Colony of Losers- Fuck Stigma and Mental Illness, I'm like 25

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

The Art of Crying

Posted on | April 25, 2014 | No Comments

I’ve recently developed an emotional muscle called crying. It used to take me years to watch the right someone is dying romantic comedy to feel that spicy itchy tingle in my brain and ejaculate all over my face. Recently it’s been happening more often.  I don’t talk myself out of it. I just let it hit me and come out of me and I feel like my head isn’t so crowded. It feels strangely like taking myself into my own arms and holding myself without saying anything. Just letting the shaking happen, knowing I am there, that somehow I managed to open my heart to myself.

I remember about a year ago a friend of mine was going through a particularly tough time in his life. His idea of the future was gone and his life had changed in a few days in ways he couldn’t ignore. He was  breaking up after a long relationships and breaking up involves becoming involved in the stories you’ve told yourself and the various lies and truths that encompass a love past honeymoon.  I remember the feeling in my heart when he told me the story of the end the first time. I wanted him not to be in pain. I wanted his misery to end. Which is a beautiful feeling even when it hurts in your stomach. It’s the first futile impulse of love. To take all the hurt. To take the person in your arms and do whatever you can to make them feel better. Which ultimately is just showing that impulse. To show that they aren’t alone in their pain. And you know you can’t take it all away. That next person they become needs the rocket fuel of revelation that comes from all this pain. If you took it away they’d be empty and every stretch of good we get comes from our own walks through hell and you know this and it doesn’t matter to you like it doesn’t matter to them. And it’s next to impossible to give someone a solution to their problems. All you can really say is I’ve been lost too and I found my way back and I’m fucked up, and I have ups and downs and do things I regret and have less control over my life than I want but I know you. There is no reason to feel shame. This walk is part of the human condition and we all take it at different times in our life.

He did this thing I admire. He cried in front of me without embarrassment or explanation. I somehow managed to not say anything, to just watch, to let him feel it without trying to make him feel better. The end of a relationship is a time when we idealize what we use to have, when we live in what once was, riding feelings that no longer breath or blink. It’s a time of delusion.He looked head on into that storm and he cried. Like a man I wished I could be. He was so honest with everything that he felt. And it passed through him to become beautiful things. Like the friendship we had during that time. Like the new healthier relationship he entered afterwards. And we’d talk on the phone for hours a day until he didn’t need that anymore. And I got to be there for him in the realest way possible.

Sometimes we are terrified of letting the people in our lives suffer along with us. That we will do anything to keep them from feeling our pain. Yet some of the most precious moments in my life was the privelege of being there when I was needed. Of showing what my love meant.

I have never been good at being emotionally vulnerable. I often forget the privelege you offer someone when you’re in pain, when you rely on them when you need something you can’t give yourself yet.

Because being emotionally vulnerable involves admitting that you have flaws, that you make mistakes and you ask to be loved in spite of that. And my mental highs and lows have always been tied into an essential narcissism. This belief that through achievement I would find happiness. That for some reason love for me would be extremely conditional. That if I didn’t reach a certain standard I would be beneath love. So I strove to be perfect. And if you work hard enough you can make sure no one really knows you, and if they don’t know you they can’t love you and you are alone because you didn’t show was behind all that charm. When I was sick I was forced to understand that love wasn’t actually like that.

That sometimes you need your parents. Sometimes you need your friends to tell you that you’re a good person. You can’t do it all yourself. That being vulnerable isn’t being weak. It’s opening your heart to other people. It’s opening your heart to yourself. After the fire I thought I was fine. Shock can last a long time and you can focus on the things you can control so hard that you get hard on yourself and hard on the other people in your life who are going through their own problems.

I realized that the love I had towards myself needed to be much more similar to the love I have for other people. I don’t love them because they’re perfect, it’s because you know what it’s like to be weighed down and no one can lift all the weight themselves and there is something about them that connects to something in you. In someway knowing this person makes you better.  And when they let you see their pain, you realize that  life is hard for them and you love them and you want to make it easier. Think of how beautiful it is that there are people in the world who want you to not suffer.Who want you to be happy to the extent that they will take the part of your weight that they are allowed to carry.

I can remember moments in my own life when I saw how much I was loved.

There was my first panic attack that we thought was a heart problem. My dad was going 150 miles an hour through the streets of Halifax to get me to a hospital and I couldn’t breath in the backseat as my mother ran her hands through my hair. I knew they were scared. That my dad would act unreasonably to make sure I was okay because real love can make you go crazy. There was my girlfriend offering to come up to Toronto to help me clear out the house last Friday. There have been a lot of moments like that. Most of the real moments involve a time and place where I felt weak and needed to be reminded that the human condition isn’t a comic book.

That time with my friend is one of the most important times in my life. I was called onto be a friend and I was. I did what I could to ease his pain. This involved sleeping over at his house, talking to him on the phone ever day for months until he was able to carry the weight himself. I learned something about being a man and letting yourself have your feelings and not try to dull them with rationalizations or self help speeches. I wonder what could make a man cry like that. What would it be like to let it all go.

I know what it is. It’s the kindest you rarely allow yourself.

This morning I felt tears coming into my eyes when a different friend talked to me about his work with the Coast Guard and how long it took for him to get over losing someone on the job. This is a guy who makes his living doing cool guy shit. Who has a million and one stories about  places he has been and things he has seen. I love the stories he tells and I love when he stops telling those stories and shows his strength by admitting his feelings of weakness.

He talked about how he poured his guilt into his relationships and defined himself by what he viewed as his own failure. And he said that the most important thing had been to learn to love yourself. To treat yourself with the same compassion you give to other people. I can’t really describe why this felt so powerful to me.  He was telling me something I already knew. It wasn’t the words themselves. It was the feeling. That it was okay to be myself. That he loved me more when I needed him too.

He told me he loved me and a lot of people did and I just felt this well of gratitude in my chest. He said in life there isn’t closure. Each day you open your heart and you feel the damage and you go on anyway. You have to give up on the idea of things being the same. Of this feeling magically disappearing. The truth is that eventually you’ll feel it less and less but you’ll always feel it. And I know it’s true. Having anxiety no longer feels crippling. The things I did when I was sick don’t bother me. Some of them were embarrassing like being unable to get out of my bed and uncontrollably crying at a Chinese restaurant or struggling to sleep and needing my ex girlfriend to calm me down. Others were mistakes that made me a better person like when I learned that you can’t stop being jealous by telling yourself the feeling is beneath you or getting angry at yourself for having shitty thoughts. Like you can’t yell yourself into being calm and you aren’t alone in suffering. Everyone feels it.

It’s your admission ticket into the world’s circus.

And I sit in my favorite cafe and I watch. A cook apologize for fucking up an order. Two strangers sharing their names and telling a little bit of their story. I feel the weight of feet as they hit the ground and struggle to support a whole life’s history filled with good moments and bad. I remember what it was like when I was fat and didn’t like to look in the mirror. When I had to begin my story by telling people I had been sick because I felt like they deserved to know exactly what they were getting into. I ride the subway and see people reading advertisements because they are so exhausted they don’t want to be bothered with trying to connect. Staring into their phones waiting to hear good news.

And I remember how lucky I have been. I can feel my heart as it reached out to my friends and felt their pain and called it human, called it beautiful, called it a piece of myself that I would protect.

I rarely read these entries after I write them.

It isn’t really for the reader. It’s for myself. To remember how amazing it can be to live through hurt. To know that the time I fall down I have a record of picking myself up. Of opening my heart to myself when I needed to. Each day it gets a little easier. And the measurement needs to be written down. So I remember. That I have been in pain and I have been so incredibly happy that all of the pain added up to that pleasure I was luckily enough to feel.  Even the relationship with friends and lovers that ended gave me something and gave them something.  We aren’t alone even if we aren’t always together. We always love more than we remember.Things are always better than we imagine.

The tragedy isn’t that we die alone. It’s that sometimes we chose to live that way.

This a thank you to the people I love for letting me out of my head and into the world.

It’s a beautiful place even if the rain is falling onto concrete streets and I don’t know what path I’ll travel as my feet continue to move out of my bed and into the world.

For now the rain is falling.

It’s almost summer.

Soon I’ll get to see the things that grew in the wake of disaster.

 

 

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  • About

    Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a nervous breakdown on November 3rd, 2009. On March 28th, 2010 when he recovered from mental illness, he began writing a blog called Colony-of-losers. About falling on your face to figure out who you are and the hilarious antics of a blond jew. What began with a few friends and his mother reading has become a cult phenomenon, averaging 10,000 views a week, receiving praise from Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and many others. On, November 3rd, 2010, the one year anniversary of his mental breakdown he signed with Anne McDermid and Associates, the largest literary agency in Canada. In a year he went from wearing pajamas, making his couch depression HQ to leaving his hometown for the Toronto, where he exclusively wears business suits and the armor of ancient Greeks. Don't worry, he's still choking on the feet he contently sticks in his mouth and making moments awkward just by being part of them. During these struggles he met other talented bastards and drew them into his circle. Peter Diamond became his illustrator. Patrick Campbell his video editor and part time photographer. He recently added the incredibly talented John Packman as Colony of Losers Toronto photographer. Without the support of the Colony of Losers, Michael Kimber would be nothing. Welcome to the losers and the success that comes from utter and complete failure. You aren’t alone. Follow him on twitter.com/colonyoflosersand twitter.com/quimbo. If you’d like to hire him for a public speaking engagement for mental health events in Toronto, like to arrange an interview, offer millions to publish his book or for another reason contact Michael please email him. And join his facebook Colony of Losers.

    Really obvious disclaimer:
    I’m not a trained psychologist. Just a fellow traveler. If you need help seek it from the professionals. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a help locator. You can find crisis resources provided by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. If you are in the states check here. It will give you services by zip code. I’d also recommend checking out Mindyourmind.ca. I think they do great work and have been a help to me personally.

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