Here I stand, weak and about to collapse. Here I stand, waiting for the sounds that will call me to my former self. Here I stand, mourning. No one willing to meet me in my distress.
Here I stand, tremendously pained. Condemned. Lost.
Being a man means triumphantly walking around with a smug attitude, callous and untouched by the elements — exposed to them, but not having my bareness exposed. Being a man means hiding, masking the unspeakable hurt behind a face broken and shattered but with enough emotion absolutely squeezed out of you to offer a gracious remark, a pleasantry selfishly meant to defer and escape further questioning. It means having my heart race each of those unnerving times, knowing that my fragility has worn itself to such lengths that the wrong question will initiate a breakdown.
With a sprint I pull away, and it’s not the mask that’s removed. It’s my defenses.
Where did I get to a state where my guard is wrapped up in this … persona, this look of holding on to who I once was — bright, wanting to share and learn? All that remains is an illusion whose deceit chips away at my core of honesty and trustworthiness. But the pain is too great, I tell myself. So it carries on. I carry on — deeply disturbed though I am.
Who would want to carry this on their own? Who would want to carry this with me? A monster by any other name: a poison, a weight, a crippling chill by my weakest description.
“The worst is not yet over” — that’s me talking, not the monster.
The monster says, “It never will be.”
My fear comes not from the frightful appearance of this vile creature, but how insipidly he’s infiltrated my life. Seeped into my identity. Where I now believe the monster and I are one in the same.
Spirit. That spirit of overcoming great odds to continue living and nurture myself where no one else wanted to.
“That spirit lives no longer,” says the monster.
“That spirit lives no longer.”
He’s done it …
Yet, still I walk. Crippled. Yet I walk.
Inside, I’m … I’m … absent. They say I’ve allowed it, that the years of suffering have only crumbled because I’ve given up. Because I stopped trying.
How could you say such hurtful words? Hurtful because they underscore truth — theirs.
Why weren’t they there? Why aren’t they there? Where did they go?
As my questions continued, as my mind was plagued by the revelation of this truth, actions became manifest in the most sickening way. They fled.
Some stuck around … only to watch me fall lower.
“How far will he go?” A statement that could be used to encourage, instead coming from a place of twisted entertainment over one’s unraveling.
A fall from grace? A prideful crash? Neither fit me well. Neither does innocence — those days are behind me, like the belief that care is their ruling emotion.
Everyone I befriended, helped, heard, listened to, acknowledged, empathized with … where are they now? I never expected to be repaid later on. But …
Pain surfaces regardless.
They said I wouldn’t amount to anything. I told them they were wrong in the best way I knew how: by my actions. Not giving into their efforts to silence me in whole.
Here I was fighting a battle, a struggle filled with suffering that I didn’t and still don’t even know the odds to or see relief from. Tears well up within me as I give thought to all that I’ve endured. The hardship. The pain.
This year was no different. Except it … also was.
Is this negative, because I don’t say it with a hopeful spin? Because the remnants of my spirit only see stark reality and truth.
So ends a year of intense pain. Aching inside, it’s brought me to an indescribable low. A low that pervades and controls. A low that scares. A low only few will know in its greatest magnitude, in its most binding grips. Stripping away your ground. Your anchor. Your world.
Too inept to contain or harness its crushing power, even my bunker has become dirtied. No longer my hideaway, it’s now become my lifeline of desperation, unable to see health and hope as I should. My one place of expression now repels me with the same might it attracts. The one place I counted on to silence the tug and pull, now contaminated. Not by external forces. By me.
I contaminate. I repel. I destroy.
Here I rebuild; he makes sure I don’t see the art in it. That the accomplishment is rendered void. That I’m blind to my inner cause.
All I’ve done has amounted to nothing. I’ve amounted to nothing.
The monster wins.
They stopped caring. Some disguising care when they never did. I thought it might come my way at my lowest moments. It never came.
It hasn’t come.
It won’t come.
The monster wins. They win. But they yet have the trophy.
Holding onto a lost spirit, I’ve turned all trust inward. All else, and everyone else, be damned. How far can this get me when I’m so troubled inside? A walking disaster, awaiting the swift embrace of a more sinister yet curiously comforting shadow.
This, here. A year of growth. Growth to chain myself together with ropes of my own, not those borrowed. Growth to refuse chasing after fleeting shadows of false care and false empathy. Growth towards understanding when he loosens his immeasurable grip — if only for a while. Growth of family — my family of me.
Wanting to burst open, the tears can’t flow through. Pain in my face, yet too numb for it all to unleash. Personal failures, suffocating in their momentum, unable to keep up. Rare it is when control fails, yet falling down at the strangest of moments. Release. Relief. Realization.
This poetic spirit I thought had long been decimated … still lives?
I have not won. I cannot win.
So from now, victory is no longer what I seek.