Incoming

Received an email today.  Partial quote:

I… was struck by the similarity in our situations. I am myself a literal genius, I’ve enjoyed uninhibited academic success my entire life, yet I don’t think I’ve ever actually had a real friend. Though I’m in my early twenties now, I can remember contemplating suicide since I was 10 years old. I had a pretty fucked up family life when I was a kid, to the point where I have very loose (if any) family ties now, but I really try to not use that as an excuse. I’m not sure why I’m emailing you, maybe I’m just reaching out to someone who I think could understand, maybe misery loves company, or maybe I’m just a lonely pathetic loser… Either way man, you’re not alone

In many ways very similar, and in many ways very different.  And he’s right and he’s wrong.  I’m not alone.  He’s not alone.  And yet….

And yet… the email.  Voices across the void, touching the untouchable.

I myself had a very happy childhood.  I read a quote the other day — something to the effect of “a happy childhood is the worst possible preparation for the world.”  Not sure if that’s true, but when tragedy struck I sure as hell wasn’t ready for it, and it struck in such a way that I couldn’t possibly turn to my family.  The nature of the incident, and the nature of the culture in which we live, conspired to shut me off from any possible contact — to envelop me in amber.  I see the world around me, but it’s a distant thing.  I can never really touch it.  sometimes i look at my own hands doing something and it’s like… I’m controlling them, but they’re not me.  How can that possibly be Fred?  Didn’t he die years ago?

A few years back, at a Christmas party, somebody took a snapshot of me that unintentionally, yet absolutely perfectly, captured my life in the past decade or so.  The picture has two distinct halves, the demarcation being the start of a wall.  On the right side is my brother, drink in one hand and cigar in the other, laughing with a small group of people around him.  They’re in the thick of conversation, and enjoying themselves and each other’s company.  Behind them we see farther into the room, and there is the party and more people, and decorations, and… life.

Straight down the middle of the photo is a line — the beginning of the unadorned, plain white wall that is the backdrop for the left half of the image.  That half of the image contains a single thing:  me leaning back against a table.  My arms are crossed, and I am turning my head and looking across the room at my brother.  I’m present, but I’m not any part of what’s going on around me.

Shit.  Stop right there.  I should delte this whole damned thing and put up that photo.  Nothing more to say.

To my correspondent:

Hang in there.  I can’t promise it get easier.  These days I find comfort in my own kindness to others.  Sometimes it’s enough.  (And sometimes it feels like a suckers’ game.)

I’m not sure why I’m emailing you, maybe I’m just reaching out to someone who I think could understand, maybe misery loves company, or maybe I’m just a lonely pathetic loser….

Seems self-hatred is a notable commonality between us.  “Maybe I’m just a… pathetic loser.”  “Maybe I’m just an asshole.”

Long before The Incident, I had sort of an internal running joke that I suffered from a peculiar form of low self-esteem:  I like me well enough, I just don’t believe anybody else does.  Maybe it’s the things that happen to us, and maybe we’re just predisposed.  Maybe some part of us feels a small bit of contempt for “normal” people, and assumes they must feel the same.  Maybe we wish we were “normal” people….  (Ignorance is bliss?  No… THAT’S the sucker’s game.)

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3 Responses to Incoming

  1. She The Anomaly says:

    “sometimes i look at my own hands doing something and it’s like… I’m controlling them, but they’re not me. How can that possibly be Fred? Didn’t he die years ago? … I’m present, but I’m not any part of what’s going on around me.”

    These could be symptoms of depersonalization/derelization disorder. Last I did research, maybe five or ten years ago, I didn’t find much except for that it was probably very common and it seemed no one knew what to do about it. Well, I could send you an essay on it if you want that might help. It is too long to paste it here.

    “long before The Incident, I had sort of an internal running joke that I suffered from a peculiar form of low self-esteem: I like me well enough, I just don’t believe anybody else does.”

    *cackles and cackles and cackles…*

    Oh, that was funny! :)

    “(Ignorance is bliss? No… THAT’S the sucker’s game.)”

    Thank goodness! There’s a distinct releif in seeing someone else agrees with me. :)

  2. She The Anomaly says:

    OH!!!!!

    I think I know what went wrong with you! Forgive me for jumping the gun if I am but I have to speak my theory!!!

    (Please be warned – this is one of those things that might… be a very emotion-triggering post…)

    Okay, I had (self-diagnosed) dissociative disorder once (as in the constant cloud of non-realness, along with not feeling alive) and the reasons, for me, were that emotion itself had been invalidated and that it did not feel safe. I was terrified of experiencing it because I was so intense that I didn’t know if I would be able to survive myself.

    You appear to have some symptoms of dissociation, though I cannot diagnose you as I am not a psychologist of any kind. However, if I were you, what would be causing this dissociative state of deadness for me is that this incident was very important to me but was not believable. The lack of believability would invalidate the emotions for me.

    Perhaps some part of you doubts how real it was. Geniuses are known for their doubt and for seeing many many possibilities. Most people will tell you “Just do it!” and invalidate our need to treat each possible explanation as if it might be real. Gifted people often doubt their own giftedness. There is a term for this which you can look up if you think it might be relevant: “Impostor Syndrome”.

    Another reason I might end up dissociated due to this is that I would instinctively find it to be such a heinous thing to be so absolutely disconnected from social reality that I would recoil from acknowledging what happened.

    What I would have to do to solve all this if it were me would be to do whatever thinking and research and ruling out of alternate explanations and whatnot is necessary to validate this to myself. Then I would have to figure out how to explain it to other people. I’d probably start with anonymous mediums and work my way up to being able to tell the people I know in real life.

    Maybe that is what you are doing. :)

  3. She The Anomaly says:

    Please do contact me if you would like to talk about this some more.

    I enjoy helping geniuses.

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