I made a vague, somewhat cryptic post on social media yesterday, and a lot of people reached out to check on me afterward. First off, I want to thank everyone who did so. It means a lot to me, and it wasn’t my intention.

Since I don’t normally engage in vaguebooking I wanted to take the time to speak about what’s been going on with me, and maybe do a little bleeding on the page in the process.

And, spoiler alert, I’m not going to go into any major specifics, because I don’t think it would be fair to other people in my life, many of whom I feel I’ve let down a great deal.

That said, this is a confession, and I need to get it off my chest.

I should be asleep. I always feel like that, lately, a consequence of early mornings and long hours combined with a recent diagnosis of sleep apnea that I’m just coming to realize has been ravaging my physical health for quite a while. (If you’re showing symptoms of sleep apnea, PLEASE GO GET TREATED, ASAP, don’t let the misery continue any longer than it has to.)

But I enjoy my job most of the time in spite of the odd hours, and in spite of how antisocial it sometimes makes me. The truth is, I’ve been asleep for several years now in all the wrong ways. I have not been myself for a single moment of that time. It is 100% my fault. I realize that, and I take responsibility for it.

I’m ashamed. Of what I’ve allowed myself to become, and of what I’ve sacrificed by losing touch with what matters to me. I’ve tried to be true to everything and everyone on the planet except myself, and I can tell you it has been unbelievably self-destructive.

A few years ago, I lost a relationship that meant a great deal to me. Meant everything, really. I don’t think my heart has functioned properly since that time, which is not fair to anyone who has been in my life. You all deserve better, and I’m sorry for that.

Somewhere in that loss, I lost myself, too. I fell into a cycle of self-doubt and self-loathing that has torn holes in my soul.

And, in that process, I came to dislike myself intensely, and to feel I deserved a broken heart to fit with all the other broken pieces in a long history of tough, destructive personal moments. It’s hard to write this stuff down. I hope you won’t hold it against me.

Compounding matters, I entered into another relationship before I was really ready. In retrospect, I did that because I thought it would stop the blood flow and give me something to live for. And it did, in some ways.

But instead of letting the blood out so the wound could heal, it put a superficial covering on the wound, and the blood just pooled inside my heart, where it eventually festered and rotted.

I did what I thought people I respected would want me to do, tried to become what they would become after such an experience. And I failed miserably, because we can only be who we are, for better or worse.

All the while I was poisoning myself from the inside out. And slowly, but surely, I became a miserable, angry, overweight, passionless version of myself.

I have not been well for some time. My physical health has been the worst in my entire life. Only a few years ago it was the best it had ever been. I’ve had a hard time coping with that inexplicable occurance. My mental health has been much worse than that, believe it or not.

It’s scary to not want to be alive anymore. I used to be one of those people who looked down on that kind of thing. I’m ashamed at how naïve and judgmental I was back then. It feels like I was betraying people who had more in common with me than anyone else on this earth. It also feels like I deserve the things I’ve been through. They’ve served as an excellent check for that type of arrogance.

I regret the people that didn’t make it through those kinds of things, and I feel an intense duty to do something about that. We should lift each other up more in low moments, not less. It’s easy to lift others when they’re on the rise. It’s hard to lift them when they have the weight of the world on their shoulders. But that’s when they need our strength the most.

Judgment is as toxic for the judge as it is for the judged. I believe that.

All I can say is that throughout this whole process, I just could not find the spark that I’ve always depended on.  I felt cold, like I was wandering around in the dark without it. I could not find my sense of purpose, and it felt like I had nothing left to live for.

When others around me were building careers or starting families, I built a foundation for myself on my writing. Eventually, that foundation started to crumble under the weight of my insecurity and loss, my inability to process the intense emotions that have plagued me my entire life.

One day it collapsed altogether, and I started to scream while I was drowning. I lashed out. I hit myself in low moments. HARD. OFTEN. I hate that. And I fell all the way down, let the count get to 9.9 before I snapped back out of it.

I am standing back up now. It’s not easy. I have not been well. I’ve said that already, but I wanted to reiterate it. I’m trying. I’ve said that, too.

It’s true.

My heart aches, but at least it’s still beating. When you start obsessing in your mind about how to make that stop, something is very wrong. I sometimes feel like I can’t remember who I used to be. A lot of the time I don’t even want better things for myself, and that’s every bit as painful and self-defeating as it sounds.

But I’m still here. And I’m still trying. And I’m still saying that, hoping it will bring about positive outcomes eventually.

I once experienced a betrayal I never would have imagined. I don’t know why I took it so much harder than a reasonable person should. But the way I betrayed myself was so much worse, especially in the aftermath.

I don’t understand anything about anyone, anymore, and for a creative, emotional person that can feel like dying a thousand deaths.

But I’m not dead. There have been many, many days I wished I was. I know how awful and weak that sounds. And please, don’t worry about me, I’m getting better now, and I have no intention of leaving this world behind.

But I’m not going to sugar coat it. I have wanted to die. Often. For several years. It hurts to tell you that. I had a hard time telling anyone, at first, but it hurts more to live with it in silence. The best we can offer in life is honesty. And, honestly, I’m still here. I’m proud of that.

My life is changing again. This time I think the change is about moving back toward myself, and it’s the first healthy decision I have made in a long time.

I’m happy for that change.

It feels like backtracking away from some monumental misjudgments and freeing others who I care about to do what they need to do without dealing with my issues, too. I’m leaving a lot of financial and emotional carnage in that wake.

I have treated people poorly, at times, and been treated poorly, in turn. I have nothing to offer but repentance and forgiveness for these mistakes. Always my poor behavior was a reflection of the way I felt about myself. I’m done with that, forever.

I can’t sleep anymore. I used to could sleep anywhere, anytime. It still puzzles me what happened.

I spend most days alone now, following strangers, creeping in on lives that have nothing to do with mine, beyond paying the bills. I managed to write a novel under atrocious circumstances I’m still not entirely clear about. And I think it might be the best thing I’ve ever written, even if that turns out to be wishful thinking.

You’ll have to wait to read it and judge for yourself since it likely won’t see the light of day for several years. Blame the industry for that. Or blame me. I’m good with either outcome.

I have made so many mistakes. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. Even if I’ve always tried to do what I thought was right, I’m just waking up to the fact that I was in no condition to understand that kind of concept.

Let me tell you a fundamental truth: You cannot help others if you are drowning yourself. Don’t even try.

I hope you can understand where I’m calling from. If you are not well, I hope you will call me, because I will be there for you. I hope if I’ve done anything to alienate you in recent years, it will be forgiven, as I have not been myself. I take full responsibility for my actions. I’m sorry.

Know that I forgive you, too, if you have wronged me, and that you have my love and respect and support.

Above all, please, everyone, don’t choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I promise I won’t, either.

I miss the mountains all the time now. Intensely. They have always been my refuge, the one place where I have ever felt I belonged. Every moment that I’m awake I miss them.

I miss those amazing bluebird days where the sky is so close you could touch it, and the sun feels so good you could melt and become one with the world. I’m headed back to find that feeling again. Come and find it with me, if you want. I can’t wait to see you there. Wait for me if I haven’t arrived yet.

In the meantime, I do have a new novel, Rose City, coming out on March 25th from Down and Out Books, which was the real topic of the original vague social media post. I’m feeling very positive about that. It’s my favorite thing I’ve ever had published, to date, and I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy and giving it a read.

It’s an emotional book that touches on some tough social issues, but, hey, I’m an emotional guy.  I’m done treating that as a weakness. I’m also done letting it run amok in my life. Let’s talk soon, old friends and new. Peace!

Posted by Michael Pool

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