Hit the unfollow button, man. Alec and I are going to keep things personal or public however we want. Don’t fucking tell me how to tag MY posts.
Yeah, I hear you. It starts out small, the trouble. And that’s the trouble with it. It’s strange but not too strange, so you chalk it up to the stresses of school or work or, oh, it’s just this or it’s just that, it’ll pass. One evening you’ll have been studying or working as usual and then as if out of nowhere you feel like ripping your hair out or punching a hole in a wall or running out and slamming doors but instead you pause, you sit back, breathe, and the feeling passes. It’s normal, just stress.
A few weeks later you’re honking your horn at passersby passing by too slowly and it’s like one day everyone is in your way and too slow and another day you’re in everyone else’s way and you can’t speed up. You’re in and out of rhythm. You’re awkward or everyone else is; you’re alien or everyone else is. You’re standing in line at a checkout counter and you sink into blankness, and you sink and you sink until the person behind you taps you on the shoulder and you step forward to pay for your soda and bag of chips which you no longer want so you buy a pack of smokes instead.
Maybe a break, a night out with friends, a drink or two. So you’re out with your friends and you’re laughing and the drinks are good but soon you’re like, “Who the hell are you all? What the hell are you babbling about? And what the hell is so funny!?”
Years pass and more years and more and more and you’re out of your apartment less and less and then seldom if ever, but you can’t stand the silence of it in there and you can’t stand the sound of your own breathing much less of your own voice so the TV is on at all hours and sometimes music on top of it. You’ll try and open up to your housemates a little. You need to open up. You’re feeling a little desperate now, it’s almost urgent. You open your mouth and you feel like it’s all about to rush out of you and it’ll all be perfect sense and then you’ll feel relieved and Jesus it’s been so long since you’ve felt relief of any kind so you’re excited—and it’s been so long since you’ve felt excited so you open your mouth; but then—
“I’m…I’m not feeling right, man. I can’t… My head is heavy. My heart is… I’m… I just… Sometimes… Have you ever… I… Never mind.”
And they also try, they try and help you feel better: “It’ll be okay, buddy, you’re just in a rut. You should be outside more, you’ve been cooped up in here too long. Fresh air, yeah? It’s been tough, but you’re tough, you’ll pull it together. Just remember the bright side of life, there’s always a bright side and you’ll find your way back there.”
But you feel stupid, and, in a way, you are. So you quit opening your mouth and you wish your housemates would quit opening theirs and you wish to Christ they’d shove their “bright side” up their dark sides but you can’t understand what you’re so angry about, what you’re so bitter about. And it’s such a high-voltage bitterness at times that one night you’re walking for a little of that fresh air and you’re walking faster and faster and someone crosses you and you feel like grabbing him or her by the collar and pulling him or her aside and laughing in his or her face until he or she is even just a little more laughable than you feel you are. Every day is just a flaunt of pink cheeks and jolly limbs and business and energy and you’re not a part of any of it but, Heaven help you, why? Why? When? And how?
There are times the distress of it hurts so much you doubt you have it in you to draw another breath.
And the guilt. The guilt of being such a loser, such a fuck-up, such a useless sack, so indecisive, so ambivalent, so stuck, so up and down and left and right and you can’t perform even the simplest tasks and why can’t I just, why can’t I just fucking breathe and why is it so exhausting to smile and what a freak I must seem to everyone and they must be so fed up with me but they’re not even trying to understand me and they couldn’t care less about me and frankly I couldn’t care less about me either or about any of them and, God, that can’t be right, I’m not such a loveless bastard, am I? I’m sorry. I’m just sorry all the time, it’s nearly uncontrollable, the urge to apologize, and how exhausting it is and how at times it’s even physically painful feeling so intensely apologetic all the time and so now you’re intensely angry at everyone in your way for being there and reminding you by being there of all you have to apologize for. And then you’re sorry for being angry at them. They deserve better. They deserve better than that, than me. You’re sorry all the way back to the day you were born and you’re angry with your parents and then you’re angry with your mother for settling for your father and you’re being yanked up and down and left and right from sorry to angry and angry to sorry and so you push everyone away. And when they won’t be pushed away, you curse at them. And though they won’t be pushed away and they’re there and always with you and around you—somehow, you miss them.
You’ve been isolating so long and now even the distress of being so all over the place has dulled and soon it all fuses into a kind of mass of unspecific want. And that in turn boils down and boils down until it’s perfectly specific, achingly specific and it crawls out of your mouth and you hear it: I just want a hug.
That’s followed immediately by feelings of ridiculousness and self-loathing, particularly in that you’re the one who’s been pushing everyone away. Wanting a hug—what kind of weakling am I, anyway? I’m a grown fucking man wanting a hug—could I be any more repulsive than I am right now? Christ.
I hear you. I’ve been there. But it isn’t ridiculous at all. It isn’t. For you, and maybe for a lot of others as well, wanting a hug isn’t so much about wanting to be loved as it is about wanting to be contained, wanting to feel your measurements again, wanting to feel your contours defined, wanting to feel that you’re flesh and blood and not some unspecific mass. It’s not about wanting to be reassured of how wonderful and intelligent and handsome and loveable and creamy and cuddly you are, you’re in no need of that. You’re in no need of inspirational quotes and hopeful reassurances.
Most of us aren’t interested in being immortal. It’s not immortality we want or Heaven or super powers, and it’s not even about wishing we were stronger or better or healthier. Most of us just want to understand our measurements, however modest they may be. It’s not even that we want to be comfortable in our own skin, it’s that we want to feel that we’re in skin. We want to be in our own little skin and feel that we’re a part of it all again in our own little way for our own little time. That’s all. We want to feel that we occupy some definite space in a room, in the world, and we’d be content with however much space it may be.
No matter how tall and strong, no matter how rich or how successful, how intelligent, how well-read, how articulate, how civilized, how well-dressed and neatly combed and shiny and smooth-edged, no matter how independent or assertive or clever, when you’re in pain you’re a puppy lying in your own slop wanting your mother and in that at least we’re all alike and we’ve all been there one way or another.
And I realize none of this is much in the way of solutions. I have none. But I hope you can realize that if someone else—in your case someone who loves and cares and worries about you—has been there and is on his way out of it now, that it is possible for a person to find his or her way back into rhythm and, as you once wrote, “be whole again”, it’s possible for you as well. And those of us who always promised we’d be here for you and with you meant it then and we mean it now. We’ll be with you where you are now and we’ll be with you while you’re on your way out of trouble and we’ll be with you on the other side, back in the world and a part of it.
I can’t thank you enough for this post, Alec. And for everything else. I love you. I’m not quitting.
always and forever your T
Alec, you have me in tears.
I love you. So much.
I’m confused just as much as I’m confusing.
Nobody calls me T except you (I hope you are who I think you are). I love you. Always, always, always.
I don’t know what to say to this but I just feel like publishing it. Thank you, anon.
It’s not about losing followers. I don’t give a flying fuck if I lose 1 or 100. Sometimes I just feel like crap that I can’t help but rant on here but in the end I feel uncomfortable with the fact that people actually read my rants and know that I’m a mess.