I’m really not sure what to think or feel about the Winter season anymore. For me, it brings back a lot of painful and lonely memories. A lot of that time spent looking out the window at overcast skies, clutching the blankets close while sitting in my desk chair, eating top ramen and sandwiches, headphones cinched-on tight to block out my parents and their pointless noise and petty lives.
Those days were spent glued to computer games, loud music, and “borrowed” videos from my best friend. So much of that time was spent inside my own head, I often felt like I wasn’t even there at all–dissociated and distanced from reality. When I would finally hit my limit and I felt like my heart was going to sink through the floor, I’d take the mp3-cd player I had out with my skateboard and I’d just skate around with no real destination or goal. I’d pass by the primary school I used to attend, the park on the other side of it that marked the boundary of how far I was allowed to go in that direction, and then skate my way to the park on the complete opposite boundary that I was allowed to go to. Any witness to my life probably would have inferred that I was basically engaging in the human equivalent of an animal pacing the length of its cage. Starving for attention, open-throated and longing for challenge and pain. Anything to prove that I was alive and worthy.
In the depths of Winter, I rarely ventured away from the four flat white walls that made up my room. I sank even deeper into myself as if hundreds of feet of snow and ice had descended upon my heart, I became easily irritated or even angry if I was disturbed for longer than absolutely necessary. At times I would become abusive, and that’s when I would shut myself away even deeper. Vicious cycle.
Being in such a position of hating people but hating being alone at the same time made things even more complicated. There are still days where I would rather be in a room full of strangers than be in front of someone who still feels like they’re a million miles away. All the talk I can’t make out, all the unfamiliar faces, the smells and sensations–nothing and no-one leaning on me and burning my time and energy. No demands or expectations, just time and energy all unbound and chaotic.
I always have to find something extremely physical to do during the Winter. Climbing and snowboarding have been my two preferred outlets for dealing with the heavier depression that tends to find me during this part of the year. Snowboarding makes me feel like I’m alive in a way that nothing else can, save for an out-of-body experience. I don’t just ride the mountain, I feel the mountain. The deep, rumbling pulse and groan of the Earth beneath me as I’m gliding down what would be a terrifying semi-vertical death-wish if it weren’t for modern engineering and instinct. The cold air that nips at the exposed skin and provides the stark contrast of life-versus-death; warm-growth-versus-cold-decay. Similarly, climbing for me is being so in-tune with the rock and with my body that everything else just fades out. Like a Buddhist practitioner in the midst of zazen, I lose it all in the motions and the pulse of the stone. I lose myself–which is the goal. I leave “them” and the world that they built behind and for once in my life I feel alive and wholly in my body.
Without these things, I turn inward. I become cold, often cutting myself off at the knees with a single thought or a word. The failures that have dogged me the entirety of my life, the shame and embarrassment attached to the outbursts and vulnerability that slip out while I’m busy lashing-out, the devastation of rejection. It’s this time of year that’s the toughest to deal with. I tell myself to hold on until Spring, and in the Spring I tell myself to limp as far as I can into Autumn.
I hope someday to stop limping from season-to-season. I want to feel truly alive, validated, meaningful. My quest continues.