Because it hurts better than hope

(This is the first thing I’ve ever written online so if you hate it, believe me I probably do to.)

When I had even more of a baby face and a penchant for $12.99 vodka, priced so cheaply it’s brewers should be a goddamn accessory in all my crimes (those of public record and especially those otherwise), I fashioned for myself a super power that I’m well aware is not uncommon but that I was legitimately fucking proud of: The drunken Saturday morning workout. As my friends peeled themselves out of their dorms, I was ripping a handful of shots, wiping the remnants off my tank top and hitting the motherfucking gym (and probably ripping a few more shots).

It gave me character; I WAS a character. Whatever my reason for starting, I kept doing it because on some level, it stroked my fragile ego ever so softly; it made me stand out in some weird way, it gave me an escape from the monotony of (*GASP*) just being me, and it made me feel good because everyone knows your abs look at least 5% better when hungover. Never did stop to think why my friends all drank at “socially acceptable” times (and in college that term is flexible like putty). Almost like I was looking for a quick and easy way to get away from my own self….

Spoiler alert: That practice didn’t work so well down the road. Probably should’ve seen the signs.

The point of this isn’t really about drinking though. The point is that deriving some sense of identity through self-important self-destruction, such as wearing your bullshit as a badge of honor in a way that doesn’t say “look what I’ve overcome” but rather “look how many times I can punch a concrete wall before my hand breaks,” isn’t tough and it isn’t cool and you’re ruining my Facebook creeping with your statuses about it.

I’m all for airing out our wounds so they can properly heal; doing so in a therapist’s office has changed my life and I’m particularly humbled every time I can make it to a group session, those people have emotional x-ray vision and it’s a gift when they share it with you.

What I’m talking about is when people dramatize their problems, when someone glorifies their PTSD and depression, and holds their disorders, struggles, or just general pain-of-living so close that they might as well ditch the clinical terminology and give it their last name. I don’t hate these people, fuck, I’m one of them:

Aside from shots before the gym, shoving a toothbrush down my throat and leaving a whole fridge’s worth of food in a toilet and then pulling deadlifts made it a certainty I could tell anyone who asked just how fucking hard a workout I had today.

I know what it’s like to not know who you are, and when pain has been such a frequent friend, why not just marry her and then you at least get a “we” since you can’t identify a “me;” You’ve been dancing around each other so long anyways. It gives us a sick sense of pride and identity that we get to bear the scars of our families and the relentless pain of our every-day afflictions. It’s our “thing,” it’s what we see in the mirror, it’s what we hear when we’re all alone, and it may be the only part of us we can readily identify.

There is a power in our pain, but it’s not in overpowering ourselves. Trust me, if you really do suffer from PTSD or an anxiety disorder or bullshit that doesn’t have a proper name to it but that is certainly fucking you up, no need to worry, it’s not gonna go so far away that you forget what it looks like.

If you can recognize that pain, definitely share it, but do more than bounce it off the wall only so it can rebound into your face; WORK with it.

I remember talking to my counselor once about how I loved hanging out with my dog when I was feeling down, and he agreed that dogs can be very intuitive to our feelings, can make great friends, but how much do they really say back? He suggested maybe I share some of the stuff I was hashing over with the pup with any number of sentient human beings in my life that I identified as good people. Whenever I summon the courage to do so (not the liquid kind), I’m 9.7 times out of 10 left feeling better than had I stayed silent or beat myself up with the numerous disciplines of self-destruction I’ve studied. These people don’t tell me it’s all gonna be okay or how sorry they are for me; they tell me I’M okay and that they’re devotedly holding out hope for less “sorry” and more “fuck yeah” in my future.

So we’re clear, searching for pity is one of those disciplines I mentioned; it reaffirms to us that we are sad, we are broken, and we need other people to repeat it for us so we don’t forget.

No, we don’t need pity and we don’t need to limit our definition of self to a diagnosis, a habit, or an awfully sad meme. As someone wiser than me once said, “We’re fucked up, but we don’t need to fuck ourselves up.” We can face our problems as what they are; things that are stuck on us that we could use a hand removing, piece by piece, even if some of that shit is super-glued.

Maybe don’t continually tell Facebook how depression and anxiety has ruined your Friday night. Take the time to find a connection with someone, the kind of connection that allows you to tell them what you need, what you think you are, and then they can tell you you’re more than that. Take a step away from the same old shit in any direction that won’t make you hate yourself, and then in however long it takes, get back online and tell Mr. Zuckerberg and I how you’re having a sexy motherfucking Friday because you left the bullshit at home.

And if you happen to be a responsible person that consumes hard alcohol on Fridays without any tears/handcuffs/hospitals, exercise some self-respect and make a purchase that costs more than $12.99.



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Seeing is seeing, Believing is believing

I read this fantastically fucking honest and (for me) relatable piece recently.

No matter how much progress I make or how many steps back I take, since the first day I realized I’d ever had something less than optimal/really really fucked up and not normal occur in my life, I’ve had a hard time seeing these things as anything but “just how shit goes.” In quiet moments when I can look behind my eyes that only see homework to be done and dishes to be washed, there’s an inside out perspective that’s itching, scratching, clawing to be free, trying to devour the mediocrity and mundaneness I substitute for it. Rather than face that fire, I’m drinking myself to sleep, eating shitty food until I throw up, corroding my brain with useless hypnotic media, or simply faking smiles and staring at walls. Whatever the case, I try to douse that fire with poison and smother it with banality not necessarily because I think I’ll get burnt, but because I still don’t think I’m allowed to play with matches.

When I read something like Jayna’s work, I feel like I’m a valet for Will Smith; I get to sit inside whatever stupidly expensive car he drives for a few minutes, and maybe I get a quick handshake and I can feel the charisma dripping onto my palm when he hands me a tip, and I think how fucking cool it would be to live like that, but I mean at least I got 5 minutes worth of it.

Pieces like The Darkness bypass my logic and go straight to my heart, and I know that’s because I’m reading something that feels like another person is translating my emotional dialect into English so I can understand it. I know this, but there’s still that part of me that won’t turn inside and stare at what’s there, just peeking at it with my peripherals and pulling it out of its box every so often when no one’s looking. I have too much money for life to be dark and depressing, at least my parents never got divorced, my body works the way it’s supposed to, I’m still living in the mother fucking United States, I own a car.

Of course, I can’t drive that car because I got my second OUI about a year and a half ago, and those are just the fuck ups on public record. Am I trying really hard to drown something and shut it up, or am I just an asshole?

One of those places that I can open that box is with a few close friends and in a counselor’s office, and of course at the gym, and the better I get at doing that has enabled some fucked up things to happen. I have the sickest kinds of dreams some nights, ones that I can literally feel and taste when I wake up, and environments that used to make me “anxious” are now like walking through a mirror and becoming a warped opposite reflection, doing, thinking, and feeling completely the reverse of what I know is good for me. Not enjoyable phenomena, however they’re some of the only things that keep me doing the work of recovery and keep me reaching out to others at least a little, because the more they intensify the less likely I am to convince myself I don’t have anything to recover from in the first place.

The more progress I make, the darker the darkness. I don’t think it’s because counseling or meditation or lifting weights is forcing negativity down my throat, I think it’s because they’re opening my mind to remembering all the times other things were. Dualities are currency in recovery; give away some pain and in return you’ll find some positivity through healing. Share your true feelings with others, and it allows them to feel closer to you.

One thing I’m finding though, is that the pain of honesty seems to flip itself when I utilize it. If I approach myself and my world honestly (and that can be difficult), then I’m forced to admit just how fucking much it fucking sucks to be surrounded by the lies I’ve accepted. In that way, I guess I also admire Jayna’s writing because she tells what she’s found to be the truth, no matter what the emotional consequence.

So how does one be honest when they do not believe the truth? I’ve been told part of it is in trusting good people’s perception of you, and that if you really do trust them, then follow through with that and believe that they believe. I’ve had some of that, from the looks on people’s faces, to diagnostic charts, to men decades my senior, who’ve lived far less materially comfortable lives, telling me I sound just like them.

I’m not a church goer and my use of psychedelics is pretty limited nowadays, so I don’t think I’ll be hearing from God anytime soon, but that’s a decent list of honest sources regardless. Someone I know would say that the fact I have that list is a sign in itself, regardless of what natural or spiritual power you name as the driving force behind it. The next thing they’d say is a question: “Who’s permission do you need to accept what those sources say?” It’s not like there’s an oversight committee for “fucked up persons unspecified.” If there was, it’d probably be inefficient because a lot of motherfuckers would be getting in.

It kind of goes back to the last piece of writing I put out, about when people identify and hold their pain and struggles so close that they may not even do anything to heal; it’s as much a part of themselves as their reflection. I never want to be like that, and I never want to think I’m special just because I’m hurting and thus I deserve your pity and amiability every time I hurt myself or someone else via the mistakes I’m prone to make.

If I’m being honest, I know that isn’t me, regardless of how I use the fear of becoming that as an excuse to run from what wise others tell me is the truth about me. I know because those moments when I can look inside and not judge myself, there is darkness, but in looking at it, holding it, and getting to know it, I can understand it, and my process with it can be as fluid as manipulating my own breathing. Too much too fast and I’m exhausted, stifle it and I cannot breathe, I can’t get any life. Mindfully releasing and taking it in, then I’m alive.

Jayna ends her piece by saying that we are not alone, and I am sure neither of us are. The next part I guess, would entail being okay with the fact that I’m a lot like my companions, and that as much as we weren’t born deserving darkness we surely have a right to own our own.  I can see this, perhaps with more work I’ll wholly believe it.

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