Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Year of Decaying Orbits

Crossing into 2008, I wrote; You don’t matter. Might as well go out and live.

It’s something of a quandary, living out that philosophy. There’s a freedom that only comes with being utterly irrelevant in every context, and a solace that only comes with being invisible. Yet even as I seek out such anonymity, I rebel against it, some ingrained streak of contrariness a mile wide and a mile deep sees me unconsciously, instinctively and habitually distance myself from any given norm. As the act of differentiating myself from my surroundings brings me attention, so I flee that attention and hide away in being an ordinary person leading an ordinary life, unremarkable and with nothing to set me apart from the faceless masses. But I don't fit in. I won't fit in. I'll never fit in. It's a well-worn groove, this cycle. It’s frustrating. Exasperating. Infuriating. Exhausting. Never been single-minded about anything.

Passing out of 2008, I would like to add: Just because you don’t matter doesn’t mean you won’t hurt.

I’ve written about it all enough. I don’t want to write about it any more. I don’t want to think about it, I don’t want to revisit those memories. Whenever I do, I just fall back into that trap of trying to find a way to undo it all, make it better, make it a trial that was worth going through. It wasn’t. I can’t. I fool myself, endlessly, going over this one instance or that moment or this conversation and telling myself I could have dealt with it better. Much better. And perhaps if it was each was an isolated event, I would have, but the stresses of this, and this, and that, and these, and them, they fold in on each other and feed each other, an incestuous knot of anxiety so heavy it’s practically a singularity, drawing ever more panic towards it, warping all perceptions until everything I said was wrong, everything I did was wrong, and knowing, somehow, that I was making mistakes, I’d fumble around trying to correct them and find the right thing to do, whatever that thing was, and miss it completely and propagate more wrongs in the process, and that won’t ever change. It’s past tense. I don’t want to think about it. Are you sick of hearing about it? I am.

I guess I haven’t yet forgiven myself for not being a stronger person.

This year broke me. I lost my self-respect, dignity, certainty, equilibrium, hope, all perspective and balance. I gained shame, anxiety, regret, fear, and doubt, amplified paranoia and endless extra doubt. All my avenues of self-preservation were used, and used, and then used up. There wasn't anything left. It won, I lost.

I spent most of the year with an eating disorder, because something had to give. Messing with my diet was better than cutting, I suppose. I only mention it now because I appear to be done with it, and I only mention it at all because it was turning into a secret, and I don't want yet another secret. Trying to shrug off a bad habit that you don’t actually want to shrug off and have absolutely no incentive to shrug off is and really does provide a whole lot of relief is…not the most heartfelt or thorough fight I’ve engaged in.

Occasionally people tell me I’m strong, but that’s all a charade. Nine parts of being strong merely involves keeping weakness out of sight. I'm not strong. If you think my TMI blog posts aren't 'out of sight', then consider the things I haven't written about, that you will never know. That I revealed as much as I did indicates how cracked up I was.

Occasionally people call me brave, too. They say this about my travels, the food I eat, the things I write, the conformations I shrug off, the activities I do on my own, the risks I take – things they wouldn't do. They're things I do. Things that cost me nothing. Things I choose to do, because I want to do them. Maybe that makes me adventurous, on occasion. Maybe that makes me daft.

Bravery means overcoming fear. Some people are brave every day. They're strong people. I can count the number of times I've been brave, properly brave, in my life on less than one hand. Perhaps I carry less fear than most. Perhaps I haven't been properly tested.

I'm afraid now.

It was a horrible place. I don't want to go back. Just thinking about it is like passing through cold water. I don't want to go back. It's dread. It's panic. I don't want to be like that again.

This equilibrium I've found, this status quo, it has nothing to do with my own ability to cope. It exists purely due to circumstances. No more storms. Nothing I did changed any thing. Enough time passed. I'm still at the mercy of chance. I'm terrified. Every day could be the day it all falls apart and I go back. I haven't been a good friend and I won't be a good friend. I'll cut you out of my life if you're sending me there. I don't want to do anything to bring it on myself.

I don't want to do anything at all.

And I don't want to be like this.

I should be okay. I am okay, and yet, not recovered. I've never had to force myself to do something I want to do. That I should want to do. That it is entirely in my power to do. There are exciting things on the horizon. New job. Tibet. Writing projects. Good things. Great things. Ridiculously amazingly oarsome things. But I perceive some challenge in them, and challenge requires effort, and effort leads to stress, and that's the avalanche begun. I'm frightened of these great things, I don't want to do them, I don't want anything to do with them.

Scary things are worth doing.

I'll just have to be brave.

I went into 2008 torn between paralysing despair and delirious hope, full of the violence of opposing forces. I've lived with the volume turned up and my head and heart howling. I'm going into 2009 without violence, small, trying not to attract attention. I write this, I admit this, and I am sad.

So much has happened, and yet, so little has changed. It's something to be ashamed of. It's something to be grateful for.

We come into the world without shape. We're perpetual works in progress. We die unfinished. I have pondered what I need to do in order to recover and regain the parts of me I have lost, but I will take no such steps. The world will do with me what it will, and make of me what it would. We're none of us given time to be whole. We'll never be whole, always being shaped by what's come, and what's yet to come.

There's more on the horizon.

There will always be more on the horizon.

The sun keeps rising, I keep breathing, and these terrible, wonderful things drag me on.


  1. One of the hardest parts about crawling out of the abyss is knowing that it's there behind you, the abject fear of ever sliding back into it again. And I think that picking yourself up by the bootstraps and forging ahead with life, knowing you very well *could* end up back in the abyss, is a greater mark of bravery and fortitude and character than most anything else you can do. And if you do fall back in, we'll always be here to hold on to you until you climb back out again.

  2. Thanks, Charles.

    Same goes for you too, Jaime.

  3. Anonymous6/1/09 17:44

    what are all these deep dark secrets you don't tell us about anyway?
    are you, like, a serial killer or something?
    do you eat people?

  4. Secrets are only important to the people who keep them, and to those they're revealed to they're generally mundane and anti-climactic and trivial.

    I don't eat people.

    I eat kittens.
    With soy sauce.

  5. Anonymous8/1/09 09:48

    mmmmmm nice!