“You alright there, sport?”

It’s been about a year since my big adventure in the Adirondacks. It got pretty bleak by the end, pretty dark, and though the experience ended on a high note, what followed was twelve of the most emotionally tumultuous months of my adult life.

It wasn’t all bad, but it did kind of reignite an internal conflict I thought I had won ten years ago. The creeping emotional darkness that plagued me through adolescence saw a crack in the door and stuck its foot right in. It plopped right down next to me in the passenger seat, and all of a sudden, the unwelcome hop-on became an incorrigible backseat driver.

 

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I don’t want to belabor the issue here. I hate writing about this shit – I just haven’t been able to write about anything else for the past six months. I have pages and pages of half-written diary entries, hasty angry letters to my brain, and sappy confessionals like this. I’m done. I want to write about something else.

Way back when, I had some pretty serious self-hatred issues. Right now it’s mostly ‘what is even the point of me existing?’, but when I was younger it was more like ‘what is even the point of me existing for another minute’? Through a bunch of pain and suffering and one hell of a lucky break, I beat back those feelings and relegated them to some hidden space in my brain where I figured they would eventually starve and die.

Since coming back from the Adirondacks last year, though, things changed. I had to tell people about these feelings, and how I had been depressed as a kid. This is something I had never shared with anyone ever. Anyone. Ever. It didn’t make me feel better – I didn’t want people to know in the first place.

 

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Talking about it, writing about it, acknowledging it – that gave it relevance and meaning. Weight. It’s invisible as long as I don’t look at it. Now that other people know, it’s like…it’s as if I wished it back into existence just by talking about it. Maybe it’s the healthier option down the line, but right now I’m not so sure.

I’m sitting in my apartment the Friday night before the Whiteface Skyraces, where the bulk of those endlessly patient people I call my friends are. An event that gives me the perfect excuse to escape to the mountains, to have some time away from life and enjoy myself. I’m gonna skip that though, doesn’t sound like much fun.

 

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Instead, I’m going to hole up here and try to cut a swath through this heavy, scratchy sheet that’s weighing me down. People always say you should try to talk about this kind of stuff with people, and I am SUPER bad at that. No thanks. I am not a good talker. I’m going to monologue into the void of the internet instead and hope that makes me feel better.

And I’m also here because I can’t stand the thought of facing my friends right now. I feel like a chump and a failure, and the more I feel that way, the less I want to be around people I care about. The less I want to be around people I care about, the more I want to talk about it. And the more I want to talk about it, the more I feel like a chump and a failure. They’re my problems, I’ll handle them myself. I always have. Is it my brain or society that makes me think that way? Who cares?

Now, I should point something out really quick. Though I tackle these kinds of problems solo, I don’t do it alone. I always strive to be better than I am, and I’m extraordinarily lucky to have a lot of great mentors who lead by example. I strive to be Strat’s carefree attitude. I strive to be Jason’s bottomless font of positivity. I strive to be Welden’s unerring moral compass. Laura’s rock-solid composure. Pete’s easy laughter. Liz’ capacity for stepping outside her comfort zone. Mertsock’s kind patience. Mort’s stubborn determination. Huckle’s unswerving dedication to bettering himself.

Corinne’s brazen confidence.

Mel’s willingness to speak her mind.

Mom’s empathy.

Dad’s curiosity.

The list goes on. By being the best parts of all the people I know, I make myself a better person, a stronger person.

 

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Anyway, the point I’m trying to get at is that this is not as dangerous a situation as it used to be. When I was a kid, I felt like I had no one. No one who knew how I felt, no one who cared, no one who’d notice if I was gone. I had to face up to those demons all by myself. That is definitely not how I feel anymore, and that alone is a huge help.

Still, feeling like this sucks. Moods come and go – some days I feel completely empty, and can’t rationalize my existence. I feel like a pity case to my friends and family, a whiner who can’t just let shit go. A coward. It’s more than I can bear sometimes.

 

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There was another point in there that got totally blasted to the wayside. That little persona that’s been riding shotgun this whole time is part of who I am. We can’t really exist independent of each other. I could have written an entirely separate thing about a different me sitting in the passenger seat. Maybe I should, that sounds like it would be a lot more fun.

It can be tough to live with this snide, petty side of myself sometimes, but that’s really the only choice I have. All I can do is nurture the other facets of my personality to provide counterweight. It’s worked so far, anyway.

At the end of the day? I know it’ll get better. I can see cracks of sunlight through the walls of this shitty Jeff egg, and it won’t be long before I hatch into a beautiful butterfly/eagle hybrid. How that turned into a bird analogy I’ll never know. Bottom line: I’m good (as in ‘I’m okay’, not ‘I’m good at analogies’).

To you, I’ll say this: thanks for hearing me out through all of this ‘me me me’. Thanks for your patience. It means more to me than I could ever tell you. Someday I hope to repay the kindness you’ve shown me through the days, months, and years I’ve been lucky to know you. There’s no need to worry – if I need help, I’ll ask for it.

And – because this is something I would worry about – don’t take my shittiness personally. If I’m being grouchy or moody, it’s not a reflection of how I feel about you. Promise. I love you! Probably, anyway, I don’t know what kind of randos read my blog. Get hits in Turkey every once in awhile, don’t know what that’s about.

Now, yeesh, now that yucky serious stuff is out of the way, hopefully I can get back to writing some silly stories. I’ve got a bunch sitting up there in the old noggin, just waiting to be slapped on…the waffle iron…of this blog. Shit. You know what I mean.

 

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Be awesome.

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