I’m trying to open my heart to love. I know I’m not anywhere near doing that right now. I’m closed in, and even on a descent into darkness. I think about the times in my life when my heart was open to love. When I was 18 years old. I was alive. Making new friends almost everyday. Running 5-8 miles a day. Playing guitar and writing songs everyday. I was head over heels in love with Beth. I loved myself. People would walk past me and smile or just begin talking to me. People were attracted to my energy.
Then, out of nowhere, at 19 years of age, began my descent into the deepest darkness I had ever imagined. I cut contact from all my friends. I stopped running. I hated myself for any perceived imperfection. I hated Beth for trying to control me but couldn’t give her up because I had come to depend on her energy to help me through my life. People would walk past me and I saw a look of disgust or even hate on their face. I was creating that reality. I hated everyone and everything around me and I hated myself. Besides going to my college classes, I spent up to 15 hours a day sitting in Alderman Library reading and taking lots of time out just to think. I had to think about a lot of things. I had a lot of unanswered questions about myself and about human nature. It took over 2 years of intense thinking for me to come to a greater understanding of human nature and myself. I would never be the same again though.
The dark period lasted until I was almost 22 years old. Beth and I broke up. I came to realize it was time for me to become more of a spiritual person. It was time for me to be healed. I was indeed healed. Blacksburg, VA healed me. I pried open my heart ever so slowly in those 2 years, but I was still very sad on the inside. I wasn’t living life for myself or doing what I wanted to do. I still hated myself on the inside. Everyday I would repeat in my head, “I want to die. Please let me die.” as a kind of prayer. But higher forces wouldn’t let me off the hook. I had to gather the strength to live for myself.
Late Spring when I was 23 years old, for the first time in my life, I began to live for myself, and live life the way I wanted to live it. I still carried around a lot of self-loathing though in my early 20’s. I felt like a loser and a nobody. I didn’t think I’d be capable of accomplishing any goals I’d set for myself. But my heart was still beginning to open. The story of my 20’s is the story of my heart opening up and me coming to the slow realization that I could actually accomplish any goal I set out to accomplish. My world stayed bright for most of my 20’s, and then I moved out West. Out here I was torn a new asshole in my career path. It was like I had joined the military and I was broken down mentally and made to feel completely inadequate in every way possible. Any ego I had was stripped away, and my face was metaphorically shoved in shit nearly everyday for a year straight. This definitely had an effect on my self-esteem and my character. I shut down and became closed in on myself. That’s where I am today. Through enduring my torture, and emerging victorious, I seem to have gained not only complete trust, but the highest respect from everyone I work with. Life is easy now. It is time to open my heart again to the universe, but I’m having some problems doing that. I even feel like I’m descending again into darkness. I’m on my way down again, alone, and into dark depths. It’s all part of the game. The greater the light, the bigger the shadow. I’m exploring my shadow.
In American Gods, I’m at the part right now when Shadow was holding a vigil for Mr. Wednesday and he has to hang on a tree for 9 days. He has died and is now experiencing the underworld. But he felt more alive than he had ever felt in his pain hanging on the tree. I think it’s inescapable that in order to really feel alive, we must suffer and feel pain. I’ve felt most alive when in pain and suffering, when struggling. I live for the struggle. The struggle defines my existence. I’m not sure what the struggle is, actually. But I know that I live for it. The struggle is infinite and ever-evolving. The struggle defines life itself. Without struggle, all life is meaningless.