losing…

They are all crusted into my heart like plaque that’s settled long onto teeth, a layer of sediment. These emotions are not easy to bear. I need help, and I don’t know who or how to ask. But I am up again tonight, wandering, pacing the hallways, the solitude haunts me. I download instagram, and then I erase it, and a few minutes later its on my phone again. My phone is a source for this disconnection I feel with myself. How ironic, but also, how unavoidable. 

I am hurting deeply inside. My conversations with my mother are so inconsistent, and they are not much better with my sister, with Johanly. The feeling that I may have passed away, and knowing that their life continued without me. All there is is maybe a few miles between us. But between me and me there is only time. What happened, why it happened, and how? The story unfolded in its own way. 

Recall the excitement of new jobs, new adventures, and before things got heavy how I smiled. Writing about the depression doesn’t help, and in some way it may reinforce it because it reminds me that I am not fixed. The feeling of brokenness, like a sound coming from an engine that used to purr, and now you hear it struggle to perform its basic functions. I feel a cough, beyond the sleep deprivation. I feel tears, I miss mom. I miss them all, and I don’t know how to get it back. 

It all ends. The women in my life, they’re not checking in on me. Remember those good morning texts? Remember, but how could you forget? All you can do is remember. Remember the time Natasha laid in your arms, and you felt close like friends, like the secrets you had shared were safe. Spend the rest of your life trying to convince someone to love you, when it’s you. Answer! Wake up, and say that you love yourself. Jump high off the ground! Run fast! Please don’t get old and tired. Please don’t get old and tired. Please. 

I urge you, write a book. Who cares if it sucks, but you have to. If you want any chance at the next decade being one that you’re proud of, please start writing. Make time for your studies. Start saving away your money. Don’t stray from your goals. Set goals again. You used to set goals every month, and now you don’t. Did you forget how meaningful that process was for you? Please don’t forget it.

I’m pleading with you, Ledimir. I am the voice inside, and we need to wake up. Don’t waste your time. Be intentional about every moment. Live out your dreams. Become intensely focused because that’s all you have. So forget instagram, forget facebook. Forget the junk food. Stay away from it at all costs. Save your money. Don’t spend it wrecklessly. Stop with the sugar. Stop with the late nights. Write for you. Write because it is your only salvation. 

Forget her. Forget all of them. Let them go. The best thing you can do is let them go. Let them all go. Please. Let them all go. 

You can change the story, but you have to commit to it. Only you can commit to it, to building your own program and going your own distance. You have to make the choice and no one can make it for you. 

What are you going to be sad for? For what happened with Ivan. He doesn’t care about you. Jeremy doesn’t care about you. Even Wascar, he cares, but not like he did. And this is your fault. Your fault entirely, and why you will end up alone. Who will love you? Who? 

They say everything you write is sad. Who cares? Life is sad, but I will fight. I mean, you will fight. The problem of consciousness, it’s like a mirror that’s absorbed its reflection. We both stand on one side now. You and I both, searching for something. Searching, always searching. Life is an endless search.

Do you understand what it feels like to feel complete? To no longer need to search? I didn’t think you did. But you need to find out.

I owe this much to you. I owe that much. Stopppppppppp. Shut up! Let me please just breathe, because I can’t anymore. I simply cannot, and I don’t know how it will go. 

Kim, what did I do wrong? All I did was show love, but it was never going to be enough. I don’t make money like you. It was hard for me to afford our dinners, lunches. I am not established in my career, and I am barely sure of this one. What did I do wrong? Why should I care what you think? You don’t really care about me either. 

I said I love you on like the 10th day. Fucking idiot… It just slipped or something. I wish I didn’t mean it, but I did. Caroline said the same things. Are you a person who truly loves or are you just one to catch feelings. The times with her were the worst. Even the good ones. Who am I to judge the past? 

Caroline… when you gave that guy your number… I still remember how much I hated that moment, and then you called me someone else’ name. Sheesh. Fucking – what did I do wrong? Where did I go wrong?

Diana, Bryant? Fuck… And then it’s like what about me though… What was I supposed to do? I am the one that moves on quick, but now its too much to bear. I needed to process things, and they are all in there. Cementing into graver problems. Writing. Writing is your salvation. 

Write. Write. Write. Write.

Homeless. I see it. But Goddamn, I want to avoid it. I cannot manage my money. I am struggling to manage my money and time. I am struggling to manage my time, and I am afraid. I am deeply afraid of the future. 

Oh Kim, I thought we had a good time at the aquarium. We left it on a good note, but it’s not good right now. There is too much, so it’s not your fault. There are tears that are too afraid to leave my eye right now. So they stay seated where they are at, and I cannot cry. I cannot force a tear no matter how hard I try. 

I left Boston, and I should have stayed because I was learning how to process it all back there. Until I slowly started to disintegrate. Could that be what is happening now? I am withdrawing again, avoid all people. The conversations are superficial, and I have so much to do. So much, but I cannot. Cannot focus. 

Leave the instagram alone. Close the tabs on your phone. Make it basic again. You don’t need all those features and apps. Make it just so its the minimum. 

Remember when that was ok for you. Now you have added more and more, but leave it to a minimum. Don’t worry, what is important will find its way to you. Maybe leave Strava and that’s all. You don’t need the others. 

keep your head up, its down

My head hung low today, and it was hard to match the passing person’s gaze. The future brings with it its own weight and uncertainty, and I am unsure of my role in bringing its fruits to fruition. Will I climb or will I fold?

What I am experiencing doesn’t compare to the realities of many of the world’s people right this moment, and I cannot lose sight of that. Right now, there is a child who no longer knows home as he used to, displaced, motherless, fatherless, brotherless. Right now, there are people who are watching the sun set on another day of uncertainty, homeless, aimless, with a gap in their stomach. There are people who have become familiar with hunger, so that a warm plate of soup, or a large, home-cooked meal is a surprise. Whatever I am going through, I must not forget that there are others whom I have committed to serve who are experiencing much worse. 

What is wrong with me? Perhaps I lost a meaningless game of basketball, maybe its the wall that I missed when I flipped while swimming. Yesterday, I was dropped from the pack while cycling, and I have struggled to consistently write, sleep on schedule, hydrate, express gratitude. But whereas meals are concerned, I have had some of the best meals of my life recently. I ate Korean BBQ for the first time in my life. I ate Oysters, twice, in the span of ten days. But its not the material that plagues me, its what is happening on the inside, in my mind. 

What would I do over if I had the chance to? What would you do? The lingering regrets weigh heavy on my mind. I toss and turn at night. I could’ve said that I was ready, but maybe I wasn’t. Or maybe it was more than that, sometimes we should share the blame. And who cares about blame. 

I write to clear my mind. I write because there are things that I could not say to anyone specifically when they ask me what is wrong, because unless I write it I do not know. I know nothing about the home I will live in this time next year, my life since I have turned 18 has been in a constant flux, and it looks to stay that way. This is the path that I have chosen. 

Noticing that I was down, my friend shared a quote from the movie Nemo. “All you have to do is keep on swimming, just keep on swimming.” What more is there to do?

exi

The old man watched as the boy struggled against himself. His great challenge was not the task in front of him, these were merely obstacles in his way. He had to find a way to overcome the limitations which he had placed on himself.

The old man remembered his own struggles with fear, how it would leave him paralyzed, unable to act, and defeated. Much the like the boy in front of him, the problems that plagued him were ones he had played such a large role in creating. But what were the origins?

Was the old man solely responsible for the beliefs he had grown so faithfully to accept? Was he truly weak like he believed? Had his intelligence actually been so limited that he could not see this firsthand? Here is a question, if you’ve gone crazy, like truly lost your mind and experienced dementia, how long does it take for you to find out?

Questions were all the old man could offer, but what the boy needed was answers. He wanted to know things for certain. But is there anything that fits that expectation? Could we truly know anything for sure? We can hope to know, but not much more than that.

When the old man asked the boy, what was stopping him, the boy said it was just that he was too tired. He needed more sleep, and he wasn’t getting enough. Then the old man recommended that he go get some rest and try again the next day. 

As the next day arrived, the boy returned rested and ready to conquer his challenge. But this time, he failed too. So the old man asked him what went wrong? The boy said he didn’t eat a breakfast, and that he didn’t drink enough water. The old man sent the boy to get some food and drink, to get rest.

The next day, the boy returned with a stomach full of food and having drank the right liquids. He was rested and ready to go. He had never felt better, but again, he failed. Now the boy was confused. He couldn’t say why he was failing, and when the old man came to ask the question, he dropped his gaze and said he is not good enough. 

When the old man, who had done this over 1,000 times approached the boy, he said, well good. Now that you know you’re not good enough, take a rest. Leave the task, and never come back again. I never want to see you try, and I don’t want you to even think about coming back. 

At this, the boy cried. He went home and he had no appetite, he couldn’t sleep, and he ignored his thirst. The boy had felt so sad, because even after each failure, he loved that he got to try. Now he couldn’t even experience failure. 

The next day, he wandered about aimlessly, and this continued for several days. The boy began thinning, waning, nearly disappearing. Everytime he looked back where he would stand, tears would flow down his face. He looked at the old man, and the old man pretended that he didn’t exist. He never returned his gaze.

One day, after many such days, the boy returned to play the game. He failed again, but he still tried. The old man still didn’t mind him, but the boy thought less about that. All he wanted to do was try. 

When it came time for him to return home to sleep, he didn’t notice it. He fell asleep at the game, and he missed meals, and he forgot to drink water. He didn’t talk anymore, he just played. Try after try after try. The voice inside of him grew bored of calling him a failure, and he stopped believing he was not good enough. 

The old man had to pull the young boy away to get his attention, and when he did, he confessed that the game was meant to be hard, impossible to figure out, that nobody really had the answer. Everyone wanted to know the meaning of the game, but that no one acknowledged the game meant different things to everybody. The boy could barely keep his attention, he wanted to return to the game. So the old man said to him, Son, you’re done. You have discovered the meaning of the game. 

At this the boy paused, what he had found in the game was so much more. It was validation, a personal weapon that killed the doubt he created. He loved it so much, he tried to fill all of his days with it, and he did. 

Eventually, he grew up to become an old man too, and he understood. The point is not to succeed, it’s to do it over and over again. Day after day, because that’s all you know. 

blindness

I prefer to keep my eyes closed so that the tears would have to force their way out. I say I prefer as if I had a choice in the matter, and as if my eyes weren’t forcefully shut because I was not ready to see what I was beginning to see. 

The deterioration of the mind is sudden. By the time I am become aware of what’s happening, I am halfway gone – and without realizing it, I am lost, unfound in a haze of confusion. This is what I did not want to see, the tragic end to a life that began with boundless potential.

As a youth, I stared intently at the pieces of a chess game, pieces so controlled and with no agency. Perhaps they were made of the same stuff as we, having the poor to influence change, but unable to decide for themselves. I stopped believing in free will because I understood that we created games that mirrored life, and the games we most enjoy are the zero-sum kind. 

In these games, there exists binary relations between winners and losers. Winners excite us, inspire us – losers, there is a lesson somewhere to be learned. 

I spilled my coffee on my previously white shirt. The stain has left me sour, and I am unable to shake the feeling away. While my coworker talks to me, I start to think about the stain and whether it will be permanently there, married to my shirt, never to be separated until death or a drowning in a spinning vaccuum with a tide-pod extraction. The shirt shall be replaced now, and I am none too happy with the coffee this time either. 

I still order the oat milk latte with caramel flavoring that was her favorite drink. I don’t know why we hold on to things that people pass on to is. We accept behaviors and our entire personalities evolve. I went my whole life without knowing what I would order at a coffee shop, now I don’t think, I just say the words and the drink is prepared. But today’s coffee didn’t taste so rad, it actually made me want to attempt to slurp it all in one sip. What I actually did was toss the rest of it in a garbage can. 

She said I text like a book, and when people ask me why I don’t write, I tell them that I am a coward. Perhaps I believe this about myself, but I shouldn’t. After all, maybe I am just not ready for the writing that I am meant to write. Even as I write these long incoherent sentences. 

I disintegrate, and I cry. I am timeless at once, wandering in the past, lost – have I died yet. What if I didn’t notice when it happened and I am making my way to an Angel. 

I am missing my Guardians. My Wascar, my Ana, my Johanly, my Jeffrey, my Nelson. I am not abandoned, but I cannot find them here. I am alone, and my eyes have to remain closed. Because I am afraid again, and seeing is painful. So very painful.

im a little bit sad

The battles that have brought me down in suffering are the ones I will never forget. As I navigate adult life, I think back to those lessons – those moments when I ambled the streets of New York City with a scruffy beard, not a cent in my pocket, eyes long and droopy, stomache stretched like a pig-skin drum with ribs outlined. I felt hunger, loneliness, a feeling of discontent that I could not evade. But even as my circumstances have changed, and material items abound sometimes to a border with gluttony, I feel the same sadness seeping into my experience of life.

I cannot escape this feeling, and I know that the more I tell myself that the more true it becomes. Today I felt overwhelmed with my tasks, and I sat down defeated, unable to move on. It is hard to call this laziness, because I do what I am supposed to do. I have grown comfortable with not moving until it is time to move. I play a dangerous game with time, daring it to run out on me, declining to accept its impermanence. One day I will suffer my demise, the seeds of my underestimation. Because time waits for no man, and it waits with cold hands.

The other half of it I am dreaming of what could be, what I deep down hope would be. But hope is the falsity that burdens my existence. My friends say that my inability to hold tight to hope is a sign of my own lack of confidence. They try to convince me that I should believe, that I should hold hope that it will work how I want it to. But I find it so hard to believe that. After all, it hasn’t worked that way. And yet, this is the trap. My entanglement with my own self-worth creates a fog that makes it difficult for others to see me for what I am, what I could be, and even though I am dying to show them – at times it is hard. 

The hardest part is waiting for that opportunity. Saying no to what comes in between and waiting patiently for that which you have set your eyes on. I want to say no to candy, to sugar, to basketball, to Netflix, to girls and people I have no interest in. But I don’t. I accept what I am given, maybe because at a point I had nothing. And when you experience the weight of the nothingness, the first something that becomes available becomes everything and more. 

I want to smile again tomorrow. I don’t want to think these thoughts. I don’t want to feel this weight. I want to feel light, excited again. Here’s to hoping for that day. 

i remember

Every sentence began with an I remember, connecting the past to the present by a bridge self-created. What we remember could be so different from the stories of others, yet the strength lies in their personality. Each person self-defines their personhood using fragments of memories, and there is perhaps no greater symbolic item for memory than the post-it note. That sticky, albeit easily torn sliver of paper – a fragment. 

In these fragments live empires, generations that span from the very beginning to who knows when. Because I remember the mornings when we were getting ready to go to school, and my mom would tie that last shoe so that I could walk, and she would have my books in my bag, and I would climb on her back so she could carry me to my school. I remember how I cried on my first day of school in kindergarten, and then again in first grade. Why should I be ashamed of that now? I know now things that I didn’t know then, that crying isn’t a sign of weakness – it is a sign of strong feelings, an overwhelming feeling that refuses to be contained, and demands nothing more than to express. Expressed feelings.

I remember that our teacher would have us try to write our names, and after a few weeks, there were only three or four of us who hadn’t yet learned their name. I remember that I didn’t think I was too smart, but what did smart really mean then? I had never been measured against anyone else, maybe my sister. My world was my mother, my sister, and the tv. So measurements, conceptually, were the thing that I remember first noticing. 

I probably remember walking down the hallways, where our work hung and was celebrated for our parents to see, and waiting in line for lunch. I remember pledging allegiance to the flag before I knew what that meant, but I remember not being alone – being with others who uttered the same. I remember so much of childhood, of sitting there on the corner of my bed with my neck craned up, playing video games. I remember when I’d climb up the 5 flights of stairs to see my grandma, my cousins, and my aunts and uncles. I remember, and I can’t go back too far, or see it all. The only things left are those fragments.

29.

How much closer does a year bring you to knowing yourself?

I am convinced that the process must span a lifetime in which most of the questions that arise will go unanswered. But along the way, some truths will emerge. For instance, Courage – rather than being fixed, is a quality that appears in no pattern, like the rain that sometimes drizzles in a soft mist and other times pours endlessly. 

In certain instances, I have been courageous – against creatures (like the massive cockroach I stomp-killed when I was with my high school girlfriend on a subway platform), against people (domestic abusers, verbal attackers whom I would not tolerate), and enervating change (maybe COVID, maybe internal restructuring at an old job). However, in other instances, I felt afraid (not stepping in to help a kid who was getting robbed on the basketball court), unsure of myself (could I ask out the girl I liked?), unable to make a decision (should I leave my job to join the Navy?). 

Life threw at me the difficult questions: When is it right to exit a relationship? How do you exit a relationship without hurting another person? Should I leave my job? What should I do with my life? Could I form a relationship with my father when my mother has hated him since their divorce? Would this reflect some form of disloyalty? Despite knowing the answer, there existed a delay factor between when I became sure of the decision and when I executed my plan.

These internal conflicts, because they’re all internal, would sometimes arise from my unwillingness to cause harm/offense to other people and from the constant need to appease. As such, many relationships were formed under conventionally hierarchical structures – with me as student/servant/servicer and another person as teacher/master/guide.

The benefit of such structure was the immense knowledge base that I was able to create – essentially, I harvested my teachers’ talents, lessons, and wisdom (seeking to extract only the good). I gained praise for my ability to learn, assist, and support a mission or cause. But frequently, in my role as the gatherer of knowledge, I lost sight of my own influence – and neglected to develop my own theories, strategies, and methods. 

In some way, my influence has been limited to a type of leadership by example. I do things the best way I see fit, but I would never attempt to convince you to follow in my footsteps. Maybe it is a humility (maybe not) that prevents me from acknowledging my way as the right way to live. For my way is just A way. But as I continue to learn and grow, my way is the one that I will teach – and I hope that if you read this, you find some hope, but definitely not the confirmation that your questions have answers. 

the tuesday before we give thanks

I find myself preoccupied wondering where to begin the deconstruction of this seemingly long life. Could I begin at the moment of consciousness? When I experienced thought for the first time, what was the world like for me? I have to imagine that the separation of my parents was a particularly narrative-shifting event. Even as I am haunted by the thoughts of their coexistence, I wonder what actually happened. I can figure out the timeline mathematically, there are documents with dates, marriage licenses, divorce papers. But I can’t figure out the in-between. Day 1, they were presumably happy, what newlywed couple isn’t? But by year 10, they were at the doors of disaster, friendly goodbyes were not going to happen. Instead, we’d get decades-long alienation and grudges. For me, I inherited confusion and mystery, and aside from that a heavy feeling of incompleteness.

What I think I am missing the most is closure, but the roots of my low self-esteem could not have originated there? Sure, I am curious about their decision. How much thought did they give it? Was it impulsive? Did it take others by surprise? Did they sit at a table to talk, to weigh the pros and cons? I cannot figure that out, but much worse is the understanding that they will probably never admit their wrong-doing, or right-doing. But here is a confession, as much as I cannot come to terms with the absence of my father during my upbringing, I cannot imagine what life would have been like to have him present, caring, supporting me as I came of age.

My identity was crafted on my lack of a male role model. In response to his absence, I became dedicated, enamored with the idea that I would be a good man (my mom had painted him as a bad man, though there are disputes to her claims and evidence to the contrary). I would treat others well, speak honestly, engage with the world in a positive manner. There were male figures that inspired me to be better, but no one to have dinner with me, or take me to a ball game or a museum. No one was around to share enthusiasm in my interests, to spark my curiosity. And in that sense, having no dad provided certain freedoms – that I wouldn’t be exposed to his interests. I could make myself my own version, and lay a grand foundation upon this empty canvas. Because dad, as I know him now, doesn’t really go to museums, he’s not into basketball, he doesn’t know about competitive swimming, doesn’t read philosophy, isn’t versed in mathematics, has no curiosity about speaking German, or German people, nor about any book, or activity I’ve shown interest in. It is entirely possible, that just like the other members of my family to whom I feel alienated and apart from, he would just be one more person I could not relate to.

But am I supposed to be thankful these holidays? If so, for what? The world seems so arbitrary. Everything that is could have been another way, and what meaning would that have? What I think about when I say is that life goes on when you are gone, right? But what it would have been if you had never been is just the same, Life. But perhaps that’s the thing to be thankful for, that no matter the outcome, the happenings and circumstances, I got to experience a unique version of life where I didn’t win all the time, and I didn’t get more attention than I needed.

I don’t know, to be honest, where to begin the work that I have to do to discover who I am. At this age, I am afraid I will never find that out. Another conversation, of how I went from where I am at back to square one, because I got far out enough to see this isn’t the right path either.

another sunday

Weeks, they go by way too fast. As the final hours of a sunday come, surely they will go, and I am not the more rested nor invested into the coming week.

Thanksgiving approaches. I don’t remember many great thanksgivings, but there have been 2 or 3 where I’ve had great food and a decent time. The difficulty for me was feeling like I didn’t fit in amongst family. Everyone there was happy to see someone else, conversations were born, had their life cycle, and birthed another one before they died. There was dancing, footprints, and sole marks all over grandma’s linoleum tile. Some were there jovial, drunken, and then slowly they’d find a place and fall asleep, like at the kitchen counter or the couch, while the music played on. Loud, loud music. That’s what I remember, and I would be quiet.

I sometimes think, if I bring my kids around to places like that, I have to remember to check in with them from time to time. I want to make sure they’re ok, because sometimes environments like that are too hard to handle. But maybe I was just the black sheep. My cousins and sister all learned to drink at these occasions, they learned to dance, they learned to move around and socialize, and they played the roles of family better than I could even dream. Whenever I tried anything, I felt awkward and upset. These weren’t people I just met, these were people I’d known my whole life.

Anyway, now I am alone, and it’s hard here. But I am not necessarily missing home at these times, because for me, it was hard there too. As tough as it is to be alone, sometimes I think it’s the best possible world for me. Given my knack for finding unhappiness and defects, my life has become just that. Finding the most acceptable path, and moving forward. Like shopping at a thrift store, sometimes you’ll find a good thing, and it won’t even cost you that much.

am i disintegrating

i can hardly feel in touch with myself anymore, as it feels that what was once a thing is dissolving into many things. And it’s happening all at once like little marbles dropping from a sack and bouncing in all directions and heights. I can barely stand to be alone for longer than 5 minutes.

I cannot say that it is fair to put it on you to listen. You are fighting your own battles, and we journey together always at the risk of becoming too co-dependent. Why? I seek the love of the one who nurtures me, but never the love of my self. Does the sun also seek the warmth of other stars? Or does it feel entirely alone in it’s vast expanse? 

I wonder, and then I cry. Because some truths turn out to be gargantuan, large enough that they’re inpronouncible, hard to pronounce. But I don’t denounce the fears, I am just aware of the dangers of choosing to go there by your own will. Because some people can be thrill-seekers like that, and to go to the cave of pain is something of a craving. But I can’t take more right now. I need a good night of sleep, a moment of respite, a feeling and reassurance that everything is going to be alright. Even while I disintegrate. 

For some reason this outcome has felt inevitable. The universe only knows entropy, and all life will cease at some point. Which begs the question, what’s the point anyway? Why suffer for a suffering that will soon end? Why feel the pain that will flee away later anyway? But we’re not as logical as we think. Even me, all I do is think and ask questions. I’m hardly qualified to meditate on life’s deeper truths, or to sit in a room quietly by myself. When I encounter pain, I like to walk slower, but also on the other side of the street. 

Why not run away from it as fast as you can? Or why not charge towards it and eliminate it on sight? That’s what I mean. Some people are thrill-seekers. I, on the other other hand, find it hard to run away because if it spots me it will catch me faster and come with vindication. And should I confront this monster, who knows what the outcome will be? Probably just more pain and suffering. Interminable doubt. 

Today, I am writing, and tomorrow morning I will be swimming. That’s the only hope I have left.