(Joe says, "This is kinda heavy. Less emo stuff is to come")
It's tough to wrap my brain around the last fifteen years. My retreat from life was so glacially slow that I never once felt in any real danger, even as the landscape of my life was being scoured and scrubbed, pushing me, like some prehistoric hunter/gatherer, away from the life I once had.
Of course now I realize that I was the one who created this glacier, and that it was largely illusory. At first I needed it to push me away from the stimuli that frightened and intimidated me, but in time I turned away and started fleeing on my own, never pausing to look back.
Over the last fifteen years I have methodically stripped away all opportunities for good experiences, and worse yet I've redefined opportunity as obligation and burden, further erecting impenetrable barriers between myself and stimuli.
Finally, I know that I have put a staggering amount of time and energy into hurting myself. The only thing I ever let myself be really good at, the only thing I ever put maximum effort into, was torturing myself.
It's still not entirely clear to me why this was so important to me, but my working theory revolves around the idea of punishment. If I accept that there is something worthwhile inside me, a spark that is worth sharing with the world, and I've still spent fifteen years running away and hiding from every opportunity to share it... I think I subconsciously knew I was wasting something rare and pretty special. On some level I believed I deserved the torture because I was too weak to stand the judgment of phantom people in situations that I animated into nightmare scenarios.
If the last fifteen years could be summed up as a prison sentence I have to admit that I was the judge, jury, dungeon keeper, and torturer. I locked myself away for a crime I entrapped myself into committing and then tortured myself because deep down inside I knew that I did have something to offer the outside world after all.
But I'm out now. The glacier is melting. I can see where I've been, and where I'm going.