Writing is good for me. I have attempted suicide many, many years ago. I have dealt with a serious fight with depression and anxiety for my entire adult life, and it was not always recognized for what it really was. This left me to muddle along without proper treatment and support for a very long time. While going through a divorce three years ago, my writing and my poetry turned very, very dark. After one such poem of despair, my brother told me he was getting worried about me.
I told him that, as long as I’m writing, I’m fine. If I ever STOP writing, then he should worry.
My previous entry opened the door to some revelations about myself that I didn’t really understand before, even though I’ve seen them for a long time.
I have long seen an inner vision of myself in my world…and my world is empty. Just me; no other living humans. For lack of a better explanation I always thought them all dead. But they are not dead. They never were dead. They simply never were.
The emotional core I deal with every day is not so much hopelessness as despair born of loneliness. When I look inside my…for lack of a better term, my emotional memory of an even an ordinary day (such as a visit to Kroger this morning), something is missing. The place is there. The cars are there. The clothes and food and shelves in the store are there. The lights are on. I’m there. But, of all the details I listed, one key element is not there in the emotional memory.
The people are missing.
In the factual memory of my morning at Kroger, people are all around me. I remember interacting with them very clearly.
But in the emotional memory, I am alone. No one is there. The cashier I talked with has all the substance of an imaginary friend I made to pretend I’m not alone. Yet it has struck me now that the people are not dead. In my inner emotional world, other people simply never existed.
Perhaps some of this is born of my hyper-intelligent brain. No bravado there; only fact. I am incredibly intelligent. I am very fast of thought. I can reason through a situation or conversation and generally predict the other person’s responses and motives a step or two before they get there. I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but I identify with that character (especially Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey, Jr.’s portrayals of him). If I have no work, no schedule, no project I devolve very quickly and easily in to a scattered pile of undirected neuroses. If I’m isolated then I’ve been effectively imprisoned with my own worst enemy.
Conversely, I fidget a lot. Partly from pent up nervous energy, partly from a need to do something to channel my anxiety when hit with an overabundance of sensory input. In a high-tempo situation too much sensory input overwhelms my ability to process it and results in a severe stress reaction because my brain, fast as it is, can’t keep up with the inflow. It’s like my senses are faster than even my brain. I thoroughly hate driving at night in the rain because it is very, very hard for me to make sense of what I’m seeing as the lights in the rain reflect off the road and other cars. I mean that—it is hard for my brain to form a coherent picture of what is going on because too much scattered and disparate visual input is coming way too fast from my eyes.
And yet…I prefer to read news reports to watching videos for precisely the opposite reason. I can read and process the report and its implications in less than half the time it takes for the video run. This weird combination of difficulty assimilating sensory input in high-stress situations and this hyper-fast ability to assimilate one-on-one conversations and printed material creates a powerful need for control and order and method.
Somehow this bizarre arrangement seems to be directly linked to me feeling so completely isolated. Only family penetrates this barrier I am imprisoned behind. Only family (blood and chosen) in close physical proximity to me creates a connection to humanity.
And that brings me to understanding why the failure of a life goal—my own family—is hitting me so hard. For one thing, it was the only life goal I set for myself when enlisting, and I failed to achieve it. Of course, being it the closet until 2014 was not exactly conducive to finding a life-long partner. But, there it is.
The lack of my own family, aside from issues of a failed goal, creates the crux of another experience I am going through that is, in my personal naval experience, entirely unique. I have never seen anyone retire single. Every person I have ever seen retire had a family and got to be ceremonially piped over the side with them. The utter singularity of the strikes me very hard. I will be the first single person I have ever met in 45 years to go through the military retirement process alone.
I have mentors I can talk to about every aspect of retirement and job seeking and the emotional transitions except for this one. Retiring as a single man is a unique anomaly among all the shipmates I’ve had. It is a course I must sail alone. I admit to being somewhat bitter about it.
As long as I’m writing, I’m OK. As long as I’m writing, no one need worry about me. As long as I’m writing, I’m understanding, and understanding is the starting point from which we might be able to cope and move forward. I want to enjoy retiring from the Navy and the excitement of the new life ahead. But right now I’m stuck because the uniqueness of my situation means no one I know has any personal way to relate to where I am going.
Like a great man once said, I’m “passing through…helping out…learning.” I wish I had someone to pass through with me so my inner world was not forever empty.