This is a train crash. I am the train. Born awkward, sickly, with a curved spine I wanted it all. And I got it. Unfortunately I am insatiable. So I kept on going. And going. And going. I kept on going despite pain in my back. I kept on smoking despite being short of breath. It was my body that failed first but I kept on going until my spirit broke. And then I kept on going because I did not want to admit I could not get it all. Could not get it all my way. It’s a matter of keeping afloat since then. Slowly deflating and realizing I am going under. In no way is this a train crash and in no way am I a train. It’s a sizzle not a boom.
What I got is people I love and what is happening is that I alienate them by what they are perceiving as me acting increasingly like an alien. Neither the one confident to get things done even it it took applying force, nor a one that can just be tranquil facing his bad luck and coast along accepting the force others apply to him. I am a loser. I act as a loser. I feel like a loser and the question is: can they love a loser? Can they love that man in the same body that once ruled supreme and that now hosts the man that just wants to give up? It’s a genuine question to which I have no answer. I say to myself this will be a last blurb of a darkness I need to exit. It will not be. Maybe it’s therapeutic. Then again maybe not.
Here are some facts:
I barely survived being a child. Asthmatic, allergic, all that. I remember vividly how my father squashed me on a table to get me breathing again. I was a stay at home kid. There were simply to many threats to my existence out in the wild. The doctor said the best was to put me under a glass bell and that was fine for me but somehow not meant literally. In getting out my eczema played up. Scratching and itching, sleeping with feet and hands in plastic bags to cover the tar-like ointment applied over wounds scratched open over and over again.
I survived. Grew up into a wee girlish boy that was the charm of the party, endearing on account of simply being alive. I remember dancing and people clapping. I thought I was a born entertainer. I remember falling into a pool because I did not release in time a stone I wanted to throw mimicking my older brothers and sisters. I was so loved. Little by little, thought by thought did I get some control over my body and my mind. All thanks to them and it made me – makes me – want to repay it all. First and foremost by being normal, so I applied myself to fitting in.
It emerged that I was good at fitting in as long as I could establish the mold. It so happens that people follow me if I take the lead. My puberty came late – and, maybe, it will never quite end – and as I read philosophy I knew my only true strength was in compassionate thinking (which is a pleonasm to me). I felt I should change the world by showing how to think compassionately, to think full stop. Delusions of grandeur were mixed with a sense of duty to be normal. The latter provided a corset for my mind much like the corset I had to wear to keep my back straight.
The corset for my back proved not to be enough. I had an operation, my spine was fused with a steel rod. That took care of things for a while. My mind was then fused by finding the love of my life (to be precise: she found me). We had children and that took care of all the rest to this day. It is difficult to say which of these fusions gave way to complications first. The fact of the matter is that you can only fuse so much and the slack of reality – the flexibility that is always required in dealing with others – takes its toll on whatever is not fused. This means that the part of my spine not fused is deteriorating to the point it is no longer possible to live “just like everybody else”. It also means that the autistic part of my mind is stressed to the point of breaking up my “normal” engagement with others.
This is not a complaint. I shan’t complain. I hate bitterness as it is the signpost of trying to be rational without being compassionate. It is just a recognition of the fact that it is not possible any longer to count on my internal prothesis (the steel rod) and my external one (the love of my life) and at the same time live up to the sense of duty that made me in the eyes of others function (and function in an above average way that falls flatly short of the delusions of grandeur that I cannot shake). I’m simply not normal and I fail to find a way to deal with it in a constructive way because this requires deconstructing the very raison d’être that I so carefully had to erect.
In short, I feel a loser. With a wonderful wife, 3 magnificent kids, 3 master diploma’s, the certainty of having achieved a fruitful professional career, academic achievements, quite some friends standing by me no matter what … I feel a loser. And somehow, I feel a need to stress being a loser to myself and to others all the time. Because even if I achieved all I achieved despite starting from a less than ideal position, even if my current predicament is not of my own making, I feel like I fall short both of my grandeur and my aspiration to at least be able to be normal. It is a matter of self inflicting pain which is always a matter of crying out for attention from others; a bottomless pit of need for attention swallowing everybody near me. I see them going down under the pressure I apply and it makes me – it really makes me – feel sick. Forget the spine, the lungs, the skin and the brain – the only thing that makes me feel ill (and sick to my stomach) is this realization that I am not able to function. And I know it is a self-fulfilling prophecy because I want out but out of what?
So the thing is that I am just testing the question “Can you love a loser?”. I overthink it all, and in doing so I lose the capacity for compassion. There is irony there if I could only see it, which means: feel it, but I can’t, not just yet. I try. I give up trying. I don’t find the way. I want to find a way before I find the way out. I want to be happy, jolly, joking, a joker that does not scare and that does not endear but just brings some fun, some joy instead of the complexity of what is above. Saying sorry doesn’t help either because I didn’t do wrong, I just derailed (better: deflated). No, you cannot love a loser. I just have to stop thinking – if that is possible – that I am one. I have to stop assessing myself by the standards that other people (losers who want to be seen as winners, fighters that just fight for the sake of it, & all that capitalist nonsense) have set for me and that I have internalized.
I have to fight – as we all have – the demon inside of us so we can stop fighting the rest of the world.