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Take Me with You When You Go

November 8, 2017

Several years ago, MTIA and I were driving home from some venue or another after a show, and I popped a mixed CD into the player. Morphine’s “Take Me with You” came on, and MTIA said, “Marry me.”

I’ve been playing this song on repeat a lot as I pack up the house and get ready to move into a new home in a new state with Fast Car. I haven’t spoken to MTIA in over a year, but it feels like it was yesterday. I haven’t had much time to dwell on it, honestly, because a slew of speaking engagements, art projects, and trying to buy a new house (and selling my old house) have taken a lot of time.

“You wanna begin again
Pretend you’re innocent…”

Yeah. I do. So what?

So we bought a big fucking house together, FastCar and me, where we’ll inevitably be the weirdos on the block. But fuck it, because I finally get my picket fence and a pool table in the basement. FastCar gets an extra garage for his, well, fast car, and I guess life is normal.

FastCar is building me an office space of my own and a new, powerful machine in the hope that I’ll quit spreading my work chaos and drafts of speeches all over the house and quit screaming every time I crash my computer. I should probably ask him to soundproof the office while he’s at it; I’ve taken to singing rather loudly while I’m working to break up the monotony and writing blocks.

Funny that a year ago, everything was disaster central. I look back and really can see now what a difference getting away from a toxic work environment (not to mention getting off so much ridiculous medication) has made. And yet…

And yet…

And yet…

Let me try to explain first that I’m not unhappy. I certainly wish I could win the lottery and not have to work so hard, but I’d have to play the lottery to even have a chance; and I wish I could play piano like Tori Amos, but I’d have to take the time to practice. So I am fully aware that my shortcomings are either a) within my power to fix or b) the result of unrealistic goals.

I am not unhappy. I am not failing. I am not scared or alone.

But every friggin’ day, I still pull a straight razor out and think about how I want to starting slashing away at my arms, my chest, my stomach. I know it’s fucked up. I know it is. And yet…

I don’t follow through with it ever, because I’m always bruised enough from other random accidents to not feel completely naked, but it’s still a battle every. single. day.

It is in no way my intention to glorify self-injury, but I’ve been reflecting a lot on addiction lately (the opioid epidemic is getting worse, and fatal overdoses have hit too close to home more times than I can even keep track of at this point; I’m ceaselessly and helplessly watching alcoholism kill a family member, and by proxy, kill his parents, too). This is my addiction: not my worst, but by far the least socially acceptable one. I haven’t managed to quit smoking, and my morning cup of low caffeine tea that has supplanted a daily pot of coffee is still adulterated by far too much sugar. But I wonder if I’m always going to feel so drawn to razors and feel ugly without my private red badges of courage. I’ve felt this way for over 20 years, more than half my life, so my guess is that the feeling won’t go away. Hell, it hasn’t even faded.

Only the social pressure to avoid this behavior keeps me from it.

But am I so different than a runner who hates missing a daily run?

Because here’s the thing that I keep returning to over and over again: what I do (or, rather, what I so desperately WANT to do) isn’t going to give me cancer or rot my liver; it’s not going to require that I even get stitches to heal. Instead, it would calm the anxiety I experience every day.

Any behavior in extreme is worrisome, whether it be a socially acceptable behavior or not. I worry like crazy about the kids I work with who are drinking or doing drugs, and I worry about the ones who cut, and I worry about the ones who believe any grade less than perfect in their schoolwork makes them a failure or who talk incessantly about food, working out, and dieting. They’re just kids, and they aren’t emotionally or intellectually prepared for the consequences of their actions.

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