the job when I went back. It was never my intention to stay there forever but I was okay with not trying to find a new job right away. I thought I’d work there while I focused on publishing my book and then once that was done, I could focus on a job search. But at this point, I should probably be looking now. I just hate looking. It’s so discouraging to go through all the classifieds and online job postings and not find anything interesting or attainable.
I feel like a smoker who knows the habit is bad but enjoys smoking and doesn’t want to quit. Every time I bite into a double cheeseburger, I know it’s going to make it harder to button up my pants but I’m all about that instant gratification and future consequences be damned.
I’m stressed about work and I’m stressed about my book and I’m stressed about not fitting into my clothes anymore and I don’t have the money to buy new ones and I’ve also been struggling with other stuff like being lonely and disconnected from society. It’s a lot to try to deal with so I eat to help me not deal with it.
I hope to one day get myself together again. I just don’t know what that will take. I’ve been on this journey so many times before and it’s both exhausting and exuberant. But each time, there’s a little less joy and a little bit more concern, wondering when I’ll slip again. Because I always do. Even when I bounce back, I always do.
I put my hospital socks on the other day and paced around the house. It brought me back to the time when I had an operation to remove a golf-ball sized cyst in my throat.
I sat back on the hospital bed as all these men in scrubs came in with their clipboards and told me they were going to take good care of me.
It was nice hearing that, like I mattered to someone. It was a warm feeling when I took to the cold hospital floor.
I’d like to go back to that.
it is hard to live
when one is bereft of breath
while walking on lungs
Most people wouldn’t think of me as a tree-hugging hippie because I’m always eating garbage and I never go outside. But I wish I was more into nature and organic food and peace and love for all man, man. The problem is I don’t like bean sprouts and people are assholes.
As the days go by and my anxiety and sadness worsens, the inclination toward medication becomes more and more likely. I’ve been pondering taking some kind of anti-anxiety or anti-depression medication from around the time I was a senior in high school. These medications actually alter your brain chemistry and to me, that’s a scary thought. Sure, it might change me for the better but what if it changes me in other, not-so-good ways?
One of my high school classmates was on anti-depressants for several years and he said he didn’t like it. The medicine only dulled his depression and numbed his senses but didn’t really make him feel better. And sure, many factors could have contributed to his feeling that way: medicine type, dosage, his own brain response to the medicine but it didn’t make me feel better about venturing into the Prozac Nation. I don’t want to turn into Britney Spears. Did you watch her documentary? Total robot.
And for the same reason I try to stay away from drugs, sex, and alcohol (even prescription glasses as silly as that sounds), I don’t want to be dependent on something to get through the day. I don’t like the feeling of knowing I have to be connected to something at all times. What if I miss a dose or can no longer afford it or they stop making it? Is it going to send me back into a downward spiral and cause me to crash harder?
That’s when yoga entered the picture. Yoga seems like such a peaceful and relaxing practice. And it’s supposedly not only good for your body but your mind, and in many instances, your soul. Bingo. Sounds perfect for me because I’m hurting in all those areas and it taps into that crunchy granola side of me hidden behind the layers of potato chip grease and synthetic fibers. What a perfect and natural alternative to anti-depressants.
Several years ago, I bought a book called Yoga for Depression and read two chapters before I put it down because I really wanted to better myself! Eh. I picked it up again a few months ago and managed to read ten chapters before I put it down because I was really committed this time….Eh. So, as I read the book, the author wrote about her journey with yoga and I got the impression she relied on yoga the way people rely on anti-depressants. She said she felt sluggish and out of sorts if she missed even one day of yoga. Was she dependent on downward dog? Did the effects of yoga not last longer than a day or two?
I understand yoga, just like physical exercise or any other positive behavior, takes some time and dedication but it seems like a lot of trouble to experience a fleeting feeling of contentment. Are the effects of yoga not cumulative as I imagined? Do you not feel better overall?
Another problem I have with yoga is the five million types of yoga out there. Which one is best for me? I’ve experimented with various yoga programs over the years but none of them felt right so I eventually gave up on it.
A few months ago, I switched my focus back to yoga. I wanted to re-dedicate myself to becoming more emotionally and spiritually stable. I found a few DVDs and as I tried them, I concentrated on my breathing like the soothing lady voiceover said to do. But as I went through the DVD, she kept saying, “At this point you might feel like (blah blah blah) and I kept thinking to myself, “Oh, God, I’m not feeling any of that,” which then sent my semi-serene state into a tizzy. I wondered what I was doing wrong, why I wasn’t feeling these sensations the soothing lady voiceover said I should probably be feeling. Did I break the yoga? Or was it because I was too broken to find bliss?
I realized yoga actually gave me more anxiety than it alleviated so I took the DVD out and gave up. Again.
I still have the DVD and should probably give it another shot but I also feel like I’m too stressed to de-stress, if that makes any sense. I’ve got so much going on in my mind that I can’t concentrate on chilling out. It’s almost as if I need to get rid of some of the stress on my own before I can really focus on doing right by the DVD. It’s like gastric bypass patients that actually have to lose weight before getting the weight loss surgery. The problem is I’m too mentally famished to shed some of this excessive agony by myself.
The whole thing feels like a mess. I’m not sure what’s going to work for me anymore. Pills or poses? As much as I’ve tried to hold off on actually considering medication, maybe I really should take a serious look at it. Should I Namaste with yoga a little bit longer or become a Lexapro at pills? I don’t know what’s right for me. And will I be dedicated to either one enough to see positive results?
You know how, when you’re in a zombie apocalypse, you’re always struggling just to make it through the day? Sometimes you run out of food and fresh water and you watch the sun set with a pain in your stomach. Or sometimes you make friends and you think you’re safe, that you’ve finally found a family but they steal all your supplies while you’re back is turned or they leave you in the middle of the night because you’re just slowing them down.
But you press on because that’s what humans do. You’ve got to make some sense of this mess made of the world. You find an abandoned gun and gather up some bullets and you scrape by. It’s tough but you make due with what little you have.
And your days are spent as the tension tightens in your body and stress exhausts your limbs. You spend the day looking for edible food and sleep to pass the time. You daydream and wonder while you wander. Your mind is a nomad. You think of strategies to make it through the cruel world, worry your gun won’t last long enough or if you could beat off a group of ghouls with a dented baseball bat. Where’s the next meal going to come from? You hope you find someone to save you, someone to make you feel less alone in a world of monsters.
And sometimes when the thought of another grueling day of hiding and fighting brings you to tears, you wonder what would happen if you just stopped. What if you sat down and pressed your face to the dirt and melted into the ground? But you can’t bring yourself to give up so you go forward.
And then one day you’re lying down in an unprotected shed and a zombie shuffles in. With an unholy grunt, you’re startled awake to see the rotting corpse rip into your chest with its skeletal hands. Its serrated fingernails slice through your skin, pressing further into the meat of you. Is knuckles get caught in your rib cage as it squirms its fingers further down, nicking your heart with each grasp.
The pain grips your senses like a bear trap, a concentrated fire so deep and intense it chokes you. You can’t speak or scream. The strength gushes out of you like a broken dam and you lie there paralyzed. The burning is so great your soul screams to God to end you but the zombie doesn’t bite into your brains. Through the holes in the boarded up window of the shed, it spots a sprinting survivor and sets its milky eyes on a fresh kill.
The taste of copper covers your tongue and you hope a less sportsman-like zombie will shuffle over to you and finish you off or a random survivor will find you and put you out of your misery. But no one comes with a bite or a bullet.
Blood and saline pool around your body as the pain spreads to your limbs, tingling your fingers and circulating away from your body.
The moans outside are muffled by the sound of your heart beating, growing louder, the blood rushing in your ears in crashing waves. Your eyes are blurred by tears you cannot wipe away, only light and shadows dancing across your face. You turn tiny, shriveling inside yourself. You gasp and find no air. The nerves blow out and leave a numbness that spreads like ice water in your lungs.
You grasp at the grass and dirt and still no one comes.
And no one cares. The living sprint toward safety. All around you the world is still alive. But you’re beyond help.
You close your eyes as you give in to the gaping wound. You press your face into the dirt. You melt into the ground.
The beating eventually stops.