For masochists like myself, unhappiness can be as addictive as risky sex or lines and lines of speed, which is to say that there’s a semi-existential, Lilliputian value to the damn ting but, after a while, shit gets hyper-messy and stressful. A spell of sadness can super-charge the brain and galvanize us into warrior-beast mode. Said sadness activates something primal within us by locking our minds firmly into fight-or-flight mode.
You’re then presented with a few options: Do you want to die a spiritual death predicated on deferred dreams, or do you want to sucker-punch your sorrow, pummel it until the crippling sense of self-doubt skulks back into the crannies of your consciousness to lick its wounds?
The logical next question then becomes, What are you going to do with all this hurt, homie?
My response to this question was to plunge into a surreal, discombobulating mid-life crisis that lasted for nearly five years. In the midst of my anguish, it felt like I had accumulated a full spectrum of psychological disorders which genuinely made me question my entire existence.
Don’t get it twisted, reader. I was physically active and productive; writing a novel and a collection of interconnected short stories, making tons of art whilst keeping healthy. But I had also been hollowed out by decades of deep-deep-deep internal mess, and as such, every accomplishment, no matter how pleasing, soon assumed the disordered taste and texture of a fever dream. I found myself cocooning in self-created exile, and its natural bredrin, misery.
What are you going to do with all this hurt, homie?
I kept repeating this question to myself until it transfused into a stultifying mantra. I genuinely didn’t know the answer. All I knew was that I was unhappy and being a Type A Nutburger meant that I had to find a fix for the problem. The solution, in my case, turned out to be embarrassingly straightforward in the end.
Do the work.
My definition of this work meant two things: the self-excavating soul-work of privately exploring the roots of my sadness, and the daily business of being a human person, which includes good ole fashioned hallmark activities like taking care of one’s body, eating right, trying to get to bed at a decent hour, activating one’s sense of spirituality: being cognizant of one’s needs as well as the needs of loved ones: getting up at regular hours, getting knocked down repeatedly, getting back up once again, until your wonky behind can stand upright in the face of life’s many inventive challenges.
That’s what we do, no? We get up and try to stay up. That is the lesson, and it applies to any kind of adversity. Get up, don’t feed into the impulse to self-victimize, and instead expel all that chaos, all that hurt, in a way that converts your pain into your definition of what constitutes a meaningful life.
If you’re clinically depressed, that’s another matter altogether. If that happens to be the case, reach out to a health professional, and see what they can do for you.
I wish you all the joy in the world, and I hope you stay safe, secure in the knowledge that your life has value.
Image by DIRIYE OSMAN and JAROSLAV SCHOLTZ