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    Concentration: Camp (part 3)

            I wrote the piece below last year, when I was in a VERY dark place. I present it here for two main reasons. First, it demonstrates how far I’ve come in a year. I remember how I felt writing it, two days after my birthday: absolutely awful. Depressed. Withdrawn. Isolated. Alone. Hopeless. And I pretty much felt that way most of the time, with interludes of joy and levity.
             I spend so much less time there these days. That’s real progress.
             Second, it tells a truthful tale of trauma and tears that I have spent lots of time recovering from. I still struggle with some of the issues that my camp experience created today, but it was my life as a child. This reminds me that I’m a much happier adult than I ever was as a kid. My happiness trajectory is therefore going in the right direction. I’m optimistic that, as long as I continue to work on myself and remain committed to growth and change, I’ll just keep getting healthier and happier as I age. How many people truly feel that way?
             I’m blessed. And there is much I have to be thankful for. Which is much different than how I felt a year ago.

    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

             Camp was a month long nightmare that I never really woke up from. I lost whatever enthusiasm I had left for life at camp. To a 10, 11, 12 year old boy, the prospect of experiencing the full agony of a month in hell was unbearable. So I shut down. I knew how to shut down before, because it was how I defended my young self against trauma. But I became a chronic professional at camp.
             What did I learn from camp?
              I learned that to have hope is just a way to exponentially increase pain and disappointment. I learned that I must be defective, that there must be something horribly wrong with me. Everybody at camp thinks it’s great, except me. I must be really fucked up. I learned that the beautiful experience of relief is not only short lived, but merely guarantees a bigger crash when it’s over. I learned that bringing problems to adults for help is not only a waste of time, but makes you feel worse in the end. I learned that asking for help, period, makes things worse, not better. I learned that everything is my fault. I learned that the world is a hostile place that doesn’t like me. In fact, it hates me. I learned that when you trust the people who are supposed to look out for you and care for you and protect you, you get royally screwed. I learned that those people responsible for my well being will lie to me, over and over again. I learned that I am absolutely, completely, unquestionably alone in this world. I learned how to be miserable. I learned despair and hopelessness and anguish. All by age 10, reinforced at ages 11 and 12.
             I learned that to get too excited about something was a sure fire way to have your heart shattered so violently that you may never find all of the pieces again. I learned that to want something more than anything else in the world and to believe that you could have it was nothing but a lie. That to want and to believe only lead to horrible pain and intolerable suffering. I learned that I have no control over my life; no control over how I feel or of what happens to me; no control over myself or my circumstances or my happiness. I learned that my emotions are at the mercy of some mysterious, unknown, random, internal process that guides my thoughts haphazardly and therefore runs my heart and my spirit roughshod along with it. I learned that I couldn’t do what I really wanted to do, that I couldn’t get what I really wanted, and that I couldn’t get what I really needed.
             I learned chronic depression and chronic anxiety and chronic fear and chronic ache that is always with me, even today, even in my moments of great joy. I learned that getting excited and wanting something very badly was indescribably dangerous and ultimately horribly painful. I learned how to live in a cage, in a prison; how to survive but never thrive. I learned how to become strangely and perversely comfortable functioning at this soul numbing flat line equilibrium. I learned to live in a constant fantasy world in order to escape the unrelenting horrible pain of reality. I learned that anything was better than the real thing. I learned how to completely avoid the present and live in the perceptibly less painful past or the can’t possibly be as painful future. I learned how to hate myself and how to hate my life.
             Thanx camp.

    ©2009 Clint Piatelli. All Rights (and a very grateful amount of Wrongs) Reserved.

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