Symptoms Redo

Symptoms Redo

Sunday, February 20, 2022: We wrote Symptoms on February 13 and 14. Now we are doing a final edit with, we envision, also many additions.

What is wrong? What do you feel are your missteps? And do you have any ideas as to their root causes?

I have a hurt without a story.
Inside my gut and emanating out in a swirling, screaming, jangled fashion.
I think it has been there a really long time, though I didn’t start to suspect it’s existence until a little over a decade ago.
I think it used to sneak up on me and trip me up over and over again.
I think it’s existence explains why I kept not quite growing up.

The hurt is like a cut inside of me. An emotional wound that hurts always, but often so far in the background that I think maybe I made it up. But often it hurts even in my day to day, loud and sharp enough that I think it is very real. And sometimes it kicks up, and hurts so deep and loud that sometimes it overpowers me, makes me nauseous, crumples me over my gut, makes me want to curl up to escape. Or sometimes instead of just being in my gut radiating outward, it’s almost like the hurt attacks me from all sides, like I’m being hit with chairs or something.

I want someone to understand and care but I feel like no one does.
I guess this is because I am not married.
Because only happily married men have someone they can tell everything to.
Because in some sense, people need to be held to be heard, and heard to be held.

I think the hurt is largely responsible for how long it took me to get going as an adult. I think I was so slow to date largely because of how the hurt closes in around itself like a wounded animal. And in other areas of life I would keep getting ahead of myself, realize I was standing on air, and then tumble down. I was always going to be a this or do a that, but then I slip and slide and could never get traction in anything long enough for any results. And on and on, never quite managing to do anything meaningful towards supporting myself.

When I didn’t know about the wound, it hurt worse.
It got better when I could feel the hurt as a wound inside of me.
Because then it was as if the hurt was separating out from the rest of me.
Before it had been sneakily intertwined with my feelings and thoughts, and this allowed it to undermine me without me even knowing what was going on.

What is the hurt? It hurts in your gut. But it also squishes you down at your shoulders.

It can worsen sometimes around some men. If, for example, someone big looms over you who you know and know to be unproblematic, you maybe get a confusing mixture of anxiety, sorrow, and more confusing feelings jumbling through you and wincing your face in distrust. But if you are just standing in the subway or walking down the street and catch something you don’t like in some guy’s aspect — is it to do with more with physical shapes or more with facial mien and general body language? –, it’s like you perceive an evil haughtiness matched with a despicable power, and you are ready to fight, to violently repudiate and once and for all silence this stranger’s wanton pride.

The hurt bars you from entering yourself. You can wade down a ways into the angry suspicious grieved and scared hurt in your core, but then the hurt kicks you out. It’s like being hit from the inside with a shovel. Or like a hoplite squadron, shields enmeshed and forming a spears-studded dome, pushes up at you, flinging you out of yourself; and then you fall, battered and bruised, onto the dusty earth. When the hurt hits you from the inside, you often cry out like you were sucker punched. If you’re sitting up, your face jerks to one side as if something unpleasant were being shoved in it. If you are lying on your back, you spasm into a backward-bending arch. This is what happens. This is the point that you reached like seven years ago, and beyond this you do not advance. You just don’t.

For twenty-five years you alternate between some grand idea about a great artistic or intellectual success (with the occasional admixture of political improvements), and thinking you need to be practical. You try to compromise — study languages as a cover for getting a degree in free writing; study math in the hopes that you’ll prove the Truth; write books that are supposed to be both beautiful and remunerative; write essays to save the country and gain you an audience –, but without practical nor any other sort of success.

Every decade you fall in love and obsess over a woman. It always drags on for years. You mature, but still the hurt owns you. It wakes you up at night. You lie there feeling it blaring from the inside. {But not just the inside. It attacks from all sides with seat belts. [Editor’s Note: Is this true? Isn’t that more something that happens once in a great while when you are out in the world and somehow get caught off guard by a maelstrom of unexplained hurt?]} You want to find someone who will understand and hold you and love you. But you don’t want it to be like that — you want to find the girl that is right for you and who you are right for — not just somebody who is willing to let you bleed all over the place. It’s a dilemma: You are desperate for a helper, but you need to find a real fit, the kind that you would also choose if you weren’t wobbling desperately about.

What about this ritual?:
For some number of years, about once a week, you tell yourself you’ll buy a bottle of wine and drink a glass or two to complement a larger meal. But as you think like this, you feel the frenzy light in you. Deep inside you know the only real question is: will I drink only like four or five glasses?, or will I finish the bottle?, or will I finish the bottle and go have another drink and perhaps also get french fries, or something else I never permit my sober self? Why? Why do you do this? Because there’s no relaxation allowed and/or possible while you are sober? But it’s not so relaxing for you to drink, anyway — invariably you feel the hurt deep in your hut so loud and frantic that you have to yell it out, and otherwise be crazy.

With the energy healer eight years ago: You felt for the first time like someone else felt what you were feeling, like she had a special power of empathy, allowing her to feel along with what others feel; and when she said, “I think a long time ago someone hurt you”, it felt like she knew what you had known but could not alone declare, since you had been always stuck alone only with these feelings, without any story to connect them to, without any account to make sense of them.

Is messiness a symptom? Is accepting a lower paying job while you in fits and starts work on writing projects and wasting maybe half a day a week on alcohol a symptom? (it’s more than half a day when you factor in how it damages your sleep.) Is being unable or unwilling to date women your own age a symptom? Lots of men do that — a nontrivial portion of rich and famous single men will choose a significantly younger woman for their mate. You are not rich and famous, but you kind of think you are. Is the sense that you are about to hit a home run a symptom? Is that the same as an alcohol problem: The addiction to daydreams of greatness that just kind of happens because it has to, because you have to be set free, you have to be loved, you have to be worthy, you just have to be?

The notion of being a general addict, an abstract addict. The alcoholic and gambler and etc: What do they have in common? They need to escape into something that makes them feel like they are good enough and safe and strong and free. Because they can’t live all the time with the sense that they aren’t good enough, and not safe, and not strong or free. It is too painful. So they ask for a respite, and they find it in some compulsion that allows them to think and feel blurrily enough that they can convince themselves for a moment that they are great, grand, fantastic, worthwhile, really really worthwhile, and they are really going places. The -aholics desperate lunge is the same basic impulse towards fuzzy thinking paired with accounts of grand security and thriving that tyrants feed their minions and that we individuals always to some degree use to sneak away from the tension of the moment — where we all know that Love is the Way, but the Way requires gentle clear kind resolve and it guarantees not physical security and thriving, but spiritual growth and whatever terrifying mysteries that entails. But the -aholic takes this dodging of the moment’s tension to an extreme, and desperately winds him or herself deeper and deeper into their favorite cocktail of blur and rush.

The -aholic needs desperately to collapse. To die. To fall apart and disintegrate. The -aholic needs to lose, but also wants desperately to win. What is going on with him? The suicide he seeks is not to die but to kill that which in himself that he cannot live with. But it is wrapped up in him. It is him. And he knows it. He knows he cannot escape the failure running through him. So he loses himself in forced confusion. Confused ideas and confused feelings. In the blur he kind of disintegrates while kind of triumphing. He can have it all, because his thought and feelings are confused.

What about the time when like ten and you lie on the hardwood bedroom floor wrapped up in a blue patchwork quilt? What was going on? A paralyzing fear. And the need to protect your back with this blanket and the inability to move. Until it passed.

Or what about that time when like twenty when a building off to one side somehow squishes you down into the smooth white pavement near campus? Really! Squished into the cement and stay there for a while until the feeling passes and you are able to move again.

That doesn’t happen to most people. That is not normal. That doesn’t just happen for no reason, though at the time you shrug it off, don’t question it, or even think about it again.

And now? With the hurt a known entity: what now?

You spent recentish years going to Buddhist meditation. It helped but then the hurt got so loud that meditating hurt and you quit. There were other reasons too, you guess.

You spent years in therapy trying to work with the hurt to gain some insight into what it felt, what it needed, what path we could together journey to reintegrate and allow yourself to fully occupy your being. But always at some point, you’re hit from the inside, tossed out into the shallows of my conscious experience, lost from the venture.

The hurt is like a hatchet inside of you. But often just a little background delirium. And then for reasons sometimes perhaps known or at least guessable, and sometimes completely unknown, the hurt will explode and you want to yell out, or maybe you even do, and/or sometimes you feel woozy and/or crushed and tears well up in your eyes. Sometimes you want to go curl up and hide under the desk, but you are at work and that’s crazy. You feel your body bend over your belly, like it wants to double-up. You sit up straight and pull your shoulders back. You breathe slowly out.

It feels like a wound, not brain chemistry. But no one wants to hear that. And you don’t really want to talk to them about it anyway.

You disdain psychiatrists. They give you drugs that hurt your brain and yammer at you. They were wrong. They did not understand that your brain chemistry was part of an overall reaction to this wound, that neither they nor you were then aware of. And the therapists working in tandem with them also lacked any meaningful insight into you and what would really help you. How you disdain all these people! These people make money by mucking about in and perhaps doing permanent damage to the brains of people who fall into their clutches. You feel for them the old disdain, that one that has marked you for so long.

Most very young children gush and Iloveyoutoo back when their parents say they love them; but this case would clam up, straighten up, his eyes and purpose would narrow. They had chosen to start a fight and he would end it if need be. This three year old does not accept “I love you” from his parents. Or so you understand the matter from accounts received combined with how you still clam up and close in and down when you hear such talk from people who I know to be good and to have always looked out for you and done everything to help you and made many many sacrifices above and beyond what is expected.

The situation here is isolating. It is lonely. It is lonely to have no one to talk to about something that fills up so much of your being. The therapist is willing to listen and believe you are not full of baloney, but the therapist is not really in your life, and the two of you seem unable to enter the heart of the matter.

You want to be held and accepted and known and respected and cherished and loved. By someone to whom you return all such attention and devotion. What you need is a wife. But again, you need someone who is good for you, not just someone willing to hold you while you hurt. A hurt like this complicates romance. You don’t want to pick someone just to be safe while you hurt — that’s not nice to either of you.

People don’t want to know. They don’t want to hear it. They don’t want to acknowledge how you feel, how it’s been, the way it seems. They think is unreasonable for you to ask them to go there, when you have no story. And you don’t even want to go there very much with them anyway. But being alone with it as it is really painful. And exhausting when done year after year for so many years. It is really lonely. So much of your life shared with no one in your life. So much of your life no one cares to even believe is happening.

But that’s not the loneliest part. The loneliest part is that the hurt and its entourage are so slippery and variable that you yourself often can’t really believe this is going on. So then you have this weird life of being separated from and distrustful of and upset with different angles of yourself. Maybe you made it all up? Maybe you’re just autistic and can’t connect with people. But no; it’s not quite like that; the hurt, though not obvious, is not a fantasy; and you, though a little disjointed at times, are able to read expressions and even the room — when you give the effort.

The hurt wears you down. You give up. You quit trying to sink into yourself. And you stop short of sharing certain aspects of yourself. You retreat.

Sometimes you will be annoyed with other people. It exasperates you that they force you to pretend the hurt’s not there. But it isn’t just them that is forcing it on you. You also don’t want to make the dynamic stressful with a hurt whose point is anyway evasive. And you also accept the general position of your time and place, which holds that no one but a man’s wife is supposed to be bothered with what he really feels. And you want such a cute wife, such a beautiful, adorable, wonderful little thing. And beggars can’t be choosers.

But what do you really want? What would you really ask for if you could move beyond the hurt? How to ask for at least the right general direction? How to ask for a love that will work now and also will work as you change? This is always the challenge when seeking a mate, but the challenge becomes more challenging when dealing with some screaming emotional pain that is not really a very big portion of how you feel and what you think, but that nonetheless takes up a great deal of your subconscious and conscious space — that colors everything with it’s bitter violence.

The way forward is clear gentle kind resolve.
But the hurt is a blurry, violent, angry, aggrieved and spiteful hurricane.
You can’t make progress without admitting where you are.
The hurt should’t be shrugged off.
You can’t make progress indulging in every little ache and moan.
The hurt shouldn’t be mollycoddled.
We must seek the middle way between ignoring and indulging the hurt.
What do you do with a wound without a story?

People with a tendency towards -aholicism often have a hurt they cannot deal with, that they cannot face, that they cannot even admit. It’s one thing to admit up and down that you have problems and so on — it is another to really admit that you feel broken and destined to fail inside and that you will never ever escape that situation.

Am I weak at knowing other people? Do I disconnect? Am I not empathetic enough? Does my love flicker in and out? Do I focus too much on myself and/or empty obsessions? Who am I in this world? Do I seem outside of human relationship? Am I? And if so, is that wrinkle just brain chemistry, or is it a slight natural tendency exacerbated by an inner emotional wound that I cannot access? One could conceivably be somewhere on the OCD/Aspergers/Autism spectrum via brain chemistry, but seem more autistic due to the interplay with external factors. Also, I was never a kid always by himself, unable to communicate to others. I always had friends and felt normal in the worlds presented to me. All through grade school and high school. Late in high school and then in college I thought myself on an artsy and philosophical path, but never like I was an outsider or didn’t fit in. As I’ve gotten older I sometimes slip deeper into certain obsessions and eccentricities. I don’t know. It is hard to say how nature and nurture work together. But I feel a hurt in me that feels like a wound, a cut, a slash, an almost physical emotional wound. To me, treating it as a trauma makes more sense than treating it as unusual brain chemistry. The core of my difficulties feels to me like a wound, not like brain chemistry.

Why would a man want to tell his woman that she’s his little girl? What is that about? Sexuality runs deep, but also shallow. How can this be? Sexuality connects both to the most important parts of you and parts much more random and animal. It is confusing sometimes to sort out what is the deep and what is the shallow in sex, because everything is lived all interwoven. When is it right to ask for someone and let the longings carry you into each other? What are these words you hear yourself saying? What are you even talking about? Sex runs all through you, but what part is sexual loneliness and what part is cuddly loneliness and what part is friendly loneliness and what part is not loneliness? Does anyone in this time and place have a healthy sexuality? What would a healthy sexuality even look like? Does everyone feels they have to choose between suppression and excess?

And you? You’d like to find the right one, but what does that mean? With two people, you have to compromise everywhere, and to react always to unscripted input. You have to? You get to. That’s the point: you’re with someone else, not just yourself, you’re meeting and remeeting and better meeting someone else. Why do we people wish to marry? Why do we wish to be granted another’s physical, emotional and mental space? In marriage the idea is that you have the commitment and setup to actually let another person in to your whole moment. So then you don’t have to be alone with it. Is this goal possible? It is desirable? Is it good? Single people long for it, but married people give it mixed reviews. Happy marriages are one thing; everything else is another thing — I guess.

I try to help you. I try to get into the gut and yell the hurt out.
I try to let the Light in with the breath, let the Light fill you, and then push out from within, sometimes also with a drawn-out Ahhhhhh from the gut out — similar to the Hindu’s Ommmmmm. But this Ahhhhhh’s idea is to turn yourself inside out, to open up and spill the hurt out so that you can feel and think more clear and fine.
I try to help you. To sit you up straight, shoulders back, chest forward, radiating all the passion — hurt included — out into forever; with open mind and heart, seeking insight and goodness.
But what happens?
Where have we got to?
Where should we go?
And can we get there?

A lonely hurt. I can’t explain it. It gets worse when I’m tired.

Hmmmm. Interesting.

Author: Bartleby Willard
Editor: Amble Whistletown
Copyright: Andrew M. Watson

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