Saturday, May 7, 2011


"If I were a swan, I'd be gone.
If I were a train, I'd be late.

If I were to sleep, I could dream.
If I were afraid, I could hide.
If I go insane, please don't put
Your wires in my brain.

If I were the moon, I'd be cool.
If I were a rule, I would bend.

If I were alone, I would cry.
And if I were with you, I'd be home and dry.
And if I go insane,
Will you still let me join in with the game?"

(R. Waters)

What if?

We all ask it.  Often many times a day.  Worriers think about it more and those less concerned think about it,well, less.  But it's a scary thing to ponder isn't it?

What if?

What if X happens?  What if Y does?  What if those perfectly assembled plans go awry?

What if?

What if the decisions I've made have been wrong?  Even worse, what if they have just been poorly thought out acts of self destruction? 

Why did I turn away from god and religion?  Why am I in an emotional cold (and sometimes hot) war with my mother?  Why did I end up drinking and drugging and sexing my way through my adolescence?  During the waking hours (and in the therapist's office) it's clear that my choices came about because I lacked a support system and I was pushed into it by the torrential force of a system in which I did not fit in.

What if?

Because in the night hours it's a whole different story.  When I'm lying awake in the false dawn, I wonder if the reason for the corruption of my youth was something else altogether.  I wonder if it was simply because I was a lazy, selfish girl who took the easy way out.  One who decided it was easier to put out that to tough it out.  Easier to ride the bong than to struggle through the trenches.

What if the reality I live in is simply a carefully constructed lie that I have developed in order to be able to live with myself?

What if?

What ifs are a symptom of the disease called self-doubt.  A disease that preys on the weak, the young and those who lack self esteem.  Self doubt is a killer.  Literally.  It kills people through drinking, drugs, eating disorders and suicide.  It whispers in your ears in the night watches.  It takes the breath from you and turns your heart cold.

When I was younger, self doubt ate at me like the Ebola virus.  It coursed through my veins.  It took away my self esteem and eventually the vast majority of my dignity.  It encouraged me to finish that bottle of Stoli or take that hit of dope.  It told me it was ok to let him go a little further and a little further than that and what the hell just let him do whatever the fuck he wants.  Then it laughed at me while I silently picked my clothes off the floor and fled to whatever the night held.

Rock bottom.

You hit it and then you have two choices.  Either you take out a pick-ax and start digging deeper or you start clawing yourself out of the hole.

Me? With a lot of help, I got my shit together and started the long haul up the rock face.  I'm still climbing.  But now I can see more light than darkness.

But self-doubt, like alcoholism or Malaria, never truly goes away.  Sometimes it's quiet in the blood, but it will occasionally start boiling.  Which leads, of course, to bad cases of the what ifs.

It scares me.  Badly.  The nagging idea that maybe I wasn't a victim of circumstances but rather a willing participant in my own self destruction.  I don't know.  I really don't.

What if?


  1. I know exactly what you mean! And while I dealt with my own self-doubt differently, in many ways, what I used to do was very self-destructive as well. I even wrote about that on numerous occasions, including recently.

  2. I couldn't live like that. the self doubting, the always-questioning-if-I-did-the-right-thing.
    I pretend that there was no choice, and eventually i feel that way.

  3. >The nagging idea that maybe I wasn't a victim of circumstances but rather a willing participant in my own self destruction.

    Why does that matter going forward?

  4. Irina - I suppose everyone deals with it as best they can and in their own way.

    Noam - That doesn't work for everyone.

    E - It's not about going forward - this is strictly about dwelling on the past.