I have always loathed the expression or idea that people pass around glibly and thoughtlessly that one should live without regret. That they regret nothing. This also means that they learned nothing. Which makes them a moron. If one does not first burn their hand on the stove, one does not learn to not touch the damn stove. Regret is essential, guilt is a valued and valid part of the human experience, in fact, it is at the core of being human. Without it one cannot sympathize nor empathize. If we do not know what it is like to experience these feelings ourselves, how can we know what others are feeling and so on.
So when I hear that timeless, trite and smug adage: “live without regret” or similar, what I hear is “I am a willful simpleton and idiot”. It isn’t a judgement. It is a plain statement of fact. You said it, be prepared to stand by it, fucker. The truth is that living without guilt, regret and remorse doesn’t make you stupid, though it can contribute to it, what it really makes you is a sociopath. It just so happens that there are infinitely more stupid people than sociopaths. I guess that vastly increases your chances of being a less than intelligent sociopath? We can’t all be Hannibal Lecter, I wonder if there is a correlation between sociopathic dullards and republican party membership? I think that would make perfect sense.
The reason I mention this is because there is the opposite effect of which I have been guilty, which sadly, does not make one a genius as the trend might suggest… No, living in a mire of regret and guilt whether real or perceived is not inherently brilliant nor is it admirable. Even if the guilt you feel isn’t your own, or the regret you experience is borrowed. Bipolar individuals have a bad habit of being so sensitive to raw emotions that we pick up the suffering of others like radio frequencies. I often felt as though the emotions of others were like weather systems that I would get caught in. Add these to our pre existing depression which comes with a side of guilt and regret. It is a compounding problem. This is why there are times when we crash and we really want nothing more than to hide in our beds and have no contact with other people for weeks on end. Which is horrible for us. We really love people, we need people. We need their energy and to be around them. We need their validation. Yet it gets to a point where we openly reject them or just stop contacting them and hide in our homes without a word of explanation.
I have been known to to spend crash periods bundled in a blanket on the internet scrolling through facebook finding all of the really obnoxiously stupid garbage that people pass around and blowing a fuse. Which is the internet equivalent of going to a party, waiting for one ever-so-mildly offensive joke and then completely losing it on everyone in attendance. Let’s be honest though, there is some really stupid, anti-factual garbage on facebook and for some reason I can’t just let it go. So I have learned to stop scrolling through facebook. Otherwise, later I will regret it. I will feel guilty for absolutely shitting on people who I consider my “friends”. Whether they are or are not, they could be, they have a connection to me in some small way and maybe should they ever be in my neck of the woods they might like to have a drink, no need to be so dismissive and horrible to them. Would I be so harsh to random people on the street? Assuredly not, I have actually gone to task for people on the street. Yet here I am having a full on dysphoric fit on an acquaintance. This is not rational, caring behaviour. There is something about the very nature of facebook in general that has changed the way that I behave and I do not care for it.
I had a wake up call when I full-out exploded on a woman I didn’t know for complaining about how hard feeding her child was. It wasn’t an argument at first, I found it amusing that someone would complain so hard about such a simple problem. Then the lady persisted, insisting that this was the worst trial that has ever been handed down to humanity since the dawn of time *insert apeface here*. I thought of D-day, Orleans, Troy to name a few, but no… Jamming food into your childs gaping maw is the pinnacle of human difficulty. Clearly I was out of my depths here, my mistake. If only I had carelessly knocked up some tart, I too could understand the insurmountable difficulty of getting sustenance into a tot. I was getting worked up at her insistence and my humour at the situation was falling by the wayside. One more poke at my ‘diplomacy dyke’ as Tim Minchin puts it and I was off. Thirteen kinds of hell poured forth from my very bowels, all the way past my internal organs, totally bypassing my neck and head and right out my arms through my fingertips into the keyboard. This woman took the full force of all the fire I had inside of me. All because she couldn’t feed a child aged four to six. I am not a bad person. I can at times have very lousy aim. This kind of fire should be reserved for the truly horrible people in the world. The oil magnate who wants you to keep buying bigger cars, voting republican and loving jesus, but not the real jesus, the evangelical bullshit version. Simply so he can control, manipulate, enslave and feed off of you. These kind of pustulent, sacks-of-crap deserve the kind of wrath that I shat forth on this poor ignorant mother. Her only crime was being frustrated, tired, annoyed and stressed-out. Being a fulltime parent is pretty hard on people. So my dysphoric berserker-rage wound me up and set me loose on a friendly civilian. Since then I am very careful how much I expose myself to facebook. The fallout from that event is still being felt. People have no way of knowing that I am not simply ‘an asshole’, but that I have a condition that sets me off. I am not claiming innocence, that I played no part and that ‘it was Jack, what can I do?’. Though, you can see how it can go from harmless joking around to nuclear rage and offensive diatribe at the drop of a hat without warning. I am very thankful for the medication. I feel like less of an asshole and I have so much less explaining to do. I feel far less guilty and I have way less regret.
I like clothes. Not just men’s clothing but women’s as well. No, I don’t wear women’s clothing, but if it didn’t look really awkward I probably would. Frankly, they have far superior options to men, a larger range and pallette. Which is why it dismays me that most women have exactly zero clue how to dress. Fortunately there are guys like me. If any woman asked me to go clothes shopping at any time I would say yes emphatically. I adore clothes shopping with women. I know, it isn’t overly manly and I like it so much that I don’t care enough to tell you the myriad of manly ways I could kill you to off-set your opinion of me. Oh wait. I kind of just did. Either way, I can wrench on large detroit diesel engines, I know a fair few things about weaponry that should give you pause. I think kitten heels are super cute with a tight, mid-thigh length, sleeveless, deep v-neck dress. Fuck me, right? But, who doesn’t though? It isn’t as though that takes the height of fashion sense to understand. Yet there aren’t too many men in the world who would have typed that sentence who aren’t gay or somehow involved in fashion, I am neither. I can’t stand open toe platform shoes, I have a bias against them. But I am not against a platform nor an open toe, just the combination.
I like clothing and I like shopping for clothing. Even after having “filled out” in my thirties I am slender of build with broad shoulders. I am a 44 regular, 32 waist and inseam. 6′ tall. If I were ever so slightly more attractive (substantially) I might have been a model. I like to dress nice. I like looking sharp. So during hypomanic episodes that are euphoric I get carried away on shopping sprees buying clothing. The problem being that my current lifestyle little requires me to dress nicely nor to be found at public occasions or outings. When I get home at the end of the day I remove my work clothes and don some pajamas and this is what I wear a bulk of the time. So I have a small collection of fine clothing that I will likely never wear to anything of note. This is just another thing for me to regret. I find myself feeling guilty that I can’t live the lifestyle that I have prepared myself to dress for. They say “don’t dress for the job that you have, dress for the job that you want.” Were this the case I would be well prepared for a life as a playboy or a spy. My casual clothing however is far more practical and blue collar, which I wear to avoid wearing a suit and tie to the car wash. I like jeans. I like relaxed clothing, I just don’t like wearing them every day like a slave to some mediocre life wherein I never aspire to anything beyond a fixture in the indentured servitude of our shadowy overlords. I am fully aware that dressing any other way doesn’t make it any less so. But I look and feel better and if it doesn’t hurt it helps. Except that because of my dysphoric nature I have alienated people and I now find myself all dressed up with nowhere to go.