It is his capacity for self-improvement and self-redemption which most distinguishes man from the mere brute. -Aung San Suu Kyi, Freedom from Fear
I have carefully created an empty life, devoid of deep connections. I float from one hedonistic experience to the next, drugged and sexed to general contentment, but when the sharp pain of loneliness strikes spontaneously like some terrible toothache, I realize there is no one for me to turn to, that I am alone and miserable.
I do this to myself. I’m a charming man, easy to fall for but just barely, fleetingly. It becomes clear to women that I am dangerous. I am too critical of everything and everyone, myself included. The future will only bring pain, my compulsions slowly wearing down your insecurities.
My friendships are as shallow as my sexual interests. My social life is a collection of cobbled together advertisements, a consumerist experiences that end in 30 seconds. Every plan I make is dashed, each summer full of cancelled reunions. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a meaningful conversation.
I have certainly never loved. I have simply admired certain beauty within fabricated moments: fingers through the conditioned hair, the soft kiss of painted lips, the staged selfies and the momentary connection of post-coital bliss. I am obsessed with the same storybook life and love we all dream of, and I will bulldoze through everything to dream it. Like sand, these conjured images fall through my fingers, my fragile life falling out from under me. I’m sinking.
Yes, I’m delusional enough to ignore the pain. I know how to inflate my ego. Quite so: I think I am the best, a king among men, god’s gift to women. All of it. In fact, nobody is good enough for me. And for this, I want pity. The nerve I have.
When I meet someone new, as I often do, I fall immediately for the qualities they want me to see. But soon enough I notice their flaws, and these littlest things repel me. I am an awful man who demands more from the world than I am willing to give. Because I truly believe that I deserve it.
Sure, I can be nice, but I would never describe myself as such. I am kind when it suits me. I am sweet when there’s no cost to it. Most daily interactions are so benign that being nice is no problem whatsoever. But in deeper interactions, kindness feels like effort. I’m more interested in bluntness, in devastation, in cutting through the bullshit to what I think of as the truth.
My world is so subjective it’s ridiculous. And of course I take it all as fact. I think I know everything. At the slightest opportunity, I will explain any subject to you. I love hearing myself talk. Maybe you’ll be impressed by my knowledge, by my confidence, and maybe even my carefully displayed vulnerability. I will get close, put my arm around you, or near your knee. Maybe you will even trust me.
But make no mistake: I am evil. Spoiled. Poisoned. I am scorned by ex lovers, have lost all of my friends. I’m not invited to things, not invested, kept far from children and sharp objects. I don’t know what I’m capable of. Not lasting love, not commitment. Definitely destruction. And it hurts me in the end, especially. I’m a danger to myself and you and everyone else.
I want to rip my own face off. I want to bleach my eyes out, to scratch myself clean until I’m bloody with the scars of emotional catharsis. I want to unlearn everything that’s made me this despicable human, the faulty wiring, my whole operating system. And I want to do this to you, too. I want to take all the affirmations we tell ourselves, all the little lies and hopes and false optimism and I want to intellectually deconstruct it until we’re left with just our own pathetically sensitive souls, our damaged egos left out in the cold.
I am a black hole. I suck the life out of the world and I am always hungry, always wanting to consume people, to suck you dry like a vampire, feeding on what seems to me like a normal life, until you become a similar monster. I will crawl into a corner, cry for desires so damn insatiable, cry myself to sleep. I would, rather, if I had any feelings.
I wish I could be different. I wish I were sweet, loving, accepting of the imperfect world around me. I wish I could be nice to myself. I want deep love and empathy and understanding in my life. It sounds so fucking pleasant: to share my thoughts and feelings and time with another complex person. I want a hug but I don’t deserve it. I have problems. I can’t do it; I cannot be close to anyone. I am an island devoid of life in a tumultuous sea, made of stone. This is what it means to forever be alone.
Keith Telfeyan is a storyteller and editor of words & pictures. Local in California, New York & Berlin. Likes: art house cinema, whiskey, staring out windows. Dislikes: early mornings, disorder, time passing too quickly.
Check out Ukrainian photographer, Sasha Kurmaz who focuses on confronting the viewer with everyday situations that bare a raw beauty and reflect the strangeness of reality. And believe us, Kurmaz’s reality is strange.