on twitter this morning, i said:
i choose to be alive today. not because i enjoy it, but because people depend on me to be alive. i will work today not because i enjoy it, but because every aspect of existence costs money.
i’d like to expand on that a little bit.
the first and last time i tried to kill myself i was maybe 12. the details aren’t important. my folks didn’t know; if they did know, they wouldn’t’ve cared save for the effect it would’ve had on their ‘witness’, but since one of their colleagues has already declared me possessed by a demon, they had plausible deniability.
i haven’t tried to kill myself since then, though i think about dying every day. more precisely, i think about not existing every day. the process of dying doesn’t feature in these thoughts, but rather a simple absence of myself and my thoughts and pain from the universe. i think about ceasing to exist, then recite the litany of other people who would suffer by my absence. then i irritatedly put those thoughts away and go on about my day. i care too much about the suffering of my fellow astronauts to do anything about them.
is it chemical? almost certainly that plays a role, but it’s also the world. i didn’t ask to be born. upon my birth, i inhereited a debt to this world: if i want long-term shelter, i have to pay someone for it. i have to ‘earn a living’, or put another way ‘work for the right to be alive’.
food and water i can get from the sky and land, provided i’m okay being vegetarian. but land–the two acres required to produce enough food for a single human assuming a sizable greenhouse–takes money. we ‘earn a living’ by working for other people. usually companies, generally owned by people who have no idea what a greenhouse is for, because they were born already rich, and can therefore afford to own companies and people. and yes, even though my time is worth hudreds of dollars an hour, the fact that i have to work or have worked for another person is peonage and serfdom.
in order to exist i have to beg a rich person for a job, because i was born not-rich.
what? yeah. read the above sentence and tell me i’m wrong.
but ben, you could be an entrepreneur! i hear you, but entrepreneurship is still working for the privilege of being alive, it’s just working for a different rich person, or a collection of other people who have to buy whatever you’re selling.
aside: one acre is just carbohydrates – the other is more general nutrition: a chicken coop for eggs, seasonable vegetables. flowers for happiness. i digress.
in order to exist, i have to beg a rich person for a job, because at the root of everything is a debt peonage.
i’m okay spending dollars on books, or streaming services for entertainment, or my home internet, etc. generally, that makes sense to me. that i have to spend dollars to continue to exist chafes at me. deep in my soul–or whatever material anatomy feels things–this feels wrong. people should be able to exist because they exist. the end. there’s a soapbox over there for universal basic income, health care, and shelter, but that’s another show.
i should be able to exist because i exist, without paying someone else money for the privilege. this is one of the weights that makes me not want to exist. no more existing equals no more debt to pay.
aside: medication for depression makes me not care about other people, and caring about other people is what keeps me alive. so, i’ll stick to the meds i have for acute anxiety, and psilocybin on m/w/f. SSRI’s would be, in my case, counterproductive. i regularly meet with a therapist, as everyone should. it’s helpful. it also costs money.
the other weight that makes me not want to exist is all the pain.
my formative childhood was a deep belief that i was not meaningful to my parents except as a demonstration of what good, faithful parents they were in the eyes of the other parishoners at their church. i was not loved. i was a burden, a resource to be mined, then shaped.
(this may not even be true, but it felt true to me at the time. it still feels true. distance and perspective haven’t changed the way i process my memories about that period of my life.)
this early programming created the lens with which i see the rest of my life. i know it’s there, and can work around it. if i’m not actively mitigating it? then, i am not only not loved but also not lovable, and am only useful. i am only valuable if i am producing something. this is, at its core, very painful.
i work on this every day–work to see myself through the lenses my closest friends use when they look at me. some days are better than others. it gets easier over time, but it’s hard to pull out wiring that’s buried that deep.
this earliest programming and its extensions are the chief pain that makes me not want to exist. if my own parents didn’t and couldn’t love me, why would i expect anyone else to value me?
(but they do! i have many friends that love me even when i’m not being actively useful. and some strangers that appreciate me. and colleagues that respect me. i know these things without feeling them, but knowing them helps me immensely.)
in this year of 2020, and the end of 2019, there are other, sharper pains that make me not want to exist.
such as, my mistakes have caused the love of my life enough pain that she can no longer be my partner. that i hurt her causes me more pain than the fact that she is missing from my life, but both are painful things.
such as, the very real material pains in my body that are unresolvable, and make it difficult to stand, walk, sit, etc.
many other things hurt all the time. my own books of unforgiven sins, unhealed trauma, unresolved conundra, unfinished sentences.
these weights are among many, many others. i do not want to exist. i do not like existing. but as i said, i have many people in my life who enjoy and appreciate the fact that i exist, and value my existence in ways that frankly baffle me.
and so, i continue to exist. i continue to wake up and breathe and eat. i continue to pay rich people for the privilege, with money i earned from different rich people for labor that i don’t enjoy. i am alive. i continue to be alive. it kinda sucks.
edited 2020-12-09 for content and some softening of tone.