I’ve never figured out how to learn from the experiences of others. I heard the same stories on a constant loop for all of high school, then again, with a more X-rated punch line, when I entered college. I listened, and I judged, and I wondered to myself how or, more importantly, why these people I so admired found themselves repeatedly in such compromising situations. My duty as a friend was always to help analyze and deconstruct the many facets of their unhappiness. All the while, I had a fast paced, slightly judgmental, and entirely analytical inner monologue. For someone who was observing so much, I didn’t retain much useful knowledge during that time.
The reason I was able to sit back and wonder about the positions my dear friends found themselves in was not because I was in any way smarter than them. I was never wiser, or more level headed, or better in any way, even if I told myself I was from time to time. The fact of the matter is: I was boring. I was the most average, unimportant, unquestioned kind of boring. The kind of boring where no one realizes you’re boring until you point it out yourself. The kind of boring where you are present at every party and active in every conversation about the day-to-day mini-dramas unfolding all around you, but still completely irrelevant to the outcome.
I always had friends. I listened actively and cared genuinely, and that kind of friendship is almost always reciprocated. But, nevertheless, my life was a complete and total bore. It was perfectly, amazingly, beautifully uneventful.
I miss my peaceful life of unimportance, because it’s gone now. Long gone. It’s so far gone that it exists only in the confines of my adolescent diaries and in the furthest reaches of my memories. I’ve grown to idealize that time in my life. I remember it like you remember a story your mom used to read to you when you were very young—it feels like it’s my story, my wonderful memory, but it really belongs to someone else. It is a world that someone else created, and I just had the pleasure of visiting for a while. That’s my twisted way of saying that I am someone entirely different now; someone who I hate, and someone who I would love to reflect on as a hazy former version of myself. But, no matter how deep my denial is; this is me now. This is my life.
You see I got myself into a situation that I felt entirely unqualified to handle, so I didn’t try to handle it at all. I could argue that I was being responsible since there only thing I could possibly do at that point was more damage, but I know that few would agree. Most would say that what I really did was throw my hands in the air and give up. I said to myself, “There’s no use putting forth all the effort to fix something completely unfixable, so why not save yourself the effort?” But if I had been paying attention, if I had any sense of self preservation at all, I would have used my knowledge of the rocky ups and downs of those who I had provided support to for all those years. I had seen my loved ones at rock bottom with nothing but my love and support to guide them slowly from the darkness back to a life of stability. But I had no one when the time came. I was wandering aimlessly through a cave of darkness so deep, so impenetrable, that my intuition and confidence were useless tools. The same support I had provided for others was useless when I tried halfheartedly to help myself. I had given up.
Fast forward six months and I found myself here—in the loony bin. (They tell me it’s called a mental rehabilitation institute, but I don’t care what they call it. It is what it is, no matter what letters you slap on the side of the building.) And it’s been suggested that, as a former English undergrad, I should write down what I’m feeling—as if that thought never crossed my mind.
And I’ve tried. I really, honestly tried to write it all down. But, at this point, I have no idea what is left to say, except why the hell didn’t I learn from the blunders of others in my life? Why, if I felt so superior and so wise, did I end up in a more desperately pathetic state of discomfort and regret than any before me? My pride. My belief that I was “better” than my immature, socially unaware peers. My ignorance. I know now, to be truly successful in life, you must allow others missteps to guide you to a more fulfilled and enjoyable future. Otherwise, your fated to end up like me: at the bottom of a six month long downward spiral, knowing that there is no possible way to find your way back to a life of perfectly undisturbed normality.