The Three Hundred and Twenty-Ninth Post: The One Where I Bare My Soul…

Card 2: Describe a time you felt lonely

I am going to include a trigger warning with this posting: there will be frank talk about depression and thoughts of suicide. If you feel that reading this will lead you down a dark path: DO NOT READ THIS. Close the window and come back next Wednesday. I promise to have something different. Also – if you are having issues with depression or suicide: GET HELP. GET HELP. GET HELP. Call 1-800-273-8255 or go here for suicide prevention services. Talk to someone. Get the help you need.

My time in college was a lot of firsts for me. It was the first time I was really far from home. I had a rather…tied down sort of life before I left for college. I was out of the house with no one to stand over me demanding attention. The freedom was giddy. As a theatre arts major, I didn’t have anything too hard for my first year. If I knew then what I knew now, I would have made a lot of changes.

At this point, I was feeling like I had finally come into my own. I knew what I wanted to do, I had friends and I was back engaging in one of my favorite hobbies without having to look over my shoulder out of fear. I was engaged with my work (even if it felt a little simple for me) and living on my own recognizance. If I wanted to stay up to 3 A.M., I could – by the way, I was a bit of a night owl (still am). This was it. It could not get any better for me.

Then I fell in love. It got much better. This was my first…adult love. I wanted to marry her. I was completely comfortable with her. We shared all the same interests – books, movies and TV. This was one of those “loves that define the age” sort of things.
Yeah…that lasted about two years.

Did I take it hard? Yes. Oh, yes. It was my first real love. It was hot. It was passionate. It was nothing I had ever felt before. It came crashing down over a summer. I scraped and scrambled to get the funds to come back for the penultimate year. Everything at that point starting drifting in black and white. What I didn’t know then that I know now is that I was entering a depression that I wouldn’t completely get out of for several years. It continues to affect me to this day.

When I got back, I thought that the friends I had made would have my back, as it were. That year of college taught me a lot. It taught me that in the end, you are the only person you can rely on. My friends – the ones that I thought could count on to at least tell me to buck up and that you’ll get better – ditched me just as quickly. She stole everything from me. Friends, joy and love – all gone.

The people that stepped up to try to fill the void – the other guys in my hall – did so, but did it in a ‘well, we have to’ sort of way. I might as well have had everything packed away and get sent to reside in the stables off campus. I got some booze out of what would be my final year on campus (the only love affair that continues on from college), but for the most part, it was just me on campus, muddling by and looking to end up being a fifth-year senior.

My family…well…that was a deeper betrayal. All my life, I had been told that I could always depend on family. I could always hang my hat in the chaos and feel that I was safe from the outside world. Surely – they would trip over themselves to defend me.
I am going to admit that I never wrote about this to anyone at home. I also understand that since the family didn’t know what was happening, they weren’t able to help. I get that. None of them are mind-readers. I get it.

However, when trying to reconnect with my family and speaking to my mom about what’s been going on. We drifted to what was going on with college. What she told me in the course of that conversation proved to me that one can only trust themselves.

“The dean called me and said to come get you. I told him that you were going to stay there.”

I was having a mental and emotional breakdown. I spent my last two dollars to buy razor blades to slash my wrists. I was sleeping away entire weekends. When I was awake, I was overeating and drinking to excess trying to feel happy again. I was joking with people to maintain the façade, but inside I was the walking dead.

For my final year of college, no matter how many people I surrounded myself with, I was completely alone.

There is a happy ending to this, believe it or not. I got out, got away from that toxic environment. I lost weight – diet and exercise, yada, yada, yada…. I’m not back to my high school weight, but I am far, far from 300+ pounds. I’m reading Marcus Aurelius (something I could have used earlier) and pursuing writing which is something I should have done from the get-go. I have gotten far more comfortable with the notion of being alone to the point where I prefer that state. I’m not whole and healthy, but I am doing better.

Well, thanks for coming by. Sorry that this was a bit of a downer. Hopefully, the next card will be a bit cheerier. I can write comedy – my book The Dreaded Day Job is still on sale through Amazon, along with my other stuff. Tell you what – regardless of the gravity of the next card, I’m going to find the comedy. It’s there, I just have to uncover it.

The Three Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Blog: The One Where I Try Something New and Non-disastrous!

Here’s the deal: I just got these Hemingway Cards, which is simply 100 cards with creative prompts for bloggers, writers and other creative types. I am going to take up the challenge of one card a day for the next 100 weeks. No skipping. No “this is a little too sensitive for me”. A ‘fearless inventory’, as it were. This is something to try to get me into the habit of writing a little something every day. Five hundred words a day for one hundred days. I’m not going to just work with the cards. I will interrupt this stream to either write about a movie (I haven’t forgotten about Black Panther. Still trying to get my thoughts together about it, but it’s a good posting and I can’t wait to show it to you all) or a book idea. 

So – without further ado. The first of one hundred cards: 

 

What Qualities Do You Admire In Yourself? 

facepalm pic

Well, this is going to be a good one. I’m actually uncomfortable about talking about just myself, but this was to be a fearless inventory. 

What do I like about myself? Give me a topic, a sentence or a picture and I will spin it into a story in about 20 minutes. The writer Harlan Ellison would do this on a radio program. Someone would call in and give him an opening line. The radio station would go to commercial, he’d come back with a finished short story. Right out of his head. For me to write a short story, I have to sweat blood, make a deal with the Devil on the Crossroads just to get it under 5,000 words. I like writing short stories, and I have some good ones. The format I enjoy is the novel. The slow build, the gathering of the threads and the reveal. 

My mind is always focused on storytelling. I watch a movie and see the beats, see where the acts begin and end, see the tropes and try to see how they get subverted (if it happens). I read a novel and examine the archetypes of the characters, see what’s been tweaked. I can’t stop it. Even on some of the New Media stuff – Critical Role and other things, I examine it and pick it apart. 

Is there a downside to this? Oh, yeah – there is a reason why TV Tropes opens with the sentence: TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life. Once you see them, you can’t unsee them. Once you know them, you’ll see them everywhere and now you know how the story ends. On the upside, now that you know how the blocks are put together, you can change things. Take the castle and turn it into a car wash. The princess saves the dragon. Work it. 

I just have ideas constantly. Not all of them are good. Heck, almost all of them are garbage, but much like my house I can’t bear to throw things away. One day, everything is going to be in a book. They’re all my children. My wonderful, hyper-ADHD and sometimes armed children. I’ve got many notebooks filled with one sentence notions and bits of dialogue that pop in my head day in and day out. 

Note to anyone getting into any writing: fiction, journalism or anything else – carry a notebook with you at all times. Even it it’s a flip up fifty-page grocery list maker. Carry it. Don’t rely on your memory. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down in front of a computer with a great idea only to have it flit away when I put fingers to keys. Worse thing ever to experience is that moment of emptiness. Please don’t suffer as I have. 

Are there any other qualities that I like? Any physical qualities? Umm…no…not really. I’m shlubby and trying to get better about that. I go to the gym (occasionally) and I try to eat a bit healthier (Domino’s counts, right? No? OK). Like the line goes: My body is a temple. Not a good temple – one of those temples over-run by monkeys. 

Well, thanks for stopping by – ignore the monkeys in the rafters, it’s their union break.