I needed to take some time away for a while. It wasn’t really a need that I was aware of either. One day I woke up and realized that I’ve been fighting a shadow inside of me for months, and I didn’t realize it.
I like to work, and I like to write, yet somehow all of the things I like to do became burdens. I was sitting down every day at my computer and writing new lines in a story I didn’t know whether or not I wanted to write. When I’d leave, I’d leave my words and passion at the table and take my shadows with me.
I’m not a man of secrets, and I pride myself on that. I will happily tell you of the mistakes I’ve made, the harrowing things in my past that didn’t stop me, only pushed me closer to something worthwhile. I’m open about my shortcomings, I think, as often as I can be. I don’t like to pretend to be something that I’m not. There is a terrible weight that comes latched onto those untruths.
In the time that has passed the last few months, I’ve come to be familiar with this new darkness inside of me, or at the very least, what I thought this new shadow showed itself to be. It started slowly, and sort of rolled out of control. It was a thought out of place at first, a notion that I am unaccustomed to, giving up. I’d been working on a novel since November, and back in March I hit this unforeseen wall. I neared the end of the story and I stopped, completely. In part, I wasn’t giving myself the time necessary to write it, but more than that, I was struggling to stay afloat. What started at the turn of the year, the thought of giving up, had grown and evolved into a new feeling I wasn’t used to. I was working two jobs and planning to make a grand return to college, I was thinking about what my future held, becoming a teacher and my future with Sunflower, I was excited for all the things to come, and still there was a voice in the back of my head constantly. My new companion had developed its own agency.
It really came to a head around the beginning of April, I left my second job in favor of the restaurant, I went and met up with my advisor at the college, and all the while I was staring at a manuscript that was unfinished, and will likely go unfinished for a long time.
I’d reached this place mentally that I’ve been to before, like falling down a dark chasm and landing in a pool a hundred feet below. For context, I had steadily grown unhappy with where I had found myself. It started to feel like I was feeding everyone around me and leaving no portion for myself. I think it’s an error of pride, to assume that I am so important the whole world wants their slice of me, but I had begun delegating my time in a way that allowed me to spend time with everyone I could, a day with my mother, evenings with my Sunflower and days with my friends. I stretched myself thin with interspersed game nights and machine gun fire blog posts, and I began to feel unfulfilled.
I wish I could articulate any meaningful expanse of time to you, more so that I can understand it myself, but somewhere along the line I started running on autopilot for days at a time. I noticed that I had mentally checked out of entire interactions because I didn’t have the energy to be present. I was pushing myself as hard as I could to make it another day, and I had no reason to think I wouldn’t, but I did.
I am not a man of secrets, and I pride myself on that.
All too often, I air my history through the blog, because I am comfortable with the mistakes I make and the things I do. Granted, my mistakes have shifted some since I’ve grown older. There are less of the “drink too much” variety, and more “think too much” and I’ve always been proud of my thoughts, but something had turned sour.
It seemed as if, out of nowhere, I had found this terrible anger and sorrow that I couldn’t control. Everything I saw or did made me angry or sad. My patience was tested nearly immediately, and I couldn’t seem to stop it ever. It was all of the effort inside of me to step out of my house and go to work, or spend the day with my friends, or go to a movie date.
Yet, I still committed to going and doing those things, because I didn’t want my loved ones to be mad at me for not showing up, and I felt that if I stayed home because I didn’t feel like seeing Endgame, they would wonder what was wrong. I didn’t want them to wonder what was wrong and I didn’t want them to ask questions, because I didn’t have answers.
I just didn’t feel like doing anything. Not even writing.
A few days later, and I was laying in bed with Sunflower and we were talking about the future, moving, and her plans for life, what she wanted to do next and all of the things that should bring peace, the kind of peace you get when you know that you have someone who is there for you forever. Yet, I didn’t feel peace.
I had awoken that morning with this heavy weight tied to me, and that shadow screaming at me. I tried to ignore the sound and feeling, but it was painful. It was as if I was shouldering an iron coat and nothing could melt it away. We laid in bed for a while, ready to take a midday nap, and as I was falling asleep my mind carried itself away as it does. Just before I had fallen to sleep, I was shocked awake by a thought out of place.
“What if I just kill myself to get away from all of this stress?”
I’ve had thoughts similar before, but they were internalized and barely audible within the chaos of my mind. They were little more than horrible jokes I refused to say aloud. This time was different, it was something concrete. It was the only thing my mind was saying, and that is something I am not used to. I consider myself a sensible man, and lying there, frightened by my own thoughts, I didn’t know how to make sense of what I had just experienced.
I fought the thought away, terrified at my own shadow, and fell asleep.
When I awoke, the iron coat had gone, replaced with a heavier burden. Wondering if I had really suggested that to myself, wondering why I had allowed that thought to cross into my mind, wondering what had led me there. I spent the rest of the night simply trying to understand. I went that evening to a local restaurant with my best friend, and the whole time I was there I sat across from him, and I couldn’t get the thought out of my head. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, trying to understand where it had come from, why I had suggested it to myself.
I don’t know how I reached such a point of desperation in an otherwise beautiful life, but it terrified me.
I went to bed that night, afraid that it would return. That voice in my mind that was my own, but was not me.
When I awoke yesterday morning, it was among the first thoughts in my head. The reality of my thoughts almost a dream, but only almost.
I carried myself through yesterday, seeking to understand, trying to wrap my head around it, trying to understand what I meant by it.
I’ve never allowed myself to consider that possibility, because I have always had so much to be grateful for. I’ve made mention of it as often as I can, that I am blessed beyond measure. I was given things that I don’t deserve. I was given them for free, with no strings attached, and yet, I wasn’t happy regardless. The things I loved became tasks to accomplish, or necessary deeds to be done. Today, I don’t have an answer for why it came about, or what led me there…
But it is not an option.
It is merely a thought out of place, a dark mark in a long history of light and I will not let that shadow win.
Even if it means taking time away from the blog, and the business, and the writing to adjust and to come to terms with what I felt, I will not let that shadow win.
I am more than passing thoughts + I am here.
I am alive.
Categories: Umbral Dawning