“When I was younger I could hold my own
My right hand was thunder and my left was stone
Now I ain’t as handsome as I was back then
So I’m takin’ my chances in the shadowland”
– Steve Earle –
There’s a part of me that cringes man. Cringes when I set to write. Because man I am not so keen on the mopey and sentimental crap that seems to float to the top most lately. I mean I know where it comes from and what draws it out. It’s this thing, a sort of talent I have for seeing goodbye before it’s time to go. I can smell a heartbreak coming and see a long-lost friend before we even say hello. And for me goodbye ain’t ever too far away. It’s not like some weepy whiny teenage girl thing, you know the game “Why don’t anybody ever stay?” you know the adolescent broken heart syndrome.
Nah man, for me it goes a lot harder and colder. And in that sadder and lonelier. It’s been a long, long time since I went out to the world on my own. And right now this is the longest I’ve spent in one place. Through bad choices and self-destruction I have burned most bridges and kept on moving. And now I haven’t got anywhere left to run and I can’t get very far. My heart is here with my little girl. It’s hard to run from that anchor. But believe me brother I want to. I want to go till there is nowhere left and the road has turned to dust.
Most days I get by. I set these goals and points of reference. I say to myself “Okay boy, you can’t go nowhere or make that jump till the second Sunday of next month because you can’t make a bad anniversary when it suppose to be a happy time for…” I make these deals with myself. Stay long enough to see this or do that. Or to hit that calendar point. When I go I want to be sure it’s understood I made my choice. I made my run and it was without any implication on anyone’s part. It was all me and at my time.
What going means…Well that’s my choice too. And I ain’t speaking it to no one. It’s just my thing. My last choice that you or anyone like you can take or compromise. Sometimes I just want to go see the mountains once again. There’s magic there. The Gods sleep at their feet. Other times I want to hit an ocean and let it all pass me by, forget it all. Sort of like Otis Redding sang. And sometimes. Maybe more often than not I just want to close my eyes and make the world go far, far away. It’s all a matter of degrees. Usually on how ostracized and lonely I feel. And on how badly I want to feel someone close to me.
Because for it all I would trade almost anything just for that one thing. To touch someone, to laugh and to fall crazy mad in love. To make a world that belongs to no one but us. To be the great secret. There is healing in the laughter and soft, gentle touch . But I just can’t seem to break out enough to let someone come close enough. I can’t find the kind and understanding hand. I am wired all wrong and life has left me burned and bent. But I can still love…But truth is that I won’t get a chance to again. And I think maybe I’d have to think long and hard about if that person should be burdened with my scars and broken pieces.
Just ghosts man…All ghosts. They’re here tonight. And I’ve got to stand them down alone. And pretty soon I figure I’ll lose the strength to run them off.
“In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable.”
– John Steinbeck –
Often I will have these ideas for writing and I think they are brilliant and good, then I’ll sit down and they’ve evaporated or just seem silly. I think today I thought about writing about the difference between men and women. Because you know no one has ever written that stuff down before…It’s be groundbreaking! Ha yeah! Right…And there was some intensely important and emotional uttering I had in mind. But fuck me if I can remember what it was…So much for depth and meaning.
Lately I feel like nothing stays with me. Nothing is here, it’s either coming or gone. I don’t know security and I don’t believe in the future. Man I haven’t stayed in one place this long since I was a kid. Always running, always moving, the velocity shaking off the bodies….Reducing the drag. Nothing to carry with me but what’s in my pockets. Now I am too old to run and I got weights holding me down. Man I almost feel resentful when I picture what it might be like way out on the coast or where the city is still awake. How do you do this? How do you live this still life, the day-to-day, where you put your time in and try to give it meaning on the weekends? Is the posturing and posing all about trying to make it bigger and shinier than it really is. When you pretend you are one of those chicks in a television show or a guy in some two-bit movie. Is it really just taking a shot at feeling out of the cage? Fuck man, it’s for the birds.
But in my most puzzling paradox I panic at the thought of goodbye. I don’t take farewell well. I cry and grieve, I ache and long and I try to go backwards, or make you leave walking backward, so I can fool myself. It’s maddening. I wish I could be cold, be forgetting, be cavalier, like so many I seem to have known. Just cut it away like a strangling vine. My father has been gone for two and a half years and not a day has gone by that I don’t spend a bit of it sad and wet eyed. Yet I see some that just sort of accept the inevitability of death and move on. Not me.
I am a fucking mess, a loser and a train-wreck. I cannot imagine ever being too close to anyone. And if I am really and brutally honest I can say it is because of me. Because of my damage and my insanity. I am awkward and discordant and after a while I just seem to vibrate apart the machinery of love and friendship. I am ugly and dark. Why should you care really? I’m a bridge jumper looking for a foothold on the railing while you watch.
And sometimes even my positives just get all ass over tea-kettle. I have a huge heart, no really I do, I ache and sigh and love so much. But it becomes this fault, it manifests as weakness. I cannot be cold. I cannot just be flippant. I want to feel the big thing. But it seems that makes me odd. My intellect is called weird and it is seldom understood. Instead I am supposed to grunt and scratch. I am male after all. And forget even talking about loving my child unabashedly and without reserve…That’s a huge hammer I am hit with.
Nothing makes sense. No one thing…So how do you do it?
Being this gets harder every day. If you have a God, talk to him for me…My spirit is dying and my body is catching up. I am not going to play the GOd game anymore. And I am not going to pretend it makes sense to try.
So here I am…Two weeks from a birthday I never ever planned on making. And it feels like I deserve parole…I’ve done my time.
“I have been the worst of kind
A sorrowed heart and a cluttered mind
And I’m thinking that I could change this
That I could change this, but I can’t change this”
– Matthew Ryan –
As of late many of these entries have been kind of bitter sounding and probably more than a little fucked up. Maybe that’s just me. Maybe I was trying to say something, maybe I was just being an asshole looking for a reaction…Who knows anymore?
Truth. I mean real truth…I am at my end. Now as I write this I have spent the past couple days ill. And being who I am and living as I have, being sick makes me feel really vulnerable. So keep this in mind.
But this has been settling in on me much lately. I have tried to find an answer for this craziness. For this loneliness. For this brokenness. I tried your medications, doctors and therapists only to see myself crippled by your labels. I have tried your faiths, your Gods and your holy men, only to feel desperate and reaching for something I cannot and do not want to attain. I tried addiction, sex and violence, only to see myself as the walking dead.
Now I feel I have done it all. Like Dylan sings in a weary voice “I’ve seen newborn babies, wailin’ like a mourning dove, An’ old men with broken teeth stranded without love.” And I am left to wonder what else could I do? I don’t have the drive or energy to continue to be strangled by the mechanisms of lies and the roles we play for each other.
I have seen such terrible things and seen some pretty great things too. And it all just sort of balances. And my balance seems to never come out of the red. I just feel…Weary. Yeah weary. And in that weariness I figure I have earned the right to my own answers. I won’t begrudge anyone their resolution so I sort of expect it from others. Though there is always someone trying to sell a faith or a pill that’ll make it all better, at least according to the commercial on television they saw shot with a blurry lens and sweet music.
But what if i tell you it don’t get better. Not for some. Not for me. I have had brief reprieves. Like a fighter between rounds. I sit on a hard stool in the corner and try to remember ‘Is this the fourth or thirteenth round?’ and then the bell rings I am up against it once more “In the clearing stands a boxer, And a fighter by his trade, And he carries the reminders Of ev’ry glove that laid him down, Or cut him till he cried out, In his anger and his shame “I am leaving, I am leaving”, But the fighter still remains” Simon and Garfunkel sang that in the Boxer. A song I have had a great empathy for, for many years…Because I know exactly what the boxer feels. To leave but remain. I even know what it is to be so lost and lonely. Hell I was 15 when I left home, just a baby really. I had no idea what living meant. I certainly wasn’t prepared for the things ahead of me. Sleeping sometimes under bridges or in tragic rooms where the cost to stay was more than I could afford. The whole time I naively believed that somehow, someday it would be okay. That there was a better future. I was meant for something more. I sat in your filthy jail cells and walked the streets where you’d spend more on some flight of fancy than to fill the emptiness in the stomach of young men like me. I would claw back from illness and woundings that would kill most of you but wouldn’t me, like somehow I was cursed with life. In time I would even attempt to retry to become a “citizen”. I wed, I divorced, I got credit cards and I owned cars….I got divorced, bankrupt, I crash cars. I drank myself blind and called it having fun. I fucked and fought and laughed at you as you played the hard and tough Friday night ramblers. Because I’d been there, the real thing, I have lived with them that have no tomorrows, just a dwindling life, like a bleeding down the drain. I would tumble down again, into handfuls of pills, bottles of rusty water and powders and potions.
And that kid that raced out a door one Friday night after he’d had enough…enough… enough…Well he slowly went crazy, he went slightly jaded and mostly he just became something that doesn’t quite connect. And probably most of the blame lays at his feet. He has tried, holy Christ has he tried. He goes to work and resists the urge to scream at the egotistical stupids that whatever they feel they have a right to and whatever is so damn important is really insignificant. The fucking world is dying and I am dying too. The kid has tried so hard to hide the fact that many years ago he gave up on ever being part of a world he didn’t understand. Maybe somewhere between trying to decide if tonight he’d sleep in a stairwell again or rob someone so he could crash in some dirt-bag motel. Real people never make these choices or decisions. Real people don’t ever find themselves in these places. Real people don’t really understand anyhow.
But he tried, I tried…
I was given teasers. A woman here or there who would swear love and commitment to me. Like some Hollywood dream it was supposed to have a happy ending. Until they realize that there was something really wrong with me, some need that can’t be filled and some ghost that can’t be chased away by a walk on the beach and some pivotal conversation. I am broken in a very real way.
Now I have to bear the consequences and scars of a life lived so fucking badly that it fills me with awe that I have survived. And in that survival, I feel that it is a punishment. I feel every good thing is just something that can be used later to take away, to remind me “You’re fucked and don’t deserved anything” and every blessing really is a curse. Even the greatest ones come with a jagged tearing side.
Woe is me huh? Yeah I guess…I’m sorry.
When I started this blog my goal was to have something solid, something real that could be read later…For later. Something that maybe explained a few things. That wouldn’t disappear. I am not good at staying in one place for too long and when I go I leave much behind. And I wanted to say my piece, to have some tactile thing to show.
An ongoing apology I guess…
I stand here, out on the sidewalk, out in the drive. In the same spot I stood a thousand times before. It’s the terminus point. Or it was. The spot where to the left or right I could still run. Off and away into some other reality. I hesitate. I did that so many times before too. I would shudder and tremble here. Afraid of what was there inside. It was not a new feeling. Not a new fear at all. As a child I would stand in one certain place outside my father’s house. There I’d fill with a fright so deep I couldn’t feel anything else. I’d lose my breath and whimper in the way a frightened puppy might. I was little else there. A scared animal. The machine hadn’t been built yet. See there I would prepare for battle. There I would tense myself for the inevitable blow, the beating and the shame.
That was one I never whispered to you in the dark at night. How you scared me so. How you made me that child again. How I would wait at the spot outside the house. Waiting to find if my leaden feet would move forward or I would run. Run away. The way I did when I was still just a boy. A child without the means or mechanization to survive in a world I didn’t understand. I must have run from you too. Why else would there be so much left unsaid? So much left in anger and pain. Why else would I have never said goodbye.
So now we touch the edges of our anger. Mustn’t ever wade fully in. The battles have been fought, the picture frames smashed. The vases hurled and the names called. And to get back there we’d have to dig through the bones and dust of a closet we’ve closed, looking for the armour we wore. The weapons we sharpened from the secrets we told. The faults we laid bare. The weak spots only a lover still covered in the fine sheen of intimate sweat and the smell of sex would know. Those terrible knives we hand to our assailant in blind faith and a naive trust. The belief that this time..This one…They wouldn’t ever turn the gun on me.
What have you got now. The gossip and slanderous asides? Well love, I am here to say most of your accusations are true. And are rightful. Most…Not all. but the 1 in 5 that is wrong, need I plead my case? Should I fight you for that little bit of ground? No I won’t. Not anymore. I am the animal/machine. I am a foul thing. I try to live as best as I can and I try to do what’s right. But find always myself in the wrong. I am truly indefensible. You are right. I am all those things…The names, the shames and the disgusting slights. But I try, I always tried for better. I honestly tried to be better. For you. Yes for you…Does this shock you? I am sincere when I say this. I tried to live past my scars and the tumbling rocks of a falling mountain that is my history and my learned dances. But I failed. I always fail. But I always try.
See maybe you never understood. Yes dear I know you said you did. But you never really understood. I was raised by wolves, I timed my breathes with the tides and learned by laying my palms against the walls and feeling for a hum. Like some mute demolition man. I know how to fight only because I forgot how to care what happened to me. I am the end result of a complete loss of a sense of self-preservation. I learned how to fuck because I could make you close your eyes and shudder. I could hide inside your body as I stared at the back of your head. Animal lust is easy. I knew no truth there. I learned how to lie because I was so full of incomplete links and shame. I couldn’t dare tell you the truth. I couldn’t be who I am. I couldn’t just be like everyone. Because I was always less than everyone. So I gave you the Hollywood version. A creation I idealized. The thing I wanted most to be. But could never really maintain. And so when the facade fell and the dirty windows came clean. You saw. I was the mess in the middle of an empty room. But I warned you. I did. In the beginning. I always warn them that enter the cells and cages. That they really don’t want to be there. That they must keep their distance. And I even showed you the scars. But in some act maybe worthy of sainthood you chose to carry on. To step in closer. But you never really believed, never really…Understood.
Does it matter now that I am sorry. That as a man who has come through hell and found it to be of my own making. I am sorry. I made my messes. I did my own cutting. I have learned. That’s of little consolation and probably no benefit to you now. But the man standing here now. He’s different. Scarred and afflicted with a terrible case of battle fatigue. Any movement of the heart makes me fill with fear and I flash to terrible yesterdays. But I am learning. And now I try to live each day a little at a time…An inch an hour, two feet a day. I don’t expect too much from life. There is no grand parade, no victory party and I will never drink from the cup. The myth I was is dead. And all that is left is the living sum of my errors. An equation that is still solving itself. And that you are not here for this, I am sorry. I honestly am. I wanted so much to be this before our house of cards fell.
But here I am anyway. Out on this spot waiting. Waiting to see a light in a darkened window. Even though I know you’re not there, you don’t live there anymore. But just in case…I leave these words out here for you. In case you should come by, in case you should toe over the rock I hide them under. In case you need to close the door one last time. In case you need.
I will choose this time to turn and walk away calmly, with poise and dignity. The stride and cadence of a man who has been to war and come back limping and lost in far away stares.
I figure by now if you have been reading my blog you know some of me. But there are other parts worth knowing about. So here’s a list of stuff worth knowing about me.
1. When I was 19 I tried to form a good old-fashioned Blue Eyed Soul band. Don’t know what Blue Eyed Soul is…Think The Rascals, Righteous Brothers, The Box Tops, The Faces or very early Rod Stewart. White boys with gritty voices singing black boys music. I would have sung, I have a great Blue Eyed Soul voice. I couldn’t find enough enthusiastic musicians who really knew the music. So it never got off the ground.
2. I’ve got a great voice for honky-tonk music too.
3. When I was a kid I’d sit up till the small hours of the night after everyone had passed out and listen to music and to my dad telling me all about his life and who he was. While he was too drunk and too high. Sure it was a crazy thing but it was a father son thing. And I can say I know my dad better than anyone else on this planet.
4. I saw my first dead body at about 10 years old and it never gets easier. And in the case of my father it was one of the hardest things ever. It made a mess of me.
5. I was once a pallbearer for a little baby who was stillborn. That was the hardest.
6.On a lighter note at various times in my life I have been a strict follower of Coronation Street. As a matter of fact it was through Corrie that I met my daughter’s mother.
7. That reminds me. I am a serial monogamist. I have been in long-term monogamous relationships since I was about 16. I just find that security and knowing someone far more interesting and attractive than chasing a new skirt every week.
8. I have been engaged three times, married once and divorced.
9. In my own way I love every one of my exes still. And I never really understood killing that love because it’s no longer right there in front of me. Love when it’s true and real lives forever.
10. I am kind of shy and grumpy in person. Until I am comfortable with you and then I can talk your ears sore. Sometimes I think my stream of consciousness babbling makes people think I am weird or burnt out. But the truth is that I have an anxiety disorder (PTSD) and I am trying to connect my wires and rhythms to what you are. If this is strange I am sorry, I am socially awkward and probably a little intense and I can only imagine that you are sort of fascinated or afraid of me. I just want to make a connection. I am curmudgeonly and wounded. So I tend to be hard to understand. But mostly I like you. I’m harmless. I just don’t operate with people well.
Hey this was an exercise in self-aggrandizement if ever there was…My little light, gonna let it shine.
Be well, be love
I can’t really say why I feel the need to write things down, to share them and be honest. Especially when what I say can be so misunderstood. Or in hindsight it is enough to cringe about. Or like tonight it’s just so damned messy.
I am staring into the cold hateful eyes of truth and the damage I’ve done. The loss and loneliness. I hate my existence right now. My whole fucking being aches. The slow bleed is not enough. The leaking of time and erosion isn’t fast enough. Waiting for tectonic plates to move. It’s all so slow and dreadful.
Sitting here tonight I have a picture in my mind. Kneeling on the floor, leaning my face forward and kissing the barrel. Stretching to thumb the trigger. One loud pop and the spraying blood and grey matter. Then all gone, all gone. Relief. Goodbye.
How much pain, how much of this do I have to live through. How many more nights of not being able to sleep without the television on. Because when the lights go out and it gets quiet, my thoughts start to go feral and attack. How many more days where I have to brace myself just to step out of my room. The fear and anxiety that becomes vicious . How many days will I have to wrestle with this darkness. The urge to erase my life. To step off the ledge and into the void. It’s a nasty truth and I am sure maybe some of you are worried or frightened. And maybe for the sake of common decency one shouldn’t speak of such things in polite company.
A broken machine man crawls across the floor picking up scraps of metal and paper looking for the pieces that meant something. The whole time mumbling something that sounds like a strange melody. A prayer or a curse its hard to tell. The machine man is frayed wires and smoking motors. Beyond repair but too unconscious to turn off. Redundant and unimportant it spends it’s days wandering the factory floor trying hard to remember what it was built for. Remember what it did long ago before the humans left. Sadly it has no purpose. It just whirrs on and on. Tuneless and alone. An empty life.
Some days are better than others. Sometimes I feel like I have turned from the light to run right back into the dark. And the smell of death and goodbye becomes so strong that I cannot be aware of anything else. Like the taste of gun oil. I know this fight is mine. But sometimes I want to cast it off, like clichéd poetic chains, a well-worn literary device. The pain and sadness of my days just are too much. I start to feel like any joy or any peace I experience is just a brief reprieve from the truth of my life. I am meant to hurt. Like a boxer between rounds. I collapse into the corner and hear the noise of voices telling me how to go into the next round. But when the bell rings it is me alone standing against the battering and blows. No prayer or distraction will change the truth that each hook, upper cut and combination hurts and leaves me rocking back on my heels.
Boy I can really let loose with some high fallutin’ words when I want. I guess what I am trying to say is I am hurting. I am broken. I seem to feel these things so damned acutely like riding in a car with bad shocks, the slightest bump throws me into these bouncing and careening fits. It ain’t manly and I sometimes feel like a loser. Ha! Sometimes. Man I never feel much else. Ugly, useless and rejected. I think my big change has simply been that I don’t feel sorry for myself so much anymore. I just have no feeling of value. You know these feelings are so deep that I sometimes think about just throwing myself away, writing myself off. But then I consider the sorry bastard who would find me or the one who had to clean up the mess. And I figure that I can’t really impose that on anyone.
Can you believe I do actually feel better about life though. A year ago all I thought about was dying. Getting out. Two years ago this time I was actually hospitalized because people were scared I really was going to commit suicide. My father’s death hit me that hard. And to be honest I had to make a real and stern effort not to kill myself. I wanted to follow him out. I got so bad I had written notes just in case the impulse was too much just once and I did do something. Fuck I am pathetic. But you know even the bravest soldier in the throes of a terrible wound will turn to his buddy in the foxhole and in a moment of delirious agony say “Come on Joe just fucking shoot me, I can’t take it!”
Today I don’t feel that all the time. But I still do on a regular basis. And you know if you can judge me by that than that may be your problem more than mine. I am just honest enough to say so. I am not going to hide who I am or what I feel. This isn’t some angsty teenager bullshit. It’s real. And I get strength from pulling these cursed skeletons from the closet and throwing their bones into the yard. Let the world know. I am not the best person there is. But I am honest and I am brave enough to do that.
Yesterday I gave my daughter back to her mother. And it’s not getting any easier to say goodbye. In fact as she gets older and becomes more her own little person it gets harder. Though in the first few weeks after I left the house when I’d give her back I would literally sit on the curb and watch her mother drive away with her and sob. But now it hurts in a deeper place. Full of regret and guilt. I feel like I fucked up. I made a mess of something I swore I would do right. I swore just this one thing in my life I would get it right. And my stupid ass couldn’t even do it right for a year. You see now why I feel so rotten? I blew it before the game even started. Like a quarterback who falls down before the first huddle.
I feel like if I were a better man and kinder and more determined I could have made it work with Ruby’s mom. I could have held the family together. But like everything else I try it seems to have gotten away from me. I couldn’t do it.
Ruby is so much like me and so much the real live proof that if I had been given the chance, the love and the brave support I would have been something so much more. I tell her I love her and she tightly hugs me and whispers “I love you too daddy, ever and ever.” and I kiss her and she giggles. I dance with her and she smiles. I let her be free in her heart and she glows. People see it too. Strangers are always watching or commenting. People see this beautiful light move through the world and are drawn to it and want to share in it. Even people I know or people in places we go, I hear people say “Oh here is Ruby, I heard about her”. She is my miracle and my star. And when she comes over to me just to hug my arm or hold my hand I feel so honoured. So blessed. And when she says “Love you my daddy” I feel humbled and gifted.
What an amazing human being she is. And what an amazing woman she will become.
But because I failed, I have to say goodbye to her. I have to guess at what she is doing. I can’t see her each day as she grows. Because I am this broken animal/machine I cannot truly share in everything. And the worst part is I have to watch her leave. Something I thought in the beginning I’d have at least twenty years to prepare myself for. But instead I have to do it on a weekly basis. It’s my fault, it’s my stupid self and my mistakes that cause this. And my guilt over the emotional hurt and confusion it must cause her is almost unbearable sometimes.
I am sorry. This post is so dreary. But this is my truth today. And I won’t hide it. There are enough people who smile instead of scream or who show nothing in the name of some ridiculous code of modesty or manliness. Fuck that. I am me and I am here.
Send me love today. I need it I think. This is the watch by night after all.
November 17, 2009 | Categories: failure, grief, loneliness, my father's death, saying goodbye, suicide | Tags: failure, grief, hate myself, honesty, hurting, Rimbaud, self-loathing, suffering, suicidal thoughts, truth | 7 Comments