Wednesday, October 23, 2013
You know the feeling you get when you wake up from a truly horrible nightmare and thank God you were only dreaming? I guess you might call that relief, maybe euphoria, maybe joy. I'm not sure what the term is for when you open your eyes and the nightmare keeps going.
I can remember the nurse screaming.
"Do you know what year it is?"
"Twenty-twelve," I answered. "Twenty-thirteen."
"Do you know who's president?"
"Do you know your name?"
I remember that fifth glass of wine, the frantic confession to the priest over the phone, my brother telling me to stay awake even as I started to fall into a coma.
"You can't stop me! I already took the pills!"
I was crying and laughing at the same time. I was so happy. I was so sad. I was so unburdened.
I'm so sorry.
And I mean that, as much as I have ever meant anything, because in pulling out of a 14-hour coma and being restored to life the only thing I can think about is all the people I betrayed. Thomas, who was my erstwhile companion. Powell, who was still my brother even with all his faults. Pie, who looked up to me. God, who gave me all my gifts and many of my flaws. You, my readers, who rooted for me over the years. And myself.
One thing I keep returning to is the BB I used to be, the one who threw blackened away and decided to see life for all the good it contained.
I don't understand how I went from being that 21-year-old boy, the one with the future standing as an endless sunlit vault before him; to the 25-year-old young man who saw no future at all. I don't understand how I went from striding a summit to collapsing on my bedroom floor. Every time I think about it it makes me cry.
There are no easy answers for me as I return from the psychiatric hospital to the home where I almost died. There are many things I'll need to do, and one of them is to grieve. I'm giving myself time for that, but not too much time. The other element in moving forward is reconstruction, and that means that I can be fragile and vulnerable, can withdraw into myself, for only so long. Eventually some heavy lifting has to take place. I'll let you know when, with the help of doctors and my family, I figure out what that is. I already have some ideas.
I know you all expected more from me. I expected more from myself. And I really hope one day I can achieve that.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
It seems like the time between these posts is getting longer and longer. A month has gone by in this round, but what's a month now? The days and the weeks and the months and even the years blend together.
September 29 passed a few days ago. That was the day, you know, the day this all began. The day of the incident. The day I returned home from the City of Fate, fresh off a thrilling foray in the recording industry, and walked into a nightmare. At least that's how I remember it, where I place the divide.
Any historian will tell you that points of demarcation are arbitrary.
The Western Roman Empire did not, for instance, fall wholesale on the morning of September 4, A.D. 476, and Europe did not plunge into the Dark Ages later that evening. The seeds of a coming Roman cataclysm presented themselves as early as the 3rd century, well before the old girl really cracked, and elements of Roman civilization persisted in pockets for hundreds of years after hindsight says they were theoretically gone. But on September 4, 476, Romulus Augustulus abdicated and people realized, definitively, that something had reached an irreversible critical mass.
I've had a few wins since September 29, 2010. Some of them have even been substantial. But the general trend, over the three longest years of my life, has been one of consistent difficulty and decline. I didn't just blow up one day. Somewhere along the way, though, I noticed my urban areas depopulating and my roads becoming a little worn out. I've been ravaged by a plague or two. People aren't reading as much. There's more cow shit than is strictly necessary. And I can't figure out if I'm about to get a makeover from a bunch of Italian guys with a thing for statuary and human rights, or if I'm just craning my head up from an accelerating nosedive. Is this thing nearing its end or is it only getting started? And how much longer could it possibly go on? The idea that it has any more more fuel strains incredulity, but if there's one thing I've learned since that fall three years ago it's that happiness runs on sweat and diamonds but misery can coast on ethanol. There's never any shortage of shit.
That being said, I'm really hoping against hope--and a good amount of empirical evidence--that this thing is wrapping up, because it's done a doozy on me. In the last three years I've become a person I don't recognize or even particularly like. I've lost my hope, my optimism, my self-assurance, and a tremendous amount of my money. I've lost any shred of love I once had for my parents, any belief that they might be capable of change. I've lost, in moments, my desire to live. Loss, loss, loss, loss.
And what have I gained? A skill set, to be sure, in the field of commercial book publishing. A series of potentially valuable connections. As of two weeks ago, an offer of publication on one of my clients' books. That, in the long term, could provide an income, but it will be a bit before it produces any money. And that's what all of this really boils down to: money. I expended an enormous amount of money on a college education that was supposed to net me more money, and now I find myself with a much-diminished store of money in a house run by two financial vampires who demand ever more money.
Their single-minded focus is immune to the bounds of morality or social convention, to the point that when a sick Powell asked my mother what over-the-counter drugs we had in the stocked medicine cabinet, her reply was, "Whatever you go out and buy."
I think what hurts even worse than the fiscal raping is knowing my parents see me as a dollar sign. Good times.
So I'm trying and mostly losing. Sometimes I have great moments of optimism and a little bit ago I even had a solid few weeks of good cheer. It's not often, though. I feel dead a lot. Sometimes I cry, in the shower or on the phone in the parking lot outside Starbucks as I apply for a deferment of payments on my colossal student debt. I'm not some kind of a bum or anything, not a layabout looking for free cash. I've been proactive in building the foundation for a career. I interned and networked. I came from a wealthy family. It's just that no one cared.
I know what some of you will say. "Enough with the self-pity." "Get over yourself already." "There are people out there who have it a lot worse." "You should look at the blessing you've been given in life."
I count my blessings and I say my prayers, and at the end of the day I am still so massively screwed. The sick little gay boy with the terrible family who overcame child abuse and incurable disease to graduate college. In every feel-good movie I would have been the loveable hero. But you know what? In real life people hit walls and the vulnerable outcast doesn't get to ride a broomstick to glory. In real life those who need the most help are just left behind. In real life the bad guys just win. At least often.
Look at my parents. They will never shed a single tear, never pay a single cent, never feel a single moment of contrition for the suffering they've inflicted. They'll get away with it. They'll keep their investments, their cars, their new resort house, their obscene piles of money stuffed in lock boxes, and they'll walk Scot-free. The only ones left to attempt some sort of clean-up will be the ones they shat upon. And then society will reward them.
So I'm going to keep fighting the good fight, keep trying to land the job that will take me out of here and give me the freedom I've dreamed of for two decades. For now, though, fuck everything. I'm going for a run.