For any meaningful project of self-improvement to occur there must first be substantial reserves of self-loathing.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me sometimes. I spectacularly fuck up and brush myself off not learning enough from the pains of the fuck-up to avoid future repeats. For a long, long time I thought I could I solve all my problems by drinking less. Not quitting, just drinking less. There has to be a middle point where I don’t consistently get so fucked up that some of the night disappears in a haze, where I’m not so drunk that the next day is a half-life I stumble through until a moment comes when I jam my fingers down my throat and force myself to puke up what I put down the previous night, I need to never again wake up to the sun without my phone or wallet in my pocket, my bag on my back or my shoes on my feet. These are the simple things. The simple steps I know I need to take in order to make my life better.
I got robbed again and I realised with a sick, sinking feeling that I don’t get robbed because Nairobi is an unsafe city filled with unsavoury individuals whose sense of entitlement and greed triumphs over their respect of private property. I realise that I get robbed because I inhabit the body of a man who does not know when he has had enough to drink. Who has never had enough willpower to turn down that last drink or that first one on an inopportune day or any ever. These are the facts, the fundamental problems of being me. The alcohol and the hold it has over me.
On the day I woke up shoeless I lay in bed in the afternoon and attempted to get to sleep. It was hard even though I was so tired I couldn’t read anymore my eyes watering and red from the attempts I was making at this in bed. I shut my curtains and turned away from the light and immediately I began shivering, it was cold so cold and I felt sad. There did not feel like there was enough air in my lungs and so I had to take these deep, deep breaths. Panicky breaths as I shook in my duvet because it was so cold, so, so cold. I was wondering what was wrong with me. I was thinking about my father and the heavy disappointment he must feel in me. All the words he said to me recently have been laced with it. And I was thinking about how right he was to feel the way he was feeling, to say what he was saying. Because I had passed that age where I could be disciplined with more than words and was not yet at the stage where being kicked out is a serious consideration. I felt sad for him because I could see that I was still leaving him no choice, living in his house and flaunting his rules regularly and thoroughly. I touched my wounds at the place I fell either under the influence of alcohol or a great big blow before they took away everything, even my shoes. They were raw and felt like punishment. I felt like punishment and so I imposed a solitary confinement on myself: two days in my room. Coming out for food. Avoiding everyone I live with and love like because I was convinced that they felt disgust towards me. In the end unable to fall asleep because of all these thoughts I put on some music. I told myself, I actually told myself that I needed some escapism that I couldn’t handle being alone with my thoughts right then and so I turned on the music on my laptop and really listened to the words as I let myself drift away.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me. And I don’t even know if I can convince myself that I am still happy. Sure there are things that give me satisfaction and contentment. I still laugh and love to read. I love to watch TV and movies and to listen to music and more and more I love to sleep. The whole week I’ve been thinking about the word somnolence not sure why but I finally looked it up. It’s apparently a great desire to sleep. I know that great desire because when I get into bed at whatever time I don’t want to get up. The morning is fine because I have somewhere I need to be but my evening and afternoon naps have gotten longer and more frequent. I get into bed and tell myself it’s just for an hour and then I can’t slip myself off of that feeling. I need more than that hour, I need two or three more. There is always music playing in the background and the songs mix into my dreams and take me on these wild adventures that I can’t play back when I am awake. It’s almost like I’m not hearing just the words anymore but also the symbols behind them. The lyrics become images and I feel myself slip in and out of consciousness before the first song is over and slip deeper into the darker and, at the same time brighter world of the images until its night and there is no need to pull my curtains any longer because the night has let itself in. then I open the curtains to get a look at the dark grey of the night sky and lean back in bed and listen to some more music because I’m hungry and I am not yet ready to go down and serve food since I feel too ashamed to see anyone I know.
I really don’t know what’s wrong with me. I watched Groundhog Day today, great movie about a guy who keeps repeating the same day over and over. He has some fun with it but there is a point in the movie where he feels it weigh down on him, where he feels it wear him away having to do the same things he did before again and again and again. He looks defeated, depressed, dead. I’ve felt this before. In university I would always feel this when exams were coming around and I was busy cramming for them. I would begin to wonder why I did any of it. The papers would come and they would pass and another semester would begin full of wonder and promise and quickly fill with the sort of rote routine that learning can give. That semester would have CATS and deadlines, good nights, beautiful women, desperate attempts, solid rejections, drunk nights, lovely conversations, wins and then it would end. It would come to this point where I would be cramming shitty law cases into my head for another upcoming end of semester exam. And I would wonder what the point of life was if I would repeat this over and over again for eternity. The same thing in a different pattern and again and again.
I thought that was bad then I started working and every Monday morning feels the same. I drag myself out of bed and try to put good cheer on it. I try to be happy, I tell myself a thousand things that I’m sure are repeated all over the world. Get it done one hour at a time, bury yourself in work and then it will pass faster, don’t do so much work and it will pass easier. A thousand and one platitudes but none of them is ever able to get rid of the dread that I feel as Monday approaches. The loathing I feel as I live through it. The depression I deal with every Monday, every single Monday ad infinitum. My own personal groundhog burrowing deeper and deeper into my soul with every passing week. To tell the truth how could I possibly be happy.
I think about the work itself and how little I enjoy it. How quickly I knew in my bones that this is not what I want to do every day for the rest of my life or really any other day on this earth. I think about just how little pleasure I get from my work and then I think about something else, anything else. I have another drink, I have a cigarette, I read a book, listen to music. Anything to keep myself from the mind-numbing work that I have to do. Anything to avoid seriously considering how it makes me feel. Then I get scared about how easy it is to settle for this because I need money. Money for lunch and credit, money for girls and liquor, money for internet and saving. Money for so many of the things you get used to once you have a pay check and the thought of one month without this money is enough to freeze me into an acceptance that I know is killing my soul. But human beings are not higher creatures after all. When an angel knew he didn’t want to kneel down to some imperfect creature he led a rebellion against a god that he knew to be omnipotent and omniscient yet I can’t quit my job even though I have neither rent nor a child.
So I sat there watching Groundhog Day to take my mind off of all these things and instead it showed me exactly what was wrong. That I was doing the same thing and not enjoying it. That I was stuck in a job that was destroying my soul and that even as I write this I’m putting things in past tense as if I went ahead and changed any of this. I know what I should do. But knowing is not enough. There is a discontentment I feel and its spreading its fingers to touch almost everything in my life.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I know I have hated this year profoundly. This is not to say that I haven’t enjoyed the good times and the people that I have met this year. This is not to say that I haven’t laughed or indulged my appetites or controlled them at times or being over the moon happy this year. But it is to say I have really hated this year. There has been something off about the year 2014, so off that I almost write it off always thinking that we are living in 2015 and next year is 2016. There has been an inky spidery thing thrown over my life this year and I haven’t liked it. I don’t even know if I’m happy or not. Sometimes I think I am but even then I ask myself if I’m really happy or I just think I am. I try my best to convince myself that thinking I’m happy is as good as being happy and that there is no absolute value in truth. That sounds false though. And it makes me think that I know I am unhappy. That I am deeply unhappy with my life and the way I have lived it. With the things I do and the things I can’t stop doing. Maybe this fleeting joy that comes so easily to me is the problem. A butterfly, a sunset, a drop of rain, a pretty smile will give me pleasure enough that I can forget what’s going on inside until the next rush. So I don’t have to think about it.
Then of course there are the books. Volumes upon volumes, reams and reams that I consume steadily and I begin to think can be as debilitating as any addiction. I read not to discover but to escape. Because I’m not particularly enjoying what I’m feeling I lose myself in the world of what others are feeling, I allow it to take me somewhere else and have me think of a life that is not my own. Because they are books nobody will ever question this addiction i could read myself to an early grave but the fact that it’s something as innocuous as books means that nobody will ever tell me to stop. It’s probably as dangerous as booze because it’s a way to avoid reality to escape life and enter somewhere else. Somewhere where you are not a disappointment to a family that showered you with love or to a younger version of yourself that had nothing but hope.
I really, really don’t know what’s wrong with me. As I read and edit this right now I think its too bleak. I enjoyed today at work, it was interesting the assignment I had. The day passed swiftly and easily. I skidded around on my new shoes and this made me happy though it may be just another symptom of my pleasures taking away my pain. I made the decision to stop, not quit, just stop drinking to see if I can go the amount of time that it takes to know that its not really a problem. I realised that there really is no need to hide in my room because everything comes from a place of caring. But I also know that knowing all this and not acting on it doesn’t help anybody and so, I’m going to try my best to be better than I have been for a long time.