I hold onto my suffering like a precious bauble. I hold it tightly. I don’t dare show it just in case someone takes it from me. You see if I don’t keep it with me, I am scared I will lose it, and that will never do. You see, without punishment I would not be able to breathe. Whatever I did, was never going to be enough. Everything and everyone has pity on me, has mercy. “You didn’t bail!” They all scream out at me. They rationalize, they act civilized, but still, but still…out of love for me they excuse my failures.
Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for love. It shows me that perhaps I did more good, engendered more love than I did hate. Perhaps in the balance of things I have been more good than I have been bad. Still, I have the sinking feeling that people are just being nice to me. It could be because I am in danger of kicking the proverbial bucket sooner rather than later. It could be because no one who knows me wants to see me suffer. It could be because they are too scared to tell me that I have been a piece of shit. Perhaps I am that formidable that no one wants to tell me just how terrible I am.
I have no energy left. No tolerance. I pull away from flames and hold on tightly to security. I have no time to make any more mistakes. I have no time to waste. Time is now my enemy, it slips and slides along with no thought for me as I try to hold onto scraps and footholds, and still fall, fall, fall into the abyss.
The fact remains that if you embrace the strong medicine then you also have to embrace the fact that holding on to what you know, even if what you know is suffering, self-blame, self-hatred, self-doubt all under the umbrella of ‘taking responsibility’ is not going to be a background process any longer. It brings it all into the light of day, all right up to the surface, and it will make you look at it, dismantle it, or decide to embrace it further.
Playing at embracing the darkness is a totally different creature to actually running up to it and holding it tightly in all of its disturbing reality. When I started this journey into the realms of hyperspace and my own mortality I had to ask people around me not to say certain words or play entire swathes of my favorite songs. Black Angel’s Death Song? Getouttahere! I sat shaking at the thought of listening to Lou Reed, Velvets, no Bowie, no 13th Floor Elevators, for the love of all that’s fluffy and sweet. Bats, rats…cats all banned, after an unfortunate incident involving a friend turning into a giant humanoid furry sitting on one of my kitchen chairs: all banned. Owls. Nope. No bad vibes, no sharp knife talk. I finally came to my senses and slayed the proverbial mind-dragon when someone mentioned in my altered presence the album Axe Victim, by British band Be Bop Deluxe. The world turned red. A sense of dread came over me, followed by guffaws of laughter from somewhere deep inside.. Laughing at the darkness and the terrors that hide within is not always possible, but sometimes it is the only thing to do.
I have had a life where I chased the darkness down and wrapped myself within it. Now faced with it, I owe myself some bravery. I hug the alien. I embrace the terrifying and I learn about myself time after time after time that I do not bail. This light side of bravery has a dark flip side, namely that I cannot let go of my suffering. It tells me I am alive. It comforts me with knowing I don’t have to be forgiven when I can be punished. I bask in the pain knowing that with it I am somehow making things right. Or am I? Perhaps all I am doing is hurting, suffering and making those around me tired of me? I have no choice. Whether I like it or not I am very unwell and it has no known cure, and if it does what it usually does, this disease of ‘mine’ it will kill me later or sooner. I will suffer whether I like it or not, whether I want to or not.
I can almost taste old feelings, tastes of times past. I am back at the EMP Museum in Seattle one moment, then the next by a Bay rescuing a small girl from a scary man who attacked us. One moment I am laying on a floor in Tokyo with a little boy sleeping with his hand on my face, the next I am in North Dakota watching the wild horses run past me with their legs pounding hard cold ground and their manes flowing long and tangled in the late spring breeze. I am back in a big City, 20 or so years old, watching a movie I’ve long forgotten about in a theatre long since closed down, then I am standing outside the Chelsea Hotel with a headful of drugs and a soul-full of sadness. I stand in a sun-storm with rainbows shining in August in Tokyo, then I am in a hospital with a black eye and a broken cheekbone. I am back standing on the side of a volcano in Japan, then I am stood by a Great Lake wishing I was younger, wishing I had got that big family of many children and a lover and partner in life that loved me and cared for me as I did them. I never got it. I never got that love, but I did get a son who loves me dearly, even if I do not deserve it.
Suffering and sadness is the flip side of adventure and freedom. None of it can exist alone, sadly, even if I had to. Perhaps I don’t need to let go of suffering, but instead embrace it, examine it and recognize it as the old friend that it is. Oh to be standing on a grey street in the rain, 40 years ago, with the knowledge that I was to live authentically me, and have a shot at dying as me too.
This is the happiest I have ever been, and quite possibly the saddest too, but I am so very tired. I am so very tired of it all. Perhaps I need to accept the shades of grey, in me as much as I do in everyone else. Perhaps I am just not that kind to me, even if I try to give as much love out as I can summon from my shattered mind and body and spirit.