I hate myself every day. Not the whole day. Just certain flash moments or long slices of an hour, when my mind kind of backs me into a corner and starts the assault: You’re worthless, unsupported and unloved, the work is meaningless, your efforts are wasted…
I know the thoughts are wrong. Even assuming material existence is objectively meaninglessness, our pocket of life on earth and its self-created context offers endless possibilities of experience. I was lucky enough to grow up around strong values of love and self worth. I’m blessed with amazing family, friends, and opportunity. But none of this matters to the voice. Its dismal thoughts just keep coming. An incessant meteor shower of crushing doubt.
Meanwhile there’s all these things that need to get done. Feed the body, wash the clothes, move the items from here to there, check on the stuff, pay the people, type the words, call the guy, say the thing.
And I’ve found no reason not to believe every human on the planet has the same harrowing voice in their head. Sometimes it doesn’t seem that way, because now add to the mess a whole other voice demanding we pretend everything’s fine and no really you’re cool and confident because that’s how you outpace your enemy. Weave this mask and veil. As if you don’t have enough to worry about.
The only antidote I know is to acknowledge this condition extends to the rest of humanity. That guy screaming obscenities at you? Lost in a well of despair and distrust. The sociopath pulling the strings? Doesn’t even know how hopeless and miserable he is. The idiot who believes all those stupid things that you can’t possible understand how anyone can believe? He really believes them, or thinks he does, or thinks he has to…and might just be desperate for a way out but terrified of what will happen if he takes it.
When we refuse to see this aspect in others, our own voice only grows louder, digging deeper and deeper trenches. The whole world starts to feel like an inward pointing thing. All the guns are aimed at your head. All the laughter is at your expense. Everyone is a proxy enemy, a possible mouth from which that goddamn voice may have originated. We start thinking maybe if we vanquish more foes we’ll finally be able to sleep easy, rubbing it in the voice’s face. Turn out the light and say, Ha mutherfucker! who’s worthless now?
But the voice is you–it’s always going to be you.
And because it’s you, because it’s yours, the fact that everyone else has their own version of the voice lurking around their heads can hatch surprising potential for connection. This same voice that lobbies for isolation, despair, and self-destruction, when recognized as a universal condition, can be raw material for bridges of empathy. You hate yourself sometimes too? High five. Damn, maybe there’s something more interesting in the world than dwelling on this shit and taking it out on each other.
The voice in my own head hasn’t changed much over the years. I doubt I’ll ever shut it off. Maybe I don’t need to.
Sometimes it reminds me of the people I love, of people I’ve lost, of friends who the voice ultimately destroyed, and of those I wish I could be closer to. Sometimes I just get fed up and reach out.
Sometimes it feels like a web, a broadcast, a trap, a network, a great sticky funnel pulling us under.
Or pushing us through.