“May it be infinite while it lasts”
Some nights, as I am falling asleep and my brain is replaying every conversation, gesture and sideways glance from that day (and the twenty years of my life before that), I think about writing.
I miss it. I miss this place, with its empty space patiently waiting for my thoughts to quiet long enough to be caught and written down. Every time I think I have something good to write, it always comes to me in those last few moments before sleep, and almost like being drunk – what seemed so good the night before is almost never good the next day.
So here we are, over two years after my last post, which I had actually assumed would be my last. I have been feigning writers block for years now, but the truth is that my life has leveled out in a very uninteresting way. There is no drama, there is no existential crisis to be worked through, there is only me after the unease of my twenties has faded away. The thoughts that used to propel me into writing have now become that weird box of mementos from high school and past relationships; strangely painful and unfulfilling to dig through, because why dwell on the past when the future is so bright in front of you?
A year ago, I began a journey the way (if we’re being honest for a moment) most journeys begin: for someone else. It was for me too, but I very desperately wanted to understand someone else and their struggles so I could be a more compassionate person for them, and that was my only goal. Looking back now, I cannot understand how I didn’t foresee the following eight months playing out, that my journey to understand someone else would result in me understanding myself better, but c’est la vie. We are as blind as we want to be.
And so it began, I started the process of emotional excavation, naive to the fact that I would actually have to unearth some shit, thoroughly examine and wade through it chin deep. In this last year I have been shocked at each new discovery, uncomfortable in the knowledge of how deeply I have buried every emotion related to actually showing emotion, brought to tears more times than I can count because I have finally realized just how far I push people away without ever having known it. It has been powerfully overwhelming at times, liberating at others, but mostly just sad. Even now as I write this, I want to make jokes about what a cold person I can be, about how well that has served me over the years, but I find that the words are a shitty attempt to avoid the truth.
The truth is, being the person who pushes away is not an active choice. It has always been pure survival instinct; once someone is close enough to hurt you, they absolutely will, and my first instinct is to walk away at the first sign of pain. You are just not going to get close enough to touch me, and that has always been my truth. Until recently, I did not see that as a problem to be worked through; it has always made me feel stronger, and though much more lonely, there was some comfort there. Being alone became a choice, and I liked that I was strong enough to make it.
Now, that path that I started down has forced me to honestly look at myself and the experiences I have lived though, to talk about them and cry through the re-telling of stories I had already closed the book on. I am trying to get used to looking at myself without my ‘brave face’ on, trying to learn how to forgive quicker and how to hug without wanting to squirm out of my skin. No amount of therapy is going to make opening myself up easier, this shit is tough man.
The real reason behind writing this post changes every time I start writing. I have been poking at this for months now, not wanting to rush the process, interested to see where it all takes me. This is not a story about ‘self discovery’, or ‘finally learning to love myself’; it is about unpacking boxes in an attic that I put there myself, neatly labeled so there was no question about the contents. It is about opening those boxes twenty years later, knowing exactly what I would find inside, and being horrified instead.
Some days I think the story I want to tell is “The Truth”, the truth about why I am so standoffish and how I got to this point. Other days, I truly believe “The Truth” is bullshit and nobody (including me) wants to hear it. We all have our truths and who can honestly give a shit about anyone else’s when their own is just as complex?
If there is any part of “The Truth” I can bring myself to tell, it is that I miss having close friends so badly it hurts some days. I miss the acceptance that close friends give, the laughter without judgement, the different perspectives and inspiration. Most of all, I miss knowing people who actually want to know me. I am lucky to have a supportive partner, but he cannot be all things to me all the time, nor would I want him to be. Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as understood.
After months of writing and rewriting this, I am unsure of how to end it now. There is no conclusion to this post that I can think of, nothing witty to end on in order to wipe the honesty away. In the words of Chuck Palahniuk:
“That’s why I write, because life never works except in retrospect. You can’t control life, at least you can control your version.”