Just before I began writing this piece, I re-posted an entry from October of 2010 titled "Retirement". The message of "Retirement" is one that takes us into the thinking of a person who feels they have lived their life to where it is supposed to end. It takes us into the mind of a person who feels that there is nothing left for them to do in life and so life is without purpose and they retire from life.
The reason I posted "Retirement" again was to give me a point to start from in explaining to those of you who are interested who I see myself as being. When I wrote "Retirement" I was not suicidal and had no plans in actually retiring from life myself. The thought of being able to retire from life though visited my brain and my mind on almost a daily basis. sometimes I am able to shake the feeling off while at other times that feeling of retiring from life sits and simmers in my mind changing form and direction and taking me away from what I would normally be thinking about. There are times when I am watching a good baseball game or a historical documentary and suddenly I discover that I have missed the show and my mind had traveled to darker places than National Geographic could ever take it. I miss out on a lot of life in this manner. One of the reasons this blog exists is to record events that I do remember once in a while because I know they won't be in my mind forever. Another reason for writing here is to let people know me now and in the future after I am gone.
There are a few things I need to make clear before you read any further. It is important to know that I do not expect anyone to have a clear understanding of what goes on in my mind. I cannot understand what a couple of my friends have felt because they lost a child nor can I understand the pain they continue to carry inside of them years after losing that child. I have never been in that situation and I hope I never am. The pain must be unbearable to them. I know the pain they feel is unbearable because they have told me. they have tried to explain it to me, but there is absolutely no way I can begin to understand the pain they feel. It is much the same with the feelings that go on in my mind. I can try to explain it but will come up short and if you have not been where I am, there is no way you can understand what my mind feels like as it moves in and out of those dark places it wanders into almost on a daily basis. I don't expect you to understand and it would be best if you didn't try. you won't get there and if you did, you would wish you hadn't.
I am not looking for anything from anybody. I am not looking for people to feel sorry for me or to pity me or to try to make changes in the way they relate to me. What I am writing is just a part of me so that if I do appear strange to you or appear to be quiet and standoffish, you might take a second thought and not pass judgement on me too quickly. I am not looking or asking for anything. I am just putting down a record of who I am and how I feel as I work my way through life.
I think I must have been this way since I was born, but out of the natural feeling of surviving I ignored it and went on with life as I saw it around me. I watched how people related to each other and I believe I tried to mimic that action. I learned not to be the real me but rather put up a front that society would accept. Walls went up around me and I only let people see the part of me that I thought they wanted to see. I developed a fairly good wit and learned how to smile on the outside while on the inside I was feeling anything but the way people were seeing me.
There came a time several years ago when I was not able to hold it all in anymore. Sitting at my desk eating lunch one day the main event happened. I refer to it as the day my mind broke. It was a major panic/anxiety attack that ripped my thinking apart from that day forward. Never again would I feel like I really knew myself and I damn sure knew that nobody else knew me even if they thought they did since the day they met me or all the way back to 1956 when I entered this world.
From the day that my mind broke up to today I became aware of the walls that I had built around me. No one had been inside these walls my entire life. There was a Bill that ventured outside the walls and the Bill that stayed hidden within the walls. As each day goes by, I feel more uncomfortable every time I venture outside the walls. I find myself trying to put on that facade that family and friends have come to know over the years with more difficulty as each day passes. Perhaps it is because I am getting older and it is easier for me to tire of trying to keep that facade up.
Very few people recognize the fact that I am a fake when outside those tall dark moss covered walls. I am aware that at times I feel myself slipping back behind the walls when out but quickly gather strength to put the fake Bill up again. Nobody notices when I slip back inside. It happens and I go back out again before they notice. When I get home though, I am exhausted from being outside the walls and am grateful to get off by myself and crawl back into the darkness of the room that walls surround.
So what is it like inside the walls? It is dark and it is lonely. It is quiet and sometimes calm. At the same time it can be a horrible scary place. Thoughts of my past wash over me and remind me of all the mistakes I have made in life. Mistakes in dealing with people. Mistakes in acting proper in society. Mistakes of losing my temper when I could not hold myself in check while outside the walls. I had and still do have a terrible temper. Sometimes when I lose track of keeping myself in check in public, it lashes out. I have not only surprised but have also hurt a lot of people with my temper. When I hurt someone when I lose my temper, there is no making it right. There is no way to explain why I did whatever I did to hurt them. After losing my temper and hurting myself during the day, I crawl back behind my walls at night and beat myself up for letting it happen. I feel like I deserve to be hurt as payment for hurting them and I do my best to inflict pain on my mind within the walls that trap me.
Inside these walls my mind feels like it is under attack. Thoughts that I do not want to have seem to always find their way to me. Under what seems and feels like a constant hitting in my mind, I have found a few ways to try to control it. Music is a huge tool that I use to quiet the noise in my head. Music is magic almost. Music can take some of my feelings and put a different spin on how I feel. Some of the most depressing songs that I know are the songs that are able to bring quiet inside the walls. I feel like these songs written by people such as John Lennon, Paul Simon, Warren Zevon and Bob Dylan fight back my own thoughts with their thoughts and things seem to balance out sometimes.
And so we come to "Retirement". I am getting old. I am getting tired. I have been venturing outside my walls far too long putting that mask on so people will see the Bill they expect to see. I focus on everything that is said so I don't get lost in what is going on in a situation with people where they might notice something is wrong. I am just too tired at times.
There comes a time in life when it is time to lay down your tools, stop your labor and go into retirement. That is what that piece is about. Recognizing that the time has come and it is time to simply retire. We retire when our labors are done. We are retired when we have done what has been expected of us over the years and now it is done. We retire when we finally finish the job that we have set out to do.
The man in "Retirement" has come to this realization. He has done everything that he can do in life. His life is no longer moving forward, but rather has leveled out. He has nothing left to do in life and so he decides to retire.
As I sit inside my musky damp walls alone with my thoughts in the dark, my mind goes over my life. It recalls to me what has been accomplished and what hasn't. It tries to balance things that have been my life over the last 57 years in a meaningful way. My mind has a dark spin to all of the events over all the years, especially the years since that day that my mind broke.
It tries to talk me into retirement. Sometimes I feel like my dark mind is right in what it is telling me. Sometimes it feels like it is time to retire even though deep down in my soul, I know it isn't.