Almost Famous wisdom and the trials of February explained -- I think
There’s a line in a great film from two decades back that told the story of a budding 15-year-old journalist who was writing a magazine piece about a music group looking to break into superstardom.
The film, called Almost Famous, was the narrative re-telling of the life of the film’s director, Cameron Crowe, whose writing career was launched in the same way, as a teen journalist covering bands for Rolling Stone. In the film, Crowe’s character bonds with fellow music writer Lester Bangs, who served as a mentor, of sorts to the teenager.
At one point, the adult rock writer leans into the phone and imparts some wisdom on his young friend and says, “the only true currency in this morally bankrupt world what you share with others when you are uncool,” and I know exactly where he is coming from. That which you share at your most vulnerable is that which you hold the closest to your heart, and I believe that which you hold closes to your heart is that which we often seek to hide from the rest of the world under the mistaken impression that people need to see only our best side to hold us in any true esteem.
I know this: when I go out – which of course, is always a challenge in the winter, inertia and temperature conspiring to hold us hostage in our individual silos. I know that the longer I go without meaningful adult interaction, the longer it goes before I realize I am a kind of misanthrope.
I know that I crave human interaction, but also that my energy is limited and I don’t have it at all times so rather than upset people with the mood that sets in when I am feeling worthless and useless, I just hide, thereby creating the impression (in my mind, anyway) that I am standoffish, arrogant, and/or grumpy – and sometimes, I am.
Winter hasn’t helped. The long, dark of the January and February months have affected me more this year than in any other, and the best, most cathartic way I have to process these feelings is to write about them and put them on YOU, dear readers. And I know that despite being tall, broad and an imposing presence, I feel about as tenuous as baby Bambi on a frozen pond. I know that people look at me and wonder, but there it is. I’m not OK, I’m struggling with my self-worth and I feel, at times, like the road is too fraught with obstacles to even attempt passage.
Professionally, I missed out on a job I was really hoping to get and one that would have curtailed my driving and the stresses of needing to make a 45-minute drive in 30 minutes because it’s snowing – again. That, also sent me into a tailspin this week, and it’s one I have yet to emerge from, if I;m being totally honest.
I know that what I bring to the table professionally is hard to quantify, but for the most part my clients get a lot out of our sessions, so I must be doing something right. Thing is, though, was the timing. I was struggling with my brain chemistry and loneliness before I came in second best in a one-winner race.
I know, rationally, that life gets better and that I will at one point or another, like myself again. But right now, I have to be honest and frank – I’m really, really struggling. There are moments where it feels like an elephant sitting on my chest and my breath gets caught in my throat and tears will start streaming down my face. My son will ask me what’s wrong and I can’t tell him that the person he trusts to guide him and love him, protect him and support him wants the pain to just stop. I just want it to stop, and I can’t tell him that at that moment, I can only think of one way for the pain to stop – and I'm not going to talk to him about it.
So, I’m here pouring my heart out for strangers in the Internet when I can’t even muster the strength to tell those I love that I love them, because I just don’t love myself.
Like Lester Bangs, I know I’m terribly uncool, and there’s no real way around it, and that’s OK with me.
The other night was the worst feeling I can remember in a long time. I walked my dogs for an hour in the dark and cold, crying pretty much the whole time and I remember thinking that crossing the St. John’s Boulevard overpass spanning Highway 20 was a good idea. I stood there at the top of the overpass and looked down. In that moment, I was ready. I was ready to be done. For all the hurt, all the pain, all the loneliness and the shortness of breath to be things of the past. I was ready to be another statistic.
Then I thought of my dogs, who were with me on the overpass, and my kids, who were sleeping at home, and what their lives would be like without me. I was pretty sure at that moment that their lives would be infinitely better, but I realized they wouldn’t have a lift to school the next day. Just that one little tether to reality kept me from jumping. My self-worth has never been lower.
I just want others to know that behind every mundane interaction we have in the world, there are a million other feelings we don’t broach because showing what we perceive to be weakness somehow weakens us as people. Well, I’m not weak, but I am struggling. Do not mistake one for the other. In fact, I dare say that those who are struggling in silence are the strongest of us all.
You just don’t have to be, silent anymore. I’m not going to be.