Hoisting the Black Flag: An Internal Struggle
One of my favorite quotes of all time is by American journalist H.L. Mencken, and it goes as follows:
“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”
I love this quote for a million reasons. Its visceral, true, and completely fucking bad ass, just to name three. The line always resonated with me ever since I first heard it, and right now it speaks volumes about the state of mind I’m currently in. Allow me to explain. The following is an excerpt from a post I never finished about two weeks ago:
“After all my years on this planet I learned one thing: Hell is not a place, but a state of mind; and in those years I’ve done many a stretch in that…place of mind, let’s call it. Everyone has a horror story or has had some miserable, shitty thing descend upon them like a rabid bear at least once in their lives, unless they’re lucky, but has anyone ever really been that lucky? In my case, I do it to myself more often than not, the bear is me, myself and I. My mind is my bane, my cross to bear. It’s gotten me through about just as much trouble as its caused me. Since as far back as I remember I’ve been an over analyzer, succumbed to the occasional panic attack, been crippled by anxiety to the point where my body shakes uncontrollably, and I’ve ridden the depression roller coaster more times than I care to admit. It’s during these times I tend lose myself and take a trip off the deep end in an attempt to distract my mind from whatever Hell it’s in. Bottom line: I do some stupid, self destructive shit. I hurt myself, I hurt those around me, every so often I do some damage that cant be undone. Even though I fight tooth and nail to not go down that path, rarely do I win when I’m overwhelmed. It takes a mini rock bottom to wake my ass up before I get my head screwed back on straight and start to be a human again. I’m only writing about this because today I’m on the precipice of one those such times; I’m starting the decent to rock bottom and picking up speed.
Normally I’m a pretty happy-go-lucky guy, and if I’m not I’m damn good at faking it; I just don’t have the energy anymore, I feel like I’m in a hole and this is an attempt to write my way out of it and hopefully get some feedback from the community.”
Well, after I put a period to that sentence I literally closed my laptop, and proceeded to find rock bottom, it came pretty quickly. The weekend that followed was so full of self medicating and reckless behavior I honestly think my life flashed before my eyes at least twice. It was thrilling, if I’m being honest, and completely fucking stupid, but that’s the only way that I found in life to cope effectively, it numbs every feeling I hate. I thrive on danger and stupidity, the rush of adrenaline that spikes the brain when you know something potentially terrible could happen, but you do it anyway. It’s more addictive than any drug, and coupled with any drug, it’s the ultimate escape from reality, but this isn’t an advertisement. In no way do I condone my actions, nor encourage them to others, this is my demon and I will wrestle it alone like I always have.
That weekend I spent more money than I should have on things that I shouldn’t have, I went places I don’t like being, saw people I don’t like being around. I also saw a lot of good people I haven’t seen in a while as well and got some perspective on my situation, before reverting back to the insanity. The situation is never indicative of the “therapy”, its always the same no matter what, but since that weekend ended, and the fog had lifted, I took a long look in the mirror, at the bruises on my face, and asked my self what the fuck, Steve. I’m 28 and still acting like a child having a temper tantrum. So I snapped out of it, opened up my laptop and started writing. I wrote so goddamn much about so many things my fingers hurt. I had no direction, I was going off raw emotion and random thoughts that popped into my head. I even dragged my ass, laptop in hand, to some little obscure coffee house I always wanted to visit (I left my beret and skinny jeans home though, I didn’t go that hardcore) and drank enough coffee to kill a moose and wrote some more. But seriously, the writing helped, and I mean it reallllllly helped.
Since then, I’ve kept the self-destruction to a minimum, I can’t drop it all together, just like any drug I crave that rush, especially when those pangs of anxiety, depression, and over thinking hit. But I’ve regained control of myself. I think of all the friends and family (quite a few, unfortunately) I’ve lost to the types of stupid, random shit I was doing, whether they made it a habit or a one time thing went wrong, and I don’t want to be part of that statistic. So here I sit, coming clean on the internet, like if I post it here I’m signing a contract with witnesses to stop fucking up, to stop taking things that are out of my control out on myself and on those who care for me. To act like a fucking adult, like a man. To not make excuses for my actions because I’m having a pity party, boo-fucking-hoo Steve, grow up.
As I sit here, making the final adjustments to screw my head on straight, I pretty much resolved my situation and I’m looking forward to writing more and the future in general. I always loved writing and never did it enough, and now I’m seeing the potential to make some sort of living off it. I also made peace with a lot of things and am keeping a positive outlook on life as a whole. It’s not worth it to wallow, even though I’ll probably never get over the anxiety, depression, and over thinking, I also know that I won’t inadvertently kill myself in the process of trying to. Which brings us back to the quote. Mr. Mencken, my friend, I am going to raise that flag, make some changes, and do something. What they are and what that is is still to be seen, but I know it will have to do with writing.
In closing I just want to say thank you all for bearing witness to this statement and coming along for the ride and I hope to make the ride a lot more exciting in the times to come (although not the excitement I’ve been hinting at in this piece). Also I apologize if the writing in here is a bit disjointed, it’s how I’m feeling at the moment and I just wanted to get it out there while it was fresh. I would love to hear any thoughts on this or any ways that you have dealt with any of these types of feelings and issues, and would love to answer any questions; I’m an open book, honestly. And I promise there will be many more wise-ass articles to come, so until then, it’s time to get out there and (metaphorically) slit some throats.
Originally published at silverliningsandsarcasm.blogspot.com on October 26, 2015.