Growing up I took different traits from people I liked or admired and I adopted them as my own. I had no identity. I had no idea who I was. I was everyone. That’s not such a huge deal as a kid or as a young man but as an adult it wreaks havoc on your life. You don’t ever really know if it’s you making choices or the you that you built out of ideas or peoples versions of themselves.
It never occurred to me that the person people were in public might not even be the real them. Never once. I thought only I did that. That’s me being naive though. That’s me feeling like a terrible person for being fake and thinking other people wouldn’t do that. I thought I was being a bad person by not showing the real me. That was never true. I was being cautious and so was everyone else. I was looking for trust and so was everyone else.
I took little bits of TV shows and Little bits of people. I would see handwriting and letters people would write and if I liked them I would practice on paper until it became muscle memory. Until it was natural. I wanted to be anyone but me. I would pick up sayings and morals. I thought I was building the perfect human. My idea of what an ideal person looked like. So weird. I was such a weird fucking kid.
I look back at my life and I can’t even find myself. The only things I ever think was mine was my sense of humor, my empathy, and my intelligence. Everything else belonged to whoever I took it from.
I always wanted to be someone else. I wanted to grow up in a way that was normal. I don’t even know what that is. And I don’t even want that now. I’m glad I never had that.
I feel really lost at times. Just sort of floating and suspended in the air. Not up or down or left or right. Just floating. You know when an astronaut is in zero gravity and they try and swim through the air with nothing to propel them forward? They just flail about not moving in any direction? That’s me. I’m in zero gravity and I’m too old to not be moving.
When I had my own kids and my own family I kind of panicked because I knew I had better get an identity quickly. I knew they would see me as a direction to go. A guide. I never got that. I ended up just trying to build them as well. I ended up just trying to take the good parts of myself and throw away the bad. Building better humans than I am.
Is that the goal? Do we discard what we don’t like when we have kids?
I’m a writer and a photographer. I’m a person that feels everything. I’m a human that can be very empathetic one day and very cold and evil the next. I hate to see pain and I love it all at once. I want to help people but I also want to disappear sometimes and never be seen again. If my kids and wife and I could all go somewhere and be missed, I think that would feel good. I don’t know why, but I think being missed would feel nice.
Maybe that’s why I haven’t died yet. If I did I wouldn’t even know what being missed felt like.
Sometimes I think, as a depressive, that the cycle doesn’t end until we can rectify being more selfish. We spend our lives trying to make up for the things we wish we had, hoping someone else will take notice and give us something we’re missing. We help others and forget ourselves or we hide away trying our hardest to run from everything. We go into a safe hole hoping that someone else will dig us out. We feel guilt for helping ourselves when others have worse problems and we minimize our own for the sake of being “good people”.
We fool ourselves into thinking we are meaningless and undeserving of even asking for help. Eventually we settle in to knowing it isn’t coming. We aren’t getting noticed, we aren’t getting saved, and it’s our fault. We didn’t yell loud enough. We didn’t call out. We didn’t ask. We surrounded ourselves with the wrong people or no people at all. We got what we wanted and we disappeared. We didn’t do this to ourselves but we enabled ourselves with safety and comfort every chance we got. We ran from being uncomfortable as fast as we could. And then we just accepted that this is how things were -not all of us, but some of us.
I got tired of accepting. So this is what mental illness looks like. Are you confused yet?