Today has been one of those which has me wondering a lot about my life. It’s a dreary, overcast Georgia day, and it reminds me a lot of days living on campus at Georgia Southwestern. Yes, some of you will think “there he goes again,” but please indulge me this one stroll down memory lane. You may be surprised to learn this has nothing at all to do with my campus newspaper.
I don’t speak much about my final few months living on campus because it was, quite frankly, one of the darkest, loneliest times of my life. While not being Editor of my college paper was part of the reason was suffered a severe depression, there were a great many factors in play. I felt like a fish out of water, and my lake had become a parched, barren lakebed. The details of what happened are irrelevant now, but today’s weather evoked feelings which I can’t describe as nostalgic or wistful, but rather as reminiscent of that time, despite my best efforts to avoid the memory.
Sometimes, one must face the memory in order to heal.
That period of my life was depressing and painful. I felt abandoned and heartbroken on almost every level. Other words to describe it include hungry (both spiritually and physically), abandoned, betrayed and deceived. There were people I had grown to count on who I felt left me in the dust, and others who had simply forgotten about me and moved on the greener pastures. It was a time in my life I also felt profound anger, resentment and even a bit of rage. I chose to flip off the world and rebel like never before. I chose to stop paying my bills, stop socializing, and stop taking care of responsibilities. The anger had me feeling “everyone else could play by these rules, so why do I have to suffer and nobody else does?”
Odd how the truth of a situation is revealed over time. When we peel back the layers of the story, we find the flaws in our behaviors, the foolish arrogance of absolutist thinking, and how our preconceptions and delusions can create a whirlpool of misunderstanding. We learn those around us didn’t abandon us, but were instead dealing with their own personal hell. The people we perceived as having betrayed our own loyalty to them were suffering from losses we couldn’t possibly imagine. Spurned advances were the result not of something personal, but instead the fact certain lines were never meant to be crossed. Other lines which had been crossed became minefields which often blew up in the faces of those we believed to be living perfect or fun lives. We mask our pain and anger in a veneer of hubris, and act out in accordance with how our personality was molded by our environment and associations.
Looking back, I was an arrogant goddamned fool who believed I was entitled to certain things for no other reason than a meager collection of achievement, none of which now matter in the grand scheme of things.
I could say I forgive those who I feel then hurt me, but that’s an exercise in self congratulatory artifice, and an insufferable one at that. I figure we all make a ton of mistakes in our lives. Forgiveness of this sort is an internal matter, certainly not one to be made public. Atonement on a grand scale is equally arrogant and little more than a grand display of emotional theatrics which only serves to assuage a guilty conscience. No, today is a day which I look at, accept the feelings which exist, and just observe what happens next. No amount of pining, whining, or promising this or that can undo what is done. The deeds have been done, the words have been spoken, and all I can do is manage my reaction and healing process as best I can. Deluding myself serves nothing – acceptance of my errors and misperceptions is the only hope I have for growth now.
That was, indeed, a dark time in my life. I’m impressed I survived it. I’m more impressed I’m able to accept just how much of an ass I’ve been about it all these years.
Maybe there’s hope for me yet.