If I wrote down every single thing making me feel bad, so I did, but I don’t. I thought that the fog would lift even a little if I dutifully scratched down even the lamest of fears, the most pedestrian upset: I miss my friends, I’m scared, everything is bad, I hate this country, I want to go somewhere, I want the vaccine, the news is so horrible and there’s no end and I can’t go anywhere and I’m tired of doctors and hospitals and I just want to be free of the weight of having a mortal form and I want more work but I’m scared to ask for it.
I thought it would help, but it didn’t, because I can’t do anything.
I feel bad and I know why I feel so bad. I feel bad because the sky is pitch black in mid-March and it hasn’t lifted since October and I know I would feel just a tiny bit human if there was a ray of sun. I know that I can’t go out when it’s this cold because it makes me more ill, and feeling ill makes me feel worse, and being in pain makes me resent having a human body more, so I stay inside and tend to it like a dilapidated old mansion and hope that it’ll stop hurting so much, that it’ll hold long enough for when we can do something again.
I feel bad because if I can’t leave the house and I can’t travel and I can’t see a friend, then all I can do is read or work or write or watch TV. But I feel too drained and depressed and empty to do the things I actually like, like reading, so instead I sit at my laptop, but I can’t work and I don’t want to so I just refresh and I scroll and I read and I’m not really reading. Opinions and headlines and infographics and takes just kind of fly into my eyes and I absorb them but I don’t understand, I just take on the weight of what they mean with a resigned depression.
I know that I would feel better if I stopped, if I closed it and walked away, but if I had to do that all of the bad would still be happening, all that evil would be out there, and I would have to find something else to do, but I’m too empty and too stupid to just do that. When someone says hey, here’s a work to do, I say god, thank you, thank you for this distraction from my own endless pit. And I haven’t felt so bad in a long time, because when I was younger I got so tired of feeling this bad all the time that I found ways to feel better. Those ways have been cut off: friends, flowers, turning off the phone, disappearing into the ocean or a movie theatre or a restaurant for just enough hours to regain my humanity, to know that the world isn’t as bad as it is if you only consume it in snippets and headlines and takes.
I know that I have to caveat, don’t I? At least I’m alive, at least I have a roof over my head, at least I can feed myself, at least at least at least. And I do feel lucky, and guilty, which is why I keep quiet, which is why I have felt so bad for six months and not told a soul, because I don’t want to take up any space in their phone or heart when they have so much else going on. Like everyone, I feel bad and I keep it inside because everybody wants your caveats, your full disclosures. You can’t say you feel bad without telling them everything, and I don’t want to tell anyone everything.
I felt bad, and now I feel worse, and I know all I can do is keep doing it: work, write, go to the doctor, call the hospital, try to speak to my friends even if knowing they’re there but not having them close is breaking me in two. Even if I know I won’t tell them everything and I’m a bad friend because I have no energy to be the person they love. An end is closer, now, and I was so optimistic a year ago, so ready to let time make me better. But I have no energy left to be the person I was, to be hopeful for the world I’m emerging into, because I’ve seen the worst of it every day for a year.
I don’t ever see the things I like about the world in my phone anymore, the humanity and warmth and spontaneity. I’ve forgotten what they felt like to touch: fresh tomatoes and karaoke and sticky floors and balcony bars and books with edges wet from saltwater. I can’t come close to feeling like a human person who once ran laughing through the streets. I don’t know her, and that isn’t the world that I get to see in my computer, and it’s not the one that I see when I step outside for the two chores I’m allowed to do, and I’m just waiting it out, the optimism I had in the summer drained like blood.
I feel bad, and one day I’ll feel better. Maybe writing it down brings me closer to the world I love, the person I can be. Maybe someone will let me have this half-formed feeling without a caveat.