Everything is as it should be. My inner world is calm. There are no major issues to worry about. In fact, gratitude is abundant. Life really could be worse. Lots of bad things could happen. I’ll find one. Eviscerate it. And spread its unlikely potential across my brain. “Ahhhh” I will sigh, as the peace is disrupted. Negativity runs supreme. I am a pig; most happy in shit.
Most of my life has been spent using practices that allow peace to be cultivated internally; meditation, walking, reflection, spend time in nature, good diet. Once I have created a mind somewhat close to utopia I will destroy it. Then I will rebuild. Why? Numerous reasons. Boredom. Fear. So it is me that destroys it before some other bastard does. Most likely it is the belief that peace and happiness are fleeting. That they are good for others and not for me. If they do arrive then I must search for something to bring it to an end. It is a form of psychological self-harm. It is searching through the past for a negative memory to use as a weapon against myself. It is raking over the coals of regret to keep the heat fresh. It is pulling every shameful act and hanging it on display like some kind torturous art gallery. It is these weapons that I use to keep the scars fresh. But they are not scars on my arms or legs. They are in my mind. At times the anxiety caused can be so ferocious that it flays my brain. The pain makes me feel normal. It is what I know. It is my default setting. Years of sitting in a pub pouring alcohol and negativity into my system made certain the diminished self-belief. The same diminished self-belief I had started drinking hoping to increase.
Every day is a fight against myself. Not because I am fighting the addiction of alcoholism. The temptation to drink alcohol has long subsided. The temptation to smoke a cigarette now that’s a different story. But the real battle is for peace of mind. Trying to find a moment to saviour amongst the chaos of life is hard. Especially when my default setting is destruction. Just getting from place to place can be draining. The analogy that best describes it is that you are in a house. At the bottom of the garden, there is a shed that contains something you desperately need. There is a storm blowing and you must brave it to get from the house to the shed. That is how most of my days feel. Like fighting through a storm. The Fluoxetine has calmed the storm but the behaviour still exists. Now, I can see it happening. Like a tendril of my mind that needs poison to survive is flailing around looking for some life-preserving negativity. The meds seemed to have restricted its supply of poison but it continues to search. Hopefully, it will die out.
This thinking creates a prison that begins to consume my mind. The parameters of my imagination are restricted by the energy needed to get through the day. The joy of the life I am trying to obtain is like the shed at the end of the garden. I am fighting to get there. Even if I let the anxiety pass it consumes me. It begins to spiral viciously until I cannot see where I am heading. Then I crash. But if I do find a bit of peace I destroy it. To return me to the state of chaos. Its almost as if peace and happiness are my allergies. Only in states of overwhelming positivity can I win the war. Things like travel and exercise push away the feelings but once those activities cease “normality” resumes. Worry returns. And anxiety ensues. It is a vicious cycle of self-destruction.
I will cling to something. Anything. As long as it offers comfort. In the baron wasteland of a negative mind, loneliness is certain. Anything that offers hope is welcome. No matter how destructive that help may end up becoming. With my desperation for salvation, the destruction of the hope is guaranteed. I will suffocate salvation. And consume affection. I will drain the joy from life in the pursuit of a high. Take running for an example. During the lockdown, running was a welcome break from the incessant Netflix binges. I started slowly and worked my way up to 10km. I was happy. I was enjoying it. Then came the obsession. 10km became 10 miles and then 12 miles. The demand for running continued after the lockdown ended. If I couldn’t run 10 miles after work then I was a failure. The drill sergeant barking orders in my head was demanding perfection. I had to give it up. If I can’t do something to perfect then I can’t do it at all. All or nothing. It has always been the way. Anything that I do enjoy initially, ultimately becomes unenjoyable.
Some in recovery would call it the “ism” in alcoholism. That the disease of alcohol is what creates an obsessional mind. To me, alcohol was the cure for my obsessional mind. The only cure for my obsessional mind is having something to obsess over. Without an obsession, I begin to flounder. Life becomes meaningless. I search for things to fill the void.
“A buddha is one who awakens from the illusion of samsara – That is, from the thought that there is something to get out of life. That tomorrow will bring it to you. That in the course of time, It will be alright. And therefore one is set pursuing time as if you were trying to quench your thirst by drinking saltwater.”Alan Watts
The emptiness that I feel in my soul is ceaseless. Like trying to fill the Grand Canyon with water using only a bucket. That’s how futile it feels. Nothing seems to fill the void. I have tried everything. Yet the empty feeling holds my soul with a firm hand. A restrictive clench that denies fulfilment. This feeling carries with it the belief of being a burden. That this unfillable feeling will be too draining for another. It is best to face it alone. To deny my innate desires is to save another. A reward for punishing myself. My sacrifice is worth it. A tortured soul; wanting love but unlovable. It is just another illusion. Another stick to beat myself. It is the last tool of torture in the dungeon of my psychological self-harm. It is the belief that there is no happy ending in my story.
I wish this was the attention-seeking meanderings of a troubled teenager. But it is the core belief of an adult man. Thankfully, I don’t believe the ending has been written yet. There is time to change the road your on…
This time of anxiety and depression has been painful. But from the pain has come introspection, growth and acceptance. That these parts of my psyche are here to stay and the tools I use to keep them under check are going to have to be a part of my life. Not just behind a pane of glass with the words “break in an emergency,” written on. When the shit hits the fan I’ll do an hour of meditation. When the going’s good I’ll do none. I am all or nothing. I have always been but somethings have to be done continuously. That is going to be hard to do.
What is most surprising is that for someone who values freedom, individuality and independence as much as I do. It has been difficult to accept my difference. It has been hard to acknowledge these dark parts of my soul. Simply because I saw it as weak. Anxiety to me is nervousness. Being nervous is being weak. That’s the way I saw it. And due to this tried to fight it. The inner conflict is exhausting. Especially when you are fighting for both sides. So the war is over. I am now trying to make peace with myself. I have an obsessional brain. A wonderful imagination that can turn peace into atom bombs. If not utilised it goes rogue. Boredom is the first step to destruction. An obsession is a distraction from the boredom. But eventually, it becomes destructive.
It is time to make peace. It is time to accept that my head is fucked. There are days when I feel like the world sped up and I’m going to fall off. I feel out of step and out of place. I can’t pretend anymore. It is time, to be honest. It is time to be myself. Shit, I might as well love who I am. Instead of hating who I’m pretending to be. Maybe genuine self-love will be the end to the psychological self-harm.
There is only one way to find out.