For a while now, these very unsettling thoughts have been haunting me: What if I have exhausted every option there ever was to be better? What if any routine appliccable to my day-to-day life was already in place and being exercised more or less constantly? What if all the analyzing and digging up reasons and finding light-shedding sources, books, blogs and peers have already garnered everything there was to know in order to manage myself and my “life” – or what’s left of it – better? What if I have already come across all the help for self help that was ever available at this time in history and on the planet? What if … being where I am now was all there was left for me? Spit out by a society that has no room left for any kind of personal problem and is clocked by the unforgiving ratio of input vs. output at ever increasing pace? Singled out, isolated, scared shitless, at the end of whatever rope I was able to find and put to work on behalf of myself over the course of those past 48 years and with increased intensity and focus throughout the past 6 years? What if I needed to acknowledge that I have become a casualty, an unfortunate premature dropout from society, just a hair shy of mentioning the “L” word? (where “L” is for “loser”, not “lover”).
Could it be I have explored every possible avenue of damage incurred, sought out any possibility for help, both from the angle of my personal “toolbox” of means as well as the professional, medically institutionalized one? But more importantly: Was it possible that from 48 years of not exactly knowing what had gone wrong and from inevitably not having managed to find specifically tailored help, let alone access to it, and that by way of applying false coping I inadvertently attracted additional bad experiences that often felt so devastating that they may have eradicated this tiny speckle of healthy feelings for good? Was it possible that the core of my being might have become irreversibly corrupted from simply too many horrible, heartbreaking, devastating, crushing, shattering events and encounters, leaving behind an empty shell of a human being devoid of feeling and henceforth even becoming indifferent to my own utter despair, bitterness, anxiety, existential worry, grief, hopelessness and pain?
It might sound as if I was deliberately trying to paint the picture more gloomy than it already is sans my worries. I’m pretty sure, many outside observers will have labelled me as a masochist by now, who is deriving some sick sense of pleasure from being down on himself and wallowing in pain and heartache. Or they might color me a wuss who never got off the pity pot. I deem all those assessments quite possible and – truth be told – very likely. I wish, I could say I don’t care, but a part of me always does. However, it’s a less significant part of me. The other, bigger part of me quite simply fears that life has dealt me a deck of cards that left me ill equipped to deal with the abhorrent amount of adversity I have been faced with – in the beginning, in the process and more than ever now, when the externally visible parts of my life have fallen apart and have reduced me to physically semi-comfortable survival with a roof over my head, enough in the fridge not to starve and heating, water and electricity in the house. OK, the latter depiction might get me in trouble as being ungrateful, especially when being read by US audiences as homelessness is an ever-increasing pandemic according to humanitarian Brian O’Neal, founder of the DO Foundation, and him sharing this assessment in a TV interview a while ago. When looking at my situation from that angle, i.e. homelessness, I seem to be doing alright. But – I’m not. Not on a regular basis. My ailments and challenges might not be as readily visible as those of a panhandler walking the streets and dragging his meager possessions behind in a bag or pushing them ahead of him in a shopping cart. My limitations and challenges might not be as apparent as those of, say, a mutilated veteran of war. And for the longer part of my adult life I think I was even able to completely hide whatever personal issues I have been lugging around for 48 years. Because that’s what I was trained to do, that’s the common understanding our Western world agrees on: Your place basically is to function well and as efficiently as possible. Have something available for being monetized, exploited, used. And deal with your feelings and issues elsewhere and where we can’t see them. Right?
I understood the rules from early on. I understood that there was no room for my venting, my frustrations, my fears, my worries, my anxieties, insecurities, questions, my hopes, my grievances, my aspirations, my joy, my pain. There was never any room for any of that. In retrospect, I have to say that I wasn’t reared. I underwent a drill. I don’t feel as if I have received any help in being shaped as a human being. I was made into a machine. And that machine broke in 2007. And I will never get it to work like it did prior to that, nor do I have too strong an intention to. I set out to discover me, myself and the very essence of me that I’m hoping to be unique from anybody else’s, that I’m hoping to get to see, to understand, to embrace and – love? Whoa, there’s a big word! Exactly what did I understand about love in the first place? Apparently not all that much telling from a dozen failed relationships including a marriage ending in divorce. So, I thought to myself that I might be well advised not to take on the big stuff right away seeing as I don’t seem to understand the first thing about being human, let alone love. How about learning to appreciate things first? Well, that sounds like a good idea. But in order to truly appreciate anything or anyone, you have to be sort of o.k. with yourself at first, right? And that’s where things bite me in the ass again and have the self-destructive pattern come full circle. I’m not. I was reduced to my failures, my shortcomings – and if there weren’t any to find from my attempts of trying to be perfect, then sure enough something could be found to make them up. “Get out of my face until you know what you’ve done wrong.” Huh? Have I broken anything, shattered china, spilled my soup? I’d often sit for hours on end, trying to identify exactly what I had done wrong. Bottomline is: I was taught how to best hate myself for apparently inflicting so much disappointment and pain and sorrow on my supposed caretakers. Thinking lowly of myself is ingrained with every fibre of my being. Joy? Unnecessary. Happiness? What for. See, what I’m saying? I may have gotten destroyed without me knowing it. But I’m sure as hell left to deal with the outcomes of all that. And I have. I have forced myself to trudge on in this quest of maybe finding a new truth one day. A new life that’s based on appreciation for myself and others, on enjoying the small and big things alike. And a life that might hopefully get me to experience true love at some point. And I did find it, too. And then that was over.
What’s there to fix for cryin’ out loud? What’s left to restore? What might a new perspective possibly look like other than giving myself away in a sort of selfless, all altruistic way? Could that be a perspective for me, could I actually become that person? I’m not sure. I don’t think I’m an altruist by nature.
The longer I live and the more I find out, the more questions there seem to be, most of which I’m left to deliberate and find answers to all by myself and as it has always been. Maybe that’s what it’s like for all of us. What the hell do I know. I don’t know the first thing – and never did.