A lot of fear has been fucking me up recently. I say recently, but I’ve been affected by it since the beginning, I think.
I’ve always been a little odd. A dreamer. Instead of playing with the other kids I made up worlds to live in. When I learned how to read, I also started writing. My first real attempt at writing a novel came when I was in the third grade. What I couldn’t put into words, I put into images, whether paint or crayon or clay. What I couldn’t put into words or images, I put into music, by singing or playing the flute.
I saw so much potential in the world. I felt deeply about it. Cared about it. But then I was told to put it all away.
No one can make a living from painting or writing or music, said my parents. Sit down and do as you’re told, said my teachers. Play the way the rest of us do, said my peers. I was harassed and ostracized, isolated from others, and then taken advantage of and hurt even worse when I strayed from the herd.
So I learned to extinguish that which made me me. I learned that to be different is to be offensive and to be offensive is to become vulnerable. I learned to keep my opinions to myself. To keep my emotions in check. To dull my sense of wonder and excitement. This lead to a deep depression and nagging anxiety for my entire life.
As I grew, I learned new and different ways I didn’t fit in. I’m not straight, I’m not cis, I can’t honestly conform to philosphies and religions around me. My political stances are more extreme than others, and I can’t share any of it lest I, again, become ostracized.
But what does ostracization mean now? I’m an adult. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been and smart enough to see through the lies of snakes. Honestly, I’m fairly isolated anyway, even before this pandemic. I have friends, of course, but I have remained fairly withdrawn from them. I have a spouse, too, but a lot of what I think or feel still tends to go unsaid, if only out of habit.
So here I am, someone who wants to write for a living. Someone who wants to express themselves, their worldview, and their emotions, and then elicit emotions, thoughts and philosophy from their audience, but now…
Who the fuck even am I? What do I actually care about? What am I even feeling right now?
The first thing that comes to mind is grief. I am still so hurt by my dog’s passing, but I don’t mention it to anyone. No more than a, “oh no, it’s fine,” if it gets mentioned. Or I’ll talk about how I only remember the happy times with her now.
It’s all lies. I didn’t want to burden anyone with my feelings. I didn’t want to appear like I’m an attention-seeker trying to get fake internet points.
I couldn’t grasp for the longest time why anyone would go online and talk about how they really feel. The only purpose I saw in someone saying how they were sad online was to get pity, likes, money, or all three. But that’s not it, is it?
There’s definitely some manufactured authenticity out there, of course.. But then there are those who truly are just sharing themselves with the world. Those who know what it’s like to feel completely and utterly alone, who want others like them to know that they aren’t actually alone, just separated by space. Or those who are tired of being alone, and want to reach out to receive vulnerability in kind.
I am slowly finding things out, though. And, now that I’m safely tucked away in my house all the time, I’m gaining confidence in these new findings. I’m realizing that the fear that’s been holding me back has outlived its purpose.
This fear of rejection for being who I am has stopped me from being anyone. I haven’t cultivated the strength to stand up for others. I haven’t gathered the resources to help anyone else. I haven’t built anything or connected with (nearly) anyone, and I wonder who else has fallen into this trap.
Some of my beliefs or philosophies are childish or under developed as they haven’t had time to be challenged or shaped. I want to share them anyway. Some might be controversial or even offensive to some. I’m slowly learning how to be okay with that, while still open to learning to change.
I don’t have much else to say right now, except that I’m going to try to change this, starting with taking stock of the emotions I feel on a day to day basis.
So what is Charlie feeling right now? I’m feeling sadness and grief – not just for my absent fluffball of joy, but for a life poorly lived – and I’m feeling angry that I have to feel sadness and grief for both of those things. I feel a little more bold than usual, hence writing this rambling essay of nonsense, and I’m hoping that I feel just as bold when the time comes to publish it. I feel inspired by my own boldness, hopeful that it will actually help me for the future, and I feel a little narcissistic at being inspired by myself.
And now I’m chuckling at how completely insane all of this sounds, but feeling just a little more at home in my own skin.
How about you? What are you feeling right now?