Hi. My name is John, and I’m a COVID Longhauler. And I’m about to lose my shit.
Here’s the truth: I am about to break. And the scary thing is, I can feel it.
The tiny fissures are becoming spiderweb cracks in my foundation — my brain, my heart, my lungs. Of course, there’s the question of why I seem to be the only one who sees the cracks. The doctors don’t. My “support system” doesn’t — or, if they do, they need some remedial support-system classes.
I have said over and over and over again … as recently as last night: I. Am. Not. Right. I have reached out to loved ones … the ones who remain, anyway. I have reached out to medical professionals long after their tests showed that I’m peaches and cream, asking them, pleading, begging… “What do I do about this?”
I get it. They don’t know what to do, and I’m sick of going bankrupt paying bills that confirm their ignorance.
I try. Every goddamn day I am trying. I am doing the hard thing. Keeping up with my responsibilities. Exceeding expectations. Being an A+ employee. Doing the extras here, there and everywhere. Switching hats with dizzying regularity. Taking over for those who express their own sense of overwhelm or demonstrate a stunning yet somehow still employable on-the-job incompetence. I manage my time like a beast so that there is always an extra 10 minutes to be the good dad or the good husband or the good employee or halfway decent basketball coach or or or or or. Despite all that is going on somewhere inside me … I. Get. Shit. Done.
Regularly … regularly … this is done with little to no recognition or appreciation. In ordinary times, this is how I like to fly and is a reality inscribed in diamond as the First Tenet of Empath Life.
And never once have I said, “Ya know what? Fuck this. Fuck trying. Fuck the responsibilities. Fuck the effort. Fuck the hard thing. Fuck it all. Fuck. It. All. Do it your goddamn self. Pick up your own slack. Don’t look to me to solve your shit. Solve your own shit for a change. Find your own wisdom. Find your own comfort. Find your own path. Because I sure as shit am tired of bushwhacking yours only to be left in the middle of an unfamiliar jungle, a puddle of exhaustion — confused and lost amid a torrent of misfiring neurons that take me from Pretty Smart Dude to Doofus, from enough to less-than, from me to … gone. So yes, fuck this. If you need me, don’t. Because I’m going to be in a cabin in the woods of Montana or a lodge in the jungles of Costa Rica or a villa by the sea in Capri or under my own goddamn blankets in bed in this Redneck Riviera of a Red State I call home. And I’m not coming back until this shit changes. Fuck. This. Shit.”
No, never once have I said that. Instead and, again, with stomach-turning regularity, I have allowed others to pivot conversations back toward their shit and what I can do for them because, hey, we did talk for a good 75 seconds about how I was doing with my Plague-Induced Mystery Illness so surely now we can talk for 75 minutes about the problems you create and recreate for yourself on the regular by not following through on the advice I reached into my soul to give you in the previous 75-minute session I donated to your cause. And for those who don’t regularly pivot the conversation back to themselves but instead choose the even more glorious maneuver of demonstrating their love and concern by going radio silent for months on end despite professing to be my brother or friend or loved one? I am the one who breaks the silence and says, “Hey man! Haven’t heard from you in a while! How’s it going… friend.” How over-the-top fucked up is that?
And the cherry on top of this shit sundae? Along the way, I have swallowed steaming shovels full of other people’s callous indifference to the daily hell I am living. So not only am I giving and giving and giving but I am giving and giving and giving to people who are so fucking tone deaf to the realities of our current age that they can have a somewhat-living example of how bad it can be right in front of their goddamn faces and still say COVID is overblown and that they think it’s stupid that they have to wear a mask. This happens everywhere I go, no matter what hat I’m wearing at the moment.
And these are the people who love me!
Fuck. That. Shit.
In the 2010 thriller “Shutter Island” an up-and-coming U.S. Marshall named Teddy Daniels is sent to investigate the disappearance of a patient from a hospital for the criminally insane. Spoiler alert: Shit goes crazy. By the time the movie is steamrolling toward its conclusion, Teddy, who, when he arrived on the island that houses the hospital, was the picture of confidence and accomplishment despite being a bit seasick..
… is a twitchy, trembling heap who, with help from everyone else on the island, doubts his own sanity and experience of reality.
One theory on this movie is that Teddy is not crazy. The premise, then, is that, if you’re on one side of the “This Is Reality” equation and everyone else is on the other, does it really matter if your reality is the true reality? If everyone on your island says 1+1=3, can you really say it’s 1+1=2? And if you continue to insist on the rightness of the answer being 2 while everyone else says it’s 3, well, who’s the crazy one?
So here’s the deal: I am tired of saying 1+1=2 among an island full of people whose reality is 1+1=3. I’m tired of being the one to say that relationships need to be in some way reciprocal and consistent. I’m tired of being the one people turn to to get all their insecurities secured just to be left alone when I’m dealing with some pretty major shit. I’m tired of people who honestly believe their walk through life does not have unintended consequences that matter and that the fact that they didn’t intend to be an assholes means they were not, in fact, an asshole who would be wise to apologize for their assholeyness. I am alone on this island and I. Am. Tired.
I am tired of all the callousness, all the indifference, all the isolation, all the bullshit.
Which brings me back to the cracks in the foundation. That spiderweb of faults that is growing and widening. The reality is that I can’t keep living like this. I can’t. I’m trying. I’ve tried. I can’t.
I’m not going to. At least for now. So here goes:
A refrain, from a notable 21st century poet: “Ya know what? Fuck this. Fuck trying. Fuck the responsibilities. Fuck the effort. Fuck the hard thing. Fuck it all. Fuck. It. All. Do it your goddamn self. Pick up your own slack. Don’t look to me to solve your shit. Solve your own shit for a change. Find your own wisdom. Find your own comfort. Find your own path. Because I sure as shit am tired of bushwhacking yours only to be left in the middle of an unfamiliar jungle, a puddle of exhaustion — confused and lost amid a torrent of misfiring neurons that take me from Pretty Smart Dude to Doofus, from enough to less-than, from me to … gone. So yes, fuck this. If you need me, don’t. Because I’m going to be in a cabin in the woods of Montana or a lodge in the jungles of Costa Rica or a villa by the sea in Capri or under my own goddamn blankets in bed in this Redneck Riviera of a Red State I call home. And I’m not coming back until this shit changes. Fuck. This. Shit.”
3 responses to “And Now, An Epic Longhauler Rant”
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