Honestly, I’m not exactly sure how I’m doing. I’ve managed to narrow it to somewhere south of “OK” and north of “OMFG”. Looking inward, I just can’t seem to pinpoint anything specific and the more I think about it, the more lost I feel. I can give you my feelings about a million topics, but struggle to identify if any, or all, of them contribute to my overall state-of-mind. While this really isn’t anything new about me personally, it’s especially frustrating because I recognize right now having clear answers would be much better than not. Kinda explains 2020, eh? Whatevs, I’m gonna take a stab at it anyway.
Look, I don’t do transitions well and you have no idea how weird it feels for me to acknowledge that. Having overcome many major challenges and made peace with some ugly trauma, I had come to think of myself as a survivor, just like many folks out there. Though that may be true, it doesn’t really paint the full picture.
The sudden realization that I don’t do transitions well came while my wife an I reviewed my military records, covering a 5-year period in my early 20’s. While my work record was stellar, my personnel record is peppered with less-than-flattering tales. I noticed a pattern where every time there was a major life change, a few weeks to a few months afterward I would get in trouble. Leaving Wisconsin, school in Northern California (including the earthquake), school in Virginia, moving to Japan, etc. Shortly after these shifts, I’d get in varying degrees of trouble ranging from stealing food from the cafeteria to the story behind why one of my front teeth is shorter than the other (yeah, not going there right now).
To be honest, getting in trouble for stupid shit is kinda my thing. It’s been embarrassingly common, especially during my younger years. There are a boatload of reasons why, but this “transition” thing was a new insight, especially within the context of major life changes. So when SARS-CoV-2 changed everything, once I got done dealing with the immediate need, my next thought was, “Oh, shit! Am I gonna fuck this up so bad I’ll lose everything?”
Yeah, a bit melodramatic, but this situation is unlike anything anyone on this planet has ever had to deal with. It didn’t help that prior to the virus, I was just starting to make decent progress with both my “Impostor Syndrome” issues as well as the crushing guilt brought on by the realization that I’ve succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. Then the virus hits.
Now I have the job I’ve always wanted, perfectly valid reasons not to socialize, zero financial concerns, and everyone is now just as uncomfortable as I am in public. OK, that last one was really only the briefest of benefits until I realized while it was nice I wasn’t alone, this ain’t really a feeling I’d wish on anyone. We thrive as a species because of our social behavior, so “social awkwardness” isn’t really a benefit.
So while many of those things are a personal benefit to me, they are offset the sheer volume of suffering everywhere. Speaking on just the topic of COVID, one day I decided to dig deeper into the actual impact of JUST those who have died by playing a “numbers game.” The death of one person has a societal impact, but doesn’t exist in a vacuum. With few exceptions, that person had other people who deeply cared about them and now they’re gone. I figured at the very least, this would significantly increase the suffering of five people who were very close that person. Looking at just the US right now, roughly 350,000 people have died of COVID. Using my wildly conservative number above, that means there are over 1.7 MILLION people deeply grieving that loss. That’s 1.7 million people who were already under duress that now have this extra layer of deep heartbreak in their lives. Even now, the staggering amount of suffering just on this topic alone is plenty to bring tears to my eyes.
Sometimes I wish the unfathomable would just, well, remain unfathomable.
Combine that with all the other issues of 2020, and man do I ever feel like an outsider. I’ve spent most of my life trying to figure out society and how I can fit in, and this year has basically shown me it’s a lost cause. Every time I turn around, there is a shocking lack of empathy, respect for science, or just a common understanding on what “truth” means. It feels like everything I’ve personally held so precious have been shat on by so many, I just don’t know how to react to it with anything but abject disgust and bewilderment.
Right now, as implied above, I’m just trying to keep my shit together well enough to not destroy the life I have, regardless of my predilection toward doing so and the seemingly devolution of the world around me. My primary method of accomplishing this has been to eat and drink my anguish away. And while that works, it never works for long and continuing to chase those dragons have lead me down the road of poor health. While I’ve never been a small guy, I’ve rocketed from 260 to over 300 pounds and my blood pressure, which was just hanging on, is now moving into the red zone. Should I catch COVID, I will likely not have a good time, and there’s a “not insignificant” it’ll be my last time experiencing anything.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there have been a number of times during this pandemic where I had that thought and just shrugged my shoulders. Sort of a “suicide by proxy” if you will. This is not at all surprising as suicidal thoughts have been a relative constant in my life for as long as I can recall. My feelings and reasons behind such thoughts have shifted over the years, but it’s always been there on some level. Ultimately I still end up rejecting the idea for the simple reason that this world has enough suffering, and I refuse to contribute to that, even passively.
Right now I’m working hard on focusing on more positive things, like writing in this blog, playing Beat Saber, working on my old computers, or anything that gets me moving either physically or intellectually. I plan to start eating healthier and, more importantly, drastically slashing (or eliminating, I’m still on the fence) the amount of alcohol I drink. It doesn’t take an insightful genius to realize the path I’m on isn’t leading to Walley World.
So, right now I’m working on doing better than “just hanging in there.” If things go well, I can then start working on my absolute disgust with society at large, but right now all that matters is me and those closest to me.