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Strange Sadness.

13 July 2012

I’m on my way to my high school reunion. There’s one woman who knows my story. I had a crush on her for years as a schoolboy. She recently had her first child. A girl.

I’m very far away from all of that now. I didn’t drink in high school. I barely drank in college. I was a nerd. Something of a know it all. Not an especially great student. I’ve gotten b+’s my whole life. Today, I write b+ papers in b+ journals.

Other than this one woman with whom I play Words with Friends, and a fairly prominent science periodical EIC, I’ve barely corresponded with anyone from high school in two decades. I am not who I once was. Though in many ways I’m closer now than I was five years past.

I am thirty-seven years old. Divorced. Childless. Employed doing what I trained for, what I love. Somewhat successful at it.

I was not happy in high school. The truth is, I haven’t been happy much of my life. I have the ordinary reasons for it: child of divorce, shiftless father, overworked and codependent mother. A series of transient or ineffective or predatory father figures.

But none of that is responsible for my unhappiness. I have been depressed most of my life. Sometimes rising to a level requiring clinical intervention, though rarely. This black bile has been in me from the glistening outset.

I am well today. My heart is strong. I know not to fight my demons; I am no match for them. I am strangely sad tonight, but not depressed. I will go meet these figures from my past. I will not strive with them. I have unmade myself from what I was. I had to spend two decades finding my way as an adult, having been poorly taught, or simply untaught. I learned through fire and pain. I learned by stitching together the frayed ends of what I was given; of what I wrested from the cohort of grown-ups charged with raising me.

I have made a new self. It isn’t perfect. But it’s mine.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. 13 July 2012 21:03

    Just remember that highschool is nothing compared to where you’ve been. And they’ve all been places too.

  2. LawnBoy permalink
    13 July 2012 22:00

    The last line reminds me of this Minchin song:

    Was that a reference?

    • 15 July 2012 23:48

      Just got around to watching this… nope not a reference. But I like it.

  3. Lady Day permalink
    14 July 2012 10:50

    I’m not speaking for or about you, here, but I just thought I’d share some observations I’ve made over the years. In general, I don’t like to reveal much about myself online, but I will say that the wars overseas have affected me and many of the people I love very personally and tragically for a long time, now. So, I’m very familiar with sadness by now.

    I think that any human being with any kind of awareness of the world today is prone to melancholy. How could a person not be? There are so many moments of unspeakable tragedy, violence, and horror that can be witnessed. There is also beauty, of course, but to deny or ignore the dark moments would be either foolish or insane… perhaps even dangerous, as delusions can be extremely misleading.

    Without these moments of melancholy, how would we know what real happiness (or beauty) is, as fleeting as it can be? Thus, I have learned to embrace it, when it happens.

    I’ve also learned not to compare myself to others who I perceive to be “better off” or “worse off” than me during such moments, for I’ve observed that, in every human I know (including myself), the first tendency leads to indulgent self-pity and the latter to intolerable smugness.

    Instead, I try to find a place or a space in which I can contemplate beauty. The experience may not be uplifting in an obvious sense, but it is amazing what revelations one can have even when one’s perception of beauty is tainted by a cloud of darkness.

  4. Kathy permalink
    14 July 2012 15:56

    Dr24….. You are a very articulate guy. I read your blog regularly and I love the way you use words. What you have to say often speaks to me. “Stitching together the frayed ends of what I was given” is a beautiful metaphor that resonates with me as I also have worked at putting the pieces of my life together in a similar way during the last 10 years when I was in and out of my own darkness. I would not have described the process that way but when I see you writing about it I recognize myself and – well – I just like the way you say it. Thanks for being out here helping me sometimes figure out how to clarify what I am feeling as I take life one day at a time.

  5. Lisa permalink
    16 July 2012 09:50

    A little closure goes a long way . . .

  6. 16 July 2012 21:00

    Good for you to go. I’m going to mine in September. I have corresponded with some of them on FB. I didn’t like high school either–for many reasons but mostly I wanted to get away from all who knew me–have a geographic cure.

  7. furtheron permalink
    17 July 2012 04:09

    I lost pretty much all contact with anyone I was at school with – a couple of very minor exceptions, but more of that is due to my wife I’d say not I (we met in our last year at school together). But that pattern repeats, I lose contact with people from college and jobs as well. I’m just not good at retaining the tight connections some do. I now know that I can actually look back to when I was a small child 5 or 6 and an incident with a lad who lived opposite of me, and then another on with a boy I was at senior school with when I was 11 – both I pushed away. Why? I think it is the responsiblity thing – if I become your friend you become reliant on me and I don’t want that, I want my “freedom”/”independance” so I shun that friendship and push it away from me. I still do it, I don’t have many close friends – that is me but I know also somewhere in there all the alcoholic nonsense thinking lives as well.

  8. 19 July 2012 10:53

    Lots of great comments on this post! Thank you.

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