By: Hannah Anderson
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Act 1: The Unhappy Known
The unthought knowns within me are spiraling. So much so that catching them is impossible. I stand in the midst of the tornado of unthought knowns and desperately try to grasp onto them as they whir past my face. Many melt through my fingertips or flutter by just out of reach. Sometimes the wind of the spiral throws them directly into my face and will knock me off my feet with the force of their impact.
Funny enough, the unthought knowns that I try to avoid are the ones that smack me in the face. The knowns’ presence is recognized by a stirring in my gut that pulls me towards an answer. It also strums on my heartstrings and hum along with the beat of my heart.
One of the hardest things has been for me to acknowledge the things that I know but that I don’t want to think about. Because that requires tending to old wounds that still give me twinges of pain. Those cuts never completely healed, forming scar tissue over time. Like many real cuts, if they don’t receive proper attention and care they become infected. An infected wound is ugly and unpleasant to look at, and those are the unthought knowns.
When I was truly unhappy, I chose to ignore it for a long time. I would simply push those thoughts behind unmarked doors and lock them in there. I did it for so long that I became good at it. And I hid it on the outside well, as I would only open up to a select few.
I spent my time on eggshells because they were strewn throughout my home. They would cover nearly every square inch of the floor, and tiptoeing around them was no easy task. I would screw up often and feel them crunch between my toes. When that happened I felt my teeth clench and my shoulders raise to my ears, preparing for impact.
A yell, a snide comment, or a fierce glare. If I was lucky the verbal attack wouldn’t last long and I could scamper up to my bedroom. My family liked to call my room my hermit’s cave, and with how reclusive I am it makes sense. That cave was where I felt the safest and the most comfortable.
I think you could guess from my story that I was pretty unhappy. But I ignored it because it was my fault that I was unhappy after all. I was the problem, and I was the one seeking attention, which means that I had the power to make it all stop.
But why can’t I stop? Why don’t I have that power? It seems like everyone else has control of their emotions, why am I different?
What’s wrong with me?
But I’m definitely happy! Really happy! Don’t I sound happy?!
I’m just lazy. That’s it! I’m lazy,
and going through a phase.
I’M HAPPY! (does saying it over and over again make it true?)
Because I have found the solution, and I have solved the code.
I have the secret formula to the unthought known.
If I don’t think about it then it isn’t real. Those knowns remain unthought and I will be happy! Not that I’m not happy already.
The idea of an unthought known is confusing. If you know something then you must think it. That makes sense, right? But those unthought knowns are less complicated than one might think. There are things that haven’t been taught that we just know. The known’s presence is recognized by a stirring in your gut that pulls you towards an answer. Or the known can strum on your heartstrings and hum along with the beat of your heart.
Those knowns don’t always feel good, and so I will leave them unthought.
But that cannot last.
When I finally thought those knowns everything spiraled.
I could finally say:
“I am unhappy...”
“I have been unhappy for a really long time...”
“And most days I think that I will never be happy…”
So what does it matter if I stay?
Because what I knew, deep down inside, that I didn’t want to think about,
was that I wanted to die.
There was no pain; no thought of the how or what.
It was just a thought, unknown
It was the hope that I would get in a car accident,
Or that I would choke on a piece of food when I was home alone.
But even the painless deaths scared me.
What I truly wished for was to disappear.
I simply crave nothing
All I wanted was for time to stop.
I lived with this pain for a long time
I punished myself over and over again,
Just to feel release.
But the release from pain came from numbness
All these cuts that I gave myself bleed out every part of me
Until I am empty.
Until I am no more.
Act 2: The Unresolved Known
But I brought myself back. The journey back took time. Not overnight, not even in a year. It took a while, and lots of therapy. Because I was empty I needed to be filled. Filled with purpose. I wanted to feel.
The continuation of this story is not exciting because I went back to school.
And I worked
Slowly but surely I began to fill myself.
Every year I added a bit more
I built who I was off of the most solid foundation I could create
I got a little bit stronger I craved to be reborn
In many ways I feel like I did die
I have been told by many people that your time in university is supposed to be the best time of your life. My response to that is “oh my god I hope that's not true, because if it is that sucks. I can confidently say that I am not having the time of my life.” Another thing someone has said to me “it's all downhill from here.” As someone who was suicidal not too long ago, that does not bode well for me.
Because right now I feel frozen, as if I’m stuck in one place. I am accustomed to going through the motions while pursuing my passions, which I know sounds contradictory. But my whole life is based on school and work. I study to receive good grades and hone my skills, yet I never write for the sake of pleasure. And then I work in order to afford the hefty tuition so I can continue to write for the degree. This cycle feels unending.
Because I feel nothing
And I can’t decide what I prefer
Before I was in pain but at least I felt something.
Now I am numb but at least I’m not suffering.
Is it better to be filled with feelings even if they’re bad?
Or to feel nothing at all…
But I keep going, if only to keep from sinking under the tide. The unending cycle is monotonous but it keeps my depression at bay. The things that I know stay unthought and unresolved, while I am a car trapped in the mud. When I floor it, my wheels turn rapidly, yet I never move.
Although so much has changed for me, other things stay the same, which makes resolution difficult. As the car stuck in the mud I have no control over the fact that a storm created the muddy ditch, I can only control how to get out of the mud. And I will get out with resolve.
But I am angry at the storm. I am furious at everything it has done to me, and I dream of snatching the eggshells off the floor, or the whole fucking egg, and throwing them at their stupid face. I dream of yelling so loud that I drown out their thunder, and they will finally hear me.
Then I remember that I have no control over the storm, and that is the reality. I hate that this reality exists but accepting it is the only way. Once I do I can throw the eggshells away and walk freely.
Act 3: The Undecided Known
Once the knowns are thought everything flows front and centre, even the things that I don’t want to know. But if I want to move forward, I have to think about them without letting them control me. The hardest thing about what I know but don’t want to think about is that I know it will cause me pain. It's complicated that I have to face that pain in order to move forward, but I’ve gotten too comfortable in my life and stuck in the comfort. Being stuck in the comfort is unsatisfying.
Maybe I’m not comfortable. Maybe I’m just apathetic about life. Maybe I’m apathetic because I only do what I have to do. At some point writing changed from a desire to a means to an end. I have no issue with writing being a necessity as long as it fulfils me beyond a number on a transcript, or a checklist of requirements. But I feel so stupid because its not like my grades mean nothing to me. They’ll always mean something to me. I just don’t want it to mean everything.
So here I am caught in the middle of all or nothing. I’m tired of living to these extremes, when I just want to be.
What I know is that I have to go with the wyrd
Flow with the wyrd
Right now it's undecided, where I’m going and where I’m flowing.
If the wyrd is a concept that explains my fate, but I decide what to do with that fate, what then?
How do I do that?
How do I create my wyrd?
I think I should start by making my unthought knowns thought knowns.
My future in itself is unknown, but the present and where I am right now is known.
So then, what do I know?
I know that I am unhappy. I know that my degree is not the most important thing to me and it is just a means to an end. I know that I love writing, but there are just so many things that I HAVE to do, so writing will always have to come second, even though it's something that I WANT to do. I know that someone I love very dearly has been very unkind to me. I know that because of that I am facing years of work to repair the damage done inside. I know that for them it will remain an unthought known, and for me it’s just known.
And I know that it is the reality.
But I hate it.
I hate it so fucking much.
So that is the reality that I know.
Once that you have thought the unthought known, what then?
Well then there’s the wyrd, which throws obstacles and opportunities at me. And I decide what to do with that wyrd so only I have the answer to “what then?”
In conclusion...no that’s not it
I don’t know.
Maybe that’s okay.
But I know I have made it this far. I have written for a symposium, which I spent many days contemplating giving up on. I forced myself to scrawl in my notebooks even when I didn’t want to. No, remember the beginning of this paper, when I described the feeling in your gut and your heart. When you feel that the unthought known is there. And what that unthought known was telling me was:
“You need to do this.”
For me, writing about the unthought known has become a necessity. It is essential for me to process thoughts and feelings that I have suppressed for years. I spend my life taking small steps to grow, and within the time that I have written for this symposium I have vaulted over barriers and barrelled through locked doors.
I wrote with the wyrd.
In the beginning, this symposium was an unthought known, trapped in the cycle of insecurity about my writing. And I wrote a wyrd essay on the unthought known, which perhaps is still unclear. But I have decided to just go with it. And so I’m going with the wyrd.
And a fully-thought known that comes to me is: “I must keep going.” Because why stop now? Why accept the fact that “it’s all downhill from here” when I can just choose not to peak at 24-years-old. And here’s the thing: I know that it is easier said than done to not give up, because I’ve been on the precipice of giving up. Something that was an unknown thought that I had to learn is that typically life does not turn out the way you planned it. Sometimes you feel really motivated and ambitious about something but that wyrd comes along and says, “actually, fuck you. I want you to do this instead.”
What I think is important about this is how you deal with the obstacles that the wyrd throws at you. No matter how you decide to overcome those challenges, what is essential is that you keep going. To keep going is to carry the weight of just being. When that weight makes you exhausted physically, emotionally, and mentally make sure you take time to rest. But ultimately you keep going.
As I go I will be dragging myself out of ditches and stomping on eggshells because they no longer scare me. And I will have moments of pause in my journey of going and weaving my wyrd, to just glance backwards. Sometimes I will linger in that pause more than others, and sometimes I will just offer the past a quick glance. Nonetheless, when I pause I will say:
“Look how far you’ve come.”