Alienation:

What does it mean?

I feel estranged. I have denied my own humanity for so long. I have stifled my desires for as long as I can remember. Society tells me I an an awful person. Morality pounds me into the ground, over and over. At this point, I have divorced myself from ever being normal. What even constitutes normalcy? I stopped trying to answer that question years ago. I’m 22, but I feel much older. If you ask certain people they will tell you how much they despise me. Others will claim I’m great. I don’t agree or disagree with either of those — or anything for that matter. My estrangement fosters more estrangement. It is a cycle of sweeping my humanity under the rug. Every day is a battle. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose and a lot of the time I’m just a spectator. I’ve seen mental health professionals, taken fancy medications, meditated, read, written. If I haven’t tried anything that will change my condition, let me know. Everything is a temporary reprieve, a momentary respite from my deep sense of alienation. I think the only thing I’ve yet to do is to simply go out into the world. It’s 2017, academic scholars in ivory towers are outdated. Maybe I’ll try to do something. Not some form of nuanced thinking or metaphysical reasoning, just do something. We’ll see what happens.

This isn’t depression. I’ve been depressed before and this definitely isn’t it, but it’s very similar. In my experience, my depression left me hopeless — all the time. Now, I know hopelessness is a friend of mine, not an enemy. Without hope I can see things how they are — not how I want them to be. The latter further fueling my depression. It’s hard to put how I feel into words but I’m going to try in hopes that someone can gain a bit of happiness knowing there’s someone out there similar to them. Also, if I can attempt to convey it in words, maybe it’ll make more sense to me.

It’s like a gnawing feeling that won’t go away. It’s not physiological or anything, like a cramp. I can tell you what it isn’t, but I can’t quite tell you what it is. Maybe I’ve went through this much longer than I originally thought. Maybe when I was younger I experienced this but it was labeled as ‘depression’. These are all theories though. I’m afraid I’ll never reach an accurate conclusion. Until then I have no other choice but to continue on living out my days.

Imagine feeling like everything you think, say, feel and ponder about goes against what is considered 'normal' or mainstream. That no matter what you do or say, learn or unlearn, the effects stay with you, somewhere in your psyche. This estrangement is like a mosquito bite that never goes away. You apply After-Bite and the symptoms go away, and for a moment you feel good because you think your bite is gone. But slowly, and surely, it comes back. After a while you get used to it and it may not gauge negative or positive emotions, but you’re still curious as to its chronic nature. That’s exactly where I am. I don’t feel good or bad — I feel next to nothing other than the thoughts themselves. That’s what scares me most. I’ll let you in on a little secret.

My friends have called me all sorts of names. Robot, cactus, Stoic, the list goes on. I am emotionally cold and distant at times, and at others I’m obnoxiously loud and too intimate. I’m formal and informal. Appropriate and inappropriate. It is who I am — I am a meeting of dichotomies. Complexities simplified. I am an enigma, a breathing, laughing paradox. You can’t understand me because I am incomprehensible. Yet people still try, and I laugh when they tell me they’re giving up because it’s a fruitless endeavor.

I am uniquely human. A passage from a book comes to mind. “It is rare to be born human. This is special and unique.” These are the words of the late Zen master Kodo Sawaki. At first I thought he was speaking nonsense. Rare? There are billions of us. Unique? We share most of our DNA with bananas. I think what he meant is that it is rare because no one, at this time or ever, will be like us. I am uniquely me. No one can take, change or deny that. That is the true rarity of it all, we really are one of a kind. Thank you Kodo, you’ve left your wisdom to the world.

To laugh, cry, mourn, smile is to be human. To think of the past, present and future are inextricably linked to one’s capacity as a living individual. Why am I less of a human if I cry? This is natural and no amount of human meddling will change that. This is where I find myself in a bind. I see the futility of my life, but I also see it as rare and unique. We all pay taxes and die, what is so rare and unique about that? We live, laugh and love but for rare and unique reasons.

Back to this estrangement jargon. Have you ever felt like no one understands you? I have. When I was a young teenager I was told that “it was just a phase”. My misunderstanding would soon turn into understanding. That never happened for me apparently. There’s been bits and pieces. Have you ever read a story and you could swear the author was writing about your life? That’s The Stranger by Albert Camus. Minus the murder of course. For the most part I’ve been misunderstood which has lead to me being mishandled. In actuality, a lot of people just didn’t want to deal with me. I was too much of an emotional liability during my adolescence. Many times I felt like ending my existence was the best option. But I never thought of it in the sense that I did not want to live anymore, it was more about alleviating the stress my existence put on people. I was lonely and alienated from myself. Now, I am alienated from others and my own life in general.

One way I beat this estrangement is to feel. The excitement of sex, the sustenance of food, the rejuvenation of rest. The exaction of carnal pleasure from my life is what makes me feel connected. Not to say I’m some philanderer, no. I give money to the homeless, I hold the door for others, but even like the carnal pleasures, sooner or later the estrangement makes its way back in. How long can I keep it at bay? There are only so many hours in the day. I’m still thinking of a remedial plan.

Miraculously, I’m still here. Persevering, living, complaining, whatever you want to call it, I’m still doing it. Against many odds surprisingly. I was a ticking time bomb. Sometimes I stop to smell the flowers or watch the birds perched on the telephone wires. The latter makes me feel connected to this world I was ready to leave on the drop of a dime. So here we are, on the precipice of the unknown. I’m not scared and I’m not happy, I’m just here. What happens to me will happen, and what doesn’t will not. It’s a very open attitude.

This is a work in progress. There may not be an answer for my condition, but its my responsibility to try and understand.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.