There are nights when no amount of melatonin or calming music or snuggling cats can keep my eyes closed and my brain turned off. On these nights, which I try to avoid, my thoughts loop and the obsessive-compulsive facets of my nature lead me to the edge of anxiety. What-ifs and if-onlys dance through my frontal lobe as I desperately attempt to employ anything, any distraction, to just stop it and go to sleep.
Sometimes it is a coworker who is insisting upon the most obnoxious conspiracy theory or spouting a racist diatribe. Sometimes it is someone more interested in winning an argument and being right than solving a problem. Sometimes it is a talking head on TV, a pundit or a politician or some amalgamation of the two, shilling lies and appealing to the lowest parts of human nature. It has been Facebook posts that grossly mischaracterize a portion of the world, or the country, or a gender.
Sometimes it is the overwhelming urge to tell a woman who has, perhaps not clearly, told me she wants only friendship when I want more. Perhaps she hasn’t said that, but she’s spent the evening talking about someone else she is interested in, or she’s made it clear that the kind of relationship I want isn’t on the table, or it was and I’m too late. She’s not into guys, or she doesn’t date coworkers, or I’m just the man she’s using to get someone else jealous. She’s bored, and no one else is returning her texts, or she wants to see a movie and no one else will go with her.
I live inside my head, and in there I’ve had a thousand more discussions than I have in reality. None of those discussions were about the truth: that I’m not what she wants, I’m not what she needs. She wants a different life, something far away or, just as likely, something that just doesn’t involve me.
I try to drown those frustrations out with the comfort of a favorite tv show or audiobook. When that doesn’t work, I try to find something funny enough to take the edge off the anger or frustration I feel at being marginalized, or having witnessed marginalization, or just not being good enough, and remind myself that so much of life is just stupid people flailing about and trying to be acknowledged. I try to remember that no one is the world. Not me, not the coworker, not the pundit, not the woman.
In the loneliest of these moments, sometimes I read Rose’s monologue from The Kindly Ones, and I remember that I’m not the only one who has gone through heartache. That even though it’s frustrating and painful, even though it feels like the only thing in the universe that could hurt that much, it isn’t even that special. I read it, and I tell myself that if I can write anything half as touching and beautiful, at least I’ll have accomplished something I find valuable.
None of these things are helping today. So, instead, as a last-ditch effort, I’m writing a rambling blog post that these people are unlikely to ever read and hoping it is enough to quiet the maelstrom of thoughts crowding my mind and keeping me from respite.
At least I’m writing something.