There was a time I knew who I was.
It was very long ago, back when I was still in grade school. Back then – back in the 90’s – I could care less if people liked me. I was comfortable in my own skin, as weird as it was, and I thrived on moving through life to the beat of my own drum. It was a period in which I made many forgettable enemies, but also made many unforgettable friends. Those who gravitated toward me were those who saw me for who I truly was and found they enjoyed that version of David Alderman. Those who hated me hated what they lacked inside themselves.
It’s strange that years later, here in 2017, that version of David Alderman feels like a ghost, an echo image of someone who once resided within me, in place of me probably. Now that version and this are two completely different people. That version of David sometimes looks back at me from the mirror, but I don’t always recognize him. He can be heard in a laugh that I expel from this deceiving shell, or sensed when I feel the warmth of my wife’s hand.
Who am I now? More importantly, how did I get here, to this point where I am such a different individual that I cannot relate in any way, shape, or form to the David who once was?
I used to be carefree. I used to be spontaneous. I used to be somewhat irresponsible, less agitated, and overall way less cynical of life and all of its complexities. I dove head first into trouble without a second thought, I rose on the waves of adventure.
Life threw lemons at me, but I caught those lemons and made the best damn lemonade anyone had ever tasted. More importantly, I didn’t question the lemons. I just took them and did what I needed to with them.
Now I’m anxious, crippled with a variety of neurosis. I fear things that don’t exist, I shun things I used to enjoy. I snap, I bark, I bite. I regard the things I used to enjoy to be trivial, immature. I over-analyze every single situation, I count the cost a dozen times, I hesitate so much that many times I miss those opportunities in life that beg for spontaneity.
I’ve become, for lack of a better word, Jaded.
It’s the one word I would use to describe myself nowadays. I really hate using that word, but it’s a word that encompasses truth, and the truth is why I write these things out. If I’m going to shy away from the truth when I find it, then what is the point of digging for it?
But what am I jaded from?
I carry so many (emotional) scars, so many hurts, so many betrayals. Friends who stabbed me in the back, family who turned, relationships that nearly drowned me in depression, those I love who died from so many preventable things. The list has grown long over the past 15-20 years.
The thing is, I didn’t become jaded knowingly. It just happened, little by little. Fragments of hurt chipped away at me, subtly, so I wouldn’t notice. Now entire pieces of me are missing. To compensate, I created defenses that keep those who hurt me and those who love me out just the same.
And now I sit in this chair, writing out this post, realizing I have betrayed myself. Every day, in every way, my old self – David 1.0 – summons me to join him in the things we/I used to enjoy…
…to smell the roses despite the thorns, instead of tossing the rose because of the thorns.
It’s time to drop the defenses. It’s time to put away the hatchets I built when I thought I was living life. It’s time to face the man who broke every rule to live, and put away the man who created every rule to die.
It’s time to chase after the real me, and hope I’m not too late…