Nothing At All… An Assessment.

I had a realization today.

I realized that I have no friends.

That seems like a stretch, right? But it’s true.

I know people. Don’t get me wrong. I know all sorts of people. But I have no friends. Even some of you: Acquaintances at the very best. But not friends.

Look at it this way: There are eight actual people that I “know” here in my city. I know their names; I have past experience with them; I’ve shared food, I’ve shared company, Hell, — I’ve even shared a bed with some of them. And yet, not a single one of them calls me up and says “Hey! What are you doing? Let’s go do something this weekend…” No movies, no dinners, no parks, no bikes, no hiking, ……… nothing.

No, I get it.
Really I do.
I’m not a fun person. I’m not someone you want to spend time with.

I really, very much, believe that I am not someone that is worth being around. You are not at fault for not thinking of me and wanting to do things with me. This is not a whinge or a whine… it is just a very simple fact: You are completely justified in dismissing me utterly. It’s not even vindictive on your part. You genuinely don’t even have a single thought about me. It’s not malicious at all. I’m completely off your radar. — And that’s OK. I understand. I get it. Really I do. And I hold no blame at all against you.

Is this loneliness? — For ages, I’ve said that “I am alone. I am not lonely.” And for the first time I wonder: Is this loneliness? Is that what this is? I have absolutely no one to go do ANYTHING with. No one at all. Is that what loneliness is? No connection. No lines of attachment. Isolation and independence in the purest sense.

Time passes, and hours are complete unto themselves. They are what hours are. Ages and lifetimes live in the moments that we ignore. I am completely alone, and that is appropriate. I have done this to myself. For good, or for ill, I have chosen my path. I am responsible. I claim it and own it. There is no blame but that it is my own and it belongs to me. — Is this loneliness?

No one invites me anywhere. No one seeks my company. No one in interested in me. — There are those who would hear my name and be glad to see me. They would say “There you are! What’s going on with you?” But day-to-day, in casual passing, there is no one that wonders about me. I am on no one’s radar.

I could shoot myself in the head tonight. Tomorrow, because I have the day off, no one at all will wonder about me. The next day, it will be curious that I didn’t show up to work, but really, it will produce only mild concern. No one outside of my “responsibility” will wonder about me. The next day….. didn’t show up to work? Should we be concerned? Another day: Where is he? Nothing. It will take days and days for anyone to give a single, solitary fuck about me.

And that’s just a fact: I am absolutely not blaming anyone. I’ve done this to myself and I know it. I’ve been distant; I’ve been unattached; I’ve been stand-offish. I’ve cultivated my very own situation and there is no blame but that which I have upon my own head.

Should I do it? That’s not a real question. You don’t have to answer. I wonder if dying would make any difference at all. I am the embodiment of insignificance. And that’s just true. Nothing I do has the lightest significance. There is no impact in my life. There is no value. I make no valuable mark on the essence of the society or the planet… much less the solar system, or the galaxy. There is no value in me. There is wretchedly nothing. Absolutely and blindingly… nothing.

 

Veteran Status: Recognized

I always feel so guilty when I encounter a suicide support link tailored for Veterans. Guilty for considering it. Guilty for wanting it.

The first thought is: “This organization is focused on a narrower group of people. Maybe they have resources that the others don’t have. Maybe they will be better able to help me. Maybe I can find an answer there.”

The second thought is: “WTF? They are clearly focused not on me, but on people with REAL problems. People who had terrible deployments. People who deserve their attention rather more than you do. Do not waste your time. Do not waste THEIR time.”

While I am a veteran, honorably discharged, and awarded the National Defense Service Medal during the Persian Gulf War, I was never sent to a warzone. I was intel… I worked in a facility that was buried in a hill and surrounded by tropical climates. They don’t put us on the news because we’re not hauling weapons, wearing body-armor, or dumping desert out of our boots. Just because I was fucked up by my military experience, does not mean others aren’t fucked-up with greater reason.

And it’s clear in all the advertising. The veteran’s hotlines speak of post-traumatic stress, deployment issues, and harrowing memories. I’m not downplaying any of those significant problems, but it all reads like an action movie. My life was not an action movie. I’m saying those points of reference don’t apply to me. And so I feel like I’m outside even this organizational category that, on the face of it, seems to readily welcome me.

On reflection, this is more of a connection problem. Somehow I was looking for a pigeon-hole to rest in for a bit. I don’t think I fit the demographic for this one. I should know better. — I don’t need a place to rest! I don’t need a place to belong! I don’t need a purpose or a definition! Tired? Bah! Beaten-down? Bah! Fading? Bah! This bird doesn’t get to rest. This pigeon’s only job is to keep flying until he falls out of the damn sky. Sooner (rather than) or later.

…And I did it, didn’t I. Ha! Bullshit.
After the Samaritan Encounter I swore I was done with this shit. But I went and fucking did it anyway. Un-fucking-believable.

On a whim, I took the quiz over on the Veteran’s Crisis Hotline site. I got a response saying they wanted to talk to me, so I logged into the online chat. There was no wait, I was connected almost immediately. But there was… nothing. Hard to explain, responses appeared very slowly on the screen, but they were hollow and … and slow. I gave it 40 minutes, and it was just fucking useless. Was the guy new? Was he unsure? Was he fake? That’s it. That’s the problem. After a while I got the impression that it was an automated response system. Like Eliza. Ever heard of Eliza? Here, you can go talk to her here. It was something like that only with responses that came with several minutes in between.

There isn’t anyone Real out there. I’m surrounded by a really cool, 360 wrap-around screen. It’s even touch-screen. Everything I encounter is projected onto this surface in brilliant HD detail with spatially modulated sound. But the content… thats all hollow and algorithm-generated. Lots of dancing pixels that, when you look close, are really just dots of red-blue-green.

And Then I Froze

“I took perhaps fifty steps down the sidewalk, and then I stopped.

I froze.

It was not guilt that froze me. I had taught myself never to feel guilt.

It was not a ghastly sense of loss that froze me. I had taught myself to covet nothing.

It was not a loathing of death that froze me. I had taught myself to think of death as a friend.

It was not heartbroken rage against injustice that froze me. I had taught myself that a human being might as well look for diamond tiaras in the gutter as for rewards and punishments that were fair.

It was not the thought that I was so unloved that froze me. I had taught myself to do without love.

It was not the thought that God was cruel that froze me. I had taught myself never to expect anything from Him.

What froze me was the fact that I had absolutely no reason to move in any direction. What had made me move through so many dead and pointless years was curiosity.

Now even that had flickered out.

How long I stood frozen there, I cannot say. If I was ever going to move again, someone else was going to have to furnish the reason for moving.”

~ Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night, chap. 40. ~

Ill-Fit

Things don’t fit.

My shoes don’t fit right. My feet want to spread out a little bit more. My body is cumbersome. My mind is weak. It doubts and wobbles, staggering along toward… what?  The room is wrong. It’s too cold and the paint is forgotton. My life is crooked, like an unbalanced picture on the wall.

The road bears to the right into a swamp. Should I try to go around?

I look around trying to find the Angry, the Hate, but it’s not here. I try to force it or summon it, emotional alchemy, and its place by the fire just remains empty. But not like that. It’s an emptiness with substance. It’s a weighty Emptiness, like it’s there for the express purpose of keeping everything else out.

A Favorite Christmas Song

I didn’t think that I had a favorite, but that’s not quite true.

I know many Christmas songs. We hear them every year, and I have a small collection in my music files that only get trotted out about once a year or so. There are plenty of songs, or even just versions of old-standbys, that I rather dislike too. (I absolutely HATE Feliz Navidad. I despise that song, but I digress…)

The one song that I catch myself humming, or whistling, or singing as I make my oatmeal, is I’ll Be Home For Christmas. Specifically, out of the hundreds and thousands of versions out there (who hasn’t done one?), I like the one by Amy Grant. This is the one I think about most at this time of year. There are others that I like but it’s this one — with its thread of longing and melancholy — that I keep returning to.

She adds a line that isn’t traditional, but I like it:

I’m dreaming tonight of a place I love
Even more than I usually do
And although I know it’s a long road back
I promise you…

I can’t make it back this year like so many others holidays I’ve missed over the years. It doesn’t hurt the same as it did once. I remember being dreadfully homesick. I also remember a time when I couldn’t go to the movies alone… we get over things with practice. Now, spending these old holidays far away is more of a dull sensation like a bruised bone that throbs in a diffused radiation when you go to put weight on it.

I’ve been pretty much on-the-go since acquiring my high school diploma. That summer immediately after was spent in a fruitless search for gainful employment. When that failed to turn-up, I took somewhat desperate action and joined the military. Whoosh. On a plane at the end of November, and my first Christmas away from home — ever — was spent in boot camp. Not exemplary planning on my part. But I’ve discussed that situation elsewhere.

From then on, for one reason or another, I’ve spent a lot of Christmas’ away from family. Over the years it’s been distance, expense, time-off, and various combinations of them all that has kept me away. Every year I turn the idea over in my head and ask the questions “Do I have the money/time to make the trip this year?”, and with different jobs, different locations, and financial ups and downs, it doesn’t always work out. I manage to get there every couple of years at least, but not every year.

I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me.
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree.

That dreamed-for place is warm, the kind of warm that is physical, visual, olfactory… sensual. A fire in the hearth, soft light from candles and a shinning tree, flame-yellows and woody-browns sharply contrasted with pine needles and peppermint. There are gentle noises drifting lazily out of the brightly-lit kitchen, and the most wonderful smells are accompanying them. There is a happy feast in the making, a beautifully accoutered table sits waiting. A bit later, as we’re gathered near the crackling dregs of the fire, there will be the annual reading of “The Night Before Christmas“, presented as only my father can do it. Then, lastly, a tall glass of milk, warm cookies, and a freshly cleaned carrot (for Rudolph, of course!) will all be carefully arranged on the warm bricks beside the fireplace. Empty stockings will be hung above, waiting patiently. We’ll wrap ourselves in deliciously heavy blankets and fall asleep listening to the quiet susurration of falling snow outside the window.

And in the morning… More warmth and delight coming from the kitchen. Crumpled paper and packaging strewn about in happy disregard. Smiles as hopes are revealed and that special tingle as someone’s eyes light with appreciation at what you found for them. Not just polite thanks, that cheap, tawdry imitation, but real joy.

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love-light gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams.

That’s the dream, the ideal. But then there are years like the last one wherein I made the trip but it didn’t turn out as planned. I was at home but it wasn’t the Norman Rockwell painting that I wanted it to be. And that’s not to blame others. (I had to pause just now, sit back, and examine that statement. But it’s true. I don’t blame anyone but myself for that scene.) Situations like that are more due to my own outlook and headspace than to the reactions of others. And that’s when I realized that this melancholy song about only getting back to “where the love-light gleams” in your memories and dreams was saying just what I was thinking. It’s not even about a physical place because, as we’ve seen, even that situation can turn sour.

So that’s my favorite Christmas song. An ideal of holiday celebration, wrapped in a wistfulness that pulls at your heart. They say you can’t go home again. Maybe Christmas’ like this are only for kids and dreamers.