I have become expert at distancing techniques. I don’t mean, well I don’t think I mean, acting in such a way as to prevent the audience from empathising with me. Or identifying with me. I mean rather the various things I do to make the pain of living in the world bearable.
What I try to do is keep the world at arms length. Actually, in my ideal world, I wouldn’t even need the proverbial barge pole. I’d just live far away enough from the world so as to never have to give it a second thought.
Well that’s more or less what happened. I emigrated to outer space. Well I might have but as much as I’m terrified by the world I’m even more terrified by the idea of not having my feet on the ground. This ground. Terra Firma. Good old Earth.
So I kinda went in the other direction. Underground. Inwards. I live thousands of miles beneath the surface of my own skin. But for all practical purposes I might just as well be living on Mars. I’m sure you get the picture – I am very far away.
I think people can sense this. Perhaps it looks like arrogance. Or impatience. Or fear. It’s hard for me to know. I hate that – having to be me. All day every day. And never knowing what it’s like to experience me, from the outside as it were. I gather it’s not a particularly thrilling experience because people seem to avoid it. So I emigrate to Mars or live underground – then complain bitterly about the crappy social life. Go figure.
But, pardon the pun, it goes deeper than that. Because it’s not the outside world that I’m trying to get away from. The outside world is nothing, or everything, but largely unknowable. It’s the inside world that hurts. Or the bits of the outside world that become the inside world. So even safely ensconced in my cocoon of ice thousands of miles from Outside I still need to escape.
Well there are probably psychological theories to explain all of this and fancy terms to describe it but I have a nice word for it – Drugs. I guess I fell off the world somewhere between the ages of seven and thirteen. Fell into myself. Embarked on a decades long policy of isolation. But was still, truth be told, fucking miserable. I know this because the school contacted my mom to tell her. Mrs. Katz please do something – your son is fucking miserable and it’s a major buzzkill.
So I was sent to lots of different psychologists and psychiatrists and they all came up with more or less the same diagnosis. Mrs. Katz I’m afraid to say we have confirmed that your son is one miserable little asshole.
They didn’t even try and cure that. Perhaps there is no cure for misery or they just didn’t want to get their hands dirty. Anyway – I forgive them. It’s just a job for them. Like dealing with a difficult customer – saying have a nice day and meaning fuck off and die.
But thankfully, finally, when I was about sixteen a psychiatrist introduced me to drugs. That’s what was missing. Something that I could take with me to Mars or down to my subcutaneous ice cocoon that would fuel the second part of the journey away from the pain of living in the world. Fuel that journey away from the pain of living in my own head. It’s so fucking simple – Benzos and Painkillers and booze to kill the pain and dope and acid to kill the boredom.
And then I was gone. On a thirty one year long journey into forgetfulness, into oblivion, into the fog of self collapse.
But, wouldn’t you know it, I kinda want to come back now. I’m not even sure why. I think it’s programmed deep into my source code. This need to connect to other humans and to the world. And there are no connections deep in outer or inner space. Or what connections there are are too slow to be of any use. Bandwidth throttled to within an inch of its life. Meaning dissipated, boiled away or frozen solid. Entropy on easy terms.
It’s not going very well. This journey back. It’s not made any easier by the fact that many of the humans that actually know me never realised I went away. Well a lot of the humans that knew me were happy to put good old physical space between my pain and their pleasure. And the ones that couldn’t kinda fictionalised me. Actually only my mother did that – she just made up a brand new son that had nothing to do with me and crapped on me when I fucked with her misperceptions. Everyone else politely ignored me and waited patiently for me to get the fuck out of town.
Ech. What to do. I’m a ghost and probably don’t stand a ghost of a chance. I feel like a seven year old stuck in a forty seven year old’s body. But it’s not just any forty seven year old body. Well the body is ok actually. A bit skinny but still in pretty good nick. But the mind is a mess. Never mind the spiritual atrophy, there is a healthy dose of good old fashioned brain damage to contend with too. Years of codeine and booze and pot etc will do that. My brain just does not work very well. It overheats, doesn’t boot, crashes, thrashes, spins out of control.
And this causes no end of other troubles. Unemployment troubles, social isolation troubles, pain, confusion, exhaustion. Troubles. Trouble troubles.
But I’m not going back. Back to Mars I mean. Back to frigid underground cocoon city. Because that didn’t really work out that great for me either. So I’m just trying to be a nice ghost. Finding stuff I can do even if I can’t earn a living. Getting used to living inside a broken mind. Inside a broken brain. Inside a broken world.
And trying to fix stuff. With Love. Even if I can’t.