I’ve been going through a thing.
And it has been so hard to talk about, to compartmentalise, to rationalise, indeed to live.
The thing itself has been harrowing enough, but it is the soul reaching thoughts and feelings that have left me reeling.
Mr C and I were watching TV the other night; sometimes I feel like we are a modern day version of The Royle Family, watching TV night after night as the world passes us by, a hive of activity going on somewhere “out there”.
I nestled into his chest.
“I am alien to this world.” I said.
“I don’t belong here. I feel alone, disconnected, disjointed. My brain screams at me from its dark pit and I am struggling to see the light.”
I have known for a while now that the black dog, oh fuck it, let’s just call it for what it is – depression – has been taking up residence inside me once again. And it’s force is strong this time.
Stress does that to people with our predisposition.
But it is more than that.
I know I am depressed, but I also feel disconnected.
I do not find connectedness in popular culture. And popular culture is everywhere. I revolt against hive-thinking.
I do not particularly like the modern trend of mid century furniture, or the creative throng that is so same-y and not individual, or the self help movement that’s not particularly helpful, or the repetitive ad infinitum memes on how inhumane humans are (no more so than centuries gone by), or the music trends (which aren’t so much trends as fleeting moments until the next song comes along), or reality TV (can I vomit now) or any number of things that are so beige, so blended, where nothing stands out.
I find myself craving individuality in a world, or culture, in which it no longer seems to exist.
I crave innovation, and smart thinking, and politicians who truly think with intellect.
And yet connected to this blandness is what we all are – through social media, through being online. We cannot escape it. We are herded into channels of thinking – of being – brainwashed into believing it is all us as individuals, but it isn’t.
We are the living embodiment of A Brave New World mixed with 1984 mixed with Animal Farm. We are subdued by a virtual reality, dictated to about how we should live our lives, and controlled by a self serving oligarchy. And we do it all willingly.
We live our lives through contrived lenses. A filter here, a meme there, a carefully structured blog post everywhere. Never stop towing the party line. And never ever contradict or offer up alternatives to the current flavour of the moment.
We try to portray some form of perfection.
Look at me, I am the perfect mom/writer/cook/crafter/artist/musician/photographer/person.
We display ourselves looking for recognition, acceptance, to not be forgotten, to leave our mark.
Even imperfection is the new black.
Look at me I am the imperfect mom/writer/dad/cook/crafter/artist/musician/photographer/person.
And through it all I feel disconnected, disjointed. An alien in my own existence.
It’s hard to write the honesty of those words. I have my family, my children, Mr C, all of whom are my life and whom I adore.
But gratitude and love is not enough to silence the demons that gnaw at my existence. If I was an artist I suspect my paintings would be very dark. I imagine myself in my studio with black paint and big brushes, and a smidgen of yellow to show that somewhere in there a light still exists. A dot. Somewhere. Called Hope.
As it is I am a writer, and even now, words elude me to describe the darkness. Perhaps in a previous time, I might have been committed to a mental asylum, despite my obvious functionality, to be shocked into conformity. Now, I just sit within the confines of my home, alone, light streaming in from the outside, yet not feeling its warmth.
The irony of the metaphor is not lost on me.
Sylvia Plath committed suicide by putting her head into a gas oven. She was a brilliant poet and writer, and had two children. It wasn’t enough. The business of living was too much to bear and so she ended it.
At that moment, the voices inside your head drown out any reason for living, even your children. It is an insanity.
We don’t talk about this enough. The dark side of living in a world that requires membership to the throng, even if you don’t particularly want that membership.
I hate the word tribe.
Tribe is now about leverage. It has commercial value. I hate commercialism.
I used to love blogs when they were simply about connecting with other like minded people, when they were about people wanting to write about their experiences, when they were about reaching out, not feeling alone, no longer being isolated.
Now it has all gone to shit in a hand basket. Now it is about how many people I have reading my blog, how many are on my email list, how good I am being and how much my readers trust me. Trust me enough to pay for stuff I recommend, offer, write about. Now blogs are about leverage. Leverage that turns into money.
The corruption of money. Pervasive, innocuous, deadly.
I long for the blogs that are about lived experience, heartfelt, raw, without boundaries, or limits, alternative, intelligent, and most of all honest. And certainly not about leverage.
I read very few blogs. I always feel like there is an inauthenticity about them. Except for a few of course, who have not succumbed.
I once read that not every writer likes to read. I may currently fall into that category. For even books seem to me contrived these days.
I am a rebel. A lone ranger. A person who does not like to be told what to do or how to think. And yet, everywhere I look, in the culture in which I reside, I am constantly told how to think and what to do. And to not do these things is to mean excommunication, to wander the desert of isolation, and abandonment.
It is lonely out here, where individuality is a commodity, where individuality is shunned.
The duplicity of existence.
Belong here and tow the party line. Do not be an individual. Despite what the billboards might say. Individuality is not your friend.
And so here I am. An alien in my own existence. Not fitting at all to the subscribed and prescribed version of what my culture dictates a woman, any woman, should be.
I have tried to live that existence, with poor results.
And now I am lost.
I am nearing that age of invisibility. That age where women cease to exist.
I wish to exist. I wish to be heard. I wish to stand firmly on the ground on my own terms.
I wish to remain an individual. With no tribe.
But I do not wish to be alone. The dichotomy of living. Individuality should not mean solitude.
Reconciliation of the darkness of my mind, with the lightness of being. Is it possible? I do not know.
Aftermath by Sylvia Plath
Compelled by calamity’s magnet
They loiter and stare as if the house
Burnt-out were theirs, or as if they thought
Some scandal might any minute ooze
From a smoke-choked closet into light;
No deaths, no prodigious injuries
Glut these hunters after an old meat,
Blood-spoor of the austere tragedies.
Mother Medea in a green smock
Moves humbly as any housewife through
Her ruined apartments, taking stock
Of charred shoes, the sodden upholstery:
Cheated of the pyre and the rack,
The crowd sucks her last tear and turns away.
Until next time,