It’s a humid Saturday night, and I’m in a progressively darkening mood. Since I tend to process my feelings best through a stack of written words (because I can’t just copy and paste the same four letter word that rhymes with bunt over and over and call that a blogpost, and because I can do better for myself than just smash things indiscriminately), I’m going to write what I imagine will be a rambling but cathartic post.
I’ve noticed that I experience anger differently than I used to. When I was younger, before all the drugs and the medical things and the doctors and the therapies, my anger felt like lava – a slow-moving constantly hot, landscape changing force. It left no prisoners, it wasn’t held back by anything. Eventually everything burns.
But now, post therapies and post life events and post medical science adventures and post reality checks, my anger is more steam: scalding initially, but dispersed with a change in airflow.
It’s not that I don’t still get angry about the same stuff, I do, the betrayal and the heartache and the pandering and the placating and the kool-aid sipping and the horsefeathers politicking and the pointless materialism etc etc all still hurt me, and I ache and rage, but more and more I’m starting to notice that I’m also getting equally angry with myself. Angry with myself that I was so stupid, that I don’t immediately choose a better response to situation. Angry that my first thought is “Yes, I do want to mash that person’s face into a jagged metal juicer and strangle the life from their pulpy remains” and not “I will be the better person who can just find the good.” Sometimes, I still want to tell the good to play a great game of hide and go fuck itself. I don’t like that about myself. It feels corrosive. It feels bad or uncomfortable or even unnecessary at times. It makes me feel guilty for not being a better person.
I guess that’s self-loathing. I’m not really sure what else to call it, but it’s a part of myself that I loathe, even if in those immediate instances I feel it, there’s a glint of pleasure and glee. I’m pretty sure that speaks volumes for how my head is still wired, even with all the therapy and everything going on. And yeah, that reinforces the loathing too.
The inescapable fact is that in a few weeks there are events on my horizon that would and will test me, and in these preparatory days, I don’t like how “off” I feel. This probably needs more explanation, since people reading this aren’t currently clued into the conversation going on in my head between the stream of thoughts while I write this post and the angry voice and the scared voice in my head.
In July there is a convention I attend, and at this convention there is a yearly game, a game I helped develop, and a game I have in the past help run. It is a big huge spectacle with big huge emotions and expectations. It’s a lot of fun for the participants and at times, has been fun for me to organize and wrangle. But within the last year and change, there have been some world-altering changes to my life, and I find this game now to be something that more promotes a sense of dread or frustration rather than enjoyment, and that’s the first sign I need to do something about it. Put bluntly, there are people attending this game that I’m not entirely sure I can comfortably be around. Some have hurt me, and some I worry I will hurt or make a scene or in some way fail to divorce my own feelings from the atmosphere. I don’t want to color the experience of 90+ people because John can’t be in a room with a few individuals. I mean, I could stand there, I wouldn’t burst into flames or something, I’d just be grossly uncomfortable or worse, hostile and unpleasant. None of us deserve that, even if my personal feelings towards these people are far less civil. So, I am going to do what I can to prep other people to run the game, and I’m backing away. And that hurts. It hurts because this is thing I helped make, and this is a thing I like seeing run (because I like the ego stroke, and I like seeing people have fun), but there is more to me than just the things I’ve done, and my priority is taking care of myself mentally, physically, emotionally and otherwise. It’s not really taking care of myself if I’m going to be on edge for 10-ish hours trying to not have interactions with people while trying to have genuine interactions with others.
Now, the really scared part of my head says I should go one step further and not attend the convention entirely, but that seems to be too big a move, because I’ve already promised to run other things there, and there are people I do like seeing who will be there. And running away isn’t really my thing anymore. It’s somewhere between letting terrorists win and living in fear, and I don’t want either of those things to happen.
What’s interesting to me is that the angry part of my head, the angry shouty voice that’s all like “How dare other people not hurt the way I hurt, how dare people ignore or belittle or hurt me” has never said, “fuck everyone over”. I’m pretty proud of myself that the idea of sabotage isn’t an option. That shows some real growth. Go me. Hashtag celebrate-the-good-when-i-find-it.
Because the reality is that while I’ve moved forward with a lot of things in my life, there’s a difference between moving forward and moving on. I got burned, I got hurt, and no I’m not really feeling like amends or apologies are in order. I did the best I could, I continue to do the best I can, but there are times, be they moments on social media or emails or just twinges of thoughts, where I am taken right back to being hurt. I have moved forward and sort of moved on, but there’s still more moving to do. The people (yeah, more than one) who I thought would be along for the ride aren’t, but that’s cool, because there’s a whole unexpected group of people who have taken their places. And for that, I remain thankful.
I know there’s been an expectation that I should way more public and vocal about the good things, but one of the life lessons I learned in the last few months is that so much exposure, so much publicity, made the pain worse. It hurt more. It was harder to manage. I wanted to pull back and retreat and keep a smaller circle, and I have come to value the idea that there are very special things that are very dear to me, and I don’t need to slap them on billboards to give them appropriate meaning.
(As an aside, I’d agree with you if you made a case for my publicity as an attempt to make not-working-things work out)
There are times I hate myself. Pure hate. The kind where I want to lock myself away for a while or take on Herculean labors to earn back what I feel is some reasonable amount of worthiness. Here I sit, with that exact feeling, the complete root and heart (heh, there’s a John pun) of why I ever drank or did any drug or lived recklessly, and I don’t always know what to do. Some situations still hurt. Some situations still make me angry.
I’m not saying I want to be anti-anger, in some Smoochy-verse where I suddenly snap in the third act (spoilers for Death to Smoochy), I’m just saying I wish I didn’t have such conflict in me over what amounts to a game that a hundred people play. I wish I didn’t look at bigger events on the horizon and ask myself, “How am I going to explain to people how everything fell apart? Will they pity me? Will they resent or hate me?”
All these questions, and me with few answers. But at least I put myself out there, no applesauce or window dressing or pretending everything’s fine. Because while some things are completely amazing, other things aren’t fine. I think that’s life sometimes.
Thanks for looking at these guts on the page.