Occasionally, a person reaches a point in his life when multiple possibilities intersect, when he must choose from several roads, any one of which will take him in a vastly different direction than any other one would.
As 2009 begins, I can see that I have been something of a bad person for the last several years. A severe trauma was dealt to me when I was eighteen years old, and I will admit that it was the most difficult thing that I have ever faced, something that left me legitimately incapacitated, traumatized to the point of total emotional paralysis, for nearly a year.
I was an ungodly mess, not in any way in control of myself. The pain was so strong, so sharp, so vivid. It took the air, the life, the love, right out of me.
Then, though, it ended. It ended, and it left behind an emptiness. I was confused, because the worst had passed, but good times still seemed unwilling to reappear. I was left on an awkward plain, halfway between destruction and bliss, exactly at bland nothing.
That state was too boring, too hard to deal with, and so, not knowing who I was without it, I clung to the hurt. When I started this blog in March of 2008, did I not, after all, name myself BlackenedBoy?
I held fast to the aura of brokenness, of ash, of something damaged. The transformative agony became my identity, even after it was gone and replaced by numbness. Once the roaring fires had long ceased, I continued to stoke their cinders, occasionally causing some sparks to fly into the air.
Why did I do this?
If I view it objectively, I think that dealing with life outside of that prism of vulnerability made me too accountable. It was easy to be rude to people, to be self-absorbed, to be despairing and bitter and seek a rescuer, if I had the delightful excuse of being an emotional invalid, someone on the brink, at risk.
What a horridly selfish and cowardly thing to do, no?
That’s not to say that I don’t have some honest issues, because I do. I really should see a therapist, but to help me figure some things out about myself, not pull me away from the jaws of death.
And speaking of me, I seem to be the main focus of this blog. I go on about myself quite a bit, don’t I? Please don’t feel the need to console me, because this isn’t the sympathy-seeking self-criticism that I may have leveled at one point. I’m simply stating a fact.
To this site’s readers, in particular the regular commenters, I want to give a heartfelt thank-you. It probably hasn’t always been easy to listen to my random flares of negativity, to hear the same story, in different forms, over and over again, and for that I’m sorry.
On those occasions, you’ve been politely discreet in your feedback. And when I’ve posted something genuine, when I’ve had a true problem, you’ve been sympathetic, and, in truth, abashed. Sometimes you seem unsure of what to say, which is alright.
I’m not including the genuine crisis posts in my apology, by the way. Those have probably left many of you flummoxed, but truly bad things often do. What can you possibly say to someone who is suicidal, or as lonely as a forgotten island in the farthest corner of the ocean? What words are appropriate other than, “I’m sorry. Get better. Make friends.”?
I don’t expect anything more of anyone. I think I secretly wanted someone to write, “It’s okay, BB. I’m coming.”
That would never happen, though, making such cries for help frustrating and unfulfilling, because they cannot bring what I want. And even if you all lived near me, what were you to do, drop all that you were doing and confront my problems? Why?
In accordance with my policy of being as honest as possible (which I do think makes for better reading), I don’t regret not hiding the actual bad things. I regret the wallowing, though, and the pointless diversions into melancholy.
So, for tolerating me in my moments of melodrama and understanding me in my moments of distress, I want to convey my gratitude. It’s been quite a job.
In particular, I’d like to say thank you to Jo(e), someone who almost everyone here has come to admire.
I’d read her blog for several months when I first wrote her in March of 2008, telling her how much I enjoyed reading her entries.
Somehow, an exchange that began with me expressing the pleasure I took from her blog turned into a soul-baring exercise, and before long I’d unloaded my whole life into the e-mail inbox of someone I’d never met.
Any sane woman, upon being contacted out of the blue by a frightened and slightly unstable nineteen-year-old with serious emotional issues and a very sad back story, would have immediately edged out of the correspondence. One minute she was minding her own happy business, going about being a wife, mother, and professor, and the next minute a teenage boy was pouring his doubts and pain into her lap.
Instead of telling me to go away, though, her instinct was to comfort, listen, and respond. For the next several months we wrote back and forth, she always understanding and, by the mere fact of her, making me feel better.
When, several weeks ago, I changed my URL address, there was an immediate e-mail in my inbox.
“Are you okay?” was the simple message. She hadn’t been able to find my blog and was worried about someone she’d never talked to in person.
She actually motivated me to start this blog, making her indirectly the reason behind all of this. None of you would know me had she not given me the encouragement to begin writing here.
Thank you, Jo(e). I don’t think I’ve ever expressed how much your actions meant to me during that period, or how honestly inspiring I find your example to be. Even if we had never spoken, I would deeply admire you as a parent, teacher, and generous individual. As it is, I think the world of you. The model you provide, I’m sure unknowingly, is something I will consciously try to live up to as I get older, and God willing, have children of my own one day.
You’re the kind of person I want to be when I grow up.
Okay, now I feel embarrassed, but I’m not taking that part out. Everybody can know what a dork I am.
So, onto the New Year’s resolutions:
I will be a better person. I will seek to spread kindness and be the kind of young man I would like. If I can make even one person’s day slightly better, I am doing a great job. There is, believe it or not, a fairly deep well of goodness in me. I should abandon myself to that. I will cause as little pain as possible.
I will stop being so selfish. In keeping with being a better person, I will be more considerate of those around me. I will not force my interests, opinions, or presence on others. I will be respectful and will go with the flow.
I will not be a pushover. While I will seek to be as brightening an influence as possible, I will not allow myself to be taken advantage of, or tolerate slights against my character. I will not let my size deter me from standing up for my rights and dignity. One component of this may be taking jujitsu classes at Major University.
I will let go of the appalling vanity I’ve allowed myself to indulge in. Life is not meant to be lived in front of a mirror. I will not look perfect every day, and I need to learn to feel good about myself even when that is true. On the days when my appearance is great, I should love that feeling of confidence and beauty without giving in to my ego.
I will see the good in life. There’s a lot, even if there’s also a lot of bad. I will stop seeking out the black in everything.
I will fight obsessive compulsive disorder with every ounce of resolve I have in me.
I will try to make more friends.
I will recognize my own blessings.
I will stop blaming God for all that’s happened, and stop taking my anger and sadness out on Him. He’s done a lot for me. It’s time to recognize that again.
I will stop refer to myself as “recovering” and call myself “recovered.”
I will abandon my neurosis.
I will give my best to everything I do.
I will try new things, even if they scare me (like, for example, a new job).
I will try to overcome my fear of approaching members of either sex (that one may take more effort than the rest).
I will be less self-centered.
I will not let the small failures I am bound to encounter give me an excuse to be bitter again.
Watch me as I try. Keep me honest.
I began here as BlackenedBoy, as someone downcast and wounded. It is my hope that one day, that pseudonym could be transformed to BrightenedBoy. I'd still be BB.
Oh, and by the way, I just finished typing up March of 2003 for the Journals Section, and you are all going to hate me. I know you will. It is so long. You don’t have to read it, but for my sake it’s being posted. I’ll recommend any date that stands out.
So, that’s it. My internship is over, I don’t have to work until the weekend, and school starts on Monday. I’m going to enjoy the next few days.