Note: if you have problems with self-worth or personhood, or if you, like me, have the tendency to absorb the brains of other people, reading this might be dangerous. The text is directly copy-pasted from my phone, where I wrote it last night, although I have anonymized some names for the internet. Since then I have begun to ask people for help in preventing this from happening again (and it was terrifying). I’m putting it here for archival purposes.
The quote in the last paragraph is probably my favorite one that I have ever read; it’s from the Pirkei Avot. And the title of the post refers to the picket fences R and I build around our own personal Pits of Despair.
How do you reveal weakness to someone else? The idea of being pitied is so awful—even worse, usually, than whatever the original problem is. Tonight I feel alienated, incidental, afraid; the burden is on me to keep up the appearance of strength. What’s the worst thing that could happen if I tip my hand? Literally nothing. The most likely outcome is that someone will comfort me. But the feeling of social threat is so strong, inescapable, telling me that the worst thing that could happen is that I could be seen my someone, that I could trust someone.
It’s got to have some kind of historical precedent, right? It makes me think of C telling me I made him feel alienated and unwanted in his own home. At the time I wanted to say, how do you think I feel? And, if I am afraid of you it is your fault, it is you who are doing something wrong. Now I want to say, you have broken me beyond easy repair. it will take years for me to trust anyone, or it may never happen, because you were not trustworthy. Your brain and actions were so inimical to my existence that I became multiply and chronically ill from having to live with you. I am not a person any more because of you.
And I despise myself for hoping that R will come looking for me, I despise myself for daring to consider showing them this document. Just the idea of trusting the person I love most in the world with my emotions is inconceivable. Wishing for them to demonstrate that they care about me. Is grounds for punishment. I don’t want attention. I don’t want to be seen or thought of and I hate it because I am so far from being anything like a whole, real person and I cannot see how it can ever be fixed. I cannot see a reason for me to try to fix myself, let alone a reason for anyone to help or support me. I don’t love being a sociopath but you know, I could probably deal with it if I were at least a goddamned person.
It seems so unfair that this is even a thing that can happen, that someone can do to themself. And it seems even more staggeringly unfair that I probably could have prevented it if I hadn’t treated neurosis like a game. I acted it out until it became real.
And anyway, I know concretely that telling R how I feel would hurt them. They already find it so difficult to balance on the edge of the pit, I cannot push them in by trying to communicate my pain. I couldn’t do that to anyone. There is no chance of gaining anything that is worth subjecting a person to my mind.
I am going to try to think of something positive. M says that if nothing positive presents itself you have to make something up. So here it goes.
It is hard work but I will continue to try. It is seemingly endless work with no certain reward but I am too goddamned cowardly to die. Building a support system took me six years last time, before I threw away everything I had. There is no reason to expect it to be faster this time. So I persevere. I live by mere inertia if nothing else and it is hope that carries me toward a future when I might be a person. I will do the tiny, painstaking magics that it takes to keep me alive every day because hope is the most powerful magic I know, the only magic that can truly matter. Every day that I can muster the courage to speak to a human, I build more of the mental fortress, the mental fortitude, that will fill in the missing pieces of a whole mind. My personal mythology is this: you are not obligated to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it. My personal mythology is this: to build stone by stone a whole heart.