I get very confused about people and how to relate to them. What’s the difference between flirting and just being nice? What’s the difference between standing up for myself and just being a jerk? I haven’t always been so out of sorts. I used to be well-liked. And I used to think I had a grasp on grafting myself onto others. Then depression settled in and I withdrew my social self from the world. And instead of experiencing people, I just observed them. And by the time I wanted to step back into human relations, it seemed too late.
I think the best way to understand humanity is through both research and relation. I only achieved half of that. And that’s why I think I have some knowledge of correct and appropriate behavior but not enough to be successful in having fulfilling relationships with others. It’s that experience I lack, the on-the-ground research of getting to know and love and trust other people.
It’s hard to put myself out there because I’m insecure. I’m 32 with not much to show for it. I know we all have our own timeline for achieving goals in life but I have more potential than what I’ve produced. And this feeling of knowing I’m better, more capable, than what I’ve accomplished makes me very hard on myself.
It’s true that I hate who I am but unfortunately, it’s not self-contained. It seeps into conversations I have with other people. Long-term acquaintances are familiar with the inner insults I hurl at myself. I don’t even think about it. I’m so used to putting myself down as a self-defense mechanism and form of humor that it comes naturally to me. In my fear of being judged, I try to beat others to the judgment, pointing out my flaws in a funny way so we can all relax around my receding hairline or chuckle at my chunky body.
It’s usually when I meet new people that I become aware of how easily, how quickly, and how viciously I tear myself apart. When new acquaintances ask me to tell him about myself, the flogging floodgates open right up. It’s only after the conversation is over and I can reflect on the car ride home or before I go to bed at night the ramifications of my self-flagellation.
I want to be accepted but I also know I have several mental and emotional issues that could be off-putting. So I always have this need to explain away my crazy. But I over explain and end up making things worse. Instead of staying, people scatter and I’m left confused and lonely. I have to wonder if I should start keeping more things to myself. I always find it refreshing when people are open and honest. And so I try to be open and honest as well. And I never realized that other people could find that unattractive.
Should I change who I am and how much I share in order to keep people around? Or should I stay the same and hope that someone accepting will eventually find their way to me? It feels like a balance because you want to better yourself but you also don’t want to bend over for anyone else. How much change is too much? When do you go from improving your relations with others to compromising your personality for them?
I just wonder how I can be charming without charring my character. How can I make jokes without making myself the punchline? I’m sure it would be easier if I liked myself more but how am I supposed to do that? From the outside, it might seem like I’m well-adjusted and have a lot going for me. In some ways, that’s true. But only I can see the real me, the small squishy parts on the inside, the place where all the self-doubt and anger and despondency live and flourish. And it’s hard to like the person those qualities belong to, even when it’s yourself.
But I do understand that doesn’t have to be the case. And I suppose that’s at least one step in the right direction. And maybe one day, if I can get myself aligned with love instead of lashing, I might actually make a friend who will want to stick around.
”My mommy always said there were no monsters, no real ones, but there are.”
”Yes, there are, aren’t there?”
”Why do they tell little kids that?
”Most of the time it’s true.”
I’m a horror movie fan 365 days of the year. But Halloween is extra special to me because of the larger availability of horror movies. I watch serial killer films to relax. Monster movies get me in the mood. And if I can get a little hipster for a moment, I was way into zombies before The Walking Dead consumed all of America’s brains.
So, while I watch horror movies regularly, I made an effort to squeeze in an extra evisceration or two back in October, Netflixing and Youtubing Z-grade films with ketchup blood and cardboard brains, catching mid-afternoon scary flicks on television and Halloween-themed episodes of my favorite shows. And as I watched nude girls getting nailed to a wall or jocks jogging to their death in a haunted gym, I started to realize how easy it seems to summon evil spirits. Naturally, ouija boards are a clear violation of soul safety. But other harbingers of evil might seem more innocuous at first, like puzzle boxes, a child’s doll, or a suspiciously inexpensive house for a new family.
No one seems to be able to invoke good spirits with such effortlessness. Why is it that most houses seem to inhabit horrible things? Why is it that spirit boards almost always summon the sinister? Why can’t we call upon God and good energy with the same simplicity that dials up the devil? Why is it that when the Holy Ghost possesses someone, he eventually pulls up stakes in their soul while demons wanna settle? And why are exorcisms so exhausting? Why can’t we just extract black spirits with the sam ease we extract blackheads?
If tales of supernatural serial killers are all fake, I suppose watching teens being pummeled by pissed off poltergeists is more entertaining than being visited by the ghost of great Aunt Sue with good news of true love. But when it’s real, having a real demon on your ass is really scary. It’s no longer about the yuck yuck but the yikes. It’s not entertaining. It’s devastating. And a lot of people would say it is real.
I’m not sure how I feel about it. I can’t say what’s real and what’s not. I can only speak for my own experiences and throughout my life, I do feel I’ve had more than my fair share of bad luck. There have been many times I’ve actually thought I was cursed or that something bad had latched itself onto me. It’s never been anything huge, mostly just circumstances that converge into a crippling disappointment again and again. But those little heartbreaks weigh heavy over time.
And I’ve called on God to remove the dulling residue of past demons. But instead of feeling cleansed, I’ve only ever felt crushed. What’s it gonna take to tackle the terrifying and bandage to the bad juju?
I wonder if there’s anything that can be done at all. What if God doesn’t have anything to do with lethargy, larceny, or lunacy? What if, by design or negligence, we are all just hurdling toward implosion? What if our lives are all examples of entropy playing out in real time?
It’s so hard to be nice. We have to constantly bite our tongues, keep our fists at our sides, and step away from the line of fire. We have to talk ourselves up every day and concentrate on keeping the good vibes going. And as soon as we let up on the affirmations, we atrophy all over again. We gotta keep flipping those light switches on less we be surrounded by darkness again.
I don’t know why possessions are prevalent while good spirits are scarce. The only thing I know for sure is nothing is ever going to change. It’s never going to be easy. And when it all comes down to it, who’s to say our lives aren’t someone else’s entertainment? This is why we have reality shows and horror movies based on true events. And there just might be a higher power that gets a kick out of watching us overcome our curses. Maybe things that are really scary can also be really educating.
And although we have to fight to be friendly, it’s worth the effort. Instead of adding to the agony, we can help patch up other people. Even if it’s just for a bit, even if it’s just a temporary bandage, isn’t that enough to make a difference? In a world laid to waste, it still matters that we hold out our hands rather than hold up a gun, use our tongues to prepare praises instead of slinging insults, and make moves to slowly kill the hate that’s been jammed into our hearts. Maybe that’s how we can make our souls uninhabitable for the inhospitable demons and they’ll be forced to dig themselves out.
And that shouldn’t be too hard at all.
“Let’s rehearse the song and verse
the graceful dance of dying
when my friends mouth their validation
I can tell they’re lying…”
-Showbread, I am Horrible at Processing Rejection
Somehow, one of my coworkers got on the topic of my book and I shrugged it off, told her I was over it.
“I want to buy a copy.” Yeah, sure. That’s what they all say.
“Don’t worry about it,” I said. “It’s not that big of a deal.”
“Yes, it is,” she said. Yeah, sure. They all say that, too.
I shrugged again. She told me not to give up, to believe in myself, even when no one else did. I smiled and thanked her just to drop the topic.
The thing is it’s not so much about me not believing in myself. Despite a lack of confidence, I believed in myself enough to write a book. And I believe it was a good book. What bums me out is that no one else believes in me. I already feel so alone and insignificant having not contributed anything to anyone or anything, never having changed someone’s life or fixed a huge problem or created a piece of art that enlightened. I’ve just existed, taking up space and eating Doritos by the ton. It’s not a good existence. It’s no quality of life.
This book has helped me suss out all the insincere people in my life, the false cheerleaders, the fake friends, the ones who said they cared and showed they didn’t. Unfortunately, I’ve realized it’s just about all of them. And I didn’t have many people in the first place. So, chop chop, they’re out of my life. But I don’t feel any better, don’t feel like I’ve solved anything.
A few days later, that same coworker who was all about buying my book (she never did, I’ve been checking my sales. I told you) posted and inspirational quote on my Facebook wall. But that inspirational quote didn’t mean anything to me. Anything meant to be inspirational doesn’t mean anything to me anymore, holds no weight, does not move me. In fact, I read these inspirational memes that many people post on their walls and I just chuckle. God bless if it gives them comfort but to me, it’s just words shaped into a sentence intended for a smile. But I suppose those quotes are meant for those who still have a shred of hope left. I just bypass them and move on to the next post, a cat video or political cartoon.
Words mean nothing to me anymore.
Don’t tell me you believe in me. Don’t tell me I’m talented or funny or good-looking. I will not believe you. If anything, it will steer me toward not trusting you. Because I know the truth and I don’t need your charity lies.
But, if I’m supposed to be a writer, shouldn’t words mean everything? I tried to incite change through my words. I tried to drum up understanding and conveyed my heartfelt desires and losses through my words. I wanted a reaction. I wanted a response. But if my words continue to be rejected while their words are shoved down my ears, eventually eroding into empty symbols, how can I reconcile that?
I suppose it’s because I’ve never tried to cheer anyone up with my writing. I’ve never tried to write fluff to form a happy face. That’s not to say it’s all been negative or hopeless. When I first started writing in my teens, I was depressed even back then. But I still had some hope. And my writing showed that, exploring my feelings while holding out for a better future. Unfortunately, my future was blotted out with bad decisions and bad jobs. But with my book, even though it was filled with despondency, in the end, I tried to realistically write an outcome that was hopeful without being cheesy. There was hesitation. There was hellfire. But through it, there was human spirit. It didn’t go down smoothly but it was still palatable.
I just like realism. And for me, false positivity is not realistic. Let’s all just be honest about how things suck. But that doesn’t mean we should wallow in it (I know I’m totally guilty of doing this and I’m a huge hypocrite). Naturally, no one wants a downer. But I feel like people who are too happy or too positive are not to be trusted. It’s not about suffocating your sadness with another fake smile. And it’s not about spreading your sadness around like you’ve just peed in the pool. Ideally, we’d all find a balance, allow ourselves to go deep into the depression while also pointing out and appreciating the good moments. I feel like I succeeded in doing that in my book. In this blog? Not so much. But I’m better at it in my daily life.
The meaning of all things is slipping away. It’s hard to be inspiring. It’s hard to maintain connections. It’s hard to be a person when you’ve been voided out of humanity. Sometimes it takes something so little as validation, as a simple follow-through to turn a person from a floating glob to suddenly gathered together, allowed to finally find footing and move forward.
My relationships have no meaning. My life has no meaning. Food and taste has no meaning and now the last thing I had in my life, words, no longer have meaning to them. These are words you are reading but they are not reaching you. I will never reach you because as I’m writing this down, you’re writing me off as someone who is too negative, who is too sensitive. But I’m trying to tell you that while those things are true, I haven’t been given the kind of support most have. You try to be all smiles when your classmates and colleagues say they care and then crap all over you at the first chance they get.
There was a bird in my chest once, a heart made of feathers and profuse love. It sang with hope, with teenage newness and the shimmering hope of a better tomorrow. It took flight around those I admired, those I wanted to love me back. But those very people reached in and stuffed its mouth. My bad luck plucked it bare, then Life itself stepped in and stripped the flesh of writing and relationships until that bird was a just a skeleton, hollow enough to be blown away by the first gust of wind, then dropped back down to earth, shattered.
But I guess that doesn’t matter, now does it? It’s just words. Words I’ve said to people in the past to convey how I feel, to tell them they hurt me, that I’ve been disappointed, that I’ve felt abandoned. And I’ve been killed by their quiet, their apathetic rigidness. Their excuses. Their lack of sympathy or apology. I can only guess their callousness means their birds don’t sing anymore, either.