Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Living on the Edge

Read a review of a book called “Appetite for Self-Destruction” by Steve Knopper (haven't read the entire book so I can't endorse it) but it reminded me of a previous thought.
We all go through those times of deep problems. Whether they are perceived or real, we turn to whatever or whoever might help. Sometimes those decisions can be more harmful than the original problem.
All these books and movies about people sinking to the depths of their despair are fascinating to the casual person who’s life is in-order and finds it entertaining and somewhat revolting, but disturbing to others who have been there.
Remember that crush you had on the little girl in the fifth grade? You remember it one way and she probably wouldn’t even remember your name. The entire world surrounded thoughts of her but she didn’t even know you existed. You were too scared and insecure to talk to her or even make the attempt. Yet she was all you thought about and her lack of attention or even notice crushed your world.
You moved on to another failure but sooner or later there were options presented that made the pain go away, at least for a while. Maybe it was alcohol or cigarettes or driving fast or another girl who would not say “No”. Maybe it was a damp basement with strangers snorting through straws or driving to another country with someone you barely know but not caring if you ever get there or come back. Maybe it was the party you got lost in and woke up at home. Maybe it was the dance when the leather was a little too tight.
Some made it out to the other side and some did not. What made the difference?
If the upbringing was formidable or the emotional structure sound even the most tempting relief could be understood and overcome.
Our present day social media glorifies our excesses. Even the ones who did not make it are icons on our t-shirts. We grew up, got a job for a paycheck, created families, purchased loans and houses and cars, joined the school PTA, celebrated our parents anniversaries, made Christmas a special day, and became normal.
And when the time comes, living on the brink, for whatever reason, can be walked away from. It may be thought of as an experience survived or just luck.
Does the needle go into the vein or just under the skin? Does the peer pressure overindulge or does sleep overcome? If the car swerves will you recover or have your license revoked? Will she wait until the morning or will you be gone? Should you continue to hang with this group who abuse you or move onto another?
As a survivor, some appetites for self-destruction seems hedonist or sometimes barbaric. The old adage of “would you do it again” always comes up. It was a time in space with certain possibilities and certain people and overwhelming emotions that could have created the end, but did not; at least so far.

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