I'm tired of hurting. I'm tired of the past. I'm tired of being hurt by the past. All I want right now is to remove the World, because there is so little there that matters to me. It's irrelevant. I want to let go but have no method of doing so. The past should be the past, not the present or the future. I want the ghosts and the insults and the slights and the mistakes buried and move on.
What matters to me, what has always mattered to me, are the dreams and the stories. I have dreams of the past, I have stories of the past. I have half a story of the present. Stories and dreams aren't what matter in the World, only efficacy. Usefulness, as others might put it. I'm tired of being a pawn. But I refuse to play the game that would make me any higher than that.
It's not my game to play. It's not my rules.
Right now my rules say that I sit on sacred ground. I'm building a shrine to myself, to remember the things that matter. Perhaps it's rebuilding the parts of the past in which I wasn't hurt, that which I can allow myself to remember without dying inside. Telling the other story of things in a way so I can sleep at night without reliving the World yet again.
I don't want people defiling my shrine. They've defiled almost everything else I have considered of any value. If my shrine is a mess, it's my own mess, a reflection of the state of the mind. I clean it, I clean myself. I build it, I build myself.
I have to leave, go out there nearly every single day. The World can have me then. But the past? That, I'm trying to end, finally.
At this point, I think I just want to hold her and see her smile again. No amount of regrets will make my dreams any more true. All things must end, all days must pass, and I don't have time to fulminate and rue the passing of the years.
I have fought for many years to avoid turning cynicism into bitterness. I'm not stopping today.
The disgust, despair, pain, and humiliation is what she said she always wanted. It's what I always wanted but can't admit to others easily or well. I believe both have not changed, that both are still true.
It's just not possible to live there, I suppose.
My advisor, of course, lied. I will give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that it wasn't an intentional lie. We had best hope not, as I dislike being played the fool.
Anger, fear, sadness, joy, disgust, surprise. And the last two are by far the most important in the tale. If anything, they shine a light as to where I keep trying to go and why. And perhaps this is the most important part of the tale (which was left the other day completely in the cold).
I am continually disgusted by so many things in the world and in my life. And this is nothing new or novel; this traces all the way back to near the beginning of things, when I became disgusted some 25 years ago at the cruelty of the World and the Furre, and denied any interest of being in either. I'm disgusted at my weight. I'm disgusted that my employment is solely based on a magical skill that I have aptitude in but receive relatively little satisfaction for. I'm disgusted that the ignorance of the Old Ones still continues and will continue, because that's who we are as a people, regardless of what danger that may bring. I'm disgusted that I live here in the Bight because I was forced to choose between somewhere I love and the people I loved. I'm disgusted that I was forced to choose at all. I'm angry as well, but that's a secondary concern.
I don't want to rip the world apart (most days), but I do feel ill looking at it. And that explains why I have to keep fighting. If one lives in a plague-ridden city, isn't there something in the spirit that provokes one to try to help, in whatever little way possible?
I feel most at home in the realms of disgusting sexual interests and continual pain because I instinctively seek to make my outer self mirror my inner self. And that's why the path has unfolded as it has. It explains why the problem has only gotten worse over time; it explains that one moment of freedom a year ago when everything broke down and I was beaten within an inch of my life - and enjoyed it. It explains quite a lot.
It's my attempt to match what I see outside with what I feel inside about it all.
Terrible conversation with my advisor yesterday. "Everything is anger, sadness, fear, or happiness," she said, irritating me terribly. Fine, if that's the case, I feel constantly angry and sad at the state of the world in general and my own in particular, and afraid that isn't going to change, given what I've seen in the past. Happiness doesn't enter the equation. If it was relevant... No, it's not relevant.
I miss people. It leaves a gaping hole in my heart that took me years to build and years to undo. But I don't see any alternatives and I'm not motivated to pursue them.
This isn't how I want the story to end. But I've always felt that it would end like this. More beginnings, more endings, but I'm sick of playing the games and sick of being told that things will be great in a month, a year, a decade. I'm tired of waiting.
I should cut my own thread short here. There's little more that I want to tell. But I won't do it. Instead I'll just keep waiting.
I've got nothing better to do.
I dreamed of them again, of the family that I thought I finally had, in the idealized way that I thought I would have them, where I felt comfortable and part of a community.
I made her smile with a terrible joke as she was rushing to go somewhere else. Something about remembering that smile made it all worthwhile.
Every day I do what I need to do. I live the way I want to live. But I've always wanted things I can never truly have. Perhaps that's because I live for the dreams, rather than the reality. I've always been chasing the impossible and settling for what I can eke out instead in the paths of my life. I was puttering around as a journeyman in the earlier pages of the journal. In my heart I can never be a true master, titles be damned.
They say that the journey is what matters. I shall not say what I think of that.
I just hope that my heart moves on someday and stops trying to remind me of something that didn't exist.
Dear readers (those who are left), it’s difficult to explain the situation I find myself in without delving a lot more into pieces of my past that I have been reluctant to admit in full view, and which over time themselves have shifted focus. It’s difficult to tell the story without it all blending into each other, all the pages of the book blurring together, linking with each other, across a tapestry of history – and pain. I don’t really know where to start to try to extricate who and why I am through all of this. I can only try, for your sake and my sanity.
For the moment, I have to start back at the Academy. Not as a mage, but as a student, soon approaching 2 decades ago. The Academy of Birya was and is still near the pinnacle of learning in the world as we know it. It is known as a beacon of science and magic far and wide. In its increasingly hallowed halls lay the beginnings of things we take for granted today; the near-universality of access to the crystal lenses that have spread far and wide, now shrunken into facets, shards. But I never went there to look at crystals, unlike most of the others there, although I noticed their spread and absorbed some amount of knowledge by accident, if nothing more.
I was there to study the magics of weather, as I had wanted to since I was a small child, fascinated by clouds and maps and the intricate relations of air and earth. How the seasons change, how time passes, how cold spells follow warm and then cold again. And I cannot forget the joy of snow, something I had been gifted on extremely rare occasions in my childhood in the Low Country. Learning about the world, exploring it, had always been my true passion. And I thought I had found my true calling, and my vision did not waver on that, until. Until.
I learned three primary things at the Academy as a student: weather magics, sexual deviancy, and how to continue existing through failure after failure after failure in my studies of theory (and, ironically, of writing). (The fourth lesson, my first rudimentary dabblings in both runic and ritual magics, I considered but a trifle at the time. Ha!) I will also conveniently fail to note my significant time with the mind healers; another day.
3 years of constant panic at my growing failures later, in that final year of my studies, everything (naturally) rose to the zenith and fell to the nadir. I found that my ability to perform the necessities of theory on reading the weather completely outstripped any ability I had to comprehend them. It was then that I finally understood that I had no hope of actually being the person I had dreamed of being all that time. That was almost satisfactory, because I had found another way out.
Beyond raw theory, I took a few courses that showed that Nature itself was being slowly corrupted by our own existence and lack of foresight. I saw that there were people fighting, not just for awareness of the issue, but ultimately to save the world we know for successive generations. It conveniently dovetailed with my own increasing worship of the Old Gods, who once were worshipped for being those elements of Nature. (It was also conveniently naïve of me to believe that there was a battle worth fighting in this, but I wasn’t so cold and cynical then; I still held out hope in people, given the choice, to do the right thing…)
And then there was Cecilia, the person for whom I never wanted to write the journals about even when I was with her, at the beginning of these writings. We were together for eight years. In one way, those years were wasted; in another way, that was the only way I survived. Blessing, curse.
I mentioned sexual deviancy. The truth is, I reveled in it at the Academy. I did everything but all the exotic mind-altering herbs that were floating around (and only that because I was already a troubled mind). I participated in all sorts of things, tied down, pissed on, embarrassing myself in public, indulging myself in private. Mind spells, dresses, everything. I had one relationship go down in fire because of my infidelity and need for sexual satisfaction; another evaporated because I couldn’t stand the thought of her being with her other boyfriend, even though said boyfriend predated me for some time. I was possessive; I was desperate. And, I was starting to find out, I was losing all chances of me developing a true relationship at the Academy, one that would last. My obsessions about brutality and bondage and outlandish outfits and roleplay – all of them were walls that kept me from having a normal life and a normal relationship. Or any relationship – it was clear that I could not create a person who cared about sharing these things with me out of whole cloth. And I wanted to live a life free of the pain of always being alone. This I wanted more than anything.
Cecilia was an old friend from the Low Country. We had never been together; she had always been in relationships with all my other friends, for reasons that still are never clear to me. But she moved to the far outskirts at Birya, and we met again – it was a lark, really, at first. But she knew my past; she knew me, insofar as anyone could know me through the layers of pain and the history of depression. And the relationship fit like a glove – as long as I could ignore the deviancy. As long as I kept it to myself. And somehow I thought that would make me happy.
That was my greatest mistake through a lifetime of mistakes – that desperate need to trade my strangeness for the promise of never being alone again. Between the two, there was no question which mattered. I assumed that no one would ever care in the slightest about my predilections, and I needed someone to tell me that life was okay. That I wasn’t failing anymore after years of failure. That I was a real person who deserved real respect from someone, no matter the odds or the difficulties. That I could settle down, have a family, be at peace that I was confirming to society’s expectations and comforted that I made a place for myself. It made perfect sense at the time. It was wrong.
I barely escaped the Academy with a passing grade. For all the circumstances surrounding me, they were being kind to me to give me their ring and seal at all. I believed that both my mentors and I understood that I was not to continue in the practice of weather magery except as a supporter and a hobbyist. But that acceptance was a deep personal wound, as if I could have learned if I had only tried harder. It has taken this long for me to understand that would not have been possible.
And it was then, in something that felt close to near-disgrace, that I found myself traveling to the Westlands to try to learn more, study more about the corruption of the Old Gods, in something a little closer to that nature, and as far away from Birya as possible. I called it the Exile, even at the very beginning of it; a time when I was ripped away from my adopted home by necessity and in humiliation. I swore I would end up in Birya again. It will always hold the penultimate place in my heart.
But the ultimate champion of my heart, alas, are all the dreams I have left behind, past and present, some taken away by my own hand, some taken away because no one else ever seemed to care. And my time as a student, alas, was only the beginning of that decline. My attempt to be normal carved far worse scars inside.
But that is another tale.
I see that you are still reading these words. Apologies are in order, as before and again and again and again. It was naive of me to believe that somehow this would be a small place that everyone had forgotten about and where I could take my final refuge without fear of hurting anyone. I am certain it has taken a great deal of restraint for you to read these at all, and I tip my hat at you for that. Perhaps you might remember that week in Birya where things were wonderful, yet the vixen interrupted as she always did, and my rage was unleashed upon the world for a single moment, as my shadow does. After that I didn't want to speak my feelings to anyone anymore, lest I hurt the vixen or provoke an argument. I am at that place in the cycle once more, where I would prefer to leave well enough alone so that other people can live their lives without worrying about a hopeless dreamer.
I do not wish to hurt anyone anymore, not by my words, my deeds, my thoughts, my feelings, or my presence. This is why I have removed myself from public life and retreated to my workshop, locked the door, and for the most part, thrown away the keys. (Perhaps, conversely, I do not wish to be hurt in return, but as I've spoken before, life hurts me every day, whether I wish it or no.) But the need still sings in my soul to at least write down what I have somewhere, somewhere far away from where it will trouble anyone else.
Please allow this old fool one place to be true. This is my refuge, the place I will allow myself to be myself, to speak what I wish to speak without concern of pain or retribution. The prison is the sanctuary, because at least in the prison the disease I have has a chance of being contained.
Please remember the wonderful moments. I do, from time to time, like snowglobes containing little pieces of joy. You of all people should realize the victory you obtained in that alone.
I shall not pass from this earth without fighting every fight I can extract from these bones. I will not yield in doing what I believe in. I can do nothing less in tribute to those souls I've left behind.
The emotional void disturbs me every day. I speak mantras to myself over and over again, some pleasant, some not.
I have done everything I can do. (It's never enough.)
What I'm doing, how I'm feeling, is completely irrelevant in the scheme of things. My work is irrelevant, my opinions are irrelevant, my past is irrelevant, my future is irrelevant. The present doesn't matter and neither do my needs.
The lion satisfies them, for small moments, but it's not enough as well. But I refuse to play the romance games anymore. I don't want to meet new people. I've known too many as it is, they're all a blur these days.
I don't know how I can be satisfied with my life and my existence. I don't know I can justify myself. I fear I never can be satisfied, that the hunger will consume me, has consumed me. I can't speak of the raw depths to which I have fallen in such a way that it would explain to people. There aren't enough words in the language to express the pain.
I thought people cared. They still profess to care, from time to time. I don't believe them. Actions, not words. That's what matters to me.
I gave my ex-apprentice one last gift in appreciation for her time. Though I feel like the person I knew and the person I found were two different people. I'm not sure whether one was more genuine than the other. I do know that one of the mantras is simple:
I still love her, I still desire her touch, but I can't do a thing about it. The person I knew does not have time for me anymore. The lessons she learned were not mine. Her path isn't mine. Yet I still think of her and flog myself over it.
She flogged me. For one brief moment. The external wounds matched the internal wounds, for once. It felt like freedom. I'll never see the like again. There is no one I can ask who could be that cruel and kind. But myself.
I have learned lessons. That I don't want to be part if this world anymore. That the things I care about, the yearninga deep in my soul, aren't shared by most - if any. I thought she did. Maybe she does. Maybe we're all afraid to admit the truth. I don't know.
I do know that I'm afraid to show that side to the lion. He is not an apprentice or an equal but a servant, one who enjoys the servitude and continually assures me that I can do little wrong by encouraging it. He also is running into severe debt due to other reasons.
I can't let myself go again. I can hold him, I can love him, I can feel and share his lust, but by definition he is not an equal. Somehow this makes me feel better. I don't know why. Perhaps it's because I know I can meet his needs without much concern or worry.
Things break apart. I hold on, as I always have. My heart and my soul are broken. I took a chance and lost. Even if I went back to Birya, that piece has been lost. I used to accept it by forgetting it.
Now it just lingers like the Bight fog.
I want to die. To end this all.
I just can't figure out a good enough reason why.
I am getting frail. That much is clear.
It started very simply, really, the bits and pieces of things. I needed such herbs to rebalance my humours, which had been sitting offkilter for Gods-know how long - quite possibly most of my life. And while I had found many apothecaries who offered so much advice in the way of this treatment or that one - St. John's Wort came up often, as did the cannabis leaf - but it took years before I found someone who was able to diagnose the proper treatment - an excess of phlegm - and start me on my way. This happened before I started this journal, really - even enabled me to write it, I suppose.
But as the years have gone by, the balances keep shifting again and again and again, things becoming less and less able to retain a balance. The black bile has increased more and more - as expected, I suppose, given my own bile lately - which has caused all sorts of additional treatments - breathing spells for sleeping, pills of skin extract, light spells, calls to get out and about more often, attempt to trim the everpresent rotundness that I have learned to live with over the many years.
Endless rituals to keep the body going. And what for, I'm unsure anymore. The fire still burns within me - the desperate need to make things right, to justify my existence to the Gods, if no one else - I thought I could justify it to myself, but the pain has continued inside, despite all the resolutions and all the attempts to establish that now, this time, everything would be all right.
The pain has continued and my ability to fight it has lessened. And then there's this current prison I have put myself into. I need the solitude, that is quite clear; but I have no interest in contact with the outside world anymore, save that which is necessary to complete my work and allow me to live as I do, with the scholars and the students but hovering above them in a tall villa, looking down at my pleasure at the hustle and bustle below. I care not for the others which I once called my friends - which I suppose I could still call my friends, if I wanted to make the effort to reach out and reestablish the lines of communication.
I am too tired for this. I am sick of playing the games. I cannot make myself do that which part of me believes is necessary, lest I lose both the Birya that I still hold dear, as well as all the reasons why I left it.
My back aches on occasion. I cannot stop from sleeping or falling asleep at many hours of the day. I try to find some way to pass the time, to express the yellow bile, to find the blood that still courses into me to gain the courage to go out and become a part of the world again...
But I don't want to. I'm a broken man at this point. There are no easy solutions, except perhaps time.
I fear that I don't have much time. But then, I always have, haven't I?