This piece was writen several years ago. It is an attempt to honor and imitate the late writer David Foster Wallace.
Wallace was an amazing talent whose work continues to speak with vivid freshness to all who dare to bite off chunks and slurp down the flesh and blood of life exactly as Wallace experienced it.
THE DISTURBED PERSON
By Julie Webb
The disturbed person was in a ridiculously rigid amount of emotional turmoil. The pain was so paramount within her it was unexplainable and the impossibility of sharing the depth of it contributed exponentially to the horror of experiencing it.
Although those around her disagreed, withdrawing was her only hope of sanity. Because it was within where she discovered that being able to express even a tiny portion of this pain – the stench of it, the rattling and the filth, its deformed posture – could perhaps lessen the distressing pressure of it upon her soul. Thus, the disturbed person opted to record the pain, locking the feelings as best she could onto the page with words.
The disturbed person began, not at the beginning with a childhood that floated through her life unrecognized, nor with the distracting and mistake-burdened life she had lived thus far, but rather with today – the awkward weight of others in her life, more specifically, the mix of persons her counselor named as her Support System, which consisted of those closest to the disturbed person who are undisturbed themselves: family, a psychiatrist, the counselor himself. They are undamaged people who regard the disturbed person as stoutly afflicted and broken, often taking in the disturbed person through a long gaze of sadness and pity. Regardless they were well-chosen, an honorable group. They were available to help the disturbed person gain perspective and find her footing during the slippery moments. The disturbed person was always careful to apologize to the group for dragging them down, for the despair that swung in their heads after talking with her, for the inward self-pitying and boringness of herself that she shared. The group often functioned in unison, “How are you?” and always responded warmly when the disturbed person’s reaction was less profound, less intense, when it could be experienced by the group as a passing surface tension, controlled and distant. But on those rare occasions when the disturbed person pulled back the curtain of her soul revealing the true expanse of her depression along with the intensity of vexations that haunted her, the group, being human and fragile themselves, wore a collective expression of repulsiveness, frequently retreating quickly to their vibrant, long-distance lives for refuge.
The disturbed person learned to be very careful about the dealing, the sharing, the distribution of her internal, disturbed self. Although she believed with all her heart that any of the persons in the group could themselves become victims of this disturbance given the right recipe of life and mix of mind, not once did she wish the pain upon them just so that they could enter into a greater understanding of it, and thus become comrades with her, falling into step among the remote areas of disturbance where she resided.
The feelings of shame and inadequacy the disturbed person felt when talking with the group about her burdens, her clumsy attempts at forward steps, or the swelling emotional agony that bloated her insides, often left her exhausted. The disturbed person found it difficult to communicate with anyone, even her counselor, about how devastating it was to have her fingers clinging to the pant cuffs of the group, how horribly isolating it was for her to sense helplessness within the group’s long silences, to feel the anguish within their encouraging clichés, or to see within their wincing reactions that she was a joyless burden.
The disturbed person herself often recoiled upon contemplating the amount of detailed, emotional pandemonium she had revealed to her counselor and her doctor. Although she was always trying to explain how hopelessly insecure, how devastatingly pathetic she knew herself to be, it was never truly recognized by either of them. This caused increasing anxiety within the disturbed person that carried over from session to session. The disturbed person often felt urgent about righting the wrongs within herself, as if time was running out and the clock would stop and she would be left with a legacy so despicable -- tainted with faceless monsters and sudden despair and the drumming of clutter inside her head, irreversible damage, permanent injuries.
Although the disturbed person couldn’t imagine a day when not needing her counselor could be a reality, she would often implore him to halt the sessions, to stop the constant revelations of ugly truths that constructed her inner world. She knew deep inside that the downward spiral of her being ensured the conclusion of her life, and knew there was no point in prolonging it. Many months ago, this level of deprivation had required that the disturbed person cross the threshold into the world of antidepressants. She swallowed the pink and white pills daily knowing that they would leave her suitable for nothing more than curious observation, demoting her to some mental, misshapen oddity that would have no choice but to fall into the bowels of existence, remote and alone.
On the day when her will was at its weakest and her spine grieved at its lowest point, she became frozen and discouraged. While facing the reality of deformity and mutilation, of becoming a freak with no idea of who she was anymore, the disturbed person figured that the only way to endure the guilt and hopelessness of the position she now found herself in was to go deeper within herself. She had grown weary of her shattered emotions -- traumatized, wicked and embarrassing -- infected with transparent reflection. And although she had always feared abandonment – a feeling she loathed – she resigned herself to the fact that life had finally succeeded in executing her spirit leaving her relinquished and unable to respond.
The disturbed person obliged to the group and indebted to the counselor and the doctor, had no choice but to continue turning inward day after day, secretly feeling the contempt, the judgment, the repulsion that surrounded her life – all of this contributing to the excruciating pain of being disturbed. Having been rendered voiceless by life itself, she could only dream of asking the group sincerely, honestly, desperately what was wrong with her. She didn’t want assessment or reassurance, but rather a no-holds explanation to the soundless hell she existed in. But she knew they didn’t have answers. They themselves being undisturbed, couldn’t possibly explain how far-reaching the crashing pain, the mass of dripping wounds or the termination of hope could feel. The disturbed person, therefore, urging herself to do what she could to ease the loneliness, tucked her true self inside herself, closed the doors and windows of her soul and waited, knowing that only in the grave she could become undisturbed.