25 01 2020

Will you defeat them?

Your Demons

and all the nonbelievers

the plans that they have made? 


In high school, there would be nights where going to sleep was excruciating. I would be so hung up on something or someone that I felt like I had to punch a plate glass window just to externalize my angst. I guess now I would call that hormones, but even at 33, I’m not wholly freed from that same inescapable turmoil.

There are mornings, and there are nights. I suspect this is more human than eating, this powerlessness that breeds anger, and tears. This wanting something to want, this recognition of the inadequacy of current objects. The only thing worse than being alone is being alone with someone else, I remember someone saying, somewhere. Does that count as remembering?

Last weekend held a surprise trip (well, surprise for me, as I suspect myself a late addition to a previously established crew) to Albany, Texas. I slept outdoors, I joined a couple of would-be hog hunters in the back of a pickup truck, rifles at the ready. I did my usual social contortions in unfamiliar groups of desperately looking for someone with whom I could enjoy actual company while desperately doing my best to maintain a stoic comportment. One cannot be a delightful asshole right off the bat, oh no. These things take time.

But the angst, man. It still lurks. I still wander around my apartment on Saturdays, when I’m not busy, trying to figure out what to busy myself with. This is a skill I haven’t nurtured, is proper puttering. There are bookshelves to be bought, succulents to be sought. And yet I settle for the Budweiser of weekends unless I’m handed something else.

I crave conversations of deep vulnerability. In any meeting, when I sense kinship, my awful, rotten nervous system immediately starts probing the other person’s emotional strength, looking for holes in the net. I cannot cast all my cares upon anyone, and I oughtn’t cast even some upon most.

My demons are questions, and I feed them with the same old answers I had hoped therapy to have driven out. Why am I where I am, the way that I am, dealing with what I am dealing with? I think an external observer would say I am really asking how I got to be in my mid-thirties without any serious tales of my own heartbreak, or bliss. Or at least tales than anyone wants to listen to.

Someone asked me at a party last night, “Why are you here?” I didn’t have a good answer, because I don’t. Why am I in Texas? Because I was dying in Seattle, and it’s nice to change the laundry on a corpse every once in a while, for sport. Only that implies that I feel dead and hopeless, and that’s not right either (not to mention entirely too maudlin for my comfortable life).

It’s funny how quick we are to lament our singleness, how there is nobody for me. As if some people are granted the luxury of having to see someone else’s toothbrush in their bathroom, forever. But still we moan, or at least my heart does, for someone with whom I can really stop trying to gauge. For someone with whom I can be entirely myself, not just in an authenticity sense, but in a sense of restraint. I think I just need someone to talk me down from the ledge of my own woebegone subconscious every now and then. And here I go again with the maudlin stuff.

There is so much to love about life, right now and always. I’ve found a workplace filled with warmth and courage, and I am surrounded by people who really care about the work we do. It’s infectious, and all while somehow sparing me any sort of serious cold for five months of school, somehow. Miracles, all.

Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future. I remember an old youth pastor saying that in high school, or maybe even before. But now I’m forced to reckon with the utter lack of people to call, people with whom I can spend time, one-on-one. I covet community, but I also prevent myself from building it. I have a huge note on my fridge right now that exhorts me to ignore fear, because it is a liar. Sometimes I fulfill its prophecies, though.

You know what really sucks, in a Life Stage Like This? Going on a blind date, hitting it off, then texting for a week with the woman, only to have her cancel the second date on the day of with a five-text thread laying out that she sees me as “a good friend.” After one stupid date. I mean, really now.

I react badly to pity. Most people do, I was told by a friend recently. I am always eager to show my strength, to let people know that I am embodying the subtler characteristics of the Model Male. So when I get the sense that a girl just doesn’t find me attractive but doesn’t want to say so, I get angry at her for being shallow (which is the most blatant of hypocrisies) and then immediately start building up myself so that I can process my grief and move on as quickly as possible.

It feels like I’m waiting for someone else to answer the questions fear is asking, and they keep backing away right as the pencil approaches the SAT bubble. I want companionship, and as friends are best found organically (I think?), dating seems the only other recourse in the meantime. But even that has become loathsome, filled with either insecurity bombs that penetrate my bald bunkers or pure exhaustion at having the same conversation with so many uninteresting people, but feeling obligated to be kind while I am with them. I fear settling, but I have answered that question well, I think. Toothbrushes are too gross to put up with if I don’t have any interest in the mouth they’re cleaning.