Life Goes On And Other Garbage

18 May

The main problem with life is that it goes on. And on. And on.

People say that like it’s supposed to comfort you. Like, if you don’t get the job you wanted or your dog dies or the guy you’re so smitten with just out of the blue stops calling, your mom or your friend or your boss will inevitably say, oh, well, life goes on. As if i’s supposed to make you feel better, somehow, knowing that not only do you have to deal with this stupid bleeding heartache, but even while you gingerly nurse that hurt you still have to keep making your stumbling way through this magnificent/godawful old world.

Life goes on even after you’ve poisoned every good thing that’s ever come your way. Life goes on after you’ve single-handedly destroyed every relationship that was important to you, as if you were on some kind of mission to prove just how unloveable a person can be. Life goes on after you’ve fucked around so much at work, knowing all the while that you’re fucking around and hating yourself for it, that you face the very real risk of being fired. Life goes on, and you’re left standing amid all the sad wreckage of your little self. Life goes on even on the days when you can’t get out of bed. Life goes on especially on those days.

Life goes on after the good stuff, too. Like that walk home from the bar with your lover, when both of you were tipsy enough to find everything perfect and funny, even the things that were neither perfect nor funny. It was summer then, a real big city summer where daytime heat smashes you hard against the pavement, but  that night was a sort of reprieve. The baking stillness of the day was gone, and there was a delicious breeze coming from somewhere, maybe the lake. The leaves on the trees were broad and green and made a soft shushing sound above you. The streetlights hazy, and the world smelled like fresh cut grass. You knew that when you got home you would fuck and eat junk food and watch cartoons and then fall asleep in a tangled pile like a pair of puppies.

It was the kind of moment that you feel nostalgic for even as you’re living through it – you catch yourself mid-laugh and realize how happy you are, and then you instantly feel the sharp pang of longing for the thing you’re still in the middle of experiencing.

But life goes on.

You don’t get to hit pause or take a break from living. Even if you stay perfectly still and will everything around you to do the same, life still steamrollers over you. There’s no chance to sit back and appraise the situation, no time to collect your wits or figure out what you’re going to do next. You have to stay on your toes, you have to keep running, or else life will crush you. But even once you’re crushed, life goes on.

I have such a deep ambivalence about living. Things are either painfully, frantically wonderful or else they’re bitterly terrible. I love this world, but I love it with a suffocating zeal that can’t possibly be maintained. I rarely ever seem to hit that balance of peaceful contentedness that other people seem to manage – I’m always running headlong into something, trying to create some feeling that would otherwise be lacking. And if I do somehow manage to hit that point of effortless happiness, I always manage to sabotage myself. I’m like Shiva, the destroyer of worlds, except that I’m Anne, the destroyer of boring, petty human lives.

Which isn’t easy.

I mean, you really have to work hard to be this consistently vicious and miserable all of the time.

It’s not that I want to be unhappy, it’s just that my brain is an expert at leading me on these circuitous little journeys that always start out so promisingly but end with me stabbing myself in the back. I’m an ouroboros of anguish, both the giver and receiver of all my own pain. I’m hell-bent on being the wrecking ball that smashes through the wall of my own house. I’m all-the-other-semi-accurate-and-very-dramatic metaphors you can think of.

And, I mean, we could delve into all the reasons why I act this way, but frankly the story is long and unoriginal. Suffice to say that shit happened, some of it was my own fault, and now I’m here. The rest I’ll save for my therapist.

Because life goes on and I’ll have another therapy session this Wednesday and then I’ll come home and crash into my bed and try to sleep but probably I won’t be able to.

And then I’ll get up and putter around the house and maybe wash the dishes or start dinner since life, of course, goes on.

I wish that I could wrap this post up on a hopeful note, maybe with a line of trite wisdom that you might find on a greeting card or in a particularly terrible self-help book. I want to be able to tell you that everything’s going to be fine, that sure, life goes on, but it’s all in what we make of it and we have to take the good with the bad and there are other fish in the sea. I wish I could tell you that I wasn’t sitting here in a seething fury of fear and self-hatred, but that wouldn’t be true. I wish I could tell you that I wasn’t a self-indulgent, oversharing little brat, but. Well. Here we are.

The most that I can do is offer all of this up to you. Maybe you’ll see some of yourself reflected here. Maybe a sentence or two will strike you as being quite true, in a way that you were never able to articulate before. Or maybe this will help you be more compassionate or some junk like that.

You, the people reading this, are the only thing that make these garbage essays about my garbage feelings worthwhile. Because you always seem to glean some kind of meaning from them, even when all I can see is a morass of bad prose. You’re the way that I manage to justify bleeding this way all over the internet. You somehow make that bleeding important.

Against all odds, you give me hope.


44 Responses to “Life Goes On And Other Garbage”

  1. Monica May 18, 2014 at 3:01 am #

    Jesus girl. I stumbled upon your posts, liked you on facebook….and well here I am and that is one fecking great blog. I use these words like I know you and I don’t. I was just internetting around and you know how that breeds a false familiarity. We aren’t friends. I don’t know you. I will say this. That’s some authentic shit right there. I’m not going to congratulate you for being honest or for “putting it out there” because I don’t want to sully your authenticity with false praise because as I said, I don’t know you.

    But I get you 1 kajillion percent. Life does go on. I’m a cheerleader with that one. “Life goes on with or without you.” I buried one of my kids and my mother in the space of one year, and you know what, I wish life would fecking stop for just one second so I can too. I can’t tell if I’m back there, or here or somewhere in the future. And it makes me really, really tired.

    I get you. Knuckles baby.

  2. swo8 May 18, 2014 at 3:02 am #

    I know it isn’t very comforting to hear that life goes on. We always live with the hope that things will get better. Maybe that guy that didn’t call you back was a creep. There you go, one heart ache less. Sometimes you can hit pause and do some reflection. That peaceful contentedness you are looking for may come when you are much older. This restlessness may be there for a reason. It is one of the mysteries of life. You are still searching for your reason to be here. It will come.

  3. Victo Dolore May 18, 2014 at 3:25 am #

    Great, great post. Sorry that pain had to precede it to give you the words.

  4. My Alzheimer's Story (@MyAlzStory) May 18, 2014 at 3:25 am #

    Well, some day, one day, it won’t.

    And the thought of that isn’t any less gut-wrenching:

  5. arranbhansal May 18, 2014 at 6:06 am #

    “Life goes on even after you’ve destroyed everything good that’s ever come your way. Life goes on after you’ve single-handedly destroyed every relationship that was important to you.” – that resonates with me so much. I found that I stood still for so many years after the events of 2011, while everyone else moved on, as did life.
    Great post!

  6. arranbhansal May 18, 2014 at 6:06 am #

    Reblogged this on Confessions of a published author and commented:
    “Life goes on even after you’ve destroyed everything good that’s ever come your way. Life goes on after you’ve single-handedly destroyed every relationship that was important to you.” – that resonates with me so much. I found that I stood still for so many years after the events of 2011, while everyone else moved on, as did life.
    Great post!

  7. msrawmojo May 18, 2014 at 8:24 am #

    Oh I so relate. Thank you for posting. And for not trite-ing it up (not a real word, I know)

  8. amyschacht May 18, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    JUST yesterday, I was talking with my spouse & wondering “Do other people feel this way? Or is it that most people feel this way, they are just better at dealing with it? And I’m just a lazy weak-willed loser?” And wow, here you are. Yep. I”m not alone. And if I can be impressed that you feel like this AND still write (but sometimes you can’t) then dang it, I can be a wee less harsh on myself for those days – weeks – when it takes every bit of energy to show up and put on a neutral face and not write. So yeah. Your post helps.

  9. betterfailling May 18, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    “…you give me hope.”
    You certainly summed it up right!
    Yet, on the other hand, isn’t that what the ‘other one’ is here for?
    Otherwise we would have lived like the orangutans, the other most intelligent ape, each of us perched up his own tree.

  10. Marcellina May 18, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    Keep hanging in there. Yes, we do find meaning in what you write, or at least I do. I wanted to thank you for having the courage to write it, but maybe it’s a matter of no longer having any fear left, or any choice in the matter. I hope your writing helps you get through. It does indeed help others. Thank you.

  11. ajoobacats May 18, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    Great blog post. Life does go on, but those words make any hope I have retreat back into the shadows of sadness I am supposed to try and avoid. Your blog post definitely resonates with me.

  12. Cla May 18, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    This kind of things remind me I am not alone. Thanks.

  13. Marieka May 18, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    Anne, your writing is so far from garbage!

  14. A Voluptuous Mind May 18, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    I think about this often and in times passed I have been outraged that the world doesn’t stop turning just because I am sad and would appreciate a time out. This fact is both reassuring and terrifying. Great post as ever and I hope you know that your blog gives many people hope right back. It’s certainly a big part of my days.

  15. Andrea May 18, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

    Feelings are NOT garbage, unless they aren’t genuine. Girl, your s are authentic. Keep on keepin’ on…you know it gets bettera

  16. ashokbhatia May 18, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

    Shows the importance of cleaning up of our minds at regular intervals.

  17. suzanne May 18, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    First of all, as Andrea said, these are not garbage essays and your feelings aren’t garbage. Secondly, I feel this, it not for myself for others around me who have had awfully crappy times lately. I wish, for their sake, that life could just not go on, that we could take the proper time to mourn and cry and scream and be upset. But we can’t because this person’s sick and this one’s starting school and we’ve got to find more teachers and someone has to pay this bill. I feel ya. Sometimes it’s not even anything big or particularly awful, or even those nostalgia-inducing moments that you mentioned. Sometimes it’s a new fridge and fans to install and phone calls to make and lessons to plan and books to read and write and if for once life could not go on that would just be swell.

    But, that’s the way life is. It goes on.

  18. jgroeber May 18, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

    You need to write a book. Which is bizarre to say because you sound tired here, really tired and writing a book sounds exhausting. But even as you describe something atrocious on so many levels, you describe it with such accuracy and beauty. So when the sun comes back out again and you sit in your own skin more comfortably (both of which I wish for you), then please contemplate this with no pressure: write a book.

  19. wemarriage May 18, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    Reblogged this on wemarriage's Blog.

  20. kirstienewman2013 May 18, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

    What if this is really what life feels like underneath all the distractions or addictions we humans engage with to avoid these raw feelings?
    What if the acceptance of this reality changes the suffering to contentment?

  21. naimavanswol May 19, 2014 at 3:28 am #

    Lovely. So true and so perfect.

  22. tudor cristian cosmin May 19, 2014 at 10:59 am #


  23. Amy Campion May 19, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    I read this and wished I had the right words to say to help you feel better, to help you heal and find joy… but then I thought, as much as I wish this for you, your journey is your own and not for anyone to assume what you need or what is right. And I have read of this struggle before, the pain of living, the terrible suffering of creative sensitive souls… you stand on the weary shoulders of some many great writers and artists who have gone before you. Does it help to know this? Does help even matter? All I can do is try to offer you the solace of companionship. Even though it feels you are alone, you aren’t. I thought perhaps this link (the obituary in particular) may bring you some brightness:

    • elsasdiary99 May 20, 2014 at 9:10 am #

      that piece was really interesting, thank u for posting link 🙂

  24. londryfairy May 19, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    As I recently posted on another woman’s blog about fighting these demons, “been there, done that got the prescription to match.” I really want you to know that some one “gets it,” but I can’t say it any better than I already did here:

  25. Amy L. Griffiths May 19, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

    I’ve been reading your posts for a short while, and what you have written has always resounded in some way, be that in a manner I feel I can relate to, or as a point to which I can give further thought. I started to write a (rather lengthy) reply to this specific post, but it felt like there were too many ‘me’ statements in there. So, basically what I wanted to say is that you, in return give me hope. Thank you for sharing this.

  26. weird is the new normal May 19, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

    I have been reading your blog for a while now, and your essays are not at all garbage. So many times you have captured emotions or thoughts that have resonated so strongly with me and helped me feel like I am not alone. The part that struck me the most here was when you said “I have such a deep ambivalence about living. Things are either painfully, frantically wonderful or else they’re bitterly terrible.” I feel like that all the time and have yet to find a peaceful middle ground. You write so well and so honestly, thank you. I wish you all the best with whatever you are going through right now.

  27. simaroseblossom May 20, 2014 at 5:07 am #

    Cheer up buttercup!

  28. elsasdiary99 May 20, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    one of my favorite writers is elizabeth wurtzel, and your style of writing reminds me a lot of hers. which is a compliment, so please accept and keep on writing 🙂 look how many other people your honesty resonates with! as you are so acutely aware, life goes on- so keep the faith, and this too will pass. that’s what I tell myself anyway…. its surprisingly effective, actually!

  29. Scott May 20, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    I’ve never read words that articulate so clearly the self destructive spiral that we humans get ourselves into. Thank-you. You have made a difference.

  30. monochromejunkie May 21, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

    I’ve never read anyone who writes so much like myself as you: it’s a bit freaky. Straight, to the point- a bit in your face, etc. I bet when you were a kid people were like, “SMILE.” (And crap!) Or, “What’s wrong?” Oh I hated that one.

    No doubt you’ve been (mis) diagnosed with several disassociative disorders, mood disorders, and/or personality disorders (too). If so, join the club. It just means you know exactly how Plath felt when she wrote The Bell Jar.

    Nice place. Good to meet you. :0)

  31. citywoman1106 May 22, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    Good job. Life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But we face another day, buried under our blankets or smiling at a silly dog or wondering if that slightly peculiar bit of cheese is really meant to be that green or just fuck it, pb&j works if we can find some bread. Music can help, books are the life blood. I’d like to believe it gets easier but we know that there are snares, we know there are smiles. When we can get out of our way, it just is and we are here, trying our damnest to hang on, not exactly sure why. Trifle convoluted, this, but you get the essence. More to the point, your blog got it. Thank you.

  32. ThisGirl May 23, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    ‘I have such a deep ambivalence about living. Things are either painfully, frantically wonderful or else they’re bitterly terrible’ – I can relate so well to this. Your writing is beautiful.

  33. ThisGirl May 23, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    Reblogged this on Echoes of Words and commented:
    Such truth portrayed in such beautiful words.

  34. Maayan May 25, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    “It’s not that I want to be unhappy, it’s just that my brain is an expert at leading me on these circuitous little journeys that always start out so promisingly but end with me stabbing myself in the back. I’m an ouroboros of anguish, both the giver and receiver of all my own pain. I’m hell-bent on being the wrecking ball that smashes through the wall of my own house. I’m all-the-other-semi-accurate-and-very-dramatic metaphors you can think of.”
    This paragraph is my life, put into words. I have never been able to define it so accurately before. I think the worst thing about it, for me, is not being able to verbalize it to people who have not experienced it themselves. Being unable to do that feels very lonely somtimes. Now I can point people to this post. Thank you.

  35. sweetwillowman May 26, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    Reblogged this on SweetWillowman.

  36. sweetwillowman May 26, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    Awesum post, love it… Namasté

  37. xtina May 27, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

    i stumbled across this at the exact time i needed to. i wonder if your long and unoriginal story looks anything like mine. as we speak, i’m busy destroying the best relationship i’ve ever been in. if you care to take pity on a stranger, i have a feeling your perspective might do me some good…

  38. amandatolka May 28, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    This may seem like. a. bit. much. BUT- I read the following excerpt after reading your post and I had to share…it’s comical. The book, overall, is excellent.

    From, “The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge” by Rainer Maria Rilke
    Note [49]
    “One Sunday, this petty functionary next door had got it into his head to solve a singular problem. He took it that he would live for a good many years, say another fifty. The generosity he thus showed himself put him in excellent spirits. Now, though, he meant to surpass himself. He reflected that those years could be expressed as days, as hours, as minutes, even (if you could be troubled) as seconds; and he did his ums, and did some more, and in the end had a total such as he had never seen. It was dizzying; he had to rest a while. Time, he had always heard, was precious, and it baffled him that a man who possessed such a quantity of time was not accompanied by a guard. How easy it would be to rob him. But then his good, almost jolly spirits returned; he put on his fur coat, to look a little broader and more imposing, and made himself a present of the whole fabulous capital, addressing himself in a somewhat patronizing manner:
    ‘Nikolai Kuzmich,’ he said benevolently, picturing himself seated on the horsehair sofa, without the fur coat, skinny and wretched, ‘I do hope, Nikolai Kuzmich,’ he said, ‘that you will not let your wealth go to your head. Never forget that it is not the main thing. There are poor people who are thoroughly respectable; there are even impoverished aristocrats and generals’ daughters peddling things around the streets.’ And the philanthropist adduced a whole number of other examples that were well known in town.
    The other Nikolai Kuzmich, the one on the horsehair sofa, the recipient of the gift, did not look at all puffed up and purse-proud, not yet; it was a safe assumption that he would keep his feet on the ground. In point of fact, he made no change whatsoever in his modest, regular ways, and from now on he spent his Sundays setting his accounts in order. But after only a few weeks, he found that he was spending an incredible amount. I shall economize, he thought. He got up earlier, he washed less thoroughly, he drank his tea standing, he ran to the office and was there much too early. In everything he saved a little time. But when Sunday came, there weren’t any savings to show for his efforts; and he realized he had been cheated. I should never have got small change, he told himself. How long a full, unbroken year would have lasted. But this blasted small change simply disappears, who knows where. And on disagreeable afternoon, there he sat on the sofa in the corner, waiting for the gentlemen in the fur coat, from whom he meant to demand his time back. He would bolt the door and not let him leave until he had forked out. ‘In notes,’ he would say, ‘ten-year notes, for all I care.’ Four notes of ten and one of five, and he could keep the rest, in the devil’s name. Yes, he was prepared to let him have the rest, simple to avoid difficulties. So there he sat on the horsehair sofa, irritable, waiting – but the gentlemen never showed up. And he, Nikolai Kuzmich, who just a few weeks before had seen himself sitting there so very much at his ease, he was unable, now that he was really sitting there, to picture the other Nikolai Kuzmich, that generous gentleman in the fur coat. Heaven only knew what had become of him; probably his frauds had been exposed, and he was already behind bars somewhere. No doubt he was not the only he had ruined. These confidence tricksters always operate on a grand scale.
    It occurred to him that there must be a public authority, some sort of Time Bank, where he could at least change part of his miserable seconds. After all, they were perfectly genuine. He had never heard of any such institution, but surely something of the kind wold be in the directory, under ‘T’; or perhaps it was called the ‘Bank of Tim’ – It would be easy to check under ‘B’. Conceivably it might be under ‘I’, since it was presumably an imperial institution, as befitted its importance.
    Later, Nikolai Kuzmich would always insist that on that Sunday evening, though he was understandably quite dejected, he hadn’t had a drop to drink. He was thus completely sober when the following incident occurred, so far as one can tell what did in fact happen. Perhaps he had briefly nodded off in the corner; one could easily imagine it. At first, this little snooze brought him a great sense of relief. I have been messing about with numbers, he admonished himself. Now, I don’t know a thing about numbers. But it is obvious that one shouldn’t attach too much importance to them; after all, that are only an arrangement made by the state in the interests of public order. No one has ever seen them anywhere but on paper. You couldn’t possibly meet a seven, say, or a twenty-five, at a social gathering. They simply weren’t there. And then there was this little confusion, occasioned by mere inadvertence, between time and money – as if the two could not be distinguished from each other! Nikolai Kuzmich very nearly laughed. It was definitely a good thing to have figured out what he himself was up to, and in good time, that was the important thing, in good time. Now things would be different. Time, there was no denying, was a delicate matter. But was he the only one affected? Did it not pass for others too, as he had worked out, in seconds, even if they were unaware of it?
    Nikolai Kuzmich was not altogether innocent of rejoicing in the misfortunes of others. Just let it – he was about to think, when something peculiar happened. A draft suddenly wafted on his face, and breezed past his ears; he could feel it on his hands. He opened his eyes wide. The window was firmly closed. And as he sat there in the dark room with his eyes wide open, he began to understand that what he was no feeling was real time, passing. He could actually recognize each one of them, all those seconds; they were all equally tepid, one exactly like the other, but how fast they were, how fast! Heaven only knew what they were up to. That it should happen to him, of all people, who took wind of any kind as an insult. Now he would sit there, and the draft would be never-ending, his whole life long. He foresaw all the attacks of neuralgia that would result; he was beside himself with rage. He leaped to his feet; but the surprises were not yet over. Under his feet, too, there was a sort of motion, not just one motion but several, interwoven in a curious reel. He stiffened with terror: could that be the earth? Most certainly it was the earth. The earth did move. They had said so at school, though it was passed over rather hastily, and later there was a tendency to keep quiet on the subject; it was not the done thing to talk about it. But now that he had frown sensitive he felt this too. Did others feel it? Perhaps, but they did not shot it. In all likelihood it did not bother them, these sea-going folk. But Nikolai Kuzmich was somewhat delicate, in this of all respects; he even avoided taking the tram. He staggered about his room as if on the deck of a ship, and had to hold on with both hands. Unfortunately, he further recalled something to the effect that the earth’s axis was at an angle. No, he couldn’t take all these motions. He felt wretched. Lie down and rest, he had once read somewhere. And ever since, Nikolai Kuzmich had been lying in bed.
    He lay with his eyes closed. And there were times, the less turbulent days, so to speak, when life was quite tolerable. And that was when he thought up the business of the poems. It was scarcely credible that it should have helped so much. To recite a poem slowly, with an even emphasis on the end rhymes, was to have something stable, as it were, that you could keep your gaze fixed on – your inner gaze, of course. It was sheer good fortune that he know all those poems by heart. But he had always taken a most particular interest in literature. He did not complain about the condition he was in, the student who had known him a long time assured me. But in the course of time he had developed an inflated admiration for those such as the student who walked about and endured earth’s motion.
    I remember this story so precisely because I found it inordinately reassuring. It is not too much to say that I have never again had so pleasant a neighbor as Nikolai Kuzmich, who would doubtless have admired me too. “

  39. Stephan J Harper June 17, 2015 at 4:38 am #

    Girl, you are seriously misjudging your work – and being not the least bit objective – when you label it ‘garbage.’

  40. October 28, 2016 at 11:30 pm #

    Lately, I’ve been going through some difficult times and I’ve felt really scared about it. Your writing has made a huge difference in my day. The knowledge that there is someone else out there in the world, who understands exactly how I feel about myself and everything I’m scared of, even though we’ve never met, is extremely powerful. It makes me feel less alone and I want to thank you so much for sharing.


  1. On the twelfth day of Christmas: Anne Thériault | Sex blog (of sorts) - January 15, 2015

    […] many of the bloggers I read, one of my favourite posts here was a depression/anxiety piece called Life Goes On And Other Garbage, about how frustrating it can be when you’re not coping with life and people tell that […]

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