amw (amw) wrote,

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how to escape depression through the ancient art of navel-gazing

Things are definitely not going well for me emotionally right now. Although it took a weight off my shoulders last month when i resolved to quit work and leave the country, now i am getting hit with the (expected) stress of all the shit you need to do to move. Couple that with my personal outrage and exasperation at what is happening in both American and British/European politics, plus a tough week in the office... I was due for a breakdown. So, as is my wont, i decided to double-down on the self-loathing. I started to go back and tag my old LJ entries.

In particular, i was curious to find out where the tipping point happened between me being a raging neocon with libertarian-ish tendencies and whatever hypocritical anti-capitalist curmudgeon i am today. But first i had to get through all of the heartbreak and mental health issues that i feared would dominate my entries.

I am only up to 2009, but my biggest surprise is that there were far less public announcements of heartbreak and despair and manic depressive emotional diarrhea than i expected. I guess most of that was directed to my partners at the time, or filled my stacks of paper journals. I noticed that a lot of fairly important events are NOT documented here, and that makes me sad. In 2002 i deleted at least a year's worth of posts that would have been fascinating (although cringe-worthy) to read now. From 2002 through 2006 i engaged in a lot of self-censorship, where i avoided talking about things i thought T would disapprove of (in particular drug use and idiotic behavior like nocturnal drunken road trips). 2007 was okay. Then from 2008 i self-censored my (low) opinion of J's friends and her behavior that ultimately led me to give up alcohol and become a hermit. In 2009 we moved to Canada, got married, and then i publicly snapped and ended up in psychiatric care. And then there was a lot more drug use. I don't really want to read through those years just yet, but i know a large chunk of the entries are locked.

Anyway, point is, a lot of what i did end up leaving public in this journal was relatively uninteresting updates on my life, occasional insights into my thoughts, and odd rants about current events and politics with very little context of what was actually going on in my mind at the time. Here is part of what was going on.

In my 20s, a decent chunk of the people i hung out with were related to the rave scene. That is, they were almost universally liberal. But, being people, they were flawed. I saw vegan hippies reveal their homophobia. DIY punx with crippling drug addiction. Anti-capitalist crusaders who turned out to be paranoid conspiracy theorists. Queer activists who were alcoholic basket cases. And i was no different. Because, despite all the philosophy ravers spout about PLUR and temporary autonomous zones and freedom and joy, we are still humans, and humans are awful.

When i was a young raver, the "normal" people were my enemy. When i got older, we all started to become "normal". Ravers turned into clubbers. People left the scene altogether and bought houses and cars and started jogging in the morning and doing all the shit we used to think was hideous. I became hideous when i lived in America for a year. I had an outwardly blissful suburban/small-town lifestyle, in a house, going to the mall, decorating for Halloween, eating out, doing all the nice middle class things that middle class people should do. And you know what? It actually was not hideous at all. It was perfectly fine. When i got back to Aus in 2002 i tried to build that life for myself, because i knew it was the life that T wanted, that M wanted, that J wanted. And it's people living that life that both the political left and right pander to.

So i think my politics ended up colored by these disparate experiences. I associated with radical lefties - people who participated in direct action against the Jabiluka uranium mine, people who took part in weed marches and queer pride parades, people who were vegan before being vegan was hip, people who dumpster dived, who hitchhiked, who couch surfed and hoboed around and danced and philosophized. And they were interesting people, and they were flawed people. In the political mainstream (and federal opposition) was the Australian Labor Party, which i saw as the party of bogans. As an immigrant and a trannie i felt they never cared about me, my indigenous friends felt ignored, and the whole scene was demonized because we were all ferals, druggies and pooftahs. And the right-wing? Perhaps worse on the environment, perhaps better on international policy, but ultimately still hopeless.

I came out hard and angry against the middle class protestors who pretended to be pacifists while living ultra-consumerist lifestyles that were built on systemic exploitation of the third world. Never mind that all my leftie friends were protesting too - because i judged them for their personal flaws i didn't take their message seriously either. I came out hard and angry against the working class protestors whose labor union movement always came across to me as misogynistic, racist and homophobic. Even if in reality it probably wasn't any worse than the bog-standard Australian level of misogyny, racism and homophobia. I even came out hard against my younger self who attended Reclaim the Streets (green anarchist/anti-capitalist direct action).

I was fucking angry. I had no way to get to be with the woman i loved. I worked so fucking hard but never felt i could get any closer to my actual dreams. I filled the holes in my heart with "stuff". As both an immigrant and a transperson i was essentially a non-person. Unrecognized gender identity. Couldn't vote anyway. Why would i ever think either political wing would give a shit about me? Why would i throw in with the fragmented groups of the radical left? I wonder now if my politics were not specifically right-wing, but "no-wing" - fatigued, self-interested, nihilistic. You see people protesting against shit that seems desperately unimportant. The only time a politician ever does something that affects you and your friends is when they come to make your lives worse, not better. It's so easy to just say, well, they all suck so let's just hope for the best from whichever one wins.

Which is total nonsense, i see that now. But i guess - especially being disenfranchised my entire life - i had a lot in common with those Americans i met during my Greyhound journey through the ass-end of the country last year. Why should they care about politics? None of it ever seems to affect them. The current Orwellian regime in the White House is trying to claim this "forgotten man" as some kind of silent majority who supports their policies, but that is as hokey as all the other shit they are peddling. Because i can assure you if i went back to talk to those same guys in those same bars, they'd feel the same way today that they did 6 months ago. Well, except that thing where the Republicans want to sell off federal lands to the highest bidder. That'll be a kick in the nuts for the rural west. Anyway, point is, i never stood in solidarity with anyone because my life was a chaotic mess and i never felt like politicians would help me anyway. So i cherry-picked issues that mattered to my circle - licensing laws, affordable housing, indigenous rights, free trade, free healthcare, open borders, gay marriage... and bitterly opposed the rest.

I didn't read far enough in my journal to get up to Occupy, but it's clear that here and there i was already feeling torn between my need to maintain a white collar job to be able to afford a lifestyle i wanted and a more primal happiness that came when i wasn't working at all. God knows Canada is where i really started to rub shoulders with the most obnoxious slice of the middle class - that being, the ones who are completely oblivious to how much privilege they have and just surround themselves with ever more stuff to avoid feeling guilty about anything. Yeah, fuck married life. Fuck the suburbs. Fuck the police. Burn it all down. That happened, somewhere in there. I started to identify more with the freaks from my personal life than the "norms" from my working (and married) life. Then along came the 2010s and the social justice explosion on the internet, and here we are.

One thing i did notice, going back and skim-reading ~7 years of posts, is that there is some kind of cadence to this for me. I work and live a relatively normal middle class life for about 3 years at a time, and then i crack. I take six months or a year off, living on almost nothing, and then at some point i go back to the trough like a good little capitalist. Because society does not let people live outside of it, or between it. I am feeling more and more that property is evil, but i cannot keep my sanity without privacy, and it's hard to maintain privacy without property. Or a lot of money. Prepare to read a hypocritical spiel toward the end of the year when i try to justify starting the cycle all over again.

Regardless, it's nice to see that i have grown up a little bit. Standing in solidarity with liberals as i do today is better than spouting bitter conservative rhetoric like i did 10-15 years ago, even if on the inside i feel as alienated as ever.
Tags: freedom, gender, looking back, politics, protest, raving

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