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Catch Me if You Can

It is dreary to write about self-loathing but it is what presently consumes me. If I write about anything else, I am once removed, to put it kindly, and lying, to tell you the truth.

Saying or bringing up the subject of self-loathing is a bit like soiling yourself in public. There is so much shame. As I write I am thinking, 'please, can we not?'.

I am convinced there must be a less unattractive spin. There must be a way for this to be about something else that is not such a complete, unremitting nightmare.

I like to present myself as a positive force people want to be around, so this is difficult to write and I long to sidle off and do something else.

Self-loathing is such an ugly, undefended thing, the opposite of a life force, and I can't believe I am so afflicted by it. In fact if I had to write about it, at gunpoint, I'd prefer to write from the perspective of someone who has broken the spell. Someone who can lighten your spirit with some pithy formula that will see you safely delivered.

Instead, telling the truth means I must talk about self-loathing from the midst of it. When I open my mouth the foul liquid bubbles up in my throat and my thinking is clouded by the possibility of drowning in my own disaffection.

Whenever I write without a lilt at the end of it I invariably get a call from my psychologist sister who worries that what I am feeling is not normal and perhaps I need therapy. I have had all kinds of therapy and have thought a thousand times that the suffering will lift and I will be cured. Right now, writing this, it hurts to not deliver better news, to know so much more and yet feel so trapped.

I have read numerous accounts of depression and found them brave and inspiring. As I read about the long dark night of the soul I can't resist going through the motions in my head. The black cloud descends, I valiantly fight it off. In my imaginings I am victorious.

I can't wait for the next real experience so that I can practise wrestling it to the ground, the weight of my triumphant foot on it's caved-in chest. But by the time it arrives, which is sooner always than I think, and somehow so disguised I fail to recognize it, I walk straight into it's boglike traction without a single strategy.

Now today I am repeating, like a mantra, 'don't believe everything you think', don't believe it. I am attempting to unravel the wound up story of my suffering self.

I am normally suspicious, another shameful admission. Who wants to suffer the accompanying paucity of spirit, the paranoia, the chronic lack of trust. And yet, when this old habit yawns before me, I walk into it with the wholehearted trust of a coddled baby.

How is it that I repeatedly fail to distinguish friend from foe? Thinking about the impenetrable mystery of that scrambles my brain. I am left fogged, confused, accused and yes, terribly, terribly disappointed.

So pathetic. Can't save myself, don't think myself worth saving. It is a vicious cycle and I don't, I really don't, want to worry my sister. I want to take charge. I have reached for every kind of help I know but when it sneaks up on me with it's piano wire I am always taken by surprise.

I want my lilt, I want to insert it here, we all of us need a little light relief. I am being a terrible drag. What new thing is out there to save people like me? I know I am not alone. But even that fact is just theory. Most of us know how to hide this so private affliction.

I don't even know if this is depression, this persistent self loathing, but I suppose it must be one of the many elements of the thing.

When this lands on me I will leave you even if you protest your love with such an earnest fervor and total absence of ambivalence. I will leave you for this reason: I know that if you knew me you would not want me. Your wanting me has only to do with your clear and present ignorance.

I know I am unlovable and therefore your protestations are irrational. My depth of suffering insight is the sad abiding truth. As you can see I am making no lilt. Wanting a lilt is such a miniscule protest in this epic psychodrama.

Why is my honest self so tortured? I want to write you a love letter about why you need to Be Here Now, and relish each moment. I want to make you feel what I cannot.

I am so enthused by this I almost feel it. I certainly like to imitate it. I know what to say, I know what I should think, and I think I know what a happy person is. So I pretend to be one.

A happy person is also an open person and I pretend to be that too. You can talk to me. I have experienced all of this and I am not afraid. I am on the other side and I can lead you across the gaping abyss.

Have I ever been happy? Yes, of course. I have been ecstatic, unmoored, the jester laughing at this sly, silly life. I can do that in episodes but I can't rely on it.

Where I fail miserably is with other people. I simply can't seem to feel wanted or loved for more than the merest of careful moments. I say careful because I am always hyperaware of trying to be whatever I imagine those people might want me to be.

I cannot remember myself so I certainly can't share it with anyone, not consistently. Sometimes I sneak up on myself and it's wonderful, then I remember, oh be careful, watch your step and suddenly I am off to some distant spot on the ceiling stage-managing my marooned self.

Do I feel better writing the truth? Not yet, I don't.

I feel a bit bleak and affronted. I don't agree with myself entirely. I think I've gone to the other extreme. I am being binary. Happy or sad, sick or well and that doesn't seem true either.

Everything shifts so fast it's impossible to keep up.

As I honestly speak of unspeakable things, as I am doing it, I start protesting from a place in me not confined by all this measurement and analysis. I slip through my examining fingers. I won't be spoken of like I am a done deal.

Nothing about me is done.

What I have one moment is gone the next, I can barely balance, let alone report steadily about where I have been and where I am going to next and how you should follow.

None of it is formed. In fact all of this that I have said is so incomplete. It is an estimation of a hypothetical person. I am not that person even though I try to pretend I can nail it down in theory.

I am no person, to tell you the truth. I am a muddled confluence of seemingly random energy that changes every micro moment. I am so free I can't catch me.

Today I choose to present myself as this chronically suffering entity but I refuse to commit to this, because I can't.

Any claim would be pretense. I can't catch me.

As I write, what I write about slips into the past. It has gone, it is irrelevant. Writing in the sand to be washed away by the next wave.

I myself am the air, the water and the sand. I like to play with words and ways that I am. I like to play with a suffering me, in the midst of a terrible drama that will not end.

Even as it has ended. And is no more.

Catch me if you can.


If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. 

George Eliot



I live in hazard and infinity. The cosmos stretches around me, meadow on meadow of galaxies, reach on reach of dark space, steppes of stars, oceanic darkness and light. There is no amenable god in it, no particular concern or particular mercy. Yet everywhere I see a living balance, a rippling of tension, an enormous yet mysterious simplicity, an endless breathing of light. And I comprehend that being is understanding that I must exist in hazard but that the whole is not in hazard. Seeing and knowing this is being conscious; accepting it is being human.

John Fowles, Aristos


“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”

Arundhati Roy

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