Day 25. Tiger Blood.

I feel bad that I’m sort of phoning in these blogs. It’s just that life recently has felt like an avalanche that has already piled on top of me and every time I think I see sky there’s more snow that falls directly on my face. Do you know what the “dark night of the soul” is? Well, this is what I am going through right now.

I’m not sure if everyone goes through this. I remember in 2012 when I lived on Cape Cod for the summer, I got really, really sick once. I mean my fever was through the roof. Like 103-105, for days. I basically hallucinated some things and couldn’t get a grip on reality. I don’t remember much of that time, it was like my brain was really sick. With my fever and being the middle of summer, I was shivering and couldn’t get warm. I remember my roommate putting all of the blankets on me, like WOOL blankets, or whatever those scratchy ones are and I still couldn’t get warm or feel warm. Thanks, Case 😉

I told this guy about it when it was all over. This guy was a loser but important to me at the time, anyway he told me it was my vision. That every person gets a vision in their life, usually in their 20’s. I didn’t believe him then and I don’t believe him now because nothing was made clear to me during that time. The funny thing is – I think it was my body detoxing HIM.

Anyway, that’s kind of how I feel about telling people about, or even talking about the dark night of the soul. Spiritual people are usually familiar with this but how do you bring it up in a serious space. One of the worst feelings is when someone looks at you like you’re crazy just because they’re not familiar with what you’re talking about or how you feel about something.

That’s what my past year has been. Last August I had this crazy breakdown. I thought I lost touch with reality as a whole. I was having some weird death and suicidal thoughts and that’s why I picked up in the middle of the night and drove across country to see my family. Don’t worry, I wasn’t going to kill myself. I never would. If anything, I couldn’t do that to my mom and brother. They would have holes in their hearts for the rest of their lives and I just could never do that to them.

But that’s not really what this is about because now that I am removed from the situation it was the death part of things that was really what was suppose to be examined and taken away from the situation. Because of covid and having been recently single at the time, new to a city and generally alone all the time, things just got dark. Life was dead. I hated my job and I hated working so hard and feeling just completely and utterly empty and wrecked at the end of the work day.

I hated giving my self, my time, my life to that place who then later so quickly and easily discarded me. I hated feeling empty and stressed about money. I hated feeling under-appreciated and invisible in the world. It literally drove me insane.

Now, my scheduled hours are 9-6. Today I stopped working at 7:26. I stayed late not to finish my own work, but to finish a co-workers work, sort of. I mean we do all share the burden and responsibility but I feel this could have been 100% avoided. Doing that isn’t what bothers me, it is what it is and overtime is where the real money is at anyway. When I finished everything and clocked out I just sat back in my chair for a little bit.

I felt empty.

I wanted a drink. Or to eat something gross, but instead I just sat there, empty. The universe is a tricky beast. She wants you to be happy. She wants us all to be happy. She whispers to our hearts what will make us happy. Most of us muffle out her siren calls with some bullshit instead.

Wait get the visual of that… Think of Lady Justice and her scales. She’s blindfolded and on one side of the scale is the light, dainty, ethereal waves of universe whisper and on the other scale a pile of bullshit. Bullshit in the form of these lies we hold so dearly. It really doesn’t have to be that dramatic – “lies” – but to me, they’re lies. Society as a whole is a big ol’sandwich of lies on top of lies on top of lies. It’s all fabricated, created and at times fake and at more times – empty.

I was thinking about this after work. I went for a drive. Well, that wasn’t the intention I was just going to run to the post office really quickly. Then, right on brand for whatever stupid version of myself I am right now realized I put the 3 letters in the mailbox WITH OUT STAMPS. So, brilliant me decided to use another envelope I had in my car to write a letter to the hardworking people of the Turtle Creek Post Office pleading for them to use the 3 stamps inside the envelope to sort through the letters and stamp them appropriately.

One of the letters was actually a mother’s day card for my mom (don’t judge me, at least I put it in the mailbox BEFORE mother’s day) (IRRRRREGARDLESS of whether it was stamped or not) (I know irregardless is not a word). ANYWAY, if she gets it next week I will take a bunch of cupcakes to that post office.

So after that fiasco, I decided to stop at the grocery store because guess what – after all that hard work last night I FORGOT TO PUT THE FUCKING MEATLOAF IN THE FRIDGE. I left it on the counter to cool off before bed, I put the lid on it so that when I went to fill my water bottle before bed I would just slip it in. I don’t think I turned the light on or maybe I did and just didn’t see it. Either way, that was the rest of my meat ration for this week which sat spoiled on the counter this morning.

I threw it out, I don’t think it’s worth it to take chances with meat. It’s $10 and about an hour of work, I knew I’d get over it, it’s just those little things are what add up to the avalanche feeling. There I was, pulling into the grocery store as I was chatting with my mom, who was not really in the mood to chat, so she let me go on and on. I was on the verge of tears at the heightened moment of emotions and frustration and luckily, she had to go, so I didn’t just start crying on the phone while sitting in the Tom Thumb parking lot.

I went into the grocery store, probably my first time in grocery store in over a month. It was nice to walk in, I always enter on the fruit side and am always met with flowers and watermelon. They had a huge succulent section set up right by the door, it was nice to walk into that instead of mountains of chocolate. I bought a ready made rotisserie, a bag salad, some frozen veg and eggs and turkey bacon for the morrow.

I paid. It was $18. As my card was processing in the deserted self-checkout lane I thought about how there have been so many times in my life where $18 was all I had, or more than I had. Times like when I lived in Chicago and would go to the grocery store with $3 and try to get dinner and dessert out of it. I was successful a lot of times. I remember starting my period once when I lived in Brooklyn and making the 2 block walk to CVS, where I was a regular and usually flirted with the guy at the register. This one time I had to buy pads with nickels and pennies. Seriously, imagine $6 for fucking sanitary napkins in the last coins I could find. I was mortified and bleeding.

As he watched me count out my change, he looked me straight in the eye and said “we’ve all been there, you gotta do what you gotta do.” Needless to say, even after that pep talk, I don’t think I ever went back there.

Back to present day Texas – once I got back into my car and started driving home I decided I needed to call in the big guns. I turned my bluetooth on and started playing my go to playlist of sing at the top of my lungs and from the B O T T O M of my stomach. Strangely enough, my go to emotion-purge-scream-sing-song is Foolish Games by Jewel. I need to warm my voice up before I try and hit some of those low notes, which of course I hadn’t done, so my voice cracked and it wasn’t that good but that wasn’t the goal. I drove around for a little bit and sang a few more songs, finally ending (and nailing) Walking in Memphis by Marc Cohen.

At that point it was after 9. It’s so warm here at night and there’s a calmness in the air in Texas at night. I can’t explain it, I never got the same feeling in LA, NY or Chicago. That was part of the reason I wanted to drive around with my windows rolled down and the peaceful air existing around me – just to enjoy that feeling.

When I got home, I ripped a piece of chicken off and ate in while standing in my kitchen. I threw some broccoli tots in the microwave on a paper towel, squirted some ketchup right on to that same paper towel and that was dinner. That was the best I could do today.

Honestly, it’s pretty good because despite the fact that I didn’t even eat enough food/calories today, at least I didn’t go to the store and gorge on junk. I thought about stopping at mcdonald’s and just getting a burger. What would have happened if I did that? Honestly – probably nothing. I don’t even know if I would have been disappointed in myself. Realistically, I probably just would have felt like crap because it’s the trashiest food out there, but I wasn’t worried about that. I stuck to plan. I’m as shocked as anyone. Also, I didn’t even look at the cakes, which are in the corner between the flowers and the fruit. I didn’t really want a cake.

I wanted to not feel empty. Maybe this was the moment it all clicked that the food is my source of makeshift fulfillment. I mean not like that is an epiphany, my mom’s mailman could probably guess that about me, it’s pretty obvious. The point is not the overall recognition of it, it’s the momentary recognition of it. I was aware of it, therefore I was able to rationally choose my actions and to not act on that clawing inside. I’ve played this game so many times where I give in to these dumb, fleeting temptations and essentially engage in self-harm to finally snap out of it and realize it’s irrevocable damage, mentally and physically.

What I think is finally settling in is that this feeling of emptiness is not new. Last year was not my first time experiencing it, but getting older there are a few things. 1) I don’t go out drinking very much. I don’t drink very often in general but I used to always be able to go get drinks with friends and that helped subside the emptiness. 2) The emptiness has gotten more visible for me over the past few years.

What I really think clicked today is that this emptiness will only go away by 1 of 2 ways.

One. Filling the void

Two. Spending the rest of my life avoiding the void.

I wish there was a better word for fulfillment. It’s not exactly how I want to capture the essence I am trying to describe. The opposite of empty, but on a spiritual, existential level. I bet there’s a word in German. (Steff, if you’re reading this, let me know if there’s a word in German for this feeling. Also I love you and miss you)

I sort of know how to fill the void. Sort of. I have a rough idea and it involves me writing out the stories that have lived in my head for almost 20 years. There are so many things that my heart whispers to me that I just ignore or block out, or convince myself are not the right thing.

My heart doesn’t want to work these crappy jobs. They suck my soul out from under me. This job in particular is hard because I have to stay so focused and engaged with my computer for 9+ hours. The last thing I want to do when I “leave” work is start working on my personal laptop.

I’m 36 years old and I just feel like my life is languishing through my fingers. Like in a dream when you need to run for your life but find that your legs are spaghettis instead. I see my life slip through my fingers, all the opportunities and experiences that I haven’t gotten to yet and are disintegrating right in front of me and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

I really have no sense of anything anymore so I don’t know if this is coming off as super sad and pathetic or totally relatable. I guess it depends on the person. My brother and I were going to do a podcast together when I lived in NY and we did some good prep work on it. It’s a 12 week challenge that focuses on a different area of life each week. We used one of our dear friends as a guinea pig for one of the assignments.

He, our friend, is very different from me in a lot of ways. He met the love of his life when he was a teenager and they married young and had babies. They’re one of my all time favorite families. His wife is another dear friend and their kids are like nieces and nephews to me and my brother. There’s a lot of similarities though between me and this friend when it comes to things like meaning, purpose, fulfillment. So my brother and I thought about that for a little bit too how it wasn’t necessarily the kids and family part, that’s not total fulfillment for some people.

It’s just nice to mention for people like me, 36 with no partner, kids or that sense of family that that is not the emptiness inside. At least, not for me. I don’t have that same yearning to be a mom or wife like others do. However it’s hard sometimes feeling on the outside of every one else’s family. My family isn’t really MY family anymore. They’ve moved on. My brother has his own family now.

That helps to intensify the feeling of emptiness, but it’s not the cause. I felt empty in my last relationship, I was just too afraid to say so. It was easier to feel empty with someone else though, he was also empty in some ways and I think ultimately that’s why we bonded. Also, we were friends, good friends. It’s easier to get through anything with a good friend. I just could never open up to him the way I am – to my blog.

The pang of emptiness. The hollow bell jar floating mercilessly above threatening to descend at any moment. The unbearable lightness of existing. What lottery did I win that these are lifelong friends to accompany me since childhood or at least late teen-hood and until who knows when? When do they leave? When the emptiness is gone or when the whisper from the universe gets answered? Are those the same things?

Oh my god. Maybe these are my demons. The one’s I’ve been searching for to meet head on. Holy shit, wait a second.

So I had stopped writing to re-read from the top so that I could get a real slam bang finsih for this puppy. But, I couldn’t read all the way from the top because I’ve just spent 2 hours writing this and actually thinking and I’m too tired to relive those thoughts. So I started at the end when I stole some book titles to make my writing look better and to give a subtle nod to some great literature. Anyhoo, while I was reading two paragraphs up I saw me at a child’s playset table having tea. I was having tea with my dark spirited friends – emptiness and existentialism. Maybe these are the demons that live inside, the ones holding me back.

A part of me always thought they were the parts of me that was going to help me build a successful writing career. Because who doesn’t love an affable existentialist or a pang-stricken pragmatist?!?! I did a little shuffle dance in my chair just then like “huh, huh, how can you not love this.”

It is 3 minutes to 12. I have to go. I’m going to meditate on this tea party. I may have cracked something, also I may have just cracked. It’s late, I’m tired, I’ll let you know tomorrow if I solved my own world’s problems.

I didn’t take a picture today. I had nothing to take a picture of. Let me see if I can find something random in my camera roll.

Excerpts from “A conversation with Brother”

Let me know if you liked this blog or nah. Because if you did I’m more than happy to bare my soul and embarrass the shit out of myself more again tomorrow.

Until then…

2 thoughts on “Day 25. Tiger Blood.

  1. More. Yes, definitely more. It hurts, but it’s real and real is always best. This is what they mean when they say writing can shine a lite on your inside. Real is always best. Real is scary. Face your fears and do it anyway…easy for me to say; I don’t have the courage to think this deeply, let alone write it down. Good for you, Duffy! Love you!

    Dave sends love and says that it seems a good thing that you trust yourself and the world enough to expose yourself to embarrassment. I think we all share the same needs, the same yearning for validation, meaning, love, relationship, the same fears of not qualifying. I do. Thanks for being real.

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