I wonder what you see when you look at me. It has taken me many years to realise that for most people that's a strange question to ask. People know what others think of them, or at least they know what they think others ought to think of them. But I don't, at every level. I buy clothes without having any real awareness of what they will look like on me. I don't know what I look like and am often surprised when I see myself in a mirror. I don't know what I sound like: when people say I have a deep voice, I'm shocked, because it sounds high to me; I get overpassionate and talk too loud but I'm not really aware of doing it, so I seem aggressive when really I'm just invested.
But I do know you will see a failure.
Because the problem with failure is whatever you think about yourself, however you judge yourself, you do not get to judge for others, even if you think you should. And anyway, I agree with you. I've never been any good to anyone and that's as clear to me as it is to you. I am a "man who could be anything" who is nothing at all. And life likes nothing more than to forcibly demonstrate that to you, over and over and over until you feel that all you want is to be so small no one even notices you enough to disapprove of you.
I don't really mind the things I don't do and I know I'm not doing them. The myriad assholeries of my life never really bother me because I know I can't do any different. What bothers me are the ways I fail and I don't even know what I'm doing wrong. I'm actually trying to succeed and I still fail.
So I know that some of this feeling comes from being a worthless office drone when I could really have done anything with my life. But I lost my worthless job as a subeditor and this is what I had to do to serve my family. And I know that sounds like the kind of fake nobility you despise but it's not despicable. Whatever I felt about my dad, his cowardice and unwillingness to do the right thing because the wrong thing brought less risk, at least I respected that he would suffer for us, that he'd keep turning up. I keep turning up.
I really do. Some days I think it would be better if I didn't exist. I don't mean I think suicidal thoughts because I never have and never do, so you need not worry about that. I mean it would be better if I were just erased and everyone just got on without me, since I give so little to the world and take so much from it. Some days I feel like I have to stop lying to myself that I am treading water and start to accept that I am just living the tiny life that I have earned and I won't have anything beyond that.
The big problem I've often faced is that like you I want to be "loved for myself" but I just can't accept that there's no myself worth loving. I'm just not special at all. It's the curse of aspies that they never really get that, I think. You are just a worthless ape living out your days on a small rock at the arse end of the universe (although we are told, are we not, that every point of the universe is in fact the centre -- which is one of those things we accept on the word of scientists but never really believe at all).
I thought this would go somewhere but it hasn't. I am just trying to clear out the shit in my head, and it is shit, so that it doesn't weigh me down so much. I feel like I am carrying a brimming bucket of shit and trying not to spill it everywhere.
It is no use having wishes. That's the last wish I will give up, probably, that there should be some use in it. But wishes are nothing and what you can wreak for yourself is everything. And I've never been any good at wreaking anything except heartbreak for those foolish enough to dally with me.
I know I sound as though I'm drowning in self-pity. I am. I am terrified my child will die and I cannot express that terror because my wife's terror is worse and only hers matters to her. I am frightened my life will always be unhappy and I cannot express that fear because doing that increases her unhappiness because like all of us she feels she ought to be able to make people happy that she loves. But who has ever been able to make me happy? That always and ever will be something only I can do. I am scared my children will hate me because I am such a bad father. I want to say to them, I did try, but what does it matter that you tried? You failed, that is all that matters.
I am afraid I will never amount to anything. It's ridiculous, isn't it? I am nearly 50. I have already not amounted to anything. I feel my throat all the time, just griping away, and I am afraid it will be the same cancer that killed my mum, missed by the medicos the way they missed hers, and nothing can console me because I feel like I deserve it. I deserve for death to come and sweep me away and to have never been anything at all to anyone. And I don't know why and the curse of my dying like that would be that I never figured out why and I would die thinking if only I had had time to get that one thing straight, but perhaps that is after all what hell is, to never know.