Profound melancholia is a day-in, day-out, night-in, night-out, almost arterial level of agony. It is a pitiless unrelenting pain that affords no window of hope, no alternative to a grim and brackish existence, and no respite from the cold undercurrents of thought and feeling that dominate the horribly restless nights of despair.
And even when you’re ready to let go. When you’re ready to break free. When you’re ready to be brand-new. Loneliness is an old friend standing beside you in the mirror, looking you in the eye, challenging you to live your life without it. You can’t find the words to fight yourself, to fight the words screaming that you’re not enough, never enough, never ever enough. Loneliness is a bitter, wretched companion. Sometimes it just won’t let go.
Loneliness is a strange sort of thing. It creeps up on you, quiet and still, sits by your side in the dark, strokes your hair as you sleep. It wraps itself around your bones, squeezing so tight you almost can’t breathe. It leaves lies in your heart, lies next to you at night, leeches the light out from every corner. It’s a constant companion, clasping your hand only to yank you down when your struggling to stand up.
But we are alone, darling child, terribly, isolated from each other; so fierce is the world’s ridicule we cannot speak or show our tenderness; for us, death is stronger than life, it pulls like a wind through the dark, all our cries burlesqued in joyless laughter; and with the garbage of loneliness stuffed down us until our guts burst bleeding green, we go screaming round the world, dying in our rented rooms, nightmare hotels, eternal homes of the transient heart.
All these traces of his life seemed to seize hold of him and say to him: “No, you won’t escape us and be different, you’ll be the same as you were: with doubts, an eternal dissatisfaction with yourself, vain attempts to improve, and failures, and an eternal expectation of the happiness that has eluded you and is not possible for you”.
We spend our lives building higher fences and stronger locks, when the gravest dangers are already inside.
Anything, anything would be better than this agony of mind, this creeping pain that gnaws and fumbles and caresses one and never hurts quite enough.
Or perhaps is is that time doesn’t heal wounds at all, perhaps that is the biggest lie of them all, and instead what happens is that each wound penetrates the body deeper and deeper until one day you find that the sheer geography of your bones - the angle of your hips, the sharpness of your shoulders, as well as the luster of your eyes, the texture of your skin, the openness of your smile - has collapsed under the weight of your griefs.
Many never feel safe enough to relax yet find in eating disorders an pervasive mode of escape. Here’s how the escape works: you flee anxiety by pulling into yourself, you purge your fear by vomiting it up, you become so obsessive about your body that nothing else in the world seems to matter. The result is that you feel you have this body- your contained world- under control”.
He asked, ‘What makes a writer?’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘it’s simple. You either get it down on paper, or jump off a bridge.’
So often we wait
when it’s the brave leap forward
that would set us free.
It all seems pointless in light of the fact that we’re all going to die eventually. Why do anything - why wash my hair, why read Moby Dick, why fall in love, why sit through six hours of Nicholas Nickleby, why spend time getting into the right schools, why dance to the music when all of us are just slouching toward the same inevitable conclusion? The shortness of life, I keep saying, makes everything seem pointless when I think about the longness of death.
There is the solitude of suffering, when you go through darkness that is lonely, intense, and terrible. Words become powerless to express your pain; what others hear from your words is so distant and different from what you are actually suffering.
Individuals who are innately predisposed to introversion tend to defend against shame by internal withdrawal. Relationships are either avoided or abandoned, and the individual may display an oscillating in- and- out pattern with regard to relationships. When an introvert is forced to contend with excessive shame, the typical response is to hide deeper inside. While some innate introverts develop “learned extroversion” in response to shame, usually the self becomes more hidden, shut in, further isolated, increasingly detached from others.
We still hadn’t learned, though, that growing up is all about getting hurt. And then getting over it. You hurt. You recover. You move on. Odds are pretty good you’re just going to get hurt again. But each time, you learn something. Each time, you come out of it a little stronger, and at some point you realize that there are more flavors of pain than coffee. There’s the little empty pain of leaving something behind - gradutaing, taking the next step forward, walking out of something familiar and safe into the unknown. There’s the big, whirling pain of life upending all of your plans and expecations. There’s the sharp little pains of failure, and the more obscure aches of successes that didn’t give you what you thought they would. There are the vicious, stabbing pains of hopes being torn up. The sweet little pains of finding others, giving them your love, and taking joy in their life they grow and learn. There’s the steady pain of empathy that you shrug off so you can stand beside a wounded friend and help them bear their burdens.
And if you’re very, very lucky, there are a very few blazing hot little pains you feel when you realized that you are standing in a moment of utter perfection, an instant of triumph, or happiness, or mirth which at the same time cannot possibly last - and yet will remain with you for life.
Everyone is down on pain, because they forget something important about it: Pain is for the living. Only the dead don’t feel it.
Pain is a part of life. Sometimes it’s a big part, and sometimes it isn’t, but either way, it’s a part of the big puzzle, the deep music, the great game. Pain does two things: It teaches you, tells you that you’re alive. Then it passes away and leaves you changed. It leaves you wiser, sometimes. Sometimes it leaves you stronger. Either way, pain leaves its mark, and everything important that will ever happen to you in life is going to involve it in one degree or another.”