Asylum

It’s been a long and sordid ride through the last four months of my life.  Words just aren’t enough to convey the places my life and my choices have taken me and the pain that I have endured.  I swore I’d never bleed for anyone or anything ever again–yet here I sit, bled-dry and left a smoldering wreck.  The price paid for my hubris has been steep, and it continues to levy tolls.

Should have seen it coming, I suppose.

My relationship is no more.  That connection is severed, the thread now removed from my sight forever.  It’s sad when “someone I know” becomes “someone I knew”.  I thought I knew him.  I thought I knew myself.  But apparently I know differently now on both accounts.  And it leaves me in dangerous, uncharted territory: without an safe harbor, without a compass, without purpose.  Adrift, I have been wandering the wretched spaces of my life, trying to salvage the remains of what constitutes a life.  I’m finding that this task is maddeningly Sisyphean, and that succeeding in this endeavor is seemingly impossible.  Yet, I trudge-on.

A hopelessly lost cause?  Quite likely.

The nature of the many plights I find myself mired in does not escape me.  I am aware and awake, to the extent that an inmate is cognizant of their death-row status or a patient at an insane asylum is aware of their surroundings through their arguably tentative grasp on reality.  I often feel as though I have lost my mind–or I lost it long ago and I am only now feeling the gravity of the situation.  It must be uncomfortable for others to be near me, much like that feeling of discomfort one would have around a “sneaky uncle” or someone who is very obviously “not right”.  If one could imagine a nearly-invisible iron mask over one’s face, one that you can only see out of the corner of your eye or in lightning-fast flashes of insight, I would imagine that is what it is like to be around someone who is “off”.  I imagine that is what it is like to be around me.

I don’t blame anyone for feeling that way: it’s just my inherent broken nature fully-exposed for all the world to see.  A freak with all the lights on.

I blame my parents.  I blame them for not being in-tune or connected with me at any point.  I felt like (and often still feel like) a stranger around them.  They don’t know my trials, my failures, or anything about my life and they never ask.  That willful ignorance and disconnection is what killed me inside every day for nearly twenty years.

I blame every school teacher I ever had.  I blame them for not really caring.  For not listening.  For not recognizing me for what I was: broken, and in need of deep help and a mentor.  For leaving the “lost cause” to spiral to its fate.

I even blame myself.  I should have screamed louder.  “Cries for help” were just inadvertent lapses in my judgement, when I could have spent more of that energy asking for help.  I wrapped myself up in the trappings of a tough, angry exterior to prevent anyone else from ignoring me or taking advantage of me.  I pushed away friends, confidants, and eventually lovers with the pent-up rage I had collected over the course of a decade.  There was no excuse for it, and there never will be.  In this, I recognize my base failure as a human being to move past what held me back and continues to hold me down and slowly destroy me in every waking moment.  I should have been able to find help.  All I found were blank stares, dismissal, and a lack of understanding.

What else should I have expected?  No-one can understand, not without the experience of having been there or having been in those shoes.  I imagine that’s what every inmate at every asylum has said since time immemorial–that they’re not crazy, that the world is just the way that they imagine it and that everyone and everything else is to-blame.  Or worse, that there’s nothing wrong at all.

My work, my physical activity, my laughable attempts to remain social are just the groans of a burning building buckling under its own weight.  I just wonder if (or invariably when) the collapse will finally come.  I’m at least conscious enough to recognize that it is happening and I don’t want to take anyone else out with it when it all comes crashing down.  That sentiment likely sounds patently-ridiculous to onlookers.

“Morals?  Caring?  From a crazy person?  Hah!”

Laughable, I admit.  Call it what you will, but if the collapse comes, I don’t want anyone else to be affected by it.

I talked with my manager a few days ago and told him what he already knew: I’m burnt-out and I’m having trouble keeping it together.  I told him I felt like I’m failing and that I should “vacate my slot in favor of a new-hire that can more closely fit the culture of the organization”.  He looked at me with the the saddest stare I have ever seen, and then proceeded to tell me what I’d already imagined he had been rehearsing for a long time.

“You’re a team player, you do work, and you’re just at a different point in your career than everyone else.”

I’ll be honest: I still feel that planning an exit-strategy and getting out of the way of the progress being made there is probably the best course of action.  I feel miserable in the fact that my behavior has effectively poisoned the well.  I know for a fact that I am probably among the first that will be let go if it ever comes down to it.  I just know it, don’t ask me how.

I don’t know what to do anymore.  It feels as though the collapse is inevitable, and that there isn’t anything that I can do to reverse it or at least halt it.  “It gets better” doesn’t help.  “Just hold on, don’t let go” just doesn’t have the same impact that it used to.

I’m lost.

2 thoughts on “Asylum

  1. For what it’s worth — I care. You have friends, whether or not you see them. I am one of them, and I’m sorry I haven’t been there for you as much as a good friend should. You’ve been going through some tough shit lately, but you don’t have to go alone. You know that any time you need someone to talk to, or even just someone to listen, you can give me a call.

  2. Hey James,

    Dude I’m happy to have read this. I sometimes wonder what you’re going through but I’m not sure if it’s okay for me to ask. I don’t want to be all up in your business. While you’re right, I can’t really comprehend what your pain is, I can be a friend. You don’t have to act around us. We’re your friends. Seriously. You’re more than welcome to come over and talk whenever. I know that we usually theme people coming over with video games and things like that, but we’re also cool if you just want to come over, have some pizza and just talk. We have an open door policy. If there’s ever a time we tell you, that you can’t come over because we’ll be away or stuff like that we’ll let you know, but it will NEVER be because we think you’re weird or “off” or any of the other things you said in your post.

    Actually it’s always a joy to have you over. I see you as a happy person who is going through some major stuff, which is something everyone goes through. I do see a strength in you that you are willing to confront the darkness that is inside. We all have darkness, but not everyone is willing to turn and look at it and fight it. It’s easier to self medicate, and ignore. Only strong people fight it. 🙂 my guy will tell you I had many many years through college, and into my marriage, and even when we moved up here that there were really dark days, where I felt like I accomplished a lot just dragging myself out of bed and to the couch to watch TV. It was a major event to get dressed in clean clothes and put on make up and look like I had it all together when I went to pick him up from work. I felt like I was acting, and sometimes I still feel that way on bad days. However, it takes looking at your monster and tell it whose boss, fighting it into submission, and owning the bro, to overcome this. It takes a lot of time, and effort and a support system. I had Amin to help me, and now we’re here for you. 🙂

    Hang in there man it does get better. I promise.
    -Heather

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