My only real rule with my writing is to pursue a genuine sense of honesty and self reflection. This can be difficult in general throughout life because often, we lie to our selves. How can you truly be honest with others when you can’t even sift through the subterfuge of your own subconscious self deception?
With that said, I’m calling bullshit on myself for not following through with my own pep talk from my previous entry, “The Cookie Crumbles”, which details my thoughts on persevering through adversity. The article was quite rousing, if not self-helpish in it’s tone, and somewhat sanctimonious in hindsight. (I often find people giving other people life advice sanctimonious.)
Since the posting of that piece, I’ve fallen into what could only be described as some sort of depression. I usually don’t go see a doctor unless it’s a dire need, so in times like these, I tend to act as my own shrink. I always feel that there should be a logical reason for depressed thoughts and feelings; A relationship breakup, a job layoff, a death in the family, etc. Hence, there should be a logical solution to said problem. Whether it’s getting more sun or exercise, socializing more, or perhaps taking significant time to heal from a loss is the only answer. Logic aside, one caveat is that there could be just a chemical imbalance, i.e., clinical depression, but I would only want to try anti-depressants as a last resort. I had a horrible experience once after trying them for a few days. I would rather to go to the root of the problem, not reach for a band aid.
This is difficult for me to admit as I think it is for most people. It’s interesting in that you may be asked by friends, family, and complete strangers, “How are you doing?” 50 times a day, but only 1 or 2 of those people are expecting an honest answer. It’s generally a rhetorical question followed by a rhetorical answer. “Fine”. “I’m good”. “Ok”. “I’m cool”. For the most part, we understand that it’s not really always fair to burden someone else with our troubles, even if the issues are bubbling to the surface. I know I don’t want to be around someone who is in a bad head space all the time, so I really try to not be that person to others. Even my friends.
So when I’m in a funk, my instinct is to isolate, and of course this only exacerbates the problem. It is fascinating to see how everyone deals with depression and loneliness in the social media era. You have the folks like me who are of the, “If you have nothing positive to say, don’t say anything” mindset. If I am sparse for several weeks on social media, I’m either not in great spirits or busy as hell. This can take a different form with certain people who use the medium to show a more polished and glamorous version of their lives and edit out anything unflattering. I’m sure we’re all a bit guilty of this. Conversely, there are some who act as open books online and broadcast every heart aching event or alleged betrayal. Admittedly, these expressions can wear on me after a while if there are constant agonized posts, which is probably why I go the other way.
After plenty of laboured thought, the assessment of Sigmund Coyle is that the root of my current troubles lie in the aforementioned theme of loneliness and isolation. Don’t cry me a river just yet; remember that a fair amount of the isolation is self imposed.
I’ve been “officially” single for 4 years, although I have dated several women seriously without an official declaration of commitment in that time. Currently, I have an emotional wall built up that would rival that red shell covering the museum in Ghostbusters 2. This wall was erected, I think, in the aftermath of the breakup from my last real girlfriend circa 2009. I was a disaster, and the break wasn’t clean. There were several failed and harrowing reunifications over the subsequent couple years that just prolonged the pain, and I just don’t think I ever really got over it. Recently, I stayed shut down as a pragmatic move to keep collateral damage to a minimum as I “get my shit together”. I supposed this was the smart thing to do, but robotic logic can’t win the battle with your heart in long run. My closed off state of mind is a factor in my doldrums and the emotional chickens have come home to roost.
Another elephant in the room just recently fell on me. God Forbid, the band I’d been with with for half my life, ended only a few months ago. I don’t think it should be understated how much any band is a family structure. It’s not “like” a family structure. It is one. I have and will be doing some touring with Unearth, and I’ve been working on getting my new band up and running. But these ventures have not filled the hole left by my other band family. At least not yet. I guess this is what they refer to as growing pains or an awkward phase. You’ve departed the native land, but you are still floating in an infinite ocean with no assurance that you will find your destination.
With this realization, I’ve started thinking about how important family is to all of us. Often, I feel like a dumb, smart person. Some of the things that are so obvious to everyone else dawn on me like these grand revelations. I guess I’m finally starting to understand the instinct that most people have to settle down and start a family. Even if it’s not our blood, we all have the need to feel part of a human unit. This need is so strong that it compels some of us to join gangs, hate groups, cults, activist movements, or even music and art scenes like I did.
My potential nuclear family has always been splintered. My Dad and Mom are such polar opposites, it’s difficult for me to understand how they ever got together. They were never married. I have no authentic memories of them together or even getting along. The solidifying unit was my brother and I. There was a fair amount of domestic back and forth, but we ended up settling with our father. They are both still single and maintain solitary lifestyles that I am emulating. I don’t want this particular set of history to repeat itself.
The band was a nucleus, a homing beacon that served as a proxy for my broken, blood family. I’m not pulling some baby-boomer, “My parents didn’t hug me” crap, but just calling it as it is. I’m confessing that it has clearly affected me slowly as the layers peel themselves back.
Luckily, my brother and I had a great relationship and attention from our 4 grandparents who were both still together in their late age and more traditional I suppose. But grandparents pass away, family members grow apart, move away. Life changes and you lose things. In my idealistic head, I always want things to work out, for everyone to get along, to be together. I’ve always been trying to keep the family together literally and metaphorically. I long for picturesque resolution. In all relations. I guess this would be the definition of pure idealism or romanticism.
I don’t want to dwell on my dark time. But I will acknowledge her. She lurks like a hovering shadow. I refuse to obsess. I persist to exercise whatever my demons are. Deal with them, or they deal with you.
This is just a time of maturation. The time to move from independence to interdependence. People need people, and I need to join the human race at some point. Television, the internet, sports, editorial politics, video games are all just forms of virtual living. Subtle and encompassing distractions.
I want to live, not just survive.