You should start that playlist before reading. Everything is better with music. Let’s be honest here. At least this particular post is.
It’s ironic that the same thing which heals me–at least as much as I can be healed–is the same channel by which I’ve been damaged and thereby needing to be healed. I don’t think this is what Mufasa was talking about. But maybe it was.
Think about it.
We are born, we come from the ground; we learn language at an early age. We are nurtured by it, formed by it. We use it to figure out how to navigate the world and it is largely the foundation for the processes which form our personalities. If we are so fortunate as to hear predominately positive (or even just neutral) words as young children, words are part of what builds us up so that we can face everything we will need to be able to withstand–
Like when words turn on us. Benevolent, haphazard spears carried by impulsive people around us. It can take us down. Damage us temporarily. Or destroy us, whether mortally or metaphorically. And there is your circle.
Then you factor in that we’re all walking around with broken edges of spears inside us while we carry around spears ourselves, poking some people by accident, and some on purpose (I’ll be honest–I’ve poked some people who really fucking deserved it).
When I picture it, I think about what would happen if you took my wonderful but impulsive and hyperactive six year old nephew, gave him a steady diet of mountain dew and adderall, cloned him by the hundreds of people a person might know at any time, and then set them in a room, all running in circles like chickens with their heads cut off, poking each other and being gored but, nonetheless, compulsively carrying on to poke and be poked again. Not to mention that sometimes we just randomly turn around and poke ourselves–sometimes to see how it would feel and other times by accident and still others because on some level we think we deserve it.
All that logic together and it really is what Mufasa was talking about–words make us in a lot of ways, sustain us, take us down and return us to where we began, nothing. Problem is nothing short of something psychotropic is going to Hakuna Matata that shit.
And that’s why it is both so understandable and so nonsensical but also rational that words would be what heal me. Hair of the dog. I get it in the form of books. Mostly music. It probably isn’t healthy as I sometimes would rather hack off the appendage–that has a bit of spear diving into sinewy muscle and bone and fat and so much blood–and throw it out or lock it away in the vault of my subconscious because I can absolutely feel it if I let that spear sink in. If I let myself feel those words at their full power and not in incremental doses like sometime vile you choke down, I could be putting the most defenseless pieces of myself out, on a damp, mucky, muggy, gravelly and aged sidewalk just after it has raining. All at the foot of somebody who could get the sudden urge to curb stomp what they see as waste, something somebody meant to throw out. Or absolutely obliterate in a way I would feel every second and centimeter of myself being incinerated while having the most acutely painful wounds I have ever incurred to be collectively doused in acid.
Humans are fickle beings. I love them. They are capable of some wonderful things. But they fuck shit up as a result of their fallibility and constantly evolving weakness. And so often the collateral damage of all that fucking up is other people. That’s just who we are. It is a terrible and beautiful thing. You can’t hate them for it. You can’t even be mad. It’s like when you’re standing one minute and somebody puts their hands into your chest and in one firm motion shoves you over so you land on your ass, somehow managing to incur damage at your tailbone, knock the air from your chest, and take a chunk out of your skull that, each time, turns the solid protective cave covering one of your most precious possessions into a tethered and ratted sheet at the mercy of the elements, the intentions, and the goodwill of all those around you. And sitting on the ground, ass stinging and feeling your brain scan like lasers down every inch of your body to search for damage, you look up at the person dumbfounded; because no matter how many times people do it, it is always the first time. All of those wonderful, unpredictable, sometimes awful human beings.
I’ve had the most vulnerable parts of myself at the mercy of some particularly awful or clumsy words a few times in my life. And if I think of them for enough consecutive seconds, I can feel the acid crawl up my esophagus, threatening to cover the rest of me in a rapidly spreading, festering rash that burns and blisters my skin until I can’t tell what is pus and what is the water in which I have doused myself for some relief.
And that’s where I don’t always give my depression the credit and gratitude it so deserves. It’s like those bulkheads, watertight walls in the fucking Titanic. It senses that its system has taken on substantial damage and it slams those metal, dangerous heavily walls down with a deafening thud. It isolates the damage and focuses on saving what it can in hopes that by sacrificing the one unit it can keep the rest of the ship just above water enough that it can breath and tread water.
And that’s what depression does for me. And maybe I have gotten it so wrong thinking of it as a curse all these years when it is my savior/superpower. I sense damage and I can’t entirely feel the hurt because it doesn’t give me time to let it flood any parts of me besides those which were the site of impact. It slams that shit down and, when the echoing rings of metal colliding and a change in air pressure you can feel in your bones finally settles, I can feel in the most hallow way through those walls that there is trouble. Some fucking unit is in smoke or has been impaled by a particularly formidable and unexpected spear tip of ice. There are alarms going off somewhere as a crew scurries about in futile efforts to plug the holes and stop the blaring that makes them wish they would just have been vaporized rather than forced to take on the agonizing and awful feelings of fixing something they know cannot be fixed but the survival systems are relentless and unflinching in the face of the realistic.
Through those walls, if I concentrate just enough, I can sense the mania from my old cold, quiet, frozen chamber. Maybe depression does for me what I cannot do for myself. Maybe that is my fail safe in some fucked up way. And it knows it sucks to feel the way depression does when it hallows you out with one of those damn shitty scoops we use to scrape out pumpkin guts–but it also is more capable of respecting that reality is merciless and something has to have the strength to lance the hopeless, infected woods to stave off decay and destruction.
I cling to my walls. I put my head on their cold, dark metal when I need to think and allow the smooth, frigid spot to serve as the antenna for the absolute fear radiating in my body, drawing and pulling it out and swallowing that poison for itself because all things toxic have to go somewhere and they certainly never go away. I hate those walls because they are what make me so lonely but those same walls know the price of connection and can gauge when sometimes it is worth it and sometimes too costly. And in that way, because I can’t entirely ever hug another human being without knowing that I could be poked by a spear while caught in an embrace–whether premeditated or spontaneously, unintentionally, or even unknowingly–I cling to those miserably cold walls like blankets. Security blankets in so many ways because they are my constants. They don’t feed or nourish me but they give me shelter which gives me time to figure out how I can get water without letting the floods rush in with their arms around me, choking when they planned to hug.
You get more fulfillment from the comfort of humans but the potential cost incurred makes the comfort of cold metal good enough for me.
This photo was taken by Tim Mossholder and you can find it (and his other work) here.