I want you to imagine something, just go on a little journey with me.
Imagine you are quick witted and clever, and that you have always been able to think of a joke to make people laugh. Imagine you have always been very empathetic, even as a child. Imagine that this made you able to always tell how people are feeling and want to help. Imagine you could find that place inside people that makes them smile.
Imagine if people referred to you as the person who lights up their day, their best friend, the best listener, because you can’t stand to see people in pain and always try to find the best way to help. Imagine that the only time you really feel alive is when you’re helping someone by making them laugh or feel understood, or give some golden piece of advice.
Now imagine how it feels to be inside that head. Feeling that people only come to you when they need something. Someone only reaches out when they need something, when they need you to be that “You” that only you can do. And imagine the disappointment when you can’t really be “You” for them. After a few hits of that, you’d have to fake it for them.
Imagine that no one around you can quite do “You” because only you can do “You” the way you do. Imagine that you come to understand this quite quickly, and that asking anyone else to do that task is a huge burden. Even if you wanted to ask someone to, you know that no one can. They’ve all come to rely on you being able to be “You” for all situations.
Now imagine that you feel alone. Imagine that you feel hopeless. Even if the people around you understand what you’re going through, none of them can really help because they don’t have the skill or the magic that you have when you’re being “You” like only you can do. People say there is help, that there are other people like you who can do “You”, but deep down you know that’s not true. Even if it were true, when you’re being “You” you always manage to find the person not laughing in the room and help them out, and no one has sought you out like “You” do.
When it comes down to it, at your darkest moment, there is just no “You” for you to fall back on.
I hate what Robin Williams did, but I think I understand why he did it.
A Serious Discussion of My Own Depression And Why “The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol” Is the Worst Thing I’ve Ever Seen
This isn’t going to be one of the fun reviews, with lots of screen caps and funny captions that people can put on pintrest. I’m going to take this thing to task, but not in a fun way. I didn’t even want to do it, but I came across something I wrote in a piece of fiction a few years back.
“If you have a talent, you’re responsible for how, or if you use it. Letting it go to waste is as bad as misusing it.” And I have a talent for explaining why things are bad. As far as I can tell, I’ve never been able to convince someone that a movie is good, but I can convince them something is shit! Not an enviable position, perhaps, but I’ve got a talent and I’m going to try to use it for good this time.
I’ve decided we’ve got to talk about this, we have to have a conversation about this thing because it’s evil and wrong and if I don’t warn people, I might feel responsible later. Let me be frank about this, so that we don’t misunderstand things. This is not a fun little cartoon, it is harmful, it is DANGEROUS! You should not watch this damn thing, no one should watch this thing. This is less a review and more of a warning, because watching this could drive someone to suicide. I’m going to discuss this in personal terms, since that last sentence seem hyperbolic, so I’ll explain….
Six months ago, I was at Nino Salvagio, which is a local grocery store. Kind of a highish end fruit and international market, you know the sort of place. It’s not really important, but you need to understand that it’s not a corporate place, it’s local. Now I was getting a few things and I saw… her.
She was beautiful, even though there were several things she had going on that aren’t to my tastes. Dreadlocks always look weird to me on blonde girls. Almost… contrived? She had gauges in her ears, which is fine, but not something I’ve ever been fond of. There were scars on her arm, a remnant no doubt of an earlier cutting habit. A few bad tattoos and some misbegotten make-up, and a sullen slouch completed the look. And through all that, she was beautiful. Jaw dropping, heart aching, mind ceasing, utter beauty. The sort of beauty you’d talk about until she became some kind of legend, and when people saw her they’d say “Okay, so one time reality has it over legend.”
Through what seemed to be a considerable amount of effort, she had tried her best to negate what the dvergar that assembled people that day gave her, and all that came to was that she was stunning. Not in a Venus in Blue Jeans kind of way, but in a “Why did you bother fighting it?” kind of way. There was nothing short of going at her face with a straight razor and a hammer that would do anything to hide the perfection of her features. And I’m guessing she hated every moment of it.
I didn’t talk to her about it, of course I didn’t. People say that sometimes “So I talked to her.” But no, they usually didn’t. If they did, they didn’t get an honest answer anyway. She wasn’t going to talk to someone nearly twice her age about her life choices. Had I asked, I would have gotten a few non-committal answers and she would have run to her phone and tweeted “OMG some gross old man just tried to hit on me, or shame me about my tats I don’t know #fuckoffoldman” Because that’s how these interactions really go, I know. I have had to give nosey fuckers non-answers when they try to ask me questions that they have no right to.
I understand, I was an attractive child. From infancy I had the sort of face that made people think I was up to something. At the age of two I had perfected the little lop sided grin that says “I’m going to get away with it, and you’re going to let me get away with it because look at this face.” I grew from an adorable infant to a beautiful child. Some teenage girls clustered around me one day, talking about how beautiful I was, how dark and black my eyes were and so on. I would have been in with a chance if I hadn’t been four at the time. That was what life was like. I was a good looking child.
No one much wanted to listen to me, (besides a few people) I guess, they’d have rathered I was quiet and attractive and did what I was told. I had different ideas, more self-directed. I was adored by many, but also deeply frustrating because I wouldn’t do the “good things” people had planned for me. There comes a problem though, even though I was adored, I could never really trust anyone. No one wanted to listen, they wanted control or at best to be liked by me and my prettiness. I am, several people said, easy to like in a strange way.
I’m good as many things. I can paint, and sing, and draw, and cook, and listen, and write, and make love, and identify songs and why a place might be playing them on Fourth of July Weekend. I do some of these well, and some of them less well. The problem is, there are some people who never let me know I wasn’t doing something well. I was smart enough to identify bullshit when I heard it as a child. For example, I am shit at making clay sculptures. I have one that I keep, to remind me of how shitty I am at it. It’s a good thing I do too, because otherwise people would still be telling me how great I am at making clay sculptures.
Now sure, if I practiced, and worked at it, I could become good at clay. I’m not interested though, I don’t like it enough and I don’t care. Sign of genius that, quitting something because I wasn’t instantly good at it. I was interested to learn that last year, before I thought I was just kind of lazy because I didn’t want to work at things I wasn’t good at. Writing is something I can be good at, even though I tend to entertain myself through my writing too much. I sacrifice flow and readability for the sake of something I find fun. As you well know, I can often go on irritating tangents and fill paragraphs with things that only connect for me and links. However, sometimes I let it burn because I like it burned, so there. Most of this paragraph was filler, but I like the filler. It’s good filler, and I won’t hear a word against it.
I’m pretty sure I was making some kind of point here. Allow us to wallow past the point and into this little pool of thought that’s sort of bubbled over from the main stream. Lay on your back and just float for a moment…
I try to be honest, and posts like this one are an attempt at the sort of honesty I’m talking about. I try to give you an idea of what being inside my head is like. And yeah, this is what it’s like. The sudden gear changes, the references to old books, movies and music, because melody haunts my reverie. Some things are so obscure, and the connections change so quickly, I won’t remember why I thought A was connected to B when I read this later. Syd likes the honesty, it baffles a lot of other people. Some people are always looking for a duplicity that doesn’t exist, and that sort of depresses me because I’m always doing my best to be honest. I’m not good at dishonesty, unless I dedicate myself to it, and then I can’t even stand to be around the asshole that it forces me to become. So I go for the honest thing, because it’s easier and nobler and I can. I know other people lie though, because they do.
Back to the story (about this girl named Blah Blah Blah that adored me)
It always leaves me wondering, how much of any compliment is real. It becomes more complicated when people compliment me for things that are automatic for me. I do some things without thinking and other people are all “Holy shit! You did that thing!” and I’m standing there saying “Yeah… I have pretensions to being a person and in order to maintain the facade I have to do shit like this.” It deeply complicates the matter when 80% of the things people have said to me have been either A) Bullshit or B) Stupid.
Did I mention this above? Screw it, I’ve gone this far and I’m not re-reading this thing again. People will offer empty compliments to attractive people. I often have trouble knowing if I told a funny joke, or if the person I’m talking to just thinks I’m cute. Is my painting any good, or were certain people blinded by desire and as such said they liked the horrible splotches of mangled color? I don’t know if I like the paintings that much myself and around the 30th re-write, or the 90th re-read, everything looks like shitty half formed ideas put together by someone as smelly as a monkey with a typewriter, but not as bright. You can’t trust anything anyone says after a while, and when you’re also smart enough to understand what’s going on you quickly start to feel like you’re on an island about two feet by two feet… and the water is rising. At some point we’ll talk about depression, but not today.
I can understand that girl’s problem and her attempt as a solution though. I would assume she has some intelligence and doesn’t want to just be pretty. She had no choice, but she wants more. She’d like to be thought of as a person, an individual, maybe even someone with a thought and an idea. It’s harder for girls, because society still wants women to be ornamental baby makers. Guys can have thoughts, but no one ever really listens or understands. They just try to keep up as best they can and act impressed when he says a big word. If I could do what that girl did, I just might.
There isn’t much I can do, if I leave off showering I just get smelly. I don’t like being really smelly. My hair actually gets more manageable and gets really shiny on the third or fourth day, so that can be worse. If I don’t shave, I just get rugged stubble. It takes a week to get to the just too much stubble to be sexy, but not enough for a beard which is a different kink all together. I can’t do a lot of other things without running afoul of the honesty issue. I can’t say the weight issue came about because of that. The weight and other things came because of an already discussed depression issue. I’m working on that though.
That’s what can happen sometimes though, people just want to look at you, but not talk or listen to you. It can become deeply frustrating, and can lead to a beautiful young person trying to uglify themselves in various ways. Just so they can try to be taken seriously, even though I’m sure this young woman’s activities are already begin dismissed as “A Phase” by people who were never quite as pretty and probably not as smart. Maybe I’m projecting, but if we’ve gone this far then why not? Who are all these posts about anyway?
I think the other reason I never went to try and uglify myself is that in all honesty I have always had to fight stupid shit. From the age of five, when I first worked out people where bullshitting me about my skills, I decided to just fight through it. If I was going to deal with stupid people saying stupid shit then so be it. Before I’d read enough, or understood enough to know what was going on, I’d picked fighting as the way to go. I’d decided on the natural as my way forward, doing things without aid would be the standard I would carry into battle. My combat is more subtle now, but I still do it the same. I’m not taking diet pills to try and slim my waist. I’m working out and trying like hell to avoid the things that made me fat. I’m not putting on make-up to hide or accentuate things, I just want people to be able to take them straight on. I say this with no complaint about people doing it another way. This is the way *I* have to do it, this is the way that I feel is most honest for *ME* in this instance.
I have always been aware enough of the privilege that these midnight black eyes, long lashes, tumbling ravenesque locks (and so on) bring to not wish to not be what I am though. Of course, I’m also aware enough of the privilege this level of intelligence brings as well. I wouldn’t want to be ugly anymore than I’d want to be stupid or lame or deaf or unable to taste sweet things. I know that the cross I’m talking about is less to bear than some people’s, but while I’m talking about myself, I’m also thinking of that poor girl.
I don’t think she has the strength to really fight. She’s putting up a good front, but I fear this battle may be beyond her. Does she have the resources to fight for her own identity? Can she maintain against the pressure? It’s different for girls, they’re given so much more pressure than boys, and the pressure I felt at her age was enormous. I haven’t seen her lately, I hope she got a job where she fits in better, where she can get away. I still think about her, like I think of so many I have seen.
You wanted to know what it was like in here. Now you have one more piece of the puzzle. When you work the whole thing out, let me know. I’m curious to see if it’s a barn or the Space Shuttle Endeavor.
Probably it’ll turn out to be The Pillar of Cheese in the Shape of Jane Austen.
“ I starved to death in 1916. … Logically I was dead; a man can’t live on dry grass. Actually I went on breathing.”
— Nero Wolfe (Over My Dead Body)
“I worry about you. About you doing something stupid and permanent.”
“Have I given you reason to worry about me?”
“A thousand things.”
I didn’t tell her that I knew where her mind had been, that I could smell her sadness, feel her desperation like movement of the air. That when she was near, I could practically taste the danger she seemed to be in. There wasn’t time, and I didn’t have the words to articulate it without sounding ridiculous.
Because we’ve all been there, right?
For about a year and a half, I toyed with the idea of a post called “On the Subject of my Impending Suicide.” Wherein I would explain that I wasn’t planning anything, but that some days it felt inevitable. It kept coming up as an idea, as a thought, as a backup if everything else went wrong and I had no other recourse. It’s good to have a plan, even one that requires you to end your own life. I couldn’t come up with anything that seemed right, that wouldn’t be too painful. Also, I absolutely didn’t want to fuck it up. The last thing I wanted was to have an “attempt” to explain. I also didn’t want to do it in such a way that it gave the message “See what you made me do.” Because I was going to do it on my own, for me.
I got a captcha one day that has stuck with me for whatever reason.
I remember it because A) the idea of hiring out your self-destruction seemed like a turn on the old irony wheel and B) I knew people who had done/were doing it. You may remember that in September of 2009, I posted some photographs of a place called Flat Rock. I was visiting that town for what I had decided was the last time. I was there for the funeral of my cousin, who had engaged in his own Hired Self-Destruction. That sounds nicer than saying “He killed himself in a way that was indirect enough that people wouldn’t accuse him of committing suicide.” Because that’s what Craig did, let us not bullshit ourselves. He had hit rock bottom, and there was no one to help him out, or he wasn’t able to ask for help, or… whatever. He packed on about 100 pounds to what had already been pushing 300. When he was laid to rest, they didn’t cross his arms over his chest because his limbs literally couldn’t be made to sit like that.
This was just about the apex of bad times. You might remember if you were there. A couple of months later, a relationship fell apart, we had to move to pokey little apartment, and we were feeling a little bereft. Friends who would have helped lived too far away, people who lived nearby fell away from us in droves. Syd did not react to the situation well, and some members of her family reacted by saying “Quit being such a selfish little bitch and let me score points of your depression! Can’t you see your suicidal state of mind is ALL ABOUT ME?” I have few good things to say about certain people, and I won’t spoil a cheerful post like this by going into that. Suffice to say, I had to help her carry the load. When you tell someone you’re not going to leave them alone, and you’re not going to let them kill themselves, you’ve got to stand by that or what are you?
I think Syd helped me carry my load, but I felt like I was doing most of it on my own. That’s probably my warped perspective, because I didn’t even really have my parents to talk to and she can at least sort of talk to her mother and father about certain things. Not everything, but some things. I couldn’t talk to anyone about anything. My parents were going through… they had their own bullshit to deal with. I’d always been the emotional booster anyway, everyone came to me with their issues, and I would either help them solve those problems or distract them.
I felt on my own in a way I’d never felt alone. Not as lonely as those last six months with Syd and Holly. We weren’t lonely, not like that, and Fancy willing we will never feel that lonely again. I’d gotten used to being internal from the time I was a child. Living in a house of tension had prepared me, doing it with twice the people ready to explode made steel out of the iron.
Internal. I’d spent some time simply sitting and looking at the internet, saying nothing, doing little, making myself small and inoffensive. Hard way to live, but it was one that didn’t seem to break any rules. Syd’s suicidal thoughts kept coming to my mind, that she had plans and ideas, and knew what to do. I’d had no idea, just a vague wish for it all to be over.
And then Hol left, and I knew if I did anything dramatic it would look like I was trying to blame Hol, which isn’t what it was about. I just wanted things not to be the way they were. I didn’t want to feel the emptiness I had felt. I never felt fear, or sadness, or shame, just nothing. As the Rockbiter said “A hole would have been something, this was nothing.”
I came to a conclusion. This has to end. Either with the death of the body, or the death of this existence. One way or another, this has to end. Syd had come to the same conclusion, although we never articulated it in such a fashion. Neither of us chose the first route, and we concentrated on the second.
Syd got the lap-band operation. That was hard, painful, and a complete and utter change in the eating habits she’d formerly known. If anyone wants to call it an easy way out, I will gleefully puke up half eaten Arby’s in their car so they can share in the joy I felt. They can slurp on clear broth for a month, then extend the thrill of actually having broth that was cloudy! OOOOO! You can’t actually see the cats through the soup anymore. That was no more easy than going on a starvation diet is easy, or suddenly having to avoid anything with gluten is easy. It was hard, and it was painful, and we’re still going through it. But we’re doing it together, and we’re going to get there. She has had to destroy the person she was, in order to become the person she is becoming.
I got a job. Because we had only one car, if I was working when Syd would be at work, I had to walk. Two Miles. Rain, heat, sun, cold, snow, wind, monkeys, custard… I walked to work and got there on time. Syd would get me on her way home and I’d take my lunch break taking her home and coming back. If I was working in the morning, I would drive Syd to work, come home, get my lunch, drive to work, work eight hours, drive home, pet the cats, drive to Syd’s work, pick her up, bring her home, cook dinner, and try to come up with the energy to explain to people why I didn’t seem to be writing anything anymore.
If you want to talk about a period of Hired Self-Destruction, then that was is. Physically, I was in torment. Mentally, I was pretty badly depressed and I had no patience for the bullshit that dealing with people brought upon me. I had to bend my will toward the idea of patience, to dealing with people without hitting them. I had to work harder in that year and a half than I’d ever worked. Remember, I was still holding up Syd a lot of the time, or at least felt like I was. And I was cooking every day, or trying to. I was destroying myself, and I was basically employing my employer for the task.
And then the clouds actually broke. Later than I thought they would, but THEY DID BREAK is the important part. I thought they’d break with my second store, but that place was in a neighborhood that was as close as it could be to the ghetto while still being patrolled by the police. For a while there, I felt like I was piled on more than ever. I had a feeling my Self-Destruction was going to be a complete job. But that was actually a good thing. It caused me to do something I hadn’t thought about before. It caused me to prove I could take the extra weight. If I could strive through this morass, then I could do anything… right? I grew stronger, and it was then that I’d realized how weak I’d been, how dependent. But here was the thing, I could take the weight.
And then we got the car, and then the I heard about the new store opening, and I started to make a plan. And it was about that time I realized what had happened. I’d basically completed the Self-Destruction project and had somewhere along the line begun the rebuilding process. Making a plan was a sure sign that one is done being destroyed and that one is ready to build again. I got the car, I got the job, I got some shoes so I can go running, I’m going to buy some dumbbells, and I’ve got plans to make some art again. The shoes and the pass to Stony Creek were step 3, and I’ve got 7 more steps to go as far as I can figure. I’m making progress though. I am moving forward. We’re going to be okay again… or at last. I can’t tell yet.
Stephen Fry made an admission recently, that he’d attempted suicide last year, and it got me thinking about this. It got me thinking because I feel like I did commit suicide. I killed the person I had been, I just went on breathing like Nero Wolfe, and that gave me enough time to build up this person I’m becoming. Sort of building on the ruins, but still… building. I had to go through this period though, just to manage to get through.
Hired Self-Destruction. Sweet Fancy’s Mousey, that’s a stupid phrase.