“Sitting in a bunker here behind my wall; waiting for the worms to come!
In perfect isolation here behind my wall; waiting for the worms…”
- ‘Waiting for the Worms’ – Pink Floyd
I am loved; I know this, and accept the basis of the premise. Despite what I’ve written on so many occasions– like a broken record you’re ready to snap in two– I recognize that there are people in the world that do, in fact, love me and care about me. And I’m worthy of that love, honest and true. I’m not an inadequate oaf who’s earned the world’s scorn rather than affection, and resisting that reality has only made mountains where there should have been molehills. I know, in my heart of hearts, that people do love me.
But does anyone like me? Well…
I don’t know, when you hear hoofprints, you have to think ‘horses,’ not ‘zebras,’ since the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. The consensus through the grapevine is that socializing with me is no picnic (unlike the picnic I wasn’t invited to, but everyone I know was at, heyooo!). It’s not as if I’ve been shunned or excommunicated from anything, but years of off putting conduct– combined with my charming, hermit-like etiquette– have left me where I am: pitifully lonely, if not exactly alone.
In many ways– shockingly!– I’ve only got myself to blame. After all, there’s a reason I don’t have more people in my life, and I can’t pretend I’ve been putting my best foot forward through the years. Most of the time, I’m awkwardly quiet like a dead doornail, so unsure of myself that I’d rather say nothing at all, which– combined with my world-renowned resting bitch face– scares off all who dare enter.
My affixed expression is as warm and welcoming as the president is with protesters, which is to say: it’s not. I tend to scowl in unfamiliar situations, and have a nervous tic– where I turn my body away from whoever speaks to me from the moment they engage, ready to walk away and escape the torment of human interaction– in virtually every public conversation.
It’s not much better in familiar circumstances, either. How many texts have I ignored over the past 15 years; how many missed calls and voicemails have I let linger well past the point of courteous reply; how many olive branches have my family and friends– the few that I have– presented that I’ve either ignored or swatted away?
Individual accountability is a cornerstone of human existence, and while I’m not entirely to blame for where I find myself in life, I have to bear some responsibility for the particulars of my current loneliness. People have tried, but how many times can a person try before they realize that banging their heart against some mad bugger’s wall is a Sisyphean task?
Maybe I should have expected this outcome, and– being capable of rational thought– should have been prepared for its inevitability. I mean, really, did I expect I’d never be forgotten, or passively ignored, after years and years of seemingly disinterested behavior? The underlying particulars don’t really matter when I’ve functionally presented myself as someone who just doesn’t give a shit about anything or anyone; and, seriously, who wants to be around that guy?
I’m not a child, and being depressed isn’t a justification for years and years of aggressive isolation and disregard. Obviously, it’s patently false to say I’m at fault for the mental illnesses with which I find myself afflicted. But as I’ve noted many times before, I am at fault for stubbornly refusing, for so long, to address those issues beyond the barest bones of recognition. Admitting you have a problem is half the battle, but what about the other half? Neglecting what comes next– when you recognize what’s required for personal growth and absolution– is just as damaging as ignoring the issue altogether.
I know not everyone is going to like me– or you, or anyone– and that’s perfectly ok. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that premise, because we’re all– ideally– individuals who think and decide for themselves as independent human beings. Some personality traits simply do not mesh with others, and that– when you take the good and you take the bad— is a fact of life, folks. Reminding myself of this reality– that I’m not universally despised just because I’m not universally beloved– is one thing, but accepting it is a trickier proposition.
Look, when I feel slighted or hurt by something– whether it’s real or imagined– I don’t need to build the wall up higher, or retreat into a mindset of bitter recrimination. I know that, sometimes, these essays seem to exalt the horrible burdens of mental illness, as if I’m only interested in savoring my sadness. But that’s never been the goal, and bathing in the crushing cruelty of my self-imposed exile wouldn’t accomplish anything.
Perhaps we should never feel fully content while we live and breathe, but I can say unequivocally that– as someone who has had contentment elude them for many years– it’s a goal worth pursuing. I can actively reject that I am an unliked, miserable recluse, just as I can resist the idea that I am deserving of the plethora of doubts and pains I’ve encountered in my life. I shouldn’t, and won’t, deny my feelings– after all, my feelings are mine, and if I find myself excluded or denied inclusion from something, I’m allowed the emotional turmoil– but I don’t need to get stuck in a negative reverie, either.
I know this to be true, whether I always feel it or not: I am liked, just as I am loved. How hard can accepting that truth really be?