I am unsettled. Or rather, I am even more unsettled than usual. I received an invitation to the wedding of one my cousins. I haven’t seen him, or any of them, in nearly 15 years. The last time I saw him, we were still both young men, with life ahead of us (in theory). I still had a full head of hair.
I have avoided seeing any of them for all that time, partly because I don’t want them to see what a loser I am. How little I’ve grown or developed as a person. I’m still just as awkward and standoffish as I was back then, probably more so. What is exasperating behaviour in a teenager is now simply pathetic in a man in his mid-30s. They’ve all built careers, found partners, and most of them have kids of their own. I have been in social stasis all that time, decaying.
I’ve never been to a wedding. I either ignored the invitations from my older cousins, or made excuses. Now it’s my younger cousin’s turn. If I went, I think I would be the only one there on my own, with nothing to show for my years on this earth, and nothing to say for myself.
The thought fills me with a deep sense of dread and shame. “So, what have you been up to all this time?” “Oh, you know, literally nothing.” Seeing those whose previous invitations I snubbed after all this time. Some of the older ones I never had a real conversation with even when we were young. Seeing them slowly recognise me and force themselves to hide their disdain.
I don’t want them to see what I’ve become. How much I’ve wasted my life, and whatever promise I once had. It’s hard enough dealing with the knowledge of that myself. To see it reflected in contrast to the lives of others I once cared about feels unbearable. I don’t want to be the spectre at their feast. I’m not in a place where I’m psychologically capable of sharing in the joy of their happy occasion. I can just about manage to be glad that they’re doing ok in an abstract kind of way, but I don’t want to have to be there to witness it. I know they only invited me out of a sense of politeness anyway.
If I go, I feel like it will be excruciating. If I make yet another excuse, then I’ll have made it even more awkward in future. And I’ll have to see them again eventually. Sooner or later, our parents will start dying, and we’ll have to see each other at funerals. Either choice seems unacceptable. My gut is twisting itself in knots just thinking about it.
And none of this should matter, because whatever happens, it will only be one day. However horribly awkward it is, however much despair and shame I feel, it will pass. But my bubble has been pierced. The protective shell that I maintain to avoid confronting the full awfulness of my life choices. And I don’t know how to live with that awareness.
Part of me is fantasizing about killing myself before then anyway. The wedding’s not ’til September, and a suicide in early summer appeals to me. But let’s be honest, I’m never going to go through with it. Which will leave me stuck, still having to suffer through the consequences of my many mistakes.
I wish I could go back to when we were kids, bloody-nosed from play fighting with each other. They were my tribe for a time. Now, I’m just alone.