Twenty Twenty Two

glass lights on a window

In the closing days of 2021, I found myself in a melancholy state caught between retrospection and introspection, facing my personal demons who still linger. I still yet needed to release the held back tears of over a decade and a half of constant struggle and suffering. Shortly before Tom and I had a year-end jaunt cross country, which itself ended in another episode of painful heartache, I resolved to pen an article about what I learned in the past year. While many of the words were written, the article itself never truly took shape. So, here I am, towards the end of 2022, to reflect further on what I had to say retrospectively.

While there were a few positive learnings I could yet glean from an overall rough and miserable trip around the sun, there were some other notes I needed to take down that would otherwise drag down the upbeat message I hoped to convey with my year end message. Instead I opted to share my obsession with Halls of Fame, and how the concept of personal legacies will be one that I will tackle on countless occasions in my coming writings. Strangely enough, I let this thread unravel, and my building a personal Hall of Fame for underappreciated Magic the Gathering cards among other things never actually materialized outside of a couple of brief mentions in several early 2022 articles.

Before I return to immersing myself in the fun and games of investing in collectibles, hunting for shiny digital objects, assessing the value of abstracts, and over-analyzing the trivial debates that distract me from reality time and again, there were some matters I needed to address. Even now, after yet another trip around the sun, many of these matters are still relevant. Perhaps in penning these words I simply tasked myself with some mental housekeeping, but what is to follow is due to go down some dark avenues in a hurry. I let these words gather dust for an additional year, so it’s well past time I address them.

It’s no secret that my often morbid sense of humor belies a great deal of suicidal tendencies and severe depression. These are the ways I cope with the deep emotional scars I’ve suffered since my teenage years. So many of them were due to my gender identity, a topic I do my best to avoid in public, but is often a focal point of private conversation with my wife. Sure, I could choose to be open and with my sometimes controversial views on worldly matters, but I feel that arena is not mine to partake in. I’ve fought the devil long enough and simply don’t have the energy or resolve to leave any more skin in the realm of public debate.

I still have many personal demons to battle, the chief of which is my extremely poor self image. Let’s just say I likely will never look in the mirror and see a pretty girl for the rest of my life, no matter how much I lie to myself to the contrary. Whenever my wife calls me beautiful, I always remark that I don’t see it. I’ve simply accepted that I am damaged goods and that I’ll never live up to my own expectations for myself. There’s no mending some wounds, especially the spiritual wounds which still ache on the daily.

Still, without my great trials and tribulations, it’s likely I wouldn’t have developed my written word skills to such a vast degree. I don’t pretend to be an ace in prose, but I approximate the best writer I believe I can possibly be with some degree of success. Some days I feel my only value lies in the words I write, even if in context they appear unworthy of much attention. These ideas are what form some sort of barrier between what remains of my lighter self and the dark abyss that looms ready to consume the best of me when I falter.

There are days I feel extremely cold and dead, and only the melody of a familiar tune or the touch of my beloved wife, Thomas can bring any semblance of warmth back to my tortured soul. The holidays are a happy time for most, but for the first time in my life in 2021, I found them revolting. No longer could I find joy in the winter season. On the eve of perhaps the most overrated holiday of all times, I realized the next day was just another day for me to occupy myself with something worth awakening for, not so much for its enjoyment, but simply for something to do. Call it tragic, but I prefer to see it as a breakthrough of somber enlightenment.

The evening I first set to write this essay, I retired for a short nap and awoke in a panic after it ended in a nightmare. I found myself at the peak of a tin roof, looking out upon a tired neighborhood with an ashen glow emanating from nascent snowfall. It was solemnly beautiful and haunting simultaneously. As I took in the sight, I found myself slipping. Despite being dressed properly warm, I found my throat was frozen and I gasped for air as I attempted to scream. The more I gasped and attempted to squeal, the faster I slipped and finally I lost my grip and tumbled headfirst into concrete, killing me instantly and landing me back in bed suffering from severe anxiety chills. Perhaps it is a clever warning of my unconscious to not let myself slip away into the darker recesses of my mind, even if on many occasions that would be my preference just to feel the bitterness and agony no more.

There is so much hatred that has built up within me recently for a number of key actors from my past, and that anger has only perpetuated into 2022. But, the anger has more recently turned its sights to those who make trouble for those who simply cannot help but be born different. I have no way to properly express these feelings of intense anger and malice, so instead, I simply internalize them. Eventually, they turn back on myself, leaning to some very awkward and hate-filled internal monologues. My anger got so bad this year that I began to lash out, seemingly at random at every single annoyance or failure on my part.

The best Christmas present I could ever hope for is to remove my ability to feel negative emotions ever again. If only I could back in the ignorant bliss of my prepubescent years, when most of us still didn’t know what truly separated boy from girl besides the parts we hid in our boxers and briefs. Even now, I struggle to truly understand how society draws these blurred lines that segregate the genders, and especially find myself infuriated how much the more conservative members of our kind demand to have control over how we conduct ourselves in the bedroom.

So many of my most honest writings are penned when I am truly weary and restless. Some physical ailment tends to wake me up from any hope for restful sleep on a nearly nightly basis, whether it be a stiff neck, upset stomach, clogged sinuses, or a general malaise that prevents me from reaching the promised land of REM sleep. As I struggle to compose myself anymore, I must retire to my unformed thought-streams, letting them simmer until the next time I see fit to try expressing them with textual permanence.

Here’s to a far better 2023, as these past two years have been filled with so much pain and loss, and things must get better from here.

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.

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