The Libertarian Dilemma

In years past I often described myself as a libertarian, accompanied by the now burned out expression of “socially liberal, fiscally conservative.” However, after some critical thought on libertarianism and the core philosophies beneath it, I have changed my mind, particularly within the last year or so. When reading this, please bear in mind that I am not attacking any individuals who would describe themselves as having libertarian-oriented beliefs, nor am I attacking individuals who would describe themselves as sticking to beliefs of any other political or philosophical persuasion. Much of this is an exercise, as I still hold many (albeit less) libertarian views.

A Fiscal Structure for Addressing Social Issues

Libertarianism is a system that is composed entirely of negative positions and doctrines. In this context, negative doctrines are those which do not promote doing, but instead advocate for avoiding behavior which would be detrimental to the proper functioning and execution of the system of which the doctrines comprise. In other words, negative doctrines, ideologies, systems, promote inaction as opposed to action that would aid in facilitating the end goal of the philosophy as a whole. Two good examples of negative doctrines in libertarianism include voluntarism (not forcing exchanges on others against their will – i.e. taxation), and the non-aggression principle (do not use coercion or violence on others unless in self defense).

My concerns with libertarianism have very little to do with fiscal proposals, as I mostly agree with economic conservatism; my concerns lie in the application of the aforementioned negative doctrines in relation to social issues. One of my largest concerns here is that these negative doctrines promote the idea of a moral standing where one is good enough, and as long as he abides by these negative doctrines, he is a morally good person. This is opposed to positive-oriented philosophies, which serve to help one to constantly attempt to be better than being good enough.

Within the libertarian framework of inaction regarding social issues, one should have no qualms with doing antisocial, immoral, and unnatural things, as long as he does not violate the liberty of others – this is not the way to produce and uphold a healthy and functional society. This is not to say that libertarians themselves are necessarily immoral or antisocial people, as many of them are quite the opposite. It is to say, however, that the libertarian structure itself does not discriminate between decent and indecent ways of life, and to follow and promote the social wing of libertarianism is to urge others to follow the doctrine of happiness.

One thing to note here: I do understand that for many, libertarianism is not the be-all-end-all to one’s entire philosophical worldview. Libertarianism can be an effective modifier when combined with other ideologies that do seek to explain and provide solutions to social and cultural issues, but quite often libertarianism is not accompanied by or blended with other viewpoints. As such, he who subscribes to libertarianism and little else is decidedly susceptible to nihilism, hedonism, and the orientation of one’s values such that the pursuit of pleasure is the primary goal of being.

The 1931 novel A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley provides an example of the negative doctrine taken to an absurd and dystopian extreme, where the pleasures of life become so universally acceptable that they are nearly no longer pleasurable. For example, A Brave New World shows us a society in which sexual promiscuity is rampant, so much so that it is nearly enforced, and any intention of procreation is completely removed from sexual intercourse. The novel also references the characters’ constant consumption of a happiness producing drug called soma, which is taken whenever a character experiences even the slightest bit of discomfort.

The Inevitability of the State

One of the most important pillars of libertarianism is the notion of a highly limited state government, however there seems to be a spectrum within libertarianism whereupon advocates sit regarding size and scope of government. On one end of the spectrum sit those who I would consider classical liberals (in an American context), and generally accept a larger government than other libertarians, but who still support the limiting of government to its basic functionality. On the opposite end of the spectrum are those who I would consider anarcho-capitalists, and generally advocate for the abolition of government in its entirety. Anarcho-capitalists propose the replacement of essential government roles (i.e. police, firefighters, etc.) by privately owned organizations.

It seems the anarcho-capitalist form of libertarianism is not particularly viable, given the inevitability that not every person will necessarily adhere to the principles of the AnCap. However, the primary reason for its impossibility is the eternal presence of government. This may be a tragic notion to both libertarians and anarchists of all stripes, but systems of government will always arise in any society once such society becomes large enough. The State will always exist primarily because it is a highly effective way for those who fiercely desire power to be able to work their way into positions of authority. Acquiring power within a capitalist system requires work, strategy, and intelligent investment into one’s organization – not necessarily through charisma and bribery (though there are exceptions, especially in the system of faux capitalism in the U.S.). Yet, acquiring positions of authority in government is often reducible to charisma and bribery. That being said, not all people who are elected to government office have malicious intent, but most systems of government reward deceitfulness.

To add to the inevitability of the presence of government, there is also an inevitable growth of government.

The Issue of Tolerance

The pure libertarian worldview allows for (and in many respects requires) tolerance of the actions of others, so long as those actions do not infringe upon one’s own rights, or violate the non-aggression principle. A common refrain one may hear from libertarians is something to the effect of “I want gay couples guarding their marijuana crops with rifles.” Phrases like these show the libertarian’s dedication to advocate for the rights of others to do as they please, and advocate for their own rights by proxy. Leaving the question of morality or social acceptability aside, excessive tolerance will inevitably lead to the decay and weakening of a social or political movement. Seeing as libertarians and anarchists are perhaps the most tolerant of all social or political movements, it is easy to understand why they have never been a force to be contended with on the national level, and are often disregarded completely in discussions about the political future.

For a movement to become a force to be contended with, it must have some degree of intolerance toward its opponents. Bear in mind that “intolerance” does not necessarily mean prejudice towards others regarding immutable characteristics as the connotation of the word often suggests. It is important that any group, or individual for that matter, retain some sort of intolerance if such a group or individual wishes to not become easily intimidated and in a perpetual state of apology. To try and shed the connotation from the concept of intolerance, I’ll provide some examples here from both the “left” and the “right” in the United States. Note that these examples are not indictments of either political alignment, and only serve to outline the concept.

Left Wing Intolerance:

Though many would consider the left wing the epitome of tolerance, they are quite intolerant when it suits their interests, and this has proved to be invaluably effective for their cause. More specifically, take the generic left wing’s advocacy for the approval and acceptance of the homosexual community, or perhaps its support for radical egalitarianism. Those who make disparaging comments about homosexuals or perhaps make stereotypical jokes about people of other races will be swiftly and severely punished. The left’s ability to deplatform, socially isolate, and pressure employers to terminate those who make such disparaging comments or jokes showcases the effectiveness of their intolerance. Again, I am not casting judgment on the morality of this intolerance, I am simply calling it as I see it. It is my understanding that many of those on the left who practice this intolerance do so because they will not tolerate those who are intolerant of their agenda.

Right Wing Intolerance:

Though the generic right wing was once (up until the early 2000s) highly effective in asserting their intolerance of dissent, they are now almost completely ineffective at doing so, most likely because of the highly liberal climate in the West. This is not to say that there is no intolerance within the right wing – it is to say that, in the court of public opinion, nobody cares what the right wing will and will not tolerate. Yet, there have been a few occasions of right wing intolerance that have been somewhat successful in recent years. For example, it’s easy to see that the National Rifle Association believes that there is a slippery slope regarding the regulation of firearms and firearm modifications/accessories. The NRA has been (mostly) successful at pushing back against the regulation of firearms, even regulations that seem very inconsequential and minor in nature. However, their intolerance of what they believe to be infringements on the constitutional rights of their members has been effective in swaying public opinion.

The Point

There are some ideas and behaviors which (taken at face value) seem harmless and innocuous, but when tolerated for long enough, they pick up steam and become aggressive to the point of infringing on one’s personal liberties. The most obvious and most relevant example of excessive tolerance leading to the infringement of liberties is the issue of internet censorship. There are a great deal of political figures on the internet – many of whom used platforms such as YouTube as their means of income – who have recently been banned from using these platforms because of their ideologies. The libertarian might contend that social media corporations are private entities, and have the right to censor and deplatform as they wish. The libertarian might also assert that if the banned user had used a given platform as their means of income and intend to continue to rely on internet activity as their means of income in the future, that they should “build their own” platform. Personally, I would usually be inclined to agree with the sentiment, but the circumstances regarding censorship are far different than they were in the past.

The user bases of platforms such as YouTube or Twitter, as well as the public at large (including libertarians for the reasons listed above), generally tolerated the banning and deplatforming of many internet figures. Some did decide to build their own platforms, and websites such as Gab.ai, BitChute, and Hatreon were created. But it did not take long before access to online payment processing through PayPal and Stripe (together having overwhelming dominance of the payment processing market) had been revoked. The market dominance of PayPal and Stripe (which frequently operate in lock-step, nearly cornering the payment processing market) is what is important here. Though it is obviously difficult, one can create an alternative platform where they can host content for themselves and others like them; however, to ask for one to create an alternative media platform as well as a payment processing system within a market where practically no competition to the dominant companies is able to go anywhere is an absolutely absurd proposition. Tolerating the deplatforming of any person who was (within their constitutional rights) operating on platforms which are now the de facto public square is the cause of a new wave of censorship that has now targeted libertarians themselves for banning and removal from these platforms.

I understand that the above example of internet censorship is somewhat long-winded and complicated, however, I personally find it preferable to taking the heat over explaining an example like the baking of wedding cakes for homosexual marriages, or the legal requirement to refer to people by using their “preferred pronouns.”

In summation, I don’t believe that libertarianism is something that is deeply flawed, nor do I think that it is a system of political and social thinking that is without value or merit. But there is a reason why the peak success of libertarianism and ideas like it took place long ago during a time of exploration, pioneering, and occasional lawlessness. In a low density population the idea is quite good, yet with the way things are now, it is increasingly obvious that not everyone can be convinced of free market principles and the value of the individual through simple logical explanation, and those people who cannot be convinced will inevitably band together into a collective and utilize the power of the state in one way or another to infringe upon your liberties.

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An Essay on Charlottesville

Since Saturday the 12th, it has been greatly discouraging to see many of my friends openly engaging in discussions with one another about issues regarding American politics and race relations – yet denying me a word on the subject. So, I’m going to try and explain exactly what the hell is happening as succinctly and as logically as I can. I suspect that we have the same opinion.

Why am I doing this? 

As a person who is typically very open with strangers and friends alike, I often voice my opinion on any and all American political matters. As many of you know, I tend to lean somewhat “to the right” on issues regarding society, ethics, history, and economics. It has been made apparent to me – through the unwavering disregard for political dialogue, and perhaps a fear that my friends will wish to disavow me from their circles – that some would believe that I am a Neo-Nazi, Fascist, Eugenicist, White Supremacist, or any other ideologue who would force his opinions on others. All of these charges are false.

The Charlottesville Problem:

What happened in Charlottesville is no more than a product and representation of the categorization and collectivism that has festered within the lowest rungs of American society since the Second World War. The vast majority of us interact with hundreds if not thousands of other people on a day-to-day, momentary basis. Everything one sees, everything one hears, every tool that has been given to us to supposedly formulate our own opinions has been greatly compromised. The simplest thing to do, and what most of us are guilty of, is steadily and enduringly following narratives. Hold on, I hope I am as clear as can be in reinforcing this fact – I have never, nor have I ever had the resolution to follow my own narrative, to create my own agenda, or to cut out the influence of others entirely. You and I have an established relationship here, and I want you to know that I haven’t, for one second, believed you to be beneath me, or above me. These things are for you to decide. Your position in society is where you, yourself, end up compared to where you envision. I say all of this because it seems there is no longer an emphasis on The Individual.

The way I see things, we now have the competing ideologies:

Collectivism and Individualism.

 

Collectivism in Society:

A society which puts an emphasis on the Collective, and only the Collective, will fail. Every (institutionalized) Collectivist society on planet earth has failed, and every society that continues to follow this agenda in the future will fail. Collectivist ideologies have resulted in the fall of the Roman Empire, the collapse of the U.S.S.R., the destruction of the Third Reich, the slow sink of the Scandinavian economy, and ultimately – the deaths of hundreds of millions. 

It is absolutely crucial to note that I am not talking about this whole notion of “left vs. right”. That notion is absurd. Ideologies exist on both X and  Y axes. The X axis is most often considered to be the degree to which an ideology is socially Liberal, and the Y axis the degree to which an ideology favors State power, economic control, and Authoritarianism.

Why This Matters in Regard to Charlottesville:

Let’s try to (roughly) define a few things.

The “Alt-Right” – A crude and hateful ideology which favors Americans with a European ancestry above all else. This is Collectivism.

The New Left (AntiFa, and associated movements) – A crude and hateful ideology which assumes that the other is the reason for differences between ethnic backgrounds, economic status, and over/under-representation in the workforce. This is Collectivism.

The Belligerents and Their Backgrounds:

Competing Collectivist ideologies have existed throughout human existence. Humans, after all, are a Tribal species, and a scapegoat is absolutely crucial in upholding a Collectivist viewpoint. Having someone to blame for your problems and creating a victim narrative that suits the Collective is what keeps the Collective afloat. Early in human history, other tribes, races, or even Gods were blamed. The scapegoat, however, flows with the Zeitgeist. Without blaming Jews and “subhumans”, would Hitler have been able to maintain his “racially pure” society? Without the Aristocracy, bourgeoisie, or the middle-class to blame for the poverty of the proletariat, would Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks have been able to successfully revolt? No and no; both of these organizations were reactionary. Once one can convince any categorical population that they share a common “enemy”, such a population will use violence as a means to punish such an enemy. The Collective does not exist without a common enemy.

You may not agree with me, but I find that the “Alt-Right” and “AntiFa” are quite easy to compare in this regard. Sure, there are plenty of differences, just as there were between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, but they follow the exact same guidelines. Here is the essential difference between National Socialist Germany and The Soviet Union: Nazi Germany used race as a means of separation, and The Soviet Union used economic class as a means of separation. They’re no different! Both of these ideologies were, by their very design, constructed to separate and categorize the population to the point in which debate, reason, and Individualism are nearly impossible. Once the populous can no longer tolerate the other, violence becomes the only option.

The Alt-Right is entirely convinced that there is “an anti-white climate” in The West, which doesn’t make a morsel of sense considering that the philosophy of The West is based entirely on Individualism. While I do believe that our universities, our biased information, and media outlets often foster cultural Marxism, you cannot defeat cultural Marxism by using cultural Marxism. The Alt-Right is nothing but a shadow of “AntiFa”. Nothing institutional has changed in regards to racism recently, so if the Alt-Right would like to combat this ridiculous notion of “anti-white climate”, they should go have children and raise them like a halfway decent person. Lastly, the idea that National Socialism could function in any way in the United States, or would be welcomed by anybody except for the couple thousand of White Nationalists is laughable.

On the other hand, we have “AntiFa” which has declared that its focus is to fight Fascism and state-sponsored racism. To assume that present-day America is Fascist, or to assume that there is somehow institutionalized racism is completely and utterly absurd. America has been at the forefront of social liberties since its founding. For those who believe that there is institutionalized racism or bigotry, I urge you to search for as long as humanly possible for any law, code, or current Supreme Court ruling in which one race is not allowed the liberties of another. This also goes for the Alt-Right – you are not being discriminated against. Regardless of how you feel about it, whether you want it to be true, or not, in America we have equality before the law. I won’t go into detail about how the U.S. is not Fascist because I don’t need to; a Fascist America is so ridiculous it’s incomprehensible.

All of that being said, I see an enormous problem. How do the members of these groups turn around? Can they?

The Only Way to Fix This:

As Americans, we must emphasize a return to Individualism. We must step back from the ledge of State enforced ideologies. We must treat each other as Individuals, and not the other. We must let people speak, even if their ideas are repugnant. We must allow ideas to rise and die without interference. We must always be vigilant of National Socialism, of Fascism, of Communism, of Socialism, all of which aim to squelch human rights, but we can not use violence as a means to an end; you will not achieve that end. I am just as offended by the Hammer and Sickle as I am the Swastika, but if some degenerate wants to wear a shirt, wave a flag, or flail a sign, let them do it – better yet, make sure others are aware of what the symbol means, why it is wrong, and respect the other person’s right to make a fool of themselves in public. Once you take away their right to speak, you have set an extremely dangerous precedent, and your constitutional rights might be next; so if someone is wrong, for God’s sake, let them speak! Once we stop talking, we start killing. We need to question all beliefs, and not be blinded by preference. People’s minds can be changed.

“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

– Mark Twain

Thank You All!

I haven’t had the WordPress app installed for some reason, so I’m just now seeing how many people are liking my work. It’s not hundreds, but it’s a hell of a lot better than 2 or 3. Thanks so much to all of you who have read my work. Also, if anybody has a request for a certain topic which might also mean something to me, I can try my best with a poem or short story. I’m always down for new experiences. Thanks again for your support! You’re my inspiration to write more often!

Don’t Take This the Wrong Way.

My demons have caved and gone home.

The ghosts who pervaded my conscience

have crawled back below the starless horizon.

 

They’re tired of waiting on me.

 

How I wish there was something;

please tell me there’s something better.

Something more than this.

 

Slow bass shivers;

carnival organs and their foul accents poke me;

they make me bleed.

Once, they stopped to play a slower, sorry psalm.

 

Is the sun lonely? How could I know.

 

How I wish there was something;

please tell me there’s something better.

Why isn’t there something more than this?
This saturated solitude.

Afterwards

             After the last song, we started down a dark street. There was a sound like the shock of a dropped eight-string, and it clouded our territory with distressed and anxious gnats, burrowing into our ears with a visceral scratching, the kind of scratching that may prompt one to beat himself for no reason other than to clear its echoes. A quick, sharp wail and an interrupted gasp followed the shock. Silk woven bags of sand spun and met their surroundings with the force of riot pellets against hard metal. But this was around the corner in an alley that always smelled of blood and burning heroin. That wasn’t our alley, ours was a block north. I felt the tingle in the back of my head again. The spiders were stepping ever so slowly up and down the inside of my skull, their sharp weaving feet tapping back and forth. I would soon breathe it again. Smell it, taste it, know it. The drip like old vitamins mother fed me twenty years ago. My primal instincts would best me soon, forcing me to crawl into my shadow beneath the grid once again.

Who? (Poem)

He doesn’t get out much,

Only when he alters his state.

He spends his days alone,

But he doesn’t mind.

In the past, he wanted to die.

Now he’s too tired.

There’s so much to say!

But no way to share,

And often no one to care.

Music and medication keep him alive,

Which isn’t a bad thing.

He’s always thirsty,

And only breathes through his nose.

And that’s fine with him.

After all, he’s just a nervous mess.

He’s not helpless.

Just a little off.

– E.L.

White Walls – A Memoir

In order of importance, they lined us up like animals for our daily feeding. Neptune went first, as always, then Brittany, Gabby, Kristen, Justin, myself, and the few that followed me. The fluorescent lights fastened to the ceiling burned my skin. They lead us towards the bolted wooden door, behind which, a hideous woman stood. She called our names through the veil of her intimidating white scrubs. We were given tiny paper cups filled with cocktails of various medications, after which our mouths were forced open with our tongues out. She would follow every inspection with “Good boy,” or “good girl”. I stared at the floor until she called me.
“Mr. Eric?” she said.
I stared at the floor. My name was not “Mr. Eric”. She could’ve called me “Eric”, “Mr. Lundgren”, “Lundgren”, I didn’t care; however, my name was not Mr. fucking Eric. I didn’t look up until she said it.
“Eric Lundgren,” she said, a little louder this time. “Its time for your medication.”
“Yeah,” I responded. I chased the four pills with another tiny paper cup lazily filled with water. In that cup was 20mg of Zoloft, 30mg of Effexor, 1mg of Klonopin, and the base amount of Trazodone. She grabbed my mouth to check under my tongue, and all was clear.
“Good boy,” she said, before calling another patient.
“I’m not a dog,” I responded. “I’m a sixteen-year-old person.” She looked at me, smiled, and looked away. She didn’t care. She was just waiting until ten when she’d go home and snort OxyContin with her sorry excuse for a boyfriend. I sighed and walked away, returning to the community room to contemplate suicide once more.
In the spring of 2011, after three years of habitual Marijuana, Alcohol, Cocaine, and prescription pill abuse, as well as multiple suicide attempts, I was admitted to the Riverside Behavioral Health Center in Hampton, Virginia. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and Substance Dependance Disorder when I was fourteen. After going through two psychiatrists and five therapists, the idea of the behavioral hospital was brought to our attention. My mother and I had contemplated admitting me since September 2010, but it didn’t happen until more than a year later, after I had attempted to hang myself once, overdose on pills twice, and drown myself in carbon monoxide. The evening after the carbon monoxide incident, I decided to show my mother the cuts covering my arms and legs. I’ll never forget how she cried. I know that she cried for me, but also for herself, which was just as painful. I often find myself wishing I would’ve gone about that some other way. I didn’t handle it well, and neither did she. After that evening, I decided it was time to go.
I went to school the next day. Mid-lecture I told my teacher I was going to the restroom, but I packed my things and left the school. I drove home, debating speeding up to around sixty miles per hour, rolling the windows down, aiming in the right direction, closing my eyes, and hitting a tree, a transformer, or a guardrail perhaps. I was comfortable with dying. After a few moments of peace, I decided against this and instead called my mother.
“I’m ready to go to the hospital now,” I said.
“Okay,” she said. “I’ll be home soon. Your father will be there too.”
“Shit. Dad’s going to be there?”
I asked because my parents were divorced. They split up in 2005, and my dad was still not doing well, especially because mom was still seeing the guy that supposedly tore our family apart, and because I told him of my drug abuse a year prior. Well, only the pot. We were far from friends then, as were my mother and I.
“Yes, we will be there shortly. Everything’s going to be fine, I promise,” she answered.
“Okay,” I replied, and hung up.
I got home and my parents drove me to the hospital, telling me all the while how everything would be fine, and not to worry about anything. “Alright,” and “Okay,” was all I had to say. We entered the hospital and they signed me in. They both hugged me, we did the whole “I love you” thing, and they left me.
The staff stripped me of my belt, sweatshirt, and shoes, and instead gave me sandals to wear. The nurse giving me the tour of the Behavioral Health ward was surprisingly kind, and upon her departure, I was sent into a room with other kids between twelve and seventeen, arranged in a circle. The room was dark, except for an obnoxious movie playing from a small television in the front of the room near another nurse. The smell of that place is something I will never forget. The odor was a stale thin air that felt nearly poisonous. I sat down in the circle with the other kids and looked down at my knees. I was a nervous wreck. I didn’t know any of those people, and I remembered what I had been told about places like those. I stopped an anxiety attack by slowly breathing the stagnant dust into my paper lungs.
Why didn’t I just fucking do it. Look at where you are, Eric.
The lights turned on. All eyes were on me.
“Okay guys, it looks like we have a new visitor!” the nurse said. I scanned the room. The walls were white; they all were. Every wall in the whole damned place was white. I felt trapped in an origami prison. I briefly glanced into the corner of the room. I believe in the weakest time of my life, the girl I saw in that moment was genuinely the most beautiful person I had ever seen. She, too, looked down at her knees, occasionally looking up at me and then looking away. She had straight black hair that neatly rested on her shoulders, lots of cute little freckles about her face, and such sincere eyes. I felt like I was in love with this girl and I hadn’t been inside the place for more than ten minutes.
Maybe it won’t be so bad.
“You must be Eric,” the nurse said, looking at me. I quickly snapped out of my confusion and looked up at her.
“Yep, that’s me.” I said.
“Why are you here?” another patient asked.
“Hold on, we’ll save that for later.” the nurse said, stopping me from continuing a horrible conversation with that rude prick. “Eric, we’re watching a movie. Is that okay with you?”
“Yes, that’s fine,” I answered.
After finishing the movie, it was around three o’clock in the afternoon and the nurse ushered the group of people – including myself – into another room slightly larger than the last littered with couches and other mildly comfortable chairs. We sat in a circle. Since there was a new person in the ward, we all took turns stating exactly what put us in the hospital. The majority of us were there for suicide attempts and a few for psychopathic and/or homicidal behavior. It was my turn, and I spoke up:
“Hi, my name’s Eric. I’m here for a few suicide attempts. Obviously, none of them were successful-“
“Suicide attempts are never successful,” the nurse cut me off. “Some individuals complete the act of suicide, but there is no success there.” she finished and then looked back at me. I was speechless. I thought of a hundred things I could’ve said to that woman then, but I knew that the more I acted out, the longer I would be in there.
“I understand.” I said, sitting down.
“Do you have anything else to-“ she began.
“No, I don’t.” I said, cutting her off and looking away. I looked over at the freckled girl with the black hair. She was looking at me again, and looked away when I caught her eye. The rest of the kids said their piece before we moved on.
“Okay,” the nurse started. She removed an iPod and a small stereo set from a large bag beside her. While setting the stereo up, she said: “Have any of you ever heard the song ‘Perfect’ by Pink?” she smiled and looked around the room. “It’s really a great song. You guys would love it. It’s about people who are feeling like some of you feel sometimes. Do you guys want to hear it?” A few of the girls and younger kids nodded or said “yes” lazily.
She played the song.
Fuck me. What is this bullshit?
One kid said something about the song actually being called “Fucking Perfect” instead of “Perfect” and of course, the nurse was playing the clean version.
“Yes, they do use the F word in this song,” the nurse said, giggling. “But that’s not what we need to focus on here. Isn’t this song wonderful?” That stupid song played over in my head under buzzing fluorescent lighting that felt as if it were burning my skin. I looked around for a bit, trying to escape the music and noticed that there were no windows in the room. As a matter of fact, I hadn’t seen a window since I was admitted. I wasn’t sure when I’d see sunlight again. I noticed then that the nurse had been trying to get my attention.
“Yes?” I answered her. That horrible song played in the background.
“Eric, this is the only place in the center where patients are allowed to swear. Anywhere other than this room over my watch, you guys cannot use curse words. Understood?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“Great.” she said. The song was finally ending. It was at this point that she decided to go around the circle of patients, each with their own song request for the iPod. Most of them chose the worst type of rap music, and about half of them sang along. I hated that more than anything. I contemplating holding a palm out to them. Stop. Please. Do you have any idea how stupid you look? A guy named Justin, whom I briefly befriended in the hospital asked to listen to Disturbed, and he sang with the music. My God, his voice was awful. He would later call his parents and tell them about how great it was to sing in front of everybody, and how well it went. The freckled girl with the black hair, Kristen, asked for a Papa Roach song, and her friend Gabby asked for a My Chemical Romance song. So, naturally, those were the people I gravitated towards.
By the time it was my turn, I asked the nurse to play “Wake Up” by Suicide Silence – a well known Deathcore band. Not only did I love the song, I knew it would be unsettling to lots of the other people there, which would be hilarious. As she played, I soaked it in. Gabby and Kristen laughed and smiled at the music. That made me a little bit more comfortable. The nurse asked me questions, but I would answer very quickly.
“Why do you like this song?”
“It’s fucking awesome.”
“Doesn’t it make you angry?”
“Nah.”
“Well, right now we’re listening to songs that make us angry,” she said. I had missed that part of the conversation.
“Well… I suppose sometimes it does.”
“Why?”
“I have no idea.”
“What is he saying?”
“Wake up, wake up… Do I still exist… I can’t see my face…”
“What is it about?”
“Acid.”
I wanted to tell her to shut the hell up. They took our iPods, cell phones, and anything else that could possibly bring pleasure into one’s life upon admission. I was enjoying my music, but a few continued to look at me, surprised that anyone could listen to my favorite genre. I spoke up. “Oh come on, you can’t tell me that this isn’t the kind of shit you guys think about with a razor in your hand or a noose around your neck.” Nobody had an answer. I shrugged and continued to soak up the screams until it ended, far too soon I might add. We listened to the rest of the kids’ awful music until it was time to eat.
We were fed a vile mixture of meats and vegetables. I could never have known exactly what it was. It didn’t smell too bad, but the taste was far from pleasant. While picking at my food, I found myself alone. Kristen and Gabby decided they would introduce themselves to me. I formally met them both, but I couldn’t help but feel attracted to Kristen. She really was one of the most gorgeous things I had ever seen. Maybe it was because we were completely shut out from the rest of the world. It was as if everything had died, leaving the two of us alone. I dreamt that would happen. I begged my imagination to set us alone. She was slightly flirty, but I didn’t pick up on it. It wasn’t until a few days into my imprisonment that I could see that she was just as attracted to me as I was to her. She told me the dreams she had of me, and I did the same. I hadn’t had a girlfriend in a while, and I figured a girl with problems almost exactly like mine would make us both happy, and it did. I didn’t find her until October of 2013. She loved me from the end of 2013 until December of 2014.
I found the others to be quite strange, and I did not speak to them much. Justin was a horrible compulsive liar and Gabby was a horribly rude person.
After we ate, they fed us our pills, and those of us who had behaved well were able to go to sleep earlier than the others. As much as I wanted to sleep, I figured I would stay up and enjoy the slight buzz that I was getting from the Trazodone. After it wore off, I went to my room. There were no sharp objects, medications, or outlets in the room, so these were not options. I looked for a place to hang myself with a towel, but the shower curtain was held up by a PVC pipe and the bed posts were a coned shape, as were the door handles. I tried to sleep, but could not, partly because the staff would open the door every other hour for a “check up”. I cried myself to sleep and was woken up at nine in the morning by the staff, who told me it was time for food.
Before they fed me, I had to speak with a nurse every morning from then on, who asked me vague questions about how I was feeling.
“Do you feel suicidal today?”
“Nope.”
“Good! How happy are you on a scale of one to ten?”
“About a six.”
“Great! We’re going to do some blood work on you now before you eat and check your vitals just to make sure you’re doing well.”
“Alright.” I said.
Of course I had to lie. How else would have I gotten out of that miserable place?
Two young nurses entered the room and tried to take my blood. She ended up missing my vein four times, which left a large bruise over my left forearm. That day was much darker than the one before. I knew I would not be able to commit suicide inside the hospital, and I knew I would be there for at least four more days. I prayed that my parents would remove me before the weekend, but I knew that they wouldn’t.
After we ate, we painted. I scribbled all over the page. The nurse asked me what it meant to me. I said that I had no idea.
I really didn’t.
After two days of art, awful movies, and talking in circles, I found myself sitting at a table alone, waiting for staff to tell me I could sleep. The nurse called me to the desk in the front of the ward, where I was handed the phone.
“It’s your father,” the nurse said. “He would like to speak with you.” she smiled and walked away.
“Thanks,” I said. I placed the phone to my ear.
“Hello?” he said. Just hearing his voice made me dreadfully sad.
“Hey dad,” I said.
“How are you?”
“I’m horrible,” I whispered into the phone. I covered my mouth with my hand.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“You gotta get me the hell out of here, dad. You have to. I can’t do this anymore.” I said, beginning to cry.
“Eric, I’m sorry. I don’t know what to tell you. Your mother wouldn’t like that very much, and its for the best, anyways. Just hang in there.” I hit my fist on the table.
“Dad, please. You’ve got to help me.”
“Eric-“ he began, before the nurse took the phone from me.
“One moment, Mr. Lundgren,” she said, placing the phone back on the counter. “Eric, you need to be calm,” the nurse said. “I don’t want to see you go to the cloud room.”
Oh Fuck.
The cloud room was a room off to the side of the ward, where they would put you if you did anything violent. In the process, staff would hold you down, shoot you in the ass with a needle full of Ativan, and lock you beneath restraints onto a table in a room that was painted to look as if there were clouds on the walls, because somehow that helped.
“No I’m fine, I’m fine. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.” I said back to her.
“Okay. I’m just making sure everything is well,” she said. She picked up the phone and returned it to me.
“Dad,” I said, breathing heavily into the phone.
“I’m sorry. I just can’t do that right now. You know I love you and I would do anything to help you, but this is for the best.”
“I love you too, dad.” I said, and hung up. I quietly cried to myself on the table until it was time to be drugged and put to bed.
The next day, a short muscular kid with a shaved head was pushed through the doors of the ward. I was eating at the time. After a few moments of speaking with the nurse, he sat down next to me. We sat in silence for three or four minutes before I awkwardly looked in his direction. “Hey,” I said. “My name’s Eric.” I reached for a handshake, but his hands gripped his knees and showed no signs of movement. He stared at the white wall before us with the kind of blank stare that one might find on a dead man. He had not touched his food; he just continued to stare. “What’s your name?” I asked. He didn’t reply. I looked back at my food, shaking my head. After more prolonged silence, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t know what the fuck was wrong with that kid, but I needed a god damned friend. “I think I’ll just call you Neptune, dude,” I said. To this day, I have absolutely no idea why I chose the name Neptune out of all names for this guy, but he didn’t seem to mind.
“Neptune. I like that.” he said, still staring blankly forwards.
Maybe he won’t kill me now.
“Sweet, dude.” I said. I finished eating, and moved to the community room where I sat alone once again. About an hour afterwards, the rest of the patients moved into the room and gathered in a circle. We had to watch a video about drug abuse and how it ruins your life. I protested a few times during the video in order to bring up the fact that drugs are an excellent coping mechanism, especially for when you lose something.
The following day, Kristen and Gabby were released, and I was released two days after they were. I never realized how much I needed my parents until my mother picked me up from the hospital. I wanted to cry, but I figured I was done with that for the time being. The sunlight and the warm grass cradled me in those moments of bliss. My mother laughed, but I didn’t find it funny. I rolled around in the grass, itching all over, until mother picked me up from the heated green blades. I still didn’t understand why I was in the ward for so long, and mother couldn’t give me an answer, but it didn’t matter.

To Clarify~

I am not, now, a depressed or suicidal person.  However, I have had problems struggling with these issues in the past. Thankfully, I did manage – through my loneliness – to write a plethora of poems and short stories.  I may post these from time to time.  I still do like writing within the horror genre, but I’m doing just fine!

-untitled- (poem)

Layers of skin are peeling away…
but the new skin just looks all the same.

In the dark, I watch him tie…
the sheet from which my body will die.

Tangled in black strands of thick cloth…
I try to imagine what’s gained and what’s lost.

This demon of mine, what he wants, I don’t know…
he thinks I can only be happy alone.

Repeating again, that new skin is the same…
I question if happiness is truly in vein.

A constant struggle for attention, I cry…
protected by dark, so cleverly disguised.

My heart, still beating, the only thing I despise.