Letters From the Eastside – Letter Six

Dear Mother Directional,

Father Correctional has been on my mind lately. And albeit true, I am thinking about the way I was taught to be and how I was trained to live. I have been considering the blueprints of my life and the plans that I have followed. As well, I have been sifting through my thoughts about my honesty – and honestly, I wonder how truthful we are about the life we live.
What I mean is there’s a question that we ask each other. And we ask this often. It’s a simple question too. But as simple as this is, no one ever answers this honestly. At least, not mostly. The questions we ask when we see each other are interesting to say the least.
We’ll ask “how are you” or “how’ve you been,” but how often do we answer this with an honest response?

I was thinking about getting away. Well, I suppose this is more like running away. But at the end of the day, there is no running away. There’s only life. There’s only the things we see and the things we think and feel. But again, how many people can we say this to without them judging or dismissing us? And better yet, why do we even care?

How are you?
How does someone answer this in today’s day and age? How do you answer this honestly?
Or can you?
If we answer this honestly, I think most of us would find ourselves in a room, dressed in a hospital gown with doctors in white lab coats and holding clipboards with pages about our progress. I think there are times that if we answered this question honestly, we’d be locked up in a psych ward and sitting next to a person who drools in a medicated state.
How are you? Sheesh! Give me a break!.
And here’s the crazy part about this: it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to have a rough time. It’s okay to have something going on. Even if we did something wrong or if we made huge mistakes or said something or did something – still, there’s always a way to recover. It might not be easy and there might not be a way to go back to what was – but recovery is always an option. But to us, all we see are flaws and imperfections which is why no one answers the question honestly. 

How are you?
Mother, I am not sure how to answer this question. I’m certainly sure that it’s not safe to answer this question honestly – at least, not to everyone.
Then again, the fact remains that when people say “How are you” or if they ask “How’ve you been,” no one really expects an answer. Or at least not a long one.
They want to hear, “I’m fine” or “Everything’s good. Lost some weight. Got a new show to watch on television.” or some other line of surface-level, superficial bullshit.

How do you answer something like this?
How am I?
Well, my stomach is uncomfortable and I’m in and out of the bathroom all day. My anxiety is through the roof. I literally think that people believe that I am a fool, that I am last to be in on the joke and worse, the joke is on me because I am the punchline.
My frustration with life and my reflection in the mirror is a challenge for me.
Um. and what else?
Oh yeah, I have miserable thoughts. I believe everyone hates me and that something awful is going to happen to me at any minute. The impending doom is growing bigger by the minute. I’m out of shape. I feel inadequate . . .
And let’s see; um, I think my life is a dead-end catastrophe with one tragedy after another.
So, what I do is behave in ways that perpetuate my own sadness and then I self-destruct by making poorly advised emotional decisions. 

What was the question again?
How am I?
Well, I have dishonest thoughts. I have aggressive thoughts. Violent thoughts. I have degrading thoughts that keep me down and leave me in a constant flood of guilt and regret.
What else? Oh yeah. I just had a conversation with someone whose breath smelled like a projectile bathroom function.
Um, and I have abandonment issues. I’m painfully insecure. I have imposter syndrome and I’m just waiting for the day that everyone discovers that I’m actually an idiot and a fraud.
Let’s see. What else?
I live with depression and, to be honest, the only thing I have going for me right now is I’m going to eat a big lunch so that afterwards, I’m full enough to go into a food coma and be so narcotized that I can fall asleep and let the afternoon slip by without having to check in.
But other than that, I’m pretty good.
I mean, I’m sweaty and my social anxiety tells me that you’re judging me. But like I said – yeah, I’m pretty good.
And you? How’s everything with you?

This is a crazy thing to say. But I’m somewhat sure that there’s a long list of people out there who can relate to this. Meanwhile, answering the how are you question, I would probably assume that while speaking, the person I’d be telling this to would be thinking all sorts of shit.
And all the while, they’d be nodding with a smile and acting as if they care – thinking to themselves, “Jesus Christ man, did you even look in the mirror this morning and comb your hair? What the hell are you wearing, by the way?” and while thinking this, they’d be interjecting with a comment like, “Oh, so it’s like you have irritable bowel syndrome and you’re on the toilet every half-hour? Uh-huh,” and as they nod their head at me in a false display of empathy, their judgments cinch tighter like the clicks of a handcuff that clamps too tightly around a convict’s wrist.

This is why no one ever says how they feel or what they really think. This is why no one talks about their problems because nobody wants their demons to come to the light.
No one wants to be exposed – or “feel” exposed and no one wants to be humiliated by themselves or their actions.
So, we put on a brave face. We smile as if nothing is wrong and then we’ll answer the question with the traditional, “I’m fine and you?” Then we’ll part ways or go someplace else and if we’re being honest, we’re probably still bantering between thoughts of judgment and rejection. 

I have heard of places like say, The Sanctuary of Our Lady Lourdes in France where people go to be healed. Or better yet, there’s a little place in New Mexico, which interests me the most. The place is called Chimayo. It’s a small adobe church in the hills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. 

Supposedly, this is one of the most visited holy places in America. There’s something about the dirt which is known for its healing properties.
I’ve heard of shrines and healers and places where, supposedly, divine miracles take place. I’ve heard of people experiencing an emotional baptism where they find themselves in the realm of a spiritual awakening; and just like that, they find themselves healing from years of trauma and decades of depression and self-inflicted wounds that never had to happen. 

Instead, we’ll act or we’ll pretend and we say how “everything’s fine,” when the fact is everything’s crazy. We live in a crazy world. We all have crazy thoughts. We all want to tell the world to go “fuck-off” at least once or twice a day. More and more, we learn that people are either full of shit or they have their own agenda.
You can’t tell anyone this stuff. You can’t tell people the truth about how you’re doing, because if you do, then what? They’ll talk shit about you later? Or tell their friends, like hey, did you hear what happened to Brother Bewildered?
Yeah, and he almost shit his pants on the 16th floor too. So, try not to stand too close to him. You might catch a case of his crazy . . .

I know that this is a little amplified and dramatic. But I write this way to show how people might think. I say this in a partly funny description which is also partly sad. But either way, all parts come together to fully address the elephant in the room. 

I’m through with this and there are times when all I wish for is like something I read about in a book or heard about from listening to Jack Keruac’s, “October In The Railroad Earth.”

I want to find myself somewhere away, far from the cracks and crevices of my personal inconsistencies. No pain. No regret. No worries about the news in the morning paper and to be somewhere else. Somewhere, like, I don’t know . . .
Maybe a little coffee shop in San Francisco or by a town south of all the crazy rubble and the fast paced lifestyles. I want to find a place where the evening events are chasing fireflies and greeting a neighbor at sunset with a glass of lemonade or iced-tea.
I want to find a place where the monotonies of life are canceled out by the healing power of a beautiful community, a utopia, and the grand scheme of life could be simplified by a good bowl of corn chowder and some bread to soak up the last bits of soup and corn. 

Mother, I think that there is truth to the idea that we can’t tell everybody everything. But I do believe that we have to tell somebody something. We have to find an outlet. Otherwise, we will absolutely explode. 

We have to find something that helps us make sense of this. And what I mean is we have to find something helpful – not for a quick fix or for a brief shot of something exhilarating or euphoric because those highs never last long enough. 

I don’t know. . .

Call me crazy but I have a desire to head out to Northern New Mexico right now. I want to go to that place called Chimayo in the hills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. 

I want to grab some of that dirt. So I could be healed too. 

I’ll reach out to you again soon.

Love always,

Your son

B –

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