It’s been a long time since I felt that pinch. That simultaneously dull and acute sting in the middle of my chest. That ache that threatens to boil over into the real world and tear down this facade. It’s been a long time since I felt it, but I immediately recognize it.
That’s that suffocating woe. That ball of despair stuck deep in your esophagus that just feels like it’s going down on a rollercoaster. Not you, just that knot in your chest. It’s in free fall, and that “womp womp” sound isn’t audible, but you can feel it in your chest. It’s agitated and wet, it’s fuzzy and sharp.
Now I don’t claim to be immune to the throes of my wild mind, or to have mastered the 6 principles that will bring you happiness. If I could, I would smash my brain with a hammer to make it shut the fuck up and stop doing this to me. What I do know is that this brain, this stupid vindictive brain, is the only one that I have.
It’s a real love hate relationship. I love to hate my brain. That piece of shit defies me constantly and tries to bury my efforts. It collapses common sense and sabotages everything I aspire to. It makes me hate everyone, when I know in reality I don’t hate them. It makes me pray for death, swift and quick, when there’s nothing worth dying for.
My brain and mind are confined to the same space, battling for control. My mind trying to subdue the animal instinct to violence and self destruction; trying to stop me from dying in a shitty hotel room, full of Percocet and bourbon with a subpar hooker like a third rate Chris Farley. My baseline is depravity and decimation, and without vigilance, I return to it.
It’s strange how I spent so much of my life assuring myself I was a good person, never understanding why I did shitty things. Now I’ve become the good person I knew I was, but my mind is pushing me to do even worse things than I had before. Some days are better than others, and other days are my own personal war.
Sometimes I wish I was able to believe in god. To offload responsibility and fate into the hands of a supreme being, beyond mortal comprehension, sure seems like a nice way to ostrich my head in the sand. But I’ve been blessed and cursed with self awareness, and the desire to make sense of the chaos. Answering the tough questions by saying “because magic” doesn’t work for me.
But oh, to lay down in simplistic bliss, unaware and unwilling to face my demons head on. The ongoing struggle is tiring. Sometimes I wonder if I can keep fighting, but more often I’m just rolling my eyes and thinking “this again?”
It’s a bizarre place to be, but not unfamiliar. I often feel like a house of cards, and there’s constantly a light breeze. Maybe I’m blowing it up to be more than it truly is. Maybe I’m too wrapped up in narcissistic indulgence of self pity to see that not only are my problems small, but they’re unimportant. The world spins on, people die, babies are born.
But that’s just the nature of being human, isn’t it? We bend and fold out entire lives and experience around our sense of who we are, or, more importantly, who we think we are. And who we think we are is usually defined by the struggles we have overcome. So logically, if you still struggle, your sense of self is damaged. But the truth is, there is no real self anyway.
I had this image stuck in my head the other day. You ever see a time lapse of a flower growing and blooming and then wilting? I’d like to see that in a person. Just a few seconds taking them from birth to death. I mean, our lives are far less than a few seconds in the scale of the universe.
Now picture it with all of humanity. The entire history of mankind on a planar graph, rising and falling, as tides. I am a speck in that graph, and my struggles mean nothing. There is no me against the backdrop of humanity.
Where does that leave me? In the same place, but knowing that it’s up to me. What I do, where I go, how to feel, those are all decisions I make. My brain isn’t me. All that bullshit trying to drag me to baseline? Those are all just part of the human machine, but my consciousness is my own.
I choose what to do with the information I learn, and today I’ll choose to stay sober.