A few days ago, I fell into a hole of despair. The day started off fine. I was supposed to go to a friend’s house for a little get together. But, somehow a little argument with my significant other regarding a few circumstances that complicated the issue of when to leave led to a full on breakdown. I no longer had any desire to go. The thought of being around people and having to make conversation made me cringe.
A little context…my dad has cancer. It’s a second time offender. It fuckin’ sucks. But, I’ve been dealing with it pretty well. This is life. It happens. I know. And fortunately, because I’ve been consistently working on living a more mindful life, I haven’t fallen back to my usual poor habits of dealing with things of this magnitude. No binge drinking, instigating fights with my significant other, playing the victim card as carte blanche to act like a complete asshole. So overall, I am really proud of myself for this progress. But, it still fuckin hurts and it still fuckin sucks. Hence, the mental breakdowns.
It can hit me out of nowhere. Set off by the most innocuous events. Or sometimes, by nothing at all. The night before I snapped, I was in the greatest mood. Even the morning of, I was excited about spending the weekend reading, writing and delving into some new art projects. I went over to my dad’s and made him some soup he was craving. He finished the whole bowl, which was amazing because his tongue’s burnt from radiation and he hasn’t been able to eat much due to the pain. Then the phone call…the argument…and it was all over. I just felt the sting of sadness poking me at first. Then it progressed to a numbing of the whole self. When I got home, I dug my feet (or body, rather) into my bed and just lay there staring vacantly out the window.
I couldn’t snap out of it. I no longer wanted to do anything. At first, it wasn’t that bad. It was still daylight and I just watched some TV. But as the night approached, I started feeling anxious and claustrophobic. I didn’t know what the fuck I would do for the rest of the night. I didn’t want to spend the night watching TV. I already inadvertently took a nap, so I wasn’t tired anymore. I started reading. I’m currently reading The Fountainhead and I just started the part on Gail Wynand. As I was reading about this orphaned boy who was eating trash and sleeping on the streets with his laser like focus on accomplishing what he now knew he wanted out of life, I felt subconscious parts of my mind that held information from all the other things I’d been reading or listening to start to activate. Things like discipline, presence, vulnerability, and deliberate practice. Somehow the haze started lifting and I made it over to my paper and pencils.
I definitely felt better the next day and even went for a run. I was ready to take on the day. Then another innocuous exchange of words and BAM, I was back in the hole. It really hurts down there. The purpose of things starts to disintegrate and I don’t want to use any of the tools I’ve gathered for dealing with these kind of situations. I just want to lay under the blanket, curl up into the smallest form of myself, shut my eyes and try to cry the pain away. Am I being over dramatic? Is there something wrong with me? Am I crazy? Or do I just feel too much?
I know this suffering is pointing me towards something…and I’m pretty sure it has to do with the situation with my dad. But, I don’t want to. I’m not ready. I can deal with it from an abstract, philosophical kind of way. But on the emotional level, where I’m a child facing the possibility of losing a parent… I think I’ve tried to disconnect, or at least distance, myself from the emotions. There are so many things I want to say and know. In the past, I could say and ask him anything. But, now… I can see his vulnerability and it really unnerves me.
Death. I know it’s a part of life. And I know that experiencing the death of a loved one is just as vital a part of the human experience as birth is. Or love. It’s probably the key to understanding what Camus meant when he said, “There is no love of life without despair of life.” But, I don’t like it. And I don’t want it around me…not this close. But, here it is. I guess this is what my suffering was trying to point me towards. This definitely wasn’t where I was going when I started writing this, but here I am. OK…I get it. It’s time for me to do the work. I have to accept you as a part of life.