“It Used to Be Me”: An Inventory of Selves, Framed By Obscure Cure Songs

I’ve been a doe-eyed romantic of the absolute worst kind, a sugarshot purveyor of sickeningly saccharine sentiments. A booster of the heart, of the notion of surrendering completely to another’s regard and finding nourishment in their very gaze. Of stretching out the desperately ephemeral into forever. I’ve believed to have been in love, completely so, with an absurd passion. I’ve ridden out all of its stages like waves, rushing and engulfing and subsiding. I’ve risen and fallen with it. I’ve felt, and embraced, the inevitable consequence, the desolation of heartbreak that hurts so good because, more than any other type of pain in the world, it feels earned and justified.

I’ve been angry. I’ve been abrasive. I’ve been a dark, murky mess of resentment and hate. I’ve been a simmering cauldron of hurt, lashing out at loved ones for no apparent reason. I’ve been an insolent child, hurling expletives at the world, shooting everybody down. I’ve been an unstable mass of acerbic emotion. I’ve deceived, cheated, aimed for the jugular. I’ve been a mendacious, cantankerous curmudgeon with remarkably little to be genuinely angry about. I’ve been, and am, a total fucking asshole.

I’ve been a giddy rush of enthusiasm, an obnoxious clown. I’ve been a stage performer, a stand-up sit-down comedian, a court jester with the comedic subtlety of a watermelon-smashing Gallagher. I’ve been the life of a party, working a room like a third-rate club comic, chasing down every hamfisted punchline with desperate zeal. I’ve been comic relief. I’ve been the funny best friend. I’ve been the guy who sticks around too long, party long over, drink in hand, oblivious. Asking “breakfast, anyone?” and being met with groans.

I’ve been a contrite and apologetic mess of a human being, a whimpering whelp desperate to be taken back into the fault after the latest earth-shattering faux pas. I’ve taken back, I’ve redacted, I’ve edited, I’ve backtracked, I’ve apologized. I’ve been stagnant, I’ve dwelled in past blunders, I’ve played moments over and over again in my head. I’ve been stuck in moments of doubt for far too long. I’ve been paralyzingly scared of being left behind.

And through it all, through shortcomings and shitstorms and upheavals, imagined or tangible, there’s an undercurrent of peace that guides me to shore. A lace that runs through every day and keeps me from spiraling completely into despair. A calm through the uncertainty, assuring me that everything will be alright. And that’s the wonderful people that reside in my life, and choose to stay planted within it, navigating my mood swings and capricious whims, choosing, for whatever reason, to keep me around. I’ve been blessed with an extraordinary group of friends and family that keep me afloat, keep me sane, keep me smiling. I’ve been their friend. I’ve been their son. I’ve been their brother, coworker, classmate, acquaintance. I’ve been part of the life of a group of amazing people, and I’ve been blessed for it. Everything else is temporary, but this sticks.

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