The Abyss Gazes Also into You

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” – Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

How am I happy? It’s an interesting puzzle, isn’t it? I am a happy person, and I expect I will be happy for the rest of my life. But how, especially after witnessing the illness and death of the love of my life 19 months ago, can this be?

I thought about that after a search of a cloud storage folder yielded, accidentally, the transcribed journal of someone I knew and dated in the early 1990s, who took her own life in early 1994.

In that journal, which I discovered only after she died, I found a potent sense of depression, despair, resentment, self-contempt, and misanthropy. Why? What drove her to such bone-crushing lows?

There were certainly the unambiguous signs of anxiety and clinical depression, and certainly some very serious post-traumatic stress disorder. She couldn’t sleep or eat well. She was disinclined to reach out (at least to me.)

In her journal (which she wrote as letters to me, which all started, “Dear Richard”), she wrote again and again about wanting to die. “I’m afraid no one will ever love me again, and I will be alone all my life,” she wrote. “If I live to be forty and am still alone, I think I will interfere with my destiny,” she later wrote, though at that time, she was 43.

One of the least-accurate things she wrote was that she was, “easy to get along with.” She was about as “easy” as a nuclear war. The reason that I stopped courting her was that she was so hard to get along with.

But okay. Doesn’t all that describe me to some degree during various periods in my life? Sure. But now am I alone, living with the echoes and memories of the most amazing love I have ever witnessed, let alone experienced, yet still smile and eat and work and love my life.

It’s too easy to write her off with “she was crazy.” Is the real truth that we are just blobs of delicately-balanced biomass? Are we all just “one trade away from humility,” to cite the movie Wall Street?

Three months before she killed herself, she wrote, “You know NOT ONE IOTA of the pain I live with daily. You are NOT forced to live my life. So LAY OFF.”

I knew fragments of that kind of pain when I was younger, but I dealt with it. She was consumed and destroyed by it.

What, then, do we think and do about this? I will ponder further.

"Every action is filled with light and with darkness." ~Black Filigree Notebook
“Every action is filled with light and with darkness.” ~Black Filigree Notebook

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