Hate

I’ve experienced a rather unsettling revelation.

I hate someone.

This is not the first time this has happened, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. People, by nature, are almost designed to bump up against one another and cause friction. Arguments and misunderstandings and dirty deeds will continue to happen between human beings from now until the end of time. Grudges will be held, friendships will be severed, and dislike will bubble over into hatred time and time again.

Something feels different about this, though, and that’s what is bothering me. Like most all of us, I have been mistreated personally and professionally at various points in my life. I’ve been picked on, although I’m not sure I was ever bullied. I was put down verbally and made to feel worthless. In most of these instances, I knew who the people were. It wasn’t as if pain were being inflicted on me by strangers. I always managed a certain amount of disconnect somehow, though, as if these people were more constructs of things I didn’t like than antagonists capable of wounding me.

As the old saying goes, this time it’s personal.

hateI’m not sure if fully realized hatred is possible in cases where trust has not been fully given. I’m not sure if a bona fide enemy can be acquired without some sort of relationship with a nemesis. I can’t imagine a deeper wound being inflicted by someone other than a friend, someone you have shared details of your life with and never dreamed they would ever do anything to hurt you.

This happened to me. I still can’t actually believe it. I keep thinking I’m going to wake up one day to discover it didn’t actually happen. I did trust someone. I did have a relationship with someone. I was friends with someone. It feels strange talking about it in the past tense, but it’s true. That state of being is over, and I’m not sure it will ever come back.

It also feels strange to feel absolutely no remorse over feeling the way I do. Even now, I want to include a paragraph about how I feel bad about how I feel and how I wish I could figure out how to put things right. I would be lying, though. I feel nothing right now but blind rage, and I wish nothing but vengeance on this person. I at least have the morality left to not try to inflict that vengeance myself. It is difficult, though, to not stoop to that level. I want to be a wrecking ball, destroying every object of hate in my path.

This feeling is not fading. It feels as if it will last forever, and everything from common sense to religion to quotes in the Reader’s Digest are telling me to let it go. I can’t, though. I don’t even want to right now. Is this meanness? Is it sin? Is a byproduct of depression? Am I just not a very good person, or am I simply a human being who is having a very natural reaction to a terrible situation?

I hate not knowing the answer.

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The Saboteur

You find yourself in a deep, dark hole, with only yourself. You know full well how you got there. And you have only yourself to blame.

You’ve been here before, but each time you return the darkness feels more suffocating, the weight of guilt and shame heavier. Your first inclination is to lie down and accept it, to let it all just smother you. At least that way it would end. Something inside you, though, keeps telling you to get up. You’re not exactly sure what that something is. Your best hope is that it is the will to live. Your worst fear is that you are too selfish to give up on the awful creation you have turned out to be.

You fumble through the space around you until you find something you can touch, and then you begin the slow, arduous climb out. You’re not exactly sure how deep the pit is or if there is even a top to it, but you continue to dig your nails into the walls and make your way up, up, up. Occasionally, you imagine you hear a voice or two encouraging you, telling you that you can make it if you just keep trying. These voices are faint, however, and you don’t trust your senses enough to believe they are real, so you brush them aside and continue your ascent.

sabotageEventually, you see a light. At first, you don’t believe it is real. As it becomes sharper and more intense, you begin to move faster toward it, desperate to feel its warmth and heat. Suddenly, it is real before you. It moves from the world of abstraction to become an oasis in your desert, a shelter from the wind and rain that has pounded you senseless for so long. It illuminates you, so much so that the voices you thought you heard earlier become real as well. You begin to shine yourself, thanks to this amazing, saving grace.

As wonderful and light as you suddenly feel, however, you still feel the weight of your worst fears like an albatross draped around your neck. You know the terrible darkness which resides in your soul, and you know somewhere deep inside you that you are not good enough for this moment. You are not capable enough, smart enough, attractive enough, skilled enough, mature enough to maintain it. The light burns as brightly as it ever did, and it continues to reach out to you and beckon you, but in your mind you are convinced it will see you through you one day and withdraw itself.

You begin to try to secure it, to make sure it cannot abandon you. You begin to form constructs around it, essentially boxing it in and dulling its luminescence. You know you are effectively contaminating the purity of what exists, but your fear blinds you to all logical thought. You realize you need the light to survive, but you are convinced it will not choose you to receive its blessing, so you begin to crave it as an addict would crave a needle in his arm. You are fully aware of your selfishness, and you resolve to do better a thousand times, but each time you look at it you are overridden by one horrible, terrible thought: It will leave me if I grant it freedom.

Then, one day, you are confronted with the truth you knew all along. You really are selfish. You really did destroy the beauty that was before you. You really can’t change what you have done. Your heart begins to race, your thoughts begin to scramble, and you begin to admit your every sin and flaw. You are devastated when the light suddenly speaks to you and says, “You foolish, foolish man. I chose you all along, but you could not receive what I offered you.” You feel your grip loosen and the air begin to rush past your ears as you begin to fall, down, down, down. The light becomes more distant. In fact, you even notice it beginning to turn away, slowly, reluctantly. It wanted you, but you could never believe it.

Your fall is swift, much more rapid than your ascent, and it is not straight. You bump against walls that once seemed smooth, but now seem to be jagged and rocky, puncturing you as collide with them. You recall that you have felt pain like this before, but it seems more intense this time, as it does each time you fall. You wish at times that the fatal blow could be delivered, but it never comes, and you chide yourself because there is still that part of you that is selfish enough to want to cling to life with all you are worth. Then you feel the dull thud of yourself hitting the bottom. The light is gone. You are alone.

And you find yourself in a deep, dark hole, with only yourself. You know full well how you got there. And you have only yourself to blame.

You’re Like Me!

I never get any joy out of hearing someone either has had to or is dealing with depression, anxiety, or any other mental issue. I would rather no one ever have to walk down those roads. I would rather everyone lead happy, peaceful lives completely removed from any uncertainty, distress, or sadness.

Unfortunately, that is rarely the case in life. The more I come to know about human nature, the more I see that even the most composed among us have some sort of hang-ups they’re dealing with. As first, this was sort of disarming to me, but after a while I began to take some comfort in the fact that the standard of perfection I had perceived in others that I was trying to live up to wasn’t unattainable after all. In fact, it didn’t even exist.

As a result, I feel a sort of odd kinship with anyone I run across who is open and honest enough to share a little bit about their struggles. It’s almost as if we simply understand one another better after we’ve been transparent with each other. I also feel a weird sort of excitement in finding someone I can relate to. I guess you might even say I’m … happy?

Happiness in this situation doesn’t come from rejoicing in someone else’s suffering. It comes from realizing I’m not alone. The kinship I spoke of earlier comes from the other person realizing they’re not alone either. In a way, it’s sort of a beautiful thing, being able to look at another person and say, “Hey, you’re like me!”. Neither one of you may have your act together, but you feel a whole lot better knowing someone else is on the same journey you are.

I had a chance to sit down with someone like this today, and I now have a so much better understanding of who they are as a person. I’m not sure, but I’d like to think they have a better understanding of me as well. I think I may have even said the words “you’re like me” at one point. We didn’t exactly solve all the world’s problems, but we didn’t have to either. That sounds like a pretty good recipe for happiness to me.

Tuneful Tuesday: Sticking With You

Let’s face it: Friendship can be hard sometimes. Friendship with someone who wrestles with depression can be darn near impossible. We’re moody, sensitive, easily offended, prone to wide swings of emotion, and largely incapable of expressing what we want in understandable terms. We can be clingy while seeming to do everything in our power to drive you away. In general, we can be a real pain in the butt.

You know what, though? You ain’t always a picnic to be around either.

So I guess we’re stuck with each other, you and me. We might at as well try to make the best of things. In reality, I’m not nearly as annoying as I think I am, and you’re not nearly as judgmental of me as I think you are. We just need to learn what makes the other one tick. Unfortunately, sometimes we’re going to get it wrong, and we’ll probably wind up crossways with each other. The question then becomes this: Are we going to stand by each other even when we seem more like enemies than friends?

The sad truth is that sometimes relationships reach the point of no return, where they become so toxic they’re more harmful to maintain than to just let go. Other times, though, you find that glimmer of hope that makes everything worth fighting for. That glimmer is what this song – “Sticking With You,” by Addison Road – is all about.

“You can cry, you can fight, you can scream and shout/I’ll push and pull until your walls fall down.” No one really wants to thing about fighting, screaming, or shouting with their friends. Of course, spouses probably don’t get married with the intention of ever fighting with each other either, yet it still happens. Love sparks intense feelings, and even friendly love can boil over from time to time. “And you understand I’m gonna be around…”

Yeah, it’s difficult to stick with each other sometimes. You give me a little leeway, though, and I’ll give you the same. “I might let you down, but I won’t let you go…”

Tuneful Tuesday: Frail

Apparently, “snafu” is a curse word.

snafuWell, it’s not a curse word in itself, but it is an acronym which contains a curse word. I’m not going to spell it out here; a simple Google search will tell you what the individual letters stand for. I was not so lucky as to discover the meaning of each letter through an internet search, however. No, I learned their meaning after I uttered the word on live Christian radio today.

I have been using that word for years and had absolutely no clue it was an acronym. Of course, now that I know, I definitely won’t use it on the radio anymore. What’s interesting to me as I sit here and reflect on my gaffe is that something which meant one thing to me when the day started now means something else as it is ending. The word didn’t change, though; my perception of it did.

Sometimes songs are like that. You go for years thinking a song means one thing, then one day you realize you had one of the words wrong and suddenly it takes on a completely different meaning. Ironically, on the same day I learned what “snafu” really meant, one of these song occurrences happened to me.

I’ve written about Jars of Clay here before, so I’m not going to rehash all that. The group’s second album, Much Afraid, was a bit of a dud for me. It was almost as if after the enormous success of their debut album they were given free rein on their sophomore project, which unfortunately resulted in some over-elaborate production that nearly drowned many of the songs. There are some interesting arrangements on the album, though, including a nearly seven-minute song titled “Frail.”

For years, I believed this song was about someone lamenting their inability to be a good friend. I thought this mainly because I believed the last word of the song was “friend.” Well, it’s actually “frail,” which sort of debunks my theory. I’m stubborn, though, so I’ll probably stick with my version at least a little while longer. Besides, it fits better with how I’m feeling today anyway.

“If I was not so weak/If I was not so cold/If I was not so scared of being broken/Growing old…” It’s a spiritual metaphor in the song, representing why someone can’t submit to God, but aren’t these all attitudes that keep us from being good friends? They’re also attitudes that are incredibly difficult to face in ourselves. Finally, they’re attitudes that require a lot of patience from our friends to put up with.

It’s all about the perceptions. Sometimes we’re right, sometimes we’re wrong. Sometimes we’re not exactly either one, but the hopeful side of me likes to believe things will become clearer over time. That makes the snafus … er, mistakes easier to deal with along the way.