I’ve been struggling to distill my feelings into much of anything lately, let alone words. Words have always been the sieve through which those feelings I choose not to feel pour. My philosophy was always “it’s not writer’s block, it’s cowardice. You know exactly what you want to say, you just don’t want to say it.” But even when I say it, over and over and over again, my words have been minced by the wire into which they fall, diced and split down the seam.
And it’s been a chore trying to mop up what falls out the other side.
I’ve been staring at a blank word document, attempting to write a dramatic monologue for my poetry class. I figured this would be a good time to grow the spine to share my SPD. A 15 person class who can be fooled into believing this character isn’t me, could very easily snap and smile and tell me my metaphors are misaligned and everything would be alright. But no, no the words won’t come out. The mask won’t lift, and I’m stuck.
Apathy. Emptiness. Isolation. I don’t need a damn hand hold or a pat on the back I need a puncture wound in my lung to let the pus out. I need a jaw dangling by a ligament and a tongue torn down the center to get out what it is I want to say. In simpler terms, I need not to speak to say what I mean. I need only to be. Because this is my everyday life, my daily routine. So I guess I’ll take the time here to scrape the scum off the hull.
I’ve done a lot of research into this, and told a few people about it but have never been able to adequately describe it. My definition changes as I do (naturally you asshole), but the core tenets remain the same.
I have a schizoid personality disorder. I can carry on an image ebullience and charisma, I have the qualities of a natural leader, I can talk in front of a crowd of people with only the natural Irish redness and my usual clammy hands. I can master social situations, charm the pants off of whomever I need to, and generally be a friendly affable guy. Better yet, agreeable.
Here’s the thing. It’s a hoax. All of it. A sham, a lie, a god damn mockery of genuineness. Inside I feel all but nothing. I am hollow, and within this cavity my true self shudders in fear of being discovered. Not that I fear people will figure out that I’m some kind of fraud, but I fear losing this mask. Truth is, I’ve realized that I actively feel the primal emotions: fear, anger, disgust. Those are the kind of things you can’t alienate yourself from. The rest? Phony. Mocked up. Exaggerated to meet the expectations of the people around me.
I know what the feelings are like, I know what it feels like to be happy, or sad, or depressed (oh do I know that one), but I can’t actually do it. I can’t quite get there. It’s like my feet are dangling just above the ground, and I’m stretching out my legs as far as I can but I just can’t touch the floor. There’s a persistent numbness, a sort of apathy that presides over me. Utter detachment. And though I hate to admit it, as much as I love and as many people as I call friends, losing them would feel like nothing to me. I’d know what I’m expected to feel, I’d know what’s appropriate to feel and how it would be appropriate to act, but I wouldn’t actually feel it.
I don’t miss people. Even if I love them to death, enjoy their company and want to spend every waking moment with them, I don’t feel it. I don’t miss it. I don’t want it.
I have an inner paradise if you will, dug deep in the hollow of my heart, in which this true self rests. Alone in a fantasy world kicked back on a heart string hammock with a cold beer and some hockey on TV. That’s it. That’s me. But there’s a dynamic range in which I exist: alone I am overtly detached from reality, floating off into space. In public, I don the mask and become the Steve you see, the Steve you know.
But that’s not me, it’s never been me. And sometimes the real me feels the pangs of loneliness, the isolation, the vacuum in which I exist. I fall deep, deep into the throes of depression and am snagged on a reef just above a jump in front of the next train to Penn. I dangle there for a while, and sometimes my fingers slip, but I quickly reclaim myself and nestle back into the needle bed.
That’s not to say I live my life between two bookends of apathy and depression. I’m not as miserable as my blog paints me (no, seriously!) but this is the general cycle in which I exist. I am my own brand of happy when I’m alone. Myself, with the mask off and the muscles relaxed. And sometimes that person yearns for more, for something closer.
And I found that person, who understood, who got it, if even a little bit, better than anyone else could even fathom. She knew just when I was floating off into space and the mask was slipping, and she knew just when I was mocking things up to be normal. I won’t delve into that any further, but the point is that I know that I am capable of connecting to someone, but it requires the right mix of chemicals, crazy, and tenacity. And so, as I drift into each sunset I feel increasingly isolated in my life because of how…isolated I truly am. Within myself. It’s not a wall that I’ve raised in response to hurt, it’s a natural valley that I inhabit. Geographically separated from the world around me. And I can’t control it, I can only understand it. Learn more about it, strive to embrace it and turn it into long lasting happiness and satisfaction. I know it’s possible, I’m not broken, I’m just different. And I’ve accepted that.
But sometimes, I swear I can’t help but feel like I’m insane. And other times, I feel like I’m getting away with murder. Model UN brings out the worst of my exaggeration, because everyone else is doing the same damn thing. For different reasons, of course, but the point remains the same. I can essentially play the role of an actor, taking on a character who is charismatic and charming and this and that and blah blah blah. I can be a different person everyday if I really wanted to, but I like consistency.
Nevertheless, I’ve a long way to go to self-actualization. A lot of sleepless nights, reefs to be snagged upon, and empty smiles ahead. And maybe one day I’ll be able to distill this all into a poem, or even some of it, and it’ll be my magnum opus. And I’ll feel how Mozart did on his deathbed—disappointed.
Until then, I’m off to gallivant as the most confident 19 year old you’ve seen this morning, and you’ll think I’m arrogant and cocky and cheeky and this and that, and I’ll think you’re a jackass. Moot point.
My needle bed—heart string hammock awaits.