This morning I awoke with a nameless anxiety squirming inside my chest. It’s like housing a tarantula in your heart, its hairy legs crawling and shivering over your ventricles and veins. I felt as if the world was broken, too broken for anyone to fix—and worse, that it would not matter if it was repaired or not. I felt I did not know or love anyone. Sometimes, I will look at my brother or sister, and realise they are the centre of their own world, just as I am the focus of mine, with their own thoughts and feelings, their own way of seeing things, mysterious and unknowable, just as I am to them, and the loneliness washes over me in an immense wave.
I have a desperate, ridiculous desire for external approval, which is ironic considering how secluded I am. Even from absolute strangers, from medical practitioners who would not, in truth, care if I lived or died, I grasp, subconsciously and consciously, for approval, like some hungry cat, mewling for scraps of love. It’s unhealthy, I know, but I can’t help it. Self-confidence is what they stress is the most important thing for a person to have, but I don’t have it. I have always felt inferior, to others, unsure, uncertain, insecurity a backdrop to every experience in my life, as natural as the sun and the sky.
I feel as though I will never be seen and understood by anyone, even if that isn’t true, and there are thousands who exist out there would understand me, and we are all less different from each other than we would think. It’s why I make art. Art allows me to pour my soul out onto the page, for my future readers to get a glimpse of who I am. In a way, writing is the only form of self-validation for me, through which I can express and show my true self that often cannot be conveyed through the mannerisms and expressions of my flesh alone. All my obsessions and desires and hopes are laid out, imaginatively, through my stories. It is the only good place in the world, and I intend to exist within them until the day I die.
Writing is a difficult business, though. Sentences are hard to write. I often feel as though I’m trying to arrange jigsaw puzzles with my eyes closed. Inside my head there are these sparkly universes, waiting to be brought forth, but my hand is not skilled enough to sketch them out the way I want to. It’s not good enough. It’s so hard, each day a grind and a slog.
There’s no safe place in the world except in the imagination—that is the sum of my knowledge after my meagre years on this Earth. For me, everything else, apart from the world of the imagination, is false, an illusion. It’s there where I truly belong. Another worlds, another places, away from the banality of reality. I wish I could inhabit them forever, squirrel myself into the worlds between pages of books, a tiny figure tucked in amongst the text.
I don’t think I’ll find love, get married, have children, as people usually do. After all it is still impossible for me to get a job. Gaining financial independence, at least through traditional means, seems an impossibility, let alone finding someone to start a family with. The problem is, it’s so easy to hate, rather than love. Sometimes, I feel as though I hate everything in the world with a passion that takes my breathe away, everything that crosses my path odious and pitiful, disgusting. On other days, the world seems a paradise, filled with trillions of tiny bits of beauty. If I did, by some miracle, meet someone, it is likely love would, sooner or later, turn to hate, and I don’t want that. I tend to be attracted to men who are arrogant and selfish, like my father. Even should a nice fellow present himself, it is likely I wouldn’t be able to feel a smidgen of romantic attraction, much as I would probably try to like him. And besides, I would have to find someone willing to co-habit with a recluse—a tall order, when the majority of the population crave some form of human interaction. I’d be happy with just my books and cats, I suppose. Having someone around who loves, accepts and understands me would be merely a bonus, not a necessity.
Oh, but how I crave affection! Particularly male affection and attention, much as I hate to admit it. Again, I place the blame on my father, who, not once, in all the years he was around me, embraced me. He didn’t touch me. Not once. No kisses, no hugs—nothing. A fatherly vacuity. I shouldn’t have been surprised when he left, really, all things considering. Yet despite this great emotional hole within me requiring filling, the men I like—well, I’m really basing all of this off a single boy, my social experiences haven’t been the most comprehensive—are the ones precisely unsuited to the task. The ones who ignore me. Who are loveless. It’s a horrendous paradox.
As for having a child, well, it seems to me so miraculous, the business of creating life. I am here only because two random people, years ago came together and made me. Before then, I did not exist. If my mother and father had not found each other, would I still exist? Do souls exist in some ether and come whistling down to drop themselves into a growing foetus in some mother’s womb? Children are not their parents, of that I have first-hand knowledge. I am entirely like my mother, and entirely unlike my siblings, just as they are entirely unlike me. It’s so puzzling, this business of existing. Trying to get it at the core of is like trying to recall a dream after its wisps have faded away. If I do go on to have a child, am I just a conduit through which another human is being made? How strange it is, to know that once you did not exist, and that one day you will return to the same oblivion from whence you came. It feels so empty and lovely, all at once. It makes one feel religious.
Our struggles are private. As I struggle, I remind myself that, all over the world, seven billion people are struggling in their own ways, so in truth, none of us are alone. It just feels that way. Over the course of history no suffering has been unexplored, and therefore your pain, whatever it is, is not unique; and if others have overcome them, or borne them, then you can, too. We all want safety, and security, we all want love and families, we’re all like little squirrels who want to find a home in a tree and give birth to lots of other little squirrels and huddle inside the trunk against the cold and the rain. But like the little squirrels, we all end up as skeletons, in the ground, despite our yearnings, our struggles. We live not knowing why we live. We live in reverence for the mystery of life. We just live, as all creatures and people have done, since this all began.