Saturday, 30 April 2011
Tonight I watched Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind with an old friend. I wound up getting very emotional. At first I thought I was panicking, but this felt differently. My mind was going a mile a minute, but I couldn't tell what it was processing. It was all going on in the background.
Here's what I came up with. I recall in high school, when I played basketball non-stop and was in pretty decent shape, crying in my girlfriend's living room unable to believe that she really loved me because I was so fat. I'll be the first to admit that I was an idiot in high school, and not just because I felt unwanted despite the mountain of evidence my girlfriend had given me to the contrary. But I now believe that those particular thoughts weren't the result of being an idiot since that mindset never changed over the next decade. Every relationship I have had, whether purely physical, emotional, or what have you, I never believed they could be into me on account of my weight. This tainted some potentially great relationships, and it caused me to be perhaps more callous to people I cared about than I should have been.
As a defense mechanism, I developed a philosophy of non-attachment; of enjoying another person but never depending on them. This is, of course, a good idea, but not for the motivation that drove me. This is very strange because I'm a passionate and empathetic person. Because I feel for those around me, and share their happiness and their suffering as my own, is why I do what I do (and why I do it so fiercely). I also love intimacy. Don't get me wrong, I like sex as much as the next guy, but I prefer just being close to someone and looking at the stars, sharing an inside joke, or just saying nothing at all and being comfortable.
But now that I'm getting healthier, everything is a little more intense - sometimes a lot more intense. The stars are brighter than they've ever been. The grass is greener. Even my curiosity, which I thought was immense by comparison to most, is far more overwhelming than it ever was. The tiniest things bring me levels of happiness that would have been the pinnacle of the first 29 years of my life. And watching that movie tonight, with two people sharing a level intimacy only possible in the imaginary perfection visible only in the medium of celluloid, I didn't find myself thinking ill of them - I found it beautiful. I also found myself wondering what I may have missed up until this point in my life on account of my condition. As it turns out, there were never two words with so much power to make us miserable as 'what if'.
Holding someone's hand, kissing. Just sharing a vulnerable moment with another human being...
With my mind in its present state, these things don't just sound like an enjoyable speed bump while my life goes by, nor do they sound like something to endure while my partner waits for someone better-looking. Instead they seem to be one of the only ways, and perhaps the best way, to slow your life down so you can enjoy the moments. My disease has been productive - I have spent many lonely nights reading and otherwise improving myself on account of believing I had to try harder to be loved. My illness is a part of me that has contributed greatly to who I am. But it has also, without a doubt, robbed me of a host of meaningful moments and experiences that were at my fingertips if only I had been able to grasp them.
Having a healthy mind is like waking up on a new planet. It's amazing how different the world looks, and how differently I am able to think about it. I sometimes feel like I'm two weeks old. I'm normally not a fan of 'what if', but I can't help but wish I had gotten treatment much sooner in life.