Aaron West, Crystal Meth, and Holiday Fractals: A Letter

Dear Loathing,

You’ve been one of my greatest friends throughout the years, suctioned to my brain like a Lamprey, swimming behind my eyes, distorting my perspective. I always knew those weren’t floaters but rather translucent snakes reminding me of how much I hate myself. Every time I rub my eyes, stand up too quick, or look at a light for too long, you’re always there.

And I wish you weren’t.

I spent years believing things couldn’t get better. From crisis to crisis you assured me it would always be this way. Behind every negative word said to me, you would echo, “They’re right, you know?”

And I always believed you.

I’m trying to get rid of you, trying to build up positivity. So when my methed-out Step-Father messages me telling me I’m a “pussy” and that I’m “not a man”, I only believe it for a little while. When I get disappointed or heart broken I only believe it’s my fault for a little while. When I’m defeated, I don’t stay there wallowing like I used to.

I went from “I’m starting to believe that there’s a God and he hates me” to believing in myself instead.

So when my brother tells me he loves me and that I’m the reason he’s still alive, I can detach that Lamprey from my Hippocampus. When my friend encourages me in my passions, it gives my brain a moment to heal. When I think about leaving this place behind, moving out to the mountains, I’m not filled with doubt or feel defeated.

It’s been a long while since I’ve had hope, and I’m afraid I’ll lose it. It’s Christmas Eve and it’s snowing, and to most this would feel magical. The sight of snow fills me with fear. That cold white dredges up so many bad memories. This holiday season has always been hard and I’ve been so disillusioned over the years. You always comes back, Loathing, and that’s why I’m afraid. Every time something negative happens I know that you’re waiting with a handful of dead sunflowers ready to spit in my face and say, “I told you so.”

I’m trying to dissociate the white of the snow with the trauma in my life. Snow is such a wonderful thing and I’m tired of feeling afraid of it. I’m tired of it reminding me of you. I’m clinging to hope that you will stay away, that I’ll have the strength to keep fighting you, and that I’ll continue to have the will to pursue a more whole me.

Sincerely,

Your Oldest Friend and Newest Enemy

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Continental Divide or A Depressed Man’s Guide to Folding Yourself

Ache.

Resonating through snow-capped peaks, pulsating through the soles of my battered Nikes. There’s a groaning. The slipping of plates, tectonic quakes, millennia of friction and reformation. Earth has many spines to walk on, the white, osseous snow, gold her marrow. Thin air cracks the skin, nosebleed, crimson drop marries hexagonal flakes in a salacious rosé. The mountains always give me so much, it felt like a pitiful sacrifice, accidental, minute.

Rumination; digesting experience. Inevitable.

I’ve spent so much time in my life trying to forsake myself.

I’m a mountain that has been moved.

Spent years pouring out pieces of myself because I was taught altruism is Holy, and the self is to be cast aside.

I’m a river that is all dried up.

I lost my salt. No spice in life. Settling to be a vessel. Settling to be a pump.

I’m an ocean nothing floats on.

Always looking past the sky in an attempts to glimpse heaven. A concept. Intangible.

I’m a sky that nothing wants to fly in.

I kept putting aside existence. Allowing others’ passions to be more important than mine.

I’m a sun that doesn’t burn hot.

Shame embodied, never knowing myself to be anything else. Offering nothing but loathing to mirrors.

I’m a moon that never shows it’s face.

Lip service. Conflicting morality. Too tired to save face anymore.

I’m a mouth that doesn’t smile.

Tired of being poured out. Tired of “being a light”. Tired of being a silhouette.

I’m a word that no one ever wants to say.

Fold up my legs, fold up my arms, forget me in the attic. I hope that origami self collects dust while I figure this new one out. I hope his memory becomes a hazy vignette when placed next to my future. And I thought about him while standing on Mother Nature’s spine, that Origa-Me. I thought about when I gave up my faith, when I started making those creases, how hard it was but how freeing it felt. I thought about my father figures, and how I didn’t want to reflect them, making that first fold. I thought about my therapy, about my traumas, all the parts of myself I gave away, shaping and folding. I thought about my mother and how many times she’s said, “I just want to see you happy” as I put in the finishing creases. I thought about the freedom I felt in that thin air, the excitement of placing that Origa-Me self in a box as I dreamed of a future I wanted. How satisfying the hops of a hazy IPA were as I pulled down the ladder. The callouses on my fingers from copper strings felt more authentic as I place the box under the rafters in the corner. How the mountains shifted like I did, slow and steady, as the edges of my Origa-Me self starts to yellow. How my groaning went from disembodied and pained to purposeful and passionate. Dreams don’t seem so outlandish. Free to indulge in happiness and hope as other boxes surround that paper man. It’s uncomfortable because it’s new, it’s uncomfortable because it’s making me whole. Galvanized, compacted. Turning to exuberance and anxious excitement; a different kind of

Ache.