Long ago, when you or your contemporaries outgrew the morality or the pettiness of your surroundings, you went one of two directions: East or West. You went, and went, and went some more until there was no more distance to travel–or when you were finally alone. These days, there’s no more distance to travel. All of the frontiers have been claimed (except for space and the deep sea), so what’s left to you when you feel like you’re living on the edge of the universe? When there’s no frontier left, where do you go?
When there isn’t any hope or understanding, what’s left for you to do? Who do you go to see? When the sun sets on your weary shoulders, who do you think of? Why?
I can’t speak for anyone else but myself, but when I get these kinds of moods I tend not to think of anyone. I tend to see and feel memories from my past in a kind of reverse-montage sort of way. It’s hard to describe the feelings that come up, but I imagine it’s something like bleeding-out and seeing your life play out before your eyes as you edge closer to the end. The sunset today accentuated that particular emotion, and made me feel like I’d lost something important or that somehow I felt “terminal”. As if there were no further distance to go, no further fugues to be played, and no more mileage left in this bleeding heart of mine.
I know for a fact that these feelings are not true, but they’re about as real as anything else I could possibly experience. It’s strange, being apart from it and seeing or experiencing it in an ethereal, detached sort of way rather than being caught in the crushing gravity of it all. I’ll take this perspective, given that the alternative is worse.
If you could imagine peeling back layers of ice, volcanic rock, and metallic armor away from a heart–that’s kind of what it feels like. Necrotic flesh and decaying metal peeled away from a heart that has yet to mend. Though, the more that I think about it, the less I think that it’s a broken heart than the essence of what my younger self is. Cocooned in the cooled anger of over a decade’s worth of jealousy, hatred, and the devastation of rejection, the ice formed from the cold reality of intense loneliness and depression, and the armor formed from the patchwork of identities and masks that were created over time to try and cover the scars and make it seem as though I could tough it out, that I could take it.
It wasn’t the companionship I wanted. It wasn’t even the closeness. All I wanted was to be understood at a base level, to be acknowledged, valued, and accepted for who I was without any reservations or conditions; to be able to trust someone implicitly. I think that particular point is chief among the reasons why I have such a hard time with things these days: trust. I couldn’t trust anyone then, and even now there are scant few people I can say that is true of. To say that I couldn’t trust even my parents was an understatement. I couldn’t trust anyone for a long time. Even when I made friends with the person I still consider to this day my absolute best friend and confidant (you know who you are), I held a lot back. There were many things I couldn’t say, do, or be. Time progressed, and I grew to trust them implicitly, even when it seemed to run contrary to what my gut was telling me. To quite John Cusack’s character “Rob Gordon” from the movie High Fidelity, “I’m convinced that my guts have shit for brains”. But I grew as a result of that deep friendship.
In this stage of my life, I have what’s known as a “good problem to have”. I have friends, and some of them I am working toward granting that level of trust. I still hold a lot in because a lot of what I feel isn’t meant for public consumption, but at the same time it eats me up inside to the point that not letting it out is just as bad. But I’m trying to work it all out, letting people in slowly who earn that trust, and trying my hardest to realize that not everyone entering that space intends harm.
Sometimes trusting means giving someone else the microscope and implicitly understanding that they don’t mean you harm, they’re just analyzing and responding. That’s probably among the hardest lesson to learn out of all of this.
One of the hardest lessons is learning to be able to be comfortable and happy with myself and my struggles. I’ve tried hard to build a life worth living, worthy of respect, one that other people take positive notice of. I’ve labored under the impression for a long time that I’ve always been “deficient” and that I’m always in need of improvement. This mindset isn’t healthy and it’s something that stems from over a decade of rejection and intense bullying. It’s something I hadn’t had the courage to really address in the past, but lately I’ve noticed it popping-up in the worst possible ways. I think the worst of people when I have no reason to, and I fear the worst when there’s nothing to fear.
I have to work on realizing that no one is intending me harm (physically or emotionally), that I am not deficient in any way, and that things are just “okay”. Not necessarily “lowering expectations” or “settling for less”, but easing the pressure on myself needs to be one of the bigger priorities I need to take on before much else. Maybe then I can stop expecting so much of other people (or expecting the worst).