I usually leave book reviews for my book club meetings but I’m going to make an exception for Mark Manson’s follow up to The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, aptly titled Everything is Fucked. I’m about two-thirds through but something I read has cut to my core and I can’t seem to get the concept out of my head. In light of recent events and the serve of fucks my bestie gave me about what I’m doing with my life and relationships, it seems more relevant than ever.
The book is ostensibly about hope and how we find hope even amid the greatest adversity and it boils down to the idea of fairness. That good things happen to good people. Bad things to bad people and all that. When bad things happen to good people and they can’t equalise the situation (seek retribution, be compensated, receive apology), then the idea of fairness is missing. Without fairness, we start to question why the bad thing happened and ask what we did to deserve the bad thing. If we can’t find this understanding, if we can’t bring ourselves back to some kind of equilibrium where we can say “oh yes, I see why that happened to me” then we are cornered into a position where we have to accept the bad thing happened without reason.
Of course, most of us can’t do that. Some people turn to religion to find their equilibrium “this happened because it is God’s plan”, and that’s great for them. By accepting it as the work of God, they can move on believing it happened for a reason. But if you don’t have any spiritual beliefs, and you can’t pin it on anyone, human or otherwise, you start to believe you deserve the bad thing that happened to you.
And this is the cycle I find myself in. Five years ago last month, I found out my eggs were no good. Rare, unexplainable, nothing that anyone could have prevented or changed. A genetic fuck up, which when you consider that girls are born with all the eggs they are ever to have in their lifetime, means that my fate was set when my mum was a foetus in her mum, my grandmother. So, who can I blame for this? Who can I seek retribution from? Who can I point the finger at so I can feel some “fairness” that this shit thing happened to a (mostly) good person? Most of my bad behaviour came after this diagnosis so I am going to cautiously say I was a good person once.
I remember telling my psychologist in one of my early sessions that I wished I believed in God, just so I could have someone to blame for this. And I realise this is not unique to me. Any of this. Any good person who has suffered a terrible grief in some form has felt this powerlessness. This acute need to shout and scream at someone or something and say “you did this. This is your fault!”. We need this so it feels “fair”.
In my case, and this is my blog so of course it’s indulgent, I have never found this equilibrium. I have tried to accept this as the “whole everything happens for a reason” but that’s actually the problem. It doesn’t happen for a reason. It just happens.
Without this equilibrium, I pushed myself into the “I deserve this” category. And for five years, I have honed this belief through self-sabotage, cheating, having affairs, leaving my husband, being raped, taking drugs, reconciling that I deserve this unhappiness. And at first it was very deliberate: I made bad choices knowing the consequences would be sadness, punishing myself for being unworthy of having kids. Over time, these choices became less intentional and more habitual. I found myself in a pattern of dating unavailable men, subconsciously choosing heartache over and over and over.
The cycle is vicious and unrelenting and my own emotional core has responded, trying to build up a tolerance or immunity. It threw up some makeshift walls, of sandbags, to keep out the deluge of guilt, rage, frustration, sadness. The sandbags became mud bricks. The mud bricks became concrete blocks and before too soon I was enshrined in my own pink and sparkly nuclear bunker.
I dated and fucked with abandon. I was an impenetrable force field where men exhausted themselves bashing against my invisible barriers.
And then there was you. Wearing me down, message by message, until you were the person I wanted to talk to at the end of my day. The person whose notifications I longed to see on my phone. A hairline crack had formed. Then we fucked and the results were explosive.
The walls came tumbling down around me and there you were with a stupid grin holding a tiny little rock hammer, like it had been the easiest thing in the world.
And I feel vulnerable, like when you do a naked dash to the clothes line because you’ve run out of underwear. Because if I hadn’t been alone, the pervy old neighbour with the ugly dog would never have seen me. Because you would have got my underwear, withheld it from me while we fucked on the dining room table, before graciously handing it over so I could get dressed for work. But instead, I wave awkwardly, ducking behind some outdoor furniture and cursing you furiously for making me love you.
Everything is fucked.