The Hollow Man.

I started therapy last September, and soon afterward I started having images of myself as a mask with hollow eye sockets.

It was 1983 the first time that I told someone that I felt hollow.

This is not new.

The difference is, I’m not shut down any longer. Being in therapy has started stripping off some of the armor that I’ve been living inside for years. It’s not comfortable.

I can’t ignore the empty place.

The place where my self-worth should be.

The place that should be holding the roots of my personality. My personality, instead, seems to be a collection of hobbies and books and other people’s priorities that I’ve woven together and pretended is a person.

When I’m talking with my therapist, when we get close to certain topics, my breath catches in my chest. It’s become the way we know we’re getting to something real. A pattern is starting to show. Those breath-caught moments seem frequently to be related to issues of integrity, self-worth, my value (or suspected lack), and a few bumps up against something that might be solid… as if I’m adrift in a dark lake at midnight, and, reaching out, my fingers brush momentarily against a tree trunk.

A highly stylized mask is shown against a black background. The eyes are empty.

I don’t know why I’m hollow.

I don’t know why I feel fake.

I don’t know why I think I’m worthless.

And I don’t know for sure what that bit of solidity in the darkness was, but I think it might have something to do with friends.

A couple of people who I haven’t split on.

A couple of people who never gave up on me.

More on this as I work through it.

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