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A hat tip to Barrett for informing me (by way of his Tumblr feed) that last Wednesday was Mental Health Blog Day, which I didn’t know was a thing, but totally glad is. I will subsequently be adapting Mental Health Blog Day as my new Arbor Day, with Arbor Day becoming the new National Cheeseburger Day/Bastille Day.
This synced up well, as I have been meaning to write another one of these introspection, reflective posts on the past year. And well, between the blown deadlines and broken promises to myself, I bring you my week late entry to Mental Health Blog Day. But Mental Health Blog Day should be every day, right? Just like Caesar Chavez Day.
For the past couple months in group and in individual therapy, I keep referring to ‘The Old Paolo.’ The ironic-not-ironic air quotes would fly out and I would start naming off scenarios that would have sent ‘Old Paolo’ or ‘The Older Version of Me’ into various tailspins. Taking shit about Old Paolo like he was at a party, and hoping he wasn’t in earshot. All tinged with a little bit of shame and embarrassment. Copping to something someone else did.
“Old Paolo would have totally have drank a bunch of whiskey after stalking people on Facebook he felt completely inferior to”
“Old Paolo would have had a thirty minute cry while in the shower”
“Old Paolo would have thought of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, but how fucking trite would that be and fuck dying around San Francisco”
Twenty-six and optimistic. That’s what I declared turning twenty-six in September to be about. It was a minor miracle I made it that far, after all. That was the week before I started turning my wrist into a package from Amazon with the razors I had lying around in my drawer (holdovers from the sound production class in 2009) while watching Psy’s video for Gangnam Style for the first time at three in the morning. Trust that watching Psy and cutting were not related entities. It was right on schedule with awful thing happens around my birthday, with September 2010 being Bi-Poseur’s Theatrical Flop and the August 2011 Great Botched OD and Subsequent 5150ing in the County Psych Ward.
So what changed? What was the rubicon? When did “Old Paolo” become “Newish Paolo who talks shit about his past self?” Honestly, like most things, it just happened. I noticed I wasn’t thinking about slinging myself in front of a BART for hours on end. I was smiling more. Being conscious of breath. Being and feeling okay and content for such a noticeable stretch of time was largely a foreign concept to me, and was brought up to my therapist. I was worried about how this is all a frail edifice that can crumble in an instant, and in a couple of months, it’s back to Paolo on the brink. But what if this wasn’t a passing thing? What if (good lord) I wasn’t actively identifying with the self-destructive, suicidal idealation narrative I have been cultivating for years now?
As far as rubicons, it wasn’t a real rubicon in the traditional sense (or a canceled AMC series sense). It was experiences of the past couple of years coupled with the series of small decisions I made in the past year that finally coalesced. Going to therapy again. Starting group therapy (despite reservations). Cutting back on drinking. Not quitting job in an angst haze. Learning that being okay isn’t the same as submitting to The Rot. The last couple of years sucked. But that’s okay! Going through those experiences got me to where I’m at, and hopefully where I want to be in the future, then it’s fucking fine. And that’s why I whole heartily believe that ‘if I knew then what I know now’ is such a horseshit statement. Surmising that you were imbued with that knowledge, and you sidestepped whatever painful past experience, who’s to say you won’t be woefully ill-equipped for whatever adversities and challenges in that alternate timeline, and you just delve into something you’re completely over your head in? Hypotheticals be fucked.
Vigilance for such a backslide scenario, while valid to think about, can only serve to take away the joy and pleasures we can take away from now. Things like Interns in sundresses, the perfect cup of coffee, looking at goddamn fucking sunsets by bodies of water (and shit). But there’s also value in trusting myself to be better equipped to deal. Hence, “Old Paolo would have…” The pieces have stayed the same, but the rules have changed.
Maybe I really did call it in September.
Happiness isn’t always pathological and doesn’t always needed to be narrativized against anything.
In celebration of Yahoo acquiring a new Geocities, only with eyeballs.
Lunch has done been eaten!
WHAT IS THIS WITCHCRAFT
We’re up all night to get bacon
Be still my heart
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