Yesterday I said to my therapist “I have the illusion that I’m not a loving person.” O my. Words that come out of my mouth like that are true. So I have to really get it. Reminded me that once, long ago, I wrote in my journal (on the left hand page which was left blank for comments from the future) “you know — I like you…” so I looked it up. I opened the document for journal 1970, and it came open to this:
May 1970 Written in Davis just after the killings at Kent State.
I am so cold. the darkness is all around. i shelter my tiny flame which flickers desperately in the storm. i cannot do anything. i have no friends to ask for help. my talisman is a bottle of stomach pills which contain belladonna and phenobarbital. belladonna is a poison and phenobarbital a barbiturate so the whole bottle of pills plus half a bottle of whiskey or so should do the trick.
I do not know yet, perhaps i am writing this book to justify my own suicide — the point where I say “oh, so that’s the kind of person i am. oh, so that’s the reason i am writing.” i think perhaps i am one of those people whom god did not mean to live. i should have died of smallpox, perhaps, at the age of eleven, in the golden years before the war. but modern technology spared me for the anguish of a crippled mind facing an insane and anguished world.
The world is not really falling apart. The bombs have not started to fall here yet, and no one has yet fired a gun on this campus. But the university is closed down and we are all wandering blindly like ants when their log is turned over. i can’t find any friends. i can’t find any of the members of my karass. i cannot find any one with whom i could sit down and say “we are soul brothers. we are water brothers. we are brothers. let us sit here and keep the faith shining.”
I am so desperately in need of love and to find people with whom i can hold hands and walk forward, but everyone seems to feel my need and run from it. and i have nothing to give. how can i take the emptiness inside, the anger and hatred and fear, but mostly the emptiness, how can i turn it into love which flows outward, into a golden flame which i maintain inside so that others can come and be warmed by it.
shipwreck. Shattering-so-that-someone-will-come-and-pick-up-the-pieces. fantasies of suicide which end not with death but with rescue, (are not all conscious suicides cries for help.) a familiar pattern — trying to get people to come to you, to respond to you because you are or you act the struggling martyr — “look how bravely i am bearing up under the sorrows i so sensitively feel” meaning “help me! help me!” but no one responds to that. People come to and like someone with something to give — an aura of strength, warmth, stability, courage. What are those values that i was trying to keep alight inside during the short period when i had a human soul? love, tenderness, compassion, mercy, reverence.
the answer my friend is blowin in the wind — but the wind is about to blow it out.
i could turn my face to the wall and simply stop eating. though i am afraid that i have lost the ability of the more primitive and dignified men to choose death. is it time to give back the gift? but i have done nothing with it. but then again the “true meaning” of my life is probably not at all what i would think it was.
why am i in such bad shape that the world looks utterly hopeless? i am a weakling and a coward (“oh, so that’s the kind of person that i am is it”) a little voice fights that judgement but that may be only the last vestige of pride or idealism. perhaps if i could fully accept that i am a weakling and a coward then i could perform whatever tasks are appropriate to weaklings and cowards, instead of doing absolutely nothing at all.
Written later on the opposite page:
you know — i like you. there is power along with the pain. a sense of irony and a sense of humour. too bad there is no place for you in the world. you see too clearly in vast (astronomical?) terms, but not clearly enough in day to day terms. your visions are irrelevant. i wish that you could be happy because i like you — in spite of the fact that you are totally irrelevant and useless
no it would be hard work to climb over the sides of the Golden Gate Bridge and a longtime thinking on the way down.
ive been over this ground so many times before. and i have gotten nowhere. im still hoping that someone will come along who will love me so much that it would fill the great abyss of emptiness inside. or just that there would be a man who could shut out the abyss with the warmth of his body. but its nonsense. my only possible source of strength to go on is within myself. how can you found strength upon the abyss? somehow i know that it is possible. that is what is called an act of faith. remember that the abyss is deeper than the lack of love. the abyss is rooted in the universe, in billions of years of star formation, element building and planetary evolution. the atoms of my body existed for years beyond count in the depths of space, in supergiant stars, in rocks, in amoebae, in fish, reptiles, mammals before they ever came together in a being that was able to suffer from lack of love and from lack of meaning and from lack of community which contains both.
how? a positive idea? what if i tried to put together a therapy group (i would need to find a therapist) for all those of us who would like to do useful work in “the movement” but cannot because of our own emotional hang-ups. go back and work with your own people first. my own people are not my parents but the crazy ones. perhaps thats a task suited to a weakling and a coward. to set up a group in which other weaklings and cowards can reinforce their excuses for not acting.
having neatly demolished that little idea, (observe how well she plays “yes, but”) we will now return to drama and tragedy. unfortunately i seem to have recovered my sense of humor and though the bottle of pills still seems like a possible door to open (emergency exit only) i have to laugh at the same time.
Since all that i have written seems so stale and tiresome (i started to compile what I thought were the most powerful of my writings, but the project went dead) it might be amusing to go through my notebooks and make caustic comments from the barren perspective of 1970.
This was written the year that I went back to Portland Maine, and spent that horrible cold winter in the snow. This writing shows the exact flavor of that winter.