Forgive me today for getting a little more personal, but this post was a long time coming and now is as good a time as any to spill it.
Sometime last week a very disturbing incident happened. I’d just returned home from a long morning haul at my weekend job and was a little burnt out. My evening still awaited me, an evening that promised friends, companionship, and an overall good time. I went into the restroom to wash away the accumulated dust and grime when I took a casual glance into the mirror.
Seeing that visage looking back at me, a 27 year old socially inept college graduate grasping at straws and trying to get his career started, something inside snapped.
“7 billion people in the world, why did I have to be you?” I said before spitting on my reflection. I could almost feel the loogie striking me.
I haven’t loved myself in a very long time. My parents were divorced when I was very young, and I always wondered if I had something to do with it. I had very few friends growing up so always thought there must have been something wrong with me. I was bullied many times in many different schools, and never by a few select members of whatever class I was in, but by the entire class. To those who’ve never had it happen, you can never known how painful it is to have an entire class of fifteen or so kids point at you and laugh with not a single friend among them to stand up for you, and never a shoulder to cry on.
No weekends were spent out at sleepovers, no days were spent on the playground with my peers, no nights were spent playing video games and eating pizza with the compatriots. Weekends and evenings were spent alone in my room staring at the same four walls from dawn to dusk and watching Alien for the 57th time.
“Is this the way it will always be?” I wondered. “Is there no way out?”
I started writing then. It began with little class projects here and there, vocabulary exercises where we were to use recently learned words in the context of short fiction. Mine were always extravagant, monster stories, murder mysteries, made in some hope that I could impress the class and finally be accepted into the social circle. They only drove the other kids away further. They called me a show off.
Then I started writing at home. Drew crude movie posters for each one which I still have in a binder, started writing the ideas down and taking notes, mounting up stories upon stories that would never really see the light of day. It became an escape from the painful tedium of classroom and home life.
Now I’m 28, and not where I want to be in life. Why is that, I wonder? I’m aware of being smarter than most, but don’t know if I possess the skill to apply it. I even write better than most, but still wonder if anything written on my parchment is really worth it.
Honestly, I think that’s one of the reasons I started writing to begin with. When you feel you’re not really worth a damn, you figure maybe something outside of yourself will show that you’re not just a cosmic mistake with bad eyes on the autism spectrum. Maybe if you did something really great, people would accept it, and by extension they would accept you. So you go about working, improving the craft, trying to do something that touches people and sweeps them off their feet in ways that they couldn’t possibly imagine, and for the first time you feel proud of something you did.
I did this. Me and nobody else. I just want to grab the nearest random stranger in the street and shout in their face “Have you seen this? Look what I did!” Because its the only way you can feel any sense of pride and self worth, through the things you make and never yourself.
Self hatred has a strange kind of logic to it. You get it in your head that it makes more sense for one piece of the machine to be broken instead of many, so everything that happens to you must be somehow your fault. Stranger still is I do have friends who profess their caring over and over again, but I wonder if it’s real.
I wonder if they really smile when I call, or if they roll their eyes and think “Oh, THIS guy again talking about his stupid book and his movies. Let me just put up with him for another few minutes and get this over with.” Sending a message to a friend is, to me, an exercise in terror, for I always wonder if this will be the time they don’t answer.
I can still hear all the words uttered from when I was younger, and I still believe every one. My friends tell me it was a long time ago and it’s time to move on. If only it were that easy. The ages of 10 to 15 are crucial years when you develop a sense of self. Spending those years listening to no kind words leave scars that run deep, and waking up every day the words have the same vividness they did when first spoken.
It is the feeling of being alone in a crowded room, which is the loneliest feeling in the world. Writing is my last, desperate attempt to matter.
Some people write because they have confidence and an ego, and see themselves touching the sky. I wrote because I wanted to feel those things. I wanted to feel proud walking around in my skin and not feel like a mistake. I wanted to walk in a crowded room and have people turn their heads and smile. Finally, I want to someday look at my reflection and love what I see.