In December 2013, I started a blog called Realtime Recovery. To me, it served a dual purpose.
Part of its purpose was to shine a completely unfiltered light on my struggles with self-limiting/defeating behaviors, to be as authentic as possible. I thought that I could put words to a lot of common struggles people have, and honest, authentic conversations could be generated as a result.
The other part of the purpose was to share self-empowerment techniques, philosophies, and ideas that could help people transcend their own self-limitations. I wanted to, in my own way, make the world a slightly better place.
In retrospect, I think all I succeeded in doing was make myself look like a glorious train wreck. People responded to my posts with advice and sympathy, but I did not so much see how my posts were helping anyone.
Therein lies the basic conundrum of my life. Honestly, I have no idea anymore, how to make the world a better place. Being authentic and letting it all hang out hasn’t really connected me with people and drawn people closer to my world. I think I’ve mostly just driven everyone away by being intense, dramatic, and not exactly the beacon of hope I’ve wished to be.
When you want lemons, you don’t go shopping at the shoe store.
When you want to be empowered, you don’t take the advice of someone that lives in chaos and darkness, but who often speaks of how to live in equanimity and light.
I’ve gone so far down the philosophical rabbit holes of my brain and soul that there’s really no going back. I’m stuck, because even if I could unlearn and undo every lesson and choice of my life, I don’t think I could bring myself to do it.
I’m stuck, because I have a strong conviction to live in accordance with values that most people I’ve met do not relate to. Values that are so difficult to adhere to, because they go so strongly against the established grain.
A lonely, distant place, I’ve found myself in.
I live in a culture that thinks it best to smite its perceived enemies. Donald Trump has sworn to destroy ISIS, and I’m sure the majority of Americans (despite half the country’s disdain for Trump) would fully and unquestioningly support that endeavor. In the common thinking of our culture, ISIS is a threat, a source of fear, and it must be removed. Hardly anyone sees how, from perspectives aside from our own, we (Americans) are just as villainous, unreasonable, and frightening as ISIS is to us.
The point isn’t that everyone is evil. The point is, we’re all people. We all have reasons for being the way we are. It’s not good or evil. It just is what it is. Nobody thinks of themselves as a villain.
Everyone on the planet is either doing what they think is right, or is acutely aware of the dissonance between what they think is right and how they are actually living.
I don’t want ISIS to be destroyed. I want a conversation to happen, and I want that conversation to be had despite the risks. People say no conversation can happen, that no understanding can be reached, but have those people tried speaking in the language that every living thing inherently responds to? The language of love?
Call me ignorant. I would say I don’t care, because I wish I didn’t. But I do. Anyone who thinks I’m just some gullible idiot with no justification for my beliefs is treating me with the same disregard afforded to ISIS.
I’ve earned my stance. I’ve died inside for it. I’ve extracted it from the deepest regions of my being in a tireless pursuit of truth and fairness.
Yet when I express my views, I’m often seen as an anomaly, an enemy, a glitch.
And this has led me into an unsettled inner world of loneliness, isolation, and out-of-placeness.
If there was a reason retrace my steps and conform to the consensus, it would be so I could feel less lonely and detested and misunderstood.
Do I have a place here, in this world? Is there a way for me to be me, and find a middle ground with society?
It’s always been difficult for me to take money seriously. Money is an invention, not a natural reality. Inventions have their place, of course they do. But when the invention becomes the bottom line that drives all human motion, and at the expense of what is natural and healthy and truly needed? It drives me mad.
But what are my choices in this society? If money isn’t my priority, I’m automatically cast to the fringe. If money is my priority, I’m enslaved to a life must be built around accumulating and managing it.
I don’t want to be on the fringe. I don’t want to live on the streets without any consistent sense of comfort and security.
But when compared with the notion of selling myself into capitalistic slavery? I’ll take the streets. I have to. There isn’t as much choice involved as you may think.
You should see my employment history. Maybe I’ll post it sometime, but even then many people would just label me as lazy. If you look at the raw facts, you’d see that I have walked out on many jobs, some after only a day or two. I’ve never put in a two-weeks notice. Most of the time I just stopped showing up and was too paralyzed to even go in and collect the final paycheck.
Do you think that’s just me being lazy, unreasonable? Or can you imagine how difficult it’s been for me? Can you fathom how much I’ve loathed myself for being unable to conform to the standard? Can’t you see that I feel like a failure for not being able to do what’s expected of me? Do you care that as I write these words, I feel like crying?
Does it really make sense for anyone to respond to this with, “There’s just a certain way people have to do things, so put your big girl panties on, and do it”?
How would you feel if you were born into a world that told you, “There’s just a certain way people have to do things; so man up, and turn yourself into a skyscraper”?
That’s how it feels. I don’t know how to conform. I just don’t know how. I’ve tried. Something inside won’t let me.
I need a new way, or at least a variation of the way.
Because I can’t live this way anymore. I can’t live being a shame to my parents, who wonder if I’ll ever be able to support myself on societal terms. Truthfully, if I had found a way that works for me, then their shame would be their problem. But I haven’t. I still have to depend on people, and the people I depend on need me to find another way.
And I’m trying. I finally published a book. I’m rather good at helping people express themselves in writing, so I’m offering writer coaching services. I can do that. But is it enough?
Will it ever be enough?
Or am I just a glob of chaos and incompetence without a hope, without a prayer?
I wake up every day and battle my demons. Like with ISIS, I don’t want to destroy my demons. I want to pull together and be one. The process is maddening though. I’ve sailed so far out, there’s hardly anyone to understand or comfort me anymore, except myself. When I am lost in chaos and regret and despair, comforting myself seems impossible.
So, don’t listen to me. Don’t take my advice. I’ve constantly failed, not only by societal standards but by my own.
Someone recently told me that the Lord is my answer. The person who told me that is as tragic and broken as I am. Why would I take their advice?
Why would anyone take mine?
This has turned into a pity party, but it’s real. It’s the only real thing I’ve got to share right now. I don’t know what to do, where to turn, how to get through this bleak chapter of my life.
All I can manage is to be real and hope it matters.
Also published on Medium.