⌛Musings of Mortality, Suffering, and Mercy⏳
I find myself in mourning. Unexpectedly. The digital age has created this ability to connect with others from so far away. We can meet a person yet never meet them. Know a person and never share their day. Realize only a month after his 30th birthday, you’re never going to hear from him again.
I’m going to be talking about some heavy stuff today, and it’s totally up to you if you want to read it. Sorry I haven’t been posting free and cheap reads lately. The return of the mold has made simple shit feel difficult, and I’m trying to keep most of my focus on writing. I will get back into the swing of it all eventually, promise. I think the weather going cold again is helping. I’ve been updating The Paranormal Academy For Troubled Boys pretty consistently this month (outside of when the mold first jumped me,) and I’m happy it’s flowing so well.
So, yeah. No matter how heavy the stuff is below, it’s important to remember thoughts aren’t reality, and I am very happy living no matter the circumstances. I go into suffering, suicide, and transformation today. I find it to be cathartic at a time like this for me and want to share that, but it’s important to know others don’t find comfort but more pain when bringing up these subjects. I get it and it’s okay.
There aren’t a lot of people who can hold a conversation with me. Even fewer who can look past my strong opinions, blunt nature, and very rough angles for long. Online, I talk about topics that offend most people, in a manner that also offends, and few dare to jump in to discuss. Wade Hartley was one of those rare gems who jumped in, and damn, how sad it is to lose him.
I think it was because of those touchy, combustible topics that I felt so close to him, because it required such raw honesty and a total lack of shields to get through. You can’t challenge the established disorder and have your sense of identity get in the way. It requires a stripping of all those trappings to really sink into a concept and try to suss it out. It’s easy to feel bruised in conversations like that, like you’re battling instead of exploring, being pushed down instead of someone just trying to understand a new concept. I don’t know if you realize it, but there are a lot of people arguing on the Internet while others assumed they were having conversations. Jumping into such a potentially volatile atmosphere while promising to not make it about the bruises you feel to your ego takes a bravery few have.
Most people passed us by with scornful anger and mumbles of rules and morality, terrified to even glance into that part of their mind. It required a fearlessness, as does facing death and shaking hands.
Talking with Wade was a freedom few people can offer, a lack of judgment and a way to learn to stop judging, stop expecting, and just accept. And that is the ultimate kindness Wade’s memory has given me. I can accept his choice even if I don’t agree with it, the same way we accepted each other’s strong opinions even though we didn’t always share them. I still battle what will be while he embraced it on his terms. And yes, even though I feel sorrow, I’m also joyful he found whatever level of acceptance he needed to release himself from the torture of existence.
We want life to be sacred, to mean something, to be valuable and counted even as it’s a mere blip in the eternal void of the universe. When we raise life up on some sacred altar, we lose sight of the actual living. Life is mundane, concrete, simple pleasures mixed with daily work and sometimes deep thoughts that feel bigger than reality. Our minds know no bounds even when our bodies find limitation after limitation. It takes a certain bravery to expand your mind so freely, to be giant inside a contained, fragile shell while the mere concept of mortality can push the strongest mind toward insanity. And in all minds there can be a depth of pain and suffering that feels limitless and without end.
While so many slipped away, unable to see the pain and agony of life as I experienced it battling mortality, PTSD, mold toxicity, and an existence where fairness is merely a concept, Wade didn’t look away. And that really should have been knowledge enough, because most shy from brutal reality while the ones who have suffered long enough see and accept and understand. They see the beautiful humanity within and reach, unafraid to fall into the darkness of despair. They have lived there too and offer comfort in companionship.
That is all we have for each other: each other. There are no answers, though always many questions. But when there is that darkness and despair, there is at least another—many others—out there who know, who feel, and somehow it is a little easier.
As sentient, self aware beings who fear the inevitable end, we cling to the memory of how we perceive the people around us. This is the honoring we have for those brave souls we meet as we go forward another day. There is a hope to preserve that beautiful light snuffed out that makes us less alone in this arduous journey. We offer immortality of a person in our minds while our bodies continue to exist in this concrete world alone, aging, deteriorating, counting down to an end we must all face but few can dare to look at and see and embrace. We choose if we feel sorrow so deep to drown in, or love and compassion every time we touch upon the memory of a person. We choose to feel, to react, and be changed by those memories instead of still and unmoved by the intangible.
Many battle with reality, deny it because when you cannot change the concrete you feel empowered to at least deny what is. But there are the rare, the brave who will accept, and love with great gratitude what is, and release the suffering others cling to. When we can accept that suffering isn’t required to live, perhaps as a society we might learn to finally live without suffering instead of seeking to escape such pain at all costs. That is my hope for all and where my sorrow lies when I remember Wade.
I wish he could have lived without suffering, but at the same time, it was his suffering that allowed him to reach out and connect with others who were otherwise overlooked and discarded. I see those who suffer, and they desire to be seen, known, valued for who they are and not for the circumstances that distort them. Inside, we are all worthy, and what a cruelness of our insane minds to ever consider otherwise. Wade and I might have never recognized each other if not for a familiar pain, so even in suffering there is gratitude and acceptance and a little less loneliness.
We can choose to be unmoved or we can reach out and connect, seeking that lifespark and base understanding no matter how imperfect the playing field and events of life may be. We can have the bravery to be known and to find others who accept us even when some struggle to accept who they themselves are. It is a gift for the brave who endure the cruel, careless imperfections of life and dare to let their shields fall away anyways. We have learned nothing can ever hurt us more than how we hurt ourselves in our minds.
There is a theme in my writing you may have noticed. Suffering leads to transformation. It is a belief I’ve held for a lifetime before I could even truly perceive or voice it.
I don’t talk about my past suffering much—you hear terms from me like mold toxicity or pain or disability or brain fog, but I don’t really call it suffering because on that level, it is not. Depression is such a meaningless word to me. As someone who had it for over 10 years straight, I never recognized depression on those television commercials selling antidepressants. Feeling ‘blue,’ or just tired, down, unsocial. I had depression during a time in my life when I didn’t even know the word depression, and it wasn’t blue; it was insanity. Agitated depression. Anxiety. PTSD. Symptoms confused for bipolar with ups and downs, but never really ups, just fresh energy and an amazing level of disassociation. Life was behind a veil, a veil that could never lift. A death shroud that colored everything, and although I could tell it was there, distorting life, no amount of fighting with it ever really set me free.
When I was living in my adoptive family’s house from the age of 13, to around the age of 26 when I finally left that place, I was in severe, debilitating mental anguish. It was something that grew worse and worse the more the years passed. It turned out to be sourced in the mold that had taken over the basement my bedroom was located in from water flooding in every season, and beneath that, untreated PTSD from a trauma that happened at the age of 3. How I knew reality wasn’t by mold or clinical terms, but by insanity, and despair, and a certainty that death surely would be a better way to exist than to continue as I was.
It was all I knew for years. No one could help me. My days were spent existing for others, watching the ones I loved the most dying while pretending I was human outside that house. During high school I cared for my mother, who eventually died of cancer soon after I graduated. Then there was college, which I left when my father got dementia and eventually died of kidney failure. After that I found the household I was in suddenly abusive, dangerous, filled with the trash of a hoarder and someone with a violent temper and I didn’t know how to escape. No one could understand what was happening in my head—I could barely express the torment, the decay of norms and joy and life I could only remember. I was too broken to help myself outside of coping every day by creating art and trying to bring some order to these very broken adults around me. It was my normal until some form of self preservation kicked in enough and I got the fuck out and started living life for myself.
When you hear about the last, what, seven? years of my life when I started writing in my previous apartment, where I was bed bound from the mold toxicity, not knowing the source, certain death was coming because of the inability to move, the Parkinson symptoms, the brain confusion and damage, the insomnia mixed with absolute exhaustion, those years were so different compared to my years suffering in my first house. The pain was less, the distress was less, the wish to die wasn’t there. It was like being a victim of torture only to find myself being slowly suffocated this time around. Even though it was a fresh hell, I was not alone. I understood the mental anguish, sank into the realization it wasn’t forever, and I was surrounded by loved ones who understood it too.
The main difference was, I wasn’t depressed. I don’t know if depression is ‘blue’ for other people. I don’t know if what I felt was unique. All I know is a doctor diagnosed what I was going through back then as chronic depression and agitated depression, and as I knew it to be, it was a festering torment on the mind that changed me into something less than until something even baser awoke in me to break me out.
I survived that first moldy house and the insanity it created in me that I perceived as real. I couldn’t discern being inflicted with a mental illness but that I was a mental illness and nothing more. I survived out of spite, out of instinct, out of a greater fear of death than of pain. I became a creature that had value in creating, and someone who sought value in others, in people and their intriguing psyches, and eventually, I became a human again when I saw that value in me. It was a transformation—one I never sought but had to experience—and it grew me into a being far more empowered and in love with the world and those around me than who I was when I started.
Now when I survive, it’s for that, for others, for understanding, for the belief that the futility of the inevitable should never stop this moment now from being the best it can be. And no, I hold no ill will, no anger, no disdain for anyone who decides to step forward on their own and plummet into the inevitable darkness of death. I understand it too well to ever condemn anyone for such a choice, even though I do feel sorrow to know the suffering they must feel to push them there. I want everyone to find the relief I eventually did find, all those glowing moments that made and continue to make my life worth hanging around for.
Who are we to decide the form? I don’t know if there is a more beautiful concept than the ending of suffering: a mercy, a forgiveness, a release. But that mercy can’t happen without suffering to occur first. We cannot be saved without being lost. Sometimes the most wonderful kindnesses can only exist because of the worst of conflicts.
Ego death was my most recent mercy, and I truly believe I will never suffer the way I ever did in the past because of it. Even the extreme pain in my body and brain these last months fighting the sudden infestation of mold in the house we’re renting and living out of my car was not a suffering, but a clean pain of life without the emotional torment and torture and rot that can occur when I lose track of reality and get caged in my mind. The cage isn’t there anymore, just forgiveness and understanding, and a very bad habit of thought pattern to want that cage to hide in.
Learning to let go of suffering is the greatest gift you can give yourself. I don’t know if it’s something that can be taught, but fuck, I truly hope it is. In the end it’s a journey a person takes on their own, but guides are there to point the way. We remain. Not all of us, but we remain and are replaced because this is not unique. This is humanity the only way I have every known it to be. We suffer and transform and we live on the brink of inevitable.
It’s okay to be who you are, babes. It’s okay to hurt, and it’s okay to let the hurt go. It’s okay to not be alone anymore and to learn to love yourself. There is no wrong in how you choose to live, but there can be great rewards when you do seek to live your life in bravery and accept those bruises as they come. It’s worth it to meet someone new, or someone strangely familiar, to learn what can be learned, and find a little more truth inside.
It’s okay to despair and know you weren’t the first, and you won’t be the last, and nothing will ever be forever. The mortality of all living forms can be just as merciful as the eternity we can experience in our sweetest thoughts.
It’s okay to be okay. I promise. You still remain even when the suffering is gone.