I fucking hate being alone, and with the way my brain is wired, I am very good at ending up feeling alone. I can sit in a room full of people whom I know and with whom I share a common interest, and feel absolutely 100% disconnected from them. Yay. Awesome.
So, a couple of months back I ended the relationship I was in. From where I was standing I thought we were working together to try and fix the problems we were having. I thought we had made a commitment to give it an extra shot and work on our communication issues. I was wrong.
So, here I am again. Or … I’ve been here all along when I look back. I don’t feel like I’ve been in a relationship for the past two years. Maybe the first one. Maybe only the first half of the first year. There was certainly a distinct downward trend from there.
I’d like to say I miss her, specifically. But that feels disingenuous. I don’t feel I was treated fairly or even well at the end. And so it’s hard to be too sad about a relationship ending. It had run its course (Christ, I hate that phrase … it’s also a lie; one of us took a hatchet to it and didn’t try to resuscitate). Good riddance.
At the urging of some of my friends and an effort to prove to myself that I am not completely unlovable, that some person somewhere might find me attractive, I tried my hand at online dating (Tinder, OkCupid, etc). That was a total and utter slap in the face with a wet Sunday newspaper.
I see my friends enjoy intimacy (not sex necessarily, but physical closeness) and getting the attention that is not around in my life. And I can feel that need growing.
All of this is bullshit of course. I know this from an intellectual standpoint (or, I tell myself that’s the case anyway). But I don’t feel it. And that’s really the important part.
Based on my own history that means it’ll probably be another four to six years before I see anything of the sort again.
If I ever become well and truly depressed, this is the reason.
I’ve been trying to sleep for the past four hours. I’ve been doing the insomnia shuffle. It’s become a familiar pattern for the last couple of months.
You see, I’ve been out from work on sick leave. Stress, it seems, has finally done me well and truly in.
Normally my nights consists simply of me tossing and turning until something snaps and I collapse into a state of not-really-sleep, that’ll last anywhere between four to six hours. Then I’ll wake up and be awake for anywhere between sixteen to twentyfour hours, before collapsing again. Rinse repeat.
I’m shaking as I’m typing this. About an hour ago my heart was racing a thousand miles an hour, my fight-or-flight response was triggered, I was hyperventilating and all my senses were on high alert. Why? Who the fuck knows.
I’ve had a few of these lately. I say lately … I mean within the last couple of months. But it’s gotten increasingly bad.
Maybe it’s all the changes that are happening? Maybe I’m just losing my mind?
It’s unusual for me to not be in control. I mean, not complete and absolute self-control. But at least have some sort of vibe about how, what and where. I feel like I’ve lost that. Many times I get that same sensation you get when you’re almost asleep, and your brain somehow get’s tricked into thinking that you’re falling, and it wakes you up to brace for the impact. That second of shock, disorientation and panic, yea? That’s been my ongoing sensation for at least 70% of the time for the last 2-3 months.
It’s a real treat, I tell ya. I am genuinely terrified. I’m starting to think I can’t trust my own thought processes, because idiotic and irrational ideas keep creeping in, and if I follow them to their conclusion I know I will permanently damage relationships with people I hold very dear. It’s not going terribly well over here.
We’ve all read Dune by Frank Herbert. And if you haven’t, you should. Go do it now, I’ll wait.
In his amazing book (and the somewhat okay movie) we encounter the Bene Gesserit and their Litany Against Fear. It is recited during times of tribulation and trials, in order to clear the mind and maintain focus in situation where fear might grip the heart of our would-be hero. It goes like this …
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
But to me, fear is not the greatest mindkiller. Fear is just another face of uncertainty, and is quite often overcome be mere confrontation.
To me the greatest mindkiller is stress. I know this because I have encountered this beast quite a few times by now. And every single incident has, and is, worse than any fear I’ve ever felt (including the one time I was mugged at knifepoint). Stress creeps in, often under the radar and absolutely destroys every single productive thought in my brain. It shuts me down. It drains my energy, creativity and productivety. It effectively reduces me to a drooling mess. It’s not pretty. Trust me.
Currently this beast is riding me hard. And I’m doing my best to curtail it’s efforts to destroy me.
2014 was in many ways one of my more turbulent years. Between losing a job I loved, daring to open myself to love again and being absolutely fucking toasted to well … just about every fucking thing 204 threw my way, well, I’d be lying if I said I thought it was good.
2014 was the year where barricades I had built around myself were torn down. I dared to let others in on a scale that I haven’t done in years. And I was rewarded for it. I’ve been pushed, challenged, cajoled and even bullied into growing. I was forced to take a pretty hard look at who I thought myself to be, and found things were not as good as I thought. And so I grew. I even learned to love myself, not for who I wanted to be, but who I actually am … because that person is pretty goddamn great. The renovation is not done, but I’ve come along way.
The thing about taking chances is that more often than not, it pays off. Greatly. New friendships were forged, new possibilities have presented themselves and the world is truly out there just waiting for us to go do our thing.
And it’s been pretty amazing to see how people around me have had near similar experiences. 2014 just threw so much shit at us. But every single one of us are holding on to dear life, and coming out so much better and stronger for it. How awesome is that?
Here’s to 2015. It’s gonna be a grand adventure. Why don’t you join me?
It’s getting dark and cold now. The wind is biting my cheeks and knuckles, and it digs deep into my core. Winter has always been particularly brutal. I don’t do well with the short dark days and the cold. It feeds every negative emotion that I have, and multiplies them. I’m not sure it’s healthy, but then again … what is?
The dark and cold came suddenly this year, but I believe I think that every year. Suddenly the darkness wraps itself around us and we huddle inside our coats and scarves. Collars are pulled up. Every single person an island that tries to shield itself from the cold.
The christmas lights are coming up, and there’s music in the streets. I don’t listen to it. I shut myself in with the help of Spotify. I put on my armor … an angry look on my face, a cap on my head and the hood pulled up. It carves a path for me through the crowds. No one wants to get on the wrong side of the malignant asshole walking down the street. It’s one benefit of my size and look, I suppose.
This armor has served me well for years. It shuts everything out, and allows me to be alone in a sea of people. I used to think that I didn’t like to be this way, but it’s grown on me. It’s grown into me. It’s become a part of who I am, even as I’ve worked hard to put alot of my past behind me. Some things endure, I guess. It’s all a matter of self-preservation, I think. Some scars run deep, and especially this time of year pokes and pulls at the old wounds.
I’m not entirely sure when it became like this, but one thing is certain. The armor is not ready to be retired. I need it still, and I fear I will for many years to come.
I find it increasingly difficult to focus these days. I’m stretched too thin. Like butter scraped over too much bread (thanks, Bilbo).
The problem is that all the things that are drawing on me are all unequivocally good things. But it’s draining, and I find my usual barriers and defences aren’t working anymore. I shut down at times, and just sit there, staring into space. I react, rather than act. And things are breaking inside me because of that.
Emotionally I’m drained, which isn’t that unreasonable given that I sleep like shit and eat even worse. It’s not entirely wrong to say that I am neglecting myself. Put myself on hold, to try and do everything else all at once. And that means nothing gets done. Which means I get exhausted, depressed and confused. I feel anxiety attacks pressing at the back of my eyes, but I don’t really have anything to worry about.
Oddly enough it has nothing to do with my work. Everything is awesome at work. Great colleagues, exciting tasks and all that. It’s everything else. I’m trying to run an association, while organising a convention, while preparing for an extended roleplaying trip, while releasing a couple of open-source projects, while … while … while …
Is it any wonder that I feel fucked up? I hope not.
In fact I often find myself fluctuating between states of extreme energy and joy that, in the span of less than half an hour, can flip to feelings of depression and despondency.
Maybe it’s just because so many things are new. I’ve been at the new job less than two months, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t taxing to travel back and forth between Aarhus and Copenhagen. Then there’s this girl that’s been on my mind a lot, and the aforementioned convention that we’re still unsure about whether it’ll be a success. So much going on, it’s just … a bit too much I think.
Maybe I just need to centre myself again. Previously I’ve been fairly good at realising when my mental balance was beginning to go of kilter. And I’d been able to react accordingly. Not so much these days, I must admit. I guess it’s just about me learning to relax again, and take things as they come.
For the past couple of months I’ve been living a life not unlike that of a nomad.
See, the job I had at a small advertising agency disappeared. The company went bust. I was out of a job. After the initial panic had settled it was time to look for something new.
In this regard I am extremely fortunate. I work in an industry where there’s almost always some sort of work to find. As such it took me a mere twelve days from the time I was laid off, to when I had a new signed contract in my hands.
The only issue was the new job was more than 300 kilometres away. Quite a bit more than what a daily commute would make room for. So here I am … crashing on friends sofas, wedging myself in with family I haven’t seen regularly for years.
I still have my flat in Aarhus. But it’s not really home anymore. Nowhere really is. I’m never in one place long enough for me to settle into a rhythm. Half the time I’m living out of a weekend bag, and the other half I’m preparing to live out of a weekend bag.
It’s been awesome and amazing. It’s also incredibly hard. The drain that comes with not having the option of shutting the door and being alone with your own thoughts for days on end really takes a toll. Add to that, that most people would probably prefer not to have vagrant living on their sofa … well, it’s a challenge.
But I like challenges, and with this one it seems that I might return home to the city where I was born. A place I haven’t lived in for over ten years. It’s a weird feeling, that scares me to some degree. I wasn’t, and am not, terribly proud of the person I was back then, and I’ve tried my hardest to change that. I think I’ve had some decent success with that, but it doesn’t change the fact that there’s a small niggling voice in the back of my head saying “what if …”.
On the other hand, I do feel like I’ve been stuck in a rut for these last few years. And I spent a lot of that time internalising what might just as well be external issues. I’ve grown more fearful of change, it’s become harder for me to make big decisions and I constantly worry about failing. Now, all of this probably just means that I am a normal human being, just like you. But I feel it’s holding me back. It didn’t use to be like this.
What I think I’m saying is that, this new experience of not really having a home anywhere has triggered something. I’m not sure what that something is yet. But it feels big. Like a new adventure. And I think it’s about time.